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Friday, November 12, 2010

Westside Subway Route Approved

Proposed Route for Purple Line Extension.  Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
The future of public transit in Los Angeles took a meaningful, if not controversial step forward a few weeks ago when a general route for extending the Purple Line to the westside was approved.  Despite protests from Beverly Hills residents, and concerns about the likelihood of finding funding the project, the step marks an important opportunity for cultivating an effective mass transit system for all of LA. Here is the announcement from the LA Times:
Development of a long-awaited subway link from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside took a giant leap Thursday when county transportation officials selected a general route from the Wilshire-Western station to the veterans hospital in Westwood.

The decision by board members of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority sets the stage for the trickier business of going block by block to establish the precise path and determine where to place stations.

Construction is set to begin in 2013 after a final environmental impact review.

MTA staff had recommended the 9 1/2-mile route to the veterans' hospital because of higher ridership projections. The estimated cost of that option is $5.15 billion.

Four other options were under consideration by the board, which included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has stressed the need for a Westside "subway to the sea" throughout his tenure as mayor.

Those included a nine-mile extension from the Wilshire-Western station to Westwood-UCLA; a 12-mile alignment to the beach in Santa Monica; a route to the veterans hospital campus plus a spur to West Hollywood; and a 12-mile link to Santa Monica plus the West Hollywood spur. The estimated costs of the projects ranged from $4.2 billion to $9 billion.

Also under consideration Thursday was a $1.37-billion regional connector through downtown Los Angeles that would allow light-rail users to travel across the county without time-consuming transfers.
The westside has certainly been their own worst enemy in gaining access to rail (or perhaps preventing access to the westside by others via rail), but this proposed route, along with the Phase II extension of the Expo Line underway in Culver City slated to terminate in Santa Monica, could dramatically improve the opportunities for LA residents to effectively move throughout the city without having to get into a car.  Great coverage of the decision can be found at the LA Times and Metro Source Blog, and below is an image from the Metro Source Blog highlighting the potential rail linkages to the Westside. 

Map of Proposed Purple Line Extension and Expo Phase II alignment.  Image from Metro's Source Blog.  All Rights Reserved.

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