Mon, Aug

Constellation Blvd: The Subway Stops Here!!

VIEW FROM WESTWOOD - Later this year Metro will release the Final EIS/EIR for the Westside Subway with updated information based on science using the latest technology to compile the results.

In the meantime, Beverly Hills Unified School District is using information compiled over a year ago in a Draft EIS/EIR while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists, lawyers, a reluctant engineer and a couple of Beverly Hills activists to get their message out advocating a station at Santa Monica Boulevard adjacent to a golf course.

I offer another view backed by facts:

History:  The Constellation Subway Station was first presented to the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD), now known as Metro, in 1968 by the Los Angeles City Council Ad Hoc committee.  It stated that the best subway station location for future riders of the LA Westside subway in Century City would be CONSTELLATION at AVE OF THE STARS.

Way back then Beverly Hills protested!  This was the first of a long line of protests when the issue of tunneling beneath their High School came up.

I recall the late 1960’s & 70’s when local newspapers (remember the Pico Post?) mentioned different routes every few weeks.  Through modern technology and the magic of the Internet I was able to go back in time and locate that proof by searching the minutes of the SCRTD meetings.

At the first Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) meeting called by Metro, I realized that both nearby residents and the reps from Century City were in agreement that the best station location was Constellation.  

I contacted each SAAG member to suggest that we form a grassroots committee to support the Constellation Station.  This was the beginning of a voluntary unfunded committee in favor of a station that we believe would serve the most riders for years to come.  

Large businesses joined with neighboring residents to achieve a common goal, to give the maximum ridership the safest and best subway station location in the heart of Century City.

As I read the Draft EIS/EIR for the Westside subway now over one year old, I realized that ridership statistics would change dramatically in the Final EIS/EIR because Santa Monica Blvd was still under construction until late 2006. The ridership figures were dated during construction.  

In addition, bus routes changed with new buses added.  Now Constellation Blvd is a busy transit center with Rapid busses between Century Park East and Century Park West.  Rapid buses did not appear on Santa Monica Blvd until June of 2007 and on Olympic until December of 2007.

The problem with locating the station at Santa Monica Blvd:

\● Why build a subway station on Santa Monica Blvd. that has a mapped earthquake fault?  

Metro is studying two sites on Santa Monica; one at Avenue of the Stars and the other at Century Park East, a long walk for the tens of thousands of employees in Century City.

● Why locate a subway station that borders a golf course?There is no lighting or security that is a constant in Century City.  No ridership is created next to a golf course.
● Century City commuters will have to wait at several traffic signals to even get across the double boulevard to get to their jobs.  Thousands of workers have jobs as far south as Pico.
● It took over 5 years to create the Santa Monica Blvd. Transit Parkway at a great cost to Los Angeles.  Now it will once again be torn up to relocate utilities and it takes three years to just excavate for a station box.  

Per Metro it takes from 5-7 years to complete a station.  There will be unmitigated traffic disruption.

● The Constellation site located in the center of Century City is not on a major through-street for the Westside.  

Construction will not disrupt regional traffic flow.  Buildings are offering to build portals so there can be multiple entries.  This is not the case on Santa Monica Blvd.

● Safety and ridership are the main concerns in selecting a station site.  

The center of Century City is Constellation where commuters not only work in offices, hotels and stores, but there are thousands of condominiums who employ potential riders every single day

Whatever location is chosen for the Century City station, hundreds of homes and businesses in Westwood will have tunneling beneath them.  

A recently built school at Wilshire/Vermont is located directly over a subway.  Currently the Broad Museum that is being built  downtown has a 3 level subterranean parking garage over the Metro station.  

Also, a 5 or 6 story building is in the construction process above both the tunnel and station at Westlake/ MacArthur Park subway station.

And Metro is working with NBC Universal for their huge development above the Universal City Subway station and tunnels. Surely these projects would not have been built had not they been considered safe.  

It makes no sense to build a subway station next to a fenced golf course that will offer ZERO riders.  

Constellation is the obvious choice when it comes to safety and maximum ridership. Constellation. The subway stops here!

(Carol Spencer has been a Westwood resident for 46 years. She is Vice President of the Comstock Hills Homeowner Association, Corporate Secretary for the Westwood Community Council and serves on the LAPD West Bureau Traffic and SMBTP Mitigation Committees.) –cw


Vol 9 Issue 50
Pub: June 24, 2011