By Josh Premako, 5/03/2012
The westside extension of the Purple Line subway is moving ahead after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board voted last week to give final approval to the plan’s environmental impact report.
The board’s April 26 vote included an amendment to approve the plan as far west as La Cienega Boulevard and hold a public hearing for the station proposed in Beverly Hills, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said. Beverly Hills officials have opposed tunnel drilling that would be required beneath Beverly Hills High School.
Sotero said a public hearing will be conducted, and the Metro board could possibly discuss it as early as its May 24 meeting.
Tunneling could start as early as next year for the roughly 3.9-mile segment starting at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.
Despite opposition from a residents group, the board OK’d a proposed station entrance located across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Both the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) and Metro project engineers had favored a site at the northwest corner of Wilshire and Fairfax Avenue, next to the former Johnie’s Coffee Shop building. LACMA officials pushed for a site between Ogden Street and Orange Grove Avenue, saying the museum expects future increases in visitors arriving via public transit.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said as part of the amended decision, LACMA President Michael Govan told him the museum would support funding an additional station portal on the north side of Wilshire.
Govan is fully behind the project, but the museum’s executive committee has not yet met to discuss fundraising for the portal, said Terry Morello, LACMA’s vice president of external affairs.
The potential LACMA-funded entrance could be located between the former May Co. building at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax and the Broad Contemporary Art Museum.
“We remain optimists about what L.A. is about to accomplish (with the Purple Line),” she said.
The board’s decision was met with mixed feelings by Ken Hixon, a member of the MMRA board.
“That LACMA agreed to add a portal on the north side of Wilshire does slightly shorten the distance to connecting bus routes on Fairfax and, having both a south side and north side portal should make it easier and safer in terms of reducing crosswalk traffic on Wilshire,” he said, and added, “No one is surprised by this outcome. … LACMA has the deep pockets and the political connections to do as they please.”