The Metro Purple Line subway that, frustratingly, is a stub of a line that only goes to Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in Koreatown, is now officially headed for Beverly Hills.
While it might not be the “subway to the sea” once touted by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the extension to Wilshire at La Cienega Boulevard is kind of a big deal.
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In fact, L.A. County Supervisor and longtime Purple Line supporter Zev Yaroslavsky had this to say:
As public transit milestones go, they don't get much bigger than this.
He's referring to nearly $2 billion worth of funding granted and loaned to Metro by the Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation. Announcements about the cash infusion for the Purple Line extension were made yesterday.
The money is enough to get this party started with construction starting late this year, Metro's Dave Sotero told us.
The line will include new subway stations along Wilshire at La Brea Avenue, Fairfax Avenue and, as we said, La Cienega Boulevard.
Another extension running the width of Beverly Hills (La Cienega is at the eastern edge of the city) and along to Westwood doesn't have the money to get underway yet.
The city of Beverly Hills has sued Metro over the extension because, it argued, possible environmental impacts hadn't been properly vetted. The line is slated to go underneath Beverly Hills High School, a route chosen to avoid earthquake faults.
Meanwhile, if you think traffic along Wilshire, including a recent lane closure near La Brea, is bad now, we hope you really enjoy the next 10 years on the boulevard.
Sotero sought to calm fears of a mad parking lot along L.A.'s most iconic corridor, however. He said “major construction activity” probably won't begin until next year.
Metro has for months been conducting Wilshire Boulevard “pre-construction,” including underground utility work, in anticipation of the extension.
Sotero stressed that Metro has worked long and hard to plan this Purple Line extension out, and he promised serious measures to make your life behind the wheel easier.
An example he gave would be doing traffic-impacting work beneath Wilshire on weekends instead of on weekdays.
“Rest assured there's a very extensive mitigation effort,” he said.
You won't be able to hop off the train at La Cienega until 2023. But Yaroslavsky called the beginning of the extension a “historic moment for our region.”
As for the subway to the sea envisioned by Villaraigosa, never say never. The Purple Line could only go to the Veterans Affairs facility in Westwood under the projected budget it's dealing with. But Sotero said that doesn't mean Metro can't go back and try to make it to the beach in coming years.
“It might be a feasible project sometime in the future,” he said.
The Expo Line, meanwhile, will take you to Santa Monica, possibly by next year.