Yesterday, I asked Metro a few questions regarding their new timetables for several projects, including the Subway to the Sea. Today, Rick Jager from their Media Relations department answered:
1. Besides funding issues, why is the completion of the Purple Line to Santa Monica expected to take so long?
The next steps before subway construction could start are estimated to take 2 to 3 years. This includes full environmental review, approvals, engineering and design. We then estimate that construction could take about 7 years (1) depending on what the final project ends up being & (2) if all funding is available.
The funding generated by Measure R will come in over a 30 year period and therefore the schedules are based on an allocation of these revenues to many projects over the life of the sales tax. The schedule for the Westside project which identifies completion to Westwood by 2032 is driven more by the availability of funding than the time needed to construct. The actual time needed to construct the Purple Line Extension to Westwood would be considerably less than 23 years.
2. Does the projected completion date of 2032 to Westwood include the Pink Line extension from Hollywood/Highland (Alternative 11)? If not, how would that affect the Westside timetable?
Recent news stories about the funding for this and other projects relate to the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The LRTP determines funding commitments over a long period of time. The specifics of projects – in this case, whether or not to include the West Hollywood leg – are determined through the environmental review and approval process.
3. With the city’s population expected to increase dramatically in the next 30 years, why aren’t there more projects on the drawing board, such as a possible SGV-SFV line connecting Pasadena-Glendale-Burbank-Universal-Sherman Oaks to connect with the 405 corridor?
Commitments to new projects are determined through the development of the LRTP. In developing the LRTP, Metro’s priorities for committing funds is to first maintain and operate the system we have, then build, maintain & operate new projects that already have standing commitments. At that point, any uncommitted funds can go to new projects.
I have a few thoughts on these answers.
1. The environmental review/public comment/let’s have a bunch of meetings process takes entirely too long for projects that needed completion yesterday. A viable public transit network should be a top priority for Los Angeles, and every rail line should be fast-tracked. In yesterday’s comments, a reader pointed out that “The Washington DC Metro system today got federal funding approved for a new train line to Dulles Airport. 23 miles long. First half will be done in 2013, second half in 2015.” Someone at City Hall needs to shake things up.
2. Although the question wasn’t directly answered, it should be a no-brainer that a West Hollywood leg would be included. The much-discussed Pink Link has overwhelming support in WeHo, and is crucial to making Metro Rail a more complete transit system. I’m no engineer, but I’m pretty sure building both lines would have some effect on the completion schedule. This 2032 date sounds like they mean the Wilshire alignment. Would both legs mean 2039? I’m still fuzzy.
3. I have a serious issue whenever Metro mentions “standing commitments” regarding any of their projects. This smacks of political posturing by city council members, each of whom thinks his or her district is more deserving than the other. Knock it off. Start thinking about the region as a whole, and let’s start putting it all together. The only standing commitment Metro and the city of Los Angeles should be concerned about is the promise to build a public transit system worthy of this world class city.