On Thursday, Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and local elected officials announced the completion of exploratory drilling in West Los Angeles as a key part of the planning and environmental process for the proposed Westside Subway Extension, a regionally beneficial Measure R transportation project.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) conducted soil samples at approximately 70 Westside locations over the last two and a half months and sent those samples to labs for analysis. The testing will assess below ground soil conditions to allow planning for the subway route and the use of drilling and construction techniques/technology.
The testing is required to prepare the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) now in progress. The Draft EIS/EIR is evaluating all aspects of the proposed subway extension including identifying benefits and impacts once it is in operation, potential construction impacts, and identifying potential mitigations.
The subway project is expected to have major benefits throughout the region. The Westside has been identified as the county's second highest job density center after downtown Los Angeles. More than 310,000 people travel into the Westside every day from other areas. Together, the Westwood/UCLA, Century City and Beverly Hills areas account for about 150,000 jobs.
Metro is currently considering two build options for the Westside Subway Extension, including a Wilshire subway that extends the Metro Purple Line via Wilshire Boulevard and a Wilshire/West Hollywood subway that incorporates all of the Wilshire subway and also includes a spur from the Metro Red Line in Hollywood via Santa Monica Boulevard. A "No Build" alternative and a "Transportation Systems Management" alternative that involves efficiency improvements to existing road and transit networks is also being considered as a required part of the environmental review process.
Metro estimates the cost of the project to be $4.1 billion for the Wilshire Subway project to Westwood/405, $6.1 billion for the full Wilshire subway alternative to Santa Monica and $9 billion for the Wilshire/West Hollywood subway combination alternative in 2008 dollars.
The passage of the Measure R county sales tax for transportation improvements in November 2008 created a source of partial funding for the project of $4.1 billion. Metro will likely consider ways to leverage these funds, potentially as matching funds from federal appropriations, from public-private partnerships and from other potential sources to gain additional funding.
The project would create thousands of construction jobs and potentially up to 144,000 new jobs directly and indirectly through related expenses and multipliers through the local economy during the life of the construction of the project.