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Conceptual graphic of the Subway to the Sea.
Photo courtesy of LA Metro
Conceptual graphic of the Subway to the Sea.

News, Los Angeles, Transportation, West Los Angeles

Environmental Impact of the Subway to the Sea

Posted Oct. 1, 2010, 12:50 am

Lynne Bronstein

On September 3, 2010, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (DEIS/EIR) for the planned Westside Subway. The document was presented at a series of community public hearings, including one at Santa Monica’s Main Library on September 29.

The Draft EIS/EIR is a significant point in the long process of building the subway. Public comment will be taken on the document until October 18, after which the MTA Board will choose a locally preferred alternative (LPA) for the route of the subway, and will prepare the final EIS/EIR during the next year. Construction will begin after that but how much time that will take will depend on funding availability.

Under Measure R, funding will be available to build the subway in phases over a 30-year period. Advocates of the “30/10” Initiative want to see a federal loan, repaid through Measure R funds, which will expedite the building of the subway in 10 years.

Measure R funding will cover the cost (approximately $4.2 billion) to build the subway to either Westwood/UCLA or Westwood/VA Hospital. These route terminals are known as Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 in the DEIS/EIR. Alternative 3, extending the subway to Santa Monica under Wilshire Boulevard, is at present, beyond adopted LRTP/Measure R funding, as are two other alternatives that would involve a West Hollywood extension.

David Mieger, project director for MTA, said that only the first two alternatives are viable choices, but all alternatives are examined in the DEIS/EIR, including “No Build”(for comparison purposes), and Transportation Systems Management (TSM), which would improve existing transit (buses and public thoroughfares).

Mieger noted that Alternative 2, which terminates at the VA Hospital, might be the preferred alternative for many Westsiders, as it at least gets passengers west of the 405 freeway.

The entire DEIS/EIR is lengthy and Mieger suggested that people read the executive summary first, in order to get an overview. He briefly went over the list of areas of environmental analysis (noise; vibrations; geologic hazards; transit travel time; land use; parking), and the areas requiring mitigation.

The public comment period that followed included a number of comments from members of the Bus Riders Union (BRU), a group that believes funding should be used to improve bus service rather than building rapid transit projects. They suggested buying more buses, expanding bus service county-wide, and creating bus-only lanes. Spending money on a subway, they maintained, would take away funds needed for bus service. They preferred to see the “No Build” or “TSM” alternatives.

Other speakers, mostly residents of Santa Monica or West Los Angeles, advocated Alternative 2 (the VA Hospital terminus) and opted for support of a Constellation Boulevard alignment in Century City (trains running under Constellation and reverting to Wilshire west of Century City) rather than a Santa Monica Boulevard alignment. Of these two choices, the Constellation route has met with objection by Beverly Hills residents concerned about vibrations. Westside speakers seemed to be in agreement that Constellation was a more viable alignment and that vibrations were negligible.

Comments about the DEIS/EIR can be made via letters to: David Mieger, Metro, 1 Gateway Plaza 99-22-5, Los Angeles, CA, 90012; online at, or emailed to Westside Comments made via Facebook and Twitter will not be considered as part of public comment. The DEIS/EIR is viewable online and also at the Santa Monica Main Library and other public libraries.

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Oct. 3, 2010, 2:19:45 am

eleanor said...

Has anyone mentioned that no matter where this underground project is built -- in 10 years or 30 years -- the construction starts above ground? So while people are arguing about underground noise, etc., do they consider the fact that streets currently choked with traffic will have sections closed off for long periods while the digging and construction is being done. And what will be the result even if it finally results in a subway? A very handy alternative to driving, IF you live near a station, and your destination is also near a station. Otherwise, you'll have to use something to get to and from the train. Guess what that will be -- a CAR. Put the money into improving bus lines and schedules, and throw away those shovels. And stop pouring money into a sinkhole!!!

Oct. 4, 2010, 7:43:04 am

kevin said...

Just start building the subway. We NEED more transportation alternatives. It has been PROVEN time and again that mass transit it the way to move people in the future. Start building these mass transit projects around LA!

Oct. 4, 2010, 8:20:56 am

LAofAnaheim said... you use the Red Line or do you take a bus between downtown LA and Hollywood (the 2 bus)? The subway is a more efficient means of travel. Yes, we are inconvenienced for a bit, but the benefits will be significant. Look at how much better downtown LA, Koreatown, and Hollywood is now due to the Red Line. Imagine how much better the Westside will be with a Purple Line!

Oct. 27, 2010, 6:02:56 pm

Jule Lamm said...

Complete the subway to 3rd and Wilshire in Santa Monica,

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