Was Public Comment Period for Subway to Sea a Sham? MTA Staff Suggests Route Before Citizens Fully Weigh In

Metropolitan Transportation Authority staffers have recommended a route for the Westside subway extension, also known as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's legacy project called Subway to the Sea, LAist reports.

Some communities will be less than pleased with MTA's suggestions -- West Hollywood may never get subway stops, for example -- but the public should be even more steamed. The official recommendations come out five days before public comment on the rail line's environmental impact report ends on October 18.

What's going on here? Were all of those public meetings in September some kind of ruse?

Prepared by MTA staffers David Mieger, deputy executive officer of planning, and Jody Litvak, community relations manager, among others, the official document is cleverly dated October 20 -- two days after the public comment deadline.

MTA staffers recommend a nine-mile route that starts at Wilshire and Western in Koreatown and ends at the Veterans Administration building in Westwood.

A few weeks ago, blogger and MTA gadfly John Walsh, who's been dealing with the transportation agency's slick ways since the 1980s, told us that the public comment period was a sham, that staffers wouldn't listen to community feedback, and that the MTA will build whatever they want to build, so we guess we shouldn't be surprised by this latest development.

It's just one more sleazy maneuver that's plagued the project from the beginning.

In 2008, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane promised the public that the Subway to the Sea would ease traffic congestion on the gridlocked streets of the Westside so voters would approve a half-cent county sales tax to help fund the rail line.

Voters believed them, and passed the ballot measure known as Measure R.

Nearly two years later, an MTA environmental impact report showed that the subway extension will have little impact on traffic congestion and only get less than one percent of L.A. drivers out of their cars, which the L.A. Weekly wrote about in a news story titled "$9 billion Subway-to-Sea Rip-off."

To add to the sleaze factor, MTA staffers, which included Mieger and Litvak, did not correct speakers at one recent public meeting where citizens spoke about how the subway to the sea would ease traffic -- further perpetuating a myth that's been pushed by Villaraigosa and Zane.

Villaraigosa even brought his dog-and-pony show to the White House on Monday, where he met with President Barack Obama to try to get a federal government loan worth billions of dollars to fund the Westside subway extension.

Which may explain why the MTA's recommendations have already been written up -- Villaraigosa and crew need a rush job before Obama and Congress figure out the true facts of the $9-billion rail line.

The latest move by MTA should be sending up red flags from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. Now it's only a question if anyone will dare to notice.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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