President Joe Biden delivers speech on infrastructure improvements in Westwood
President Joe Biden speaks at a rally in March 2020. Biden spoke at a campaign event at the developing Westwood Veterans Affairs Metro station Thursday, promoting his efforts to improve infrastructure. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)
This post was updated Nov. 15 at 3:47 p.m.
President Joe Biden gave a speech Thursday at the developing Westwood Veterans Affairs Hospital station – part of the Purple (D Line) Extension Transit Project – promoting his administration’s efforts to expand infrastructure.
The Metro expansion project, which will add seven new stops, including UCLA, to the Purple Line, began in 2019 with local and federal funding, according to the Los Angeles Metro. The project predates the November 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which allocated billions of dollars to states for updating infrastructure such as public transit systems, roads, clean water access and high-speed internet, according to a White House press release.
The Westwood/UCLA Station and the Westwood/VA Hospital Station are both expected to open in 2027.
Congresswoman and candidate for Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass said at the speech that the new extension will allow veterans to reach services like mental health counseling by expanding access to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ services. She added that projects in Wilshire, Leimert Park and South Central LA have come to life because of the bill, which passed in 2020.
Bass also said many of the new jobs created by the legislation are going to employ local communities because of provisions in the bill, pointing to the recently opened Metro K line extension to Crenshaw.
“A good-paying job can mean preventing your family from falling into homelessness. That’s why this infrastructure bill is so important,” Bass said.
Yurvina Hernandez, a labor apprentice with the Laborers Local 300 union who has been working on the project, discussed the impact of the project and the union’s contributions.
“I’ll always be able to point to this and say, ‘I helped build that,’” Hernandez said.
Biden then took the podium and discussed his support for unions and middle-class workers, noting his efforts to protect social security and Medicare benefits. He also pointed to the prescription drug price regulations for insulin as part of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.
Noting that the World Economic Forum ranked American infrastructure at 13 compared to other countries, Biden added that the infrastructure bill will improve some roads that have not been updated since the mid-1900s.
“It’s the most significant investment America has made in our infrastructure … since the Interstate Highway System built by Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Biden said. “There’s no better example of what’s happening than right here in Los Angeles.”
The Purple Line expansion will connect more neighborhoods from downtown to the westside, ease traffic congestion and air pollution as well as make travel more efficient, Biden added.
Biden also said the new stops will allow for around 80,000 more riders per day on the Purple Line, decrease the number of car rides per day by around 27,000 and lower carbon emissions by 124,000 pounds per year. The project has already created around 100,000 jobs for local union workers, he added.
Additionally, federal funding will help electrify the entirety of LA’s bus fleet by 2030, allow for renovations to the LAX central terminal and increase port efficiency, Biden said.
The president will attend a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception Thursday evening and then travel to Orange County to discuss inflation Friday before heading to Portland, Oregon.