On Monday, L.A. Metro’s long-awaited Westside Subway Extension reached an important milestone with the release of the project’s final environmental impact statement and report. According to a recent article in The Source — “What Makes This Westside Subway Proposal Different From All the Others?” — the idea of a subway to the Westside dates back to 1961, when “a predecessor agency to the present-day Metro… sought a federal loan to construct a ‘backbone’ transit line [that would] tunnel westward under Wilshire Boulevard to the newly minted Century City district … as well as UCLA and other points west.” The article by Carter Rubin goes on to note, “The project fell through when the federal government declined to help the agency finance the project.”
Metro’s study, which presents the need for the project, what route it will follow and how the subway extension will be built, has been underway since 2007. In what may be the most studied parts of the report, Metro’s staff recommend building a Century City station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Star—a plan opposed by Beverly Hills opponents, who want a Century City station on Santa Monica Boulevard to avoid tunneling beneath Beverly Hills High School. In addition to Century City, the report also calls for stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, Wilshire/La Cienega, Wilshire/Rodeo, Wilshire/Westwood and Westwood/VA.
The subway will, of course, benefit all Angelenos, but may be of particular interest to residents of Hancock Park, Fairfax, Carthay Circle, Beverly Hills, the Condo Canyon, Westwood and West Los Angeles.
Speaking of a station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, Norbert Seifert, a real estate lawyer with Fragner Seifert Pace & Winograd, LLP in Century City, quipped, “How great is that? Bingo, that’s the intersection of Main and Main as far as Century City is concerned.”
Seifert also likes the fact that the subway would make it much more convenient for him to visit clients at his firm’s downtown office — both in terms of traffic and money: a subway fare versus $37 for parking.
Jan Reichmann, president of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Association, said the subway “is decades overdue. I advocated rapid transit for L.A. in the late ’50s. Every other major city in the world knows how to move people except us.” The longtime area resident added, “Currently I can walk to Century City from my house, but it would be a treat to be able to take the subway downtown to museums, theater events and restaurants.”
Rabbi Morley Feinstein of University Synagogue in Brentwood echoes Reichmann’s comments and looks forward to the transportation option the subway to the Westside will offer. “Tremendous, I can’t even imagine how this will benefit the community, having a subway that will reach through the entire city,” he said.
Craig Gold, a deputy district attorney and candidate for a seat on the L.A. County Superior Court, lives in Brentwood and works near First and Figueroa streets downtown. “For people like me,” he said, “it would make a lot of sense as long as it operates regularly from early in the morning to late at night.”
Beverly Hills-raised Gary Rhodes is a board member for the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles and director of the Center for Global Education at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He welcomes news of the subway extension and said, “As someone who has the opportunity to travel across the U.S. and internationally, I find that cities with extensive transportation systems are much easier to navigate.”
The question remains whether the project will be built on an accelerated schedule that brings rail to Westwood/VA in 2022, or in three stages, by 2036? In either case, it will not be not cheap. The all-at-once construction option, which would require accelerated help from the federal government, is estimated at $5.66 billion, while the three-phase option is estimated to cost $6.29 billion.
When the project is completed, however, the benefits will be very real — 25 minutes from Westwood to downtown. In Seifert’s words, “Bingo.”