Thursday April 26, 2012
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors today voted to certify the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) for the Westside Subway Extension Project. This action readies the initial construction phase of the $5.66 billion Measure R project for final design.
Simultaneously, the Board approved the 3.9-mile first phase of the project with three new stations along Wilshire Boulevard at La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega. The Board deferred approving the remaining project to Westwood until after a hearing requested by the City of Beverly Hills has been conducted and the Metro Board issues its written decision and findings. The remainder of the project would add four more stations in downtown Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood/UCLA and the Westwood/VA Hospital.
"Today's certification of the Westside Subway Extension final environmental impact report reflects the culmination of nearly five years of environmental analysis by Metro and unprecedented community engagement, with a total of 71 public meetings held throughout the corridor in all phases of project development," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also serves as Metro Board Chair. "We are now closer than we've ever been to getting this project under construction. This long-awaited subway extension will provide a faster, more reliable transit alternative for hundreds of thousands of Angelenos on a daily basis."
The public hearing requested by the City of Beverly Hills will provide an opportunity for them to present their concerns about the proposed location for the Century City station and tunneling underneath Beverly Hills High School. Once the hearing is complete and the Board issues its written decision with findings, the remaining project is expected to be considered by the Metro Board, possibly as soon as their May Board meeting. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The project is partially funded with Measure R local sales tax funds approved by voters in 2008. Metro is also seeking matching funds from the federal New Starts program. The project has been included in the Obama Administration's proposed FY13 Budget to initially receive $50 million. Full Congressional approval of project funding contained in the federal transportation bill is required.
Following the hearing and subsequent action by the Board approving the full project, Metro will seek a Record of Decision for the project from the Federal Transit Administration. This would represent federal environmental clearance for the subway extension project and is required for Metro to move forward with various pre-construction activities, including awarding a construction contract. Construction could begin in 2013.
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation forecasts the project will create 44,800 jobs and generate $2.81 billion in labor income. It would also generate $7.67 billion in business revenues. Additional jobs and economic benefits would be generated nationally.
The subway extension will enable passengers to travel from downtown L.A. to Westwood in 25 minutes and will generate about 49,300 daily weekday boardings at the seven new stations. There would be about 78,000 new daily trips on the full Metro Rail System as a result of the this line's opening.
Under current plans, the project will be built in three phases: from Western to La Cienega by 2020, to Century City in 2026 and to Westwood in 2036. Metro is seeking to accelerate the project's timeline through Congressional legislation known as the America Fast Forward plan. Metro staff has also studied how projects may be accelerated if Measure R was extended by voters beyond its current 2039 expiration date.