Metro Initiates Environmental Analysis Phase of Westside Subway Planning
Over the past 30 years, tremendous population and employment growth, worsening congestion, changing land uses and traffic patterns, as well as Metro’s challenge to meet transit demand, have led to the need to improve mobility on the Westside. Serving as the region’s “second” downtown, more people commute into the Westside to work each day than leave the area or commute within its boundaries. Many areas of the Westside have densities that approach or meet those of downtown Los Angeles.
In fall 2007, Metro began an Alternatives Analysis (AA) study to look at whether a transit improvement was needed in the area, and to evaluate a variety of transit improvements and alignments.
The goal for a new transportation alternative would be to improve mobility for residents, employees and visitors traveling to and around this heavily congested area. It would also strengthen regional access by connecting bus and rail service throughout the County with a high capacity, reliable means of transit. The AA included extensive technical evaluation and public input.
What Has Been Accomplished So Far
On January 22, 2009, the Metro Board approved the AA Study and voted in favor of authorizing Metro staff to proceed with the next phase of the project — preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR) for the Westside Subway Extension. Based on the Alternatives Analysis, the Board approved analyzing two recommended Build alternatives, as well as a No Build alternative and a Transportation Systems Management (TSM) alternative.
The two build alternatives for further analysis during the environmental phase are:
- Metro Purple Line Subway Extension via Wilshire Blvd. to Santa Monica (“Wilshire Subway” or Alternative 1); and,
- Metro Purple Line Subway Extension via Wilshire Blvd. to Santa Monica plus Subway Extension from Metro Red Line Hollywood/Highland Station via Santa Monica Blvd. (“Wilshire/West Hollywood Subway” or Alternative 11).
The required “No Build” Alternative includes all existing highway and transit services, along with the planned highway and transit projects for which funding has been identified through 2030. The Draft EIS/EIR must also consider the TSM Alternative which enhances the No Build Alternative and improves upon existing Metro Rapid Bus service and local bus service in the Westside Subway Extension study area.
Recent passage of Measure R provides a funding source for at least a portion of the Westside Subway Extension.
What Happens During the Draft EIS/EIR Phase?
The purpose of the Draft EIS/EIR is to study the potential effects of construction and operation, and evaluate measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts of the project. As a part of this effort, Metro will further refine the project alternatives, define initial Wilshire Boulevard segment(s) as well as future segment(s), specify station details, examine the cost effectiveness of various segments, and evaluate the timing and funding for a future project.
In addition to analyzing both project alternatives for the full extension to Santa Monica, the study must also evaluate Minimum Operable Segments. The Minimum Operable Segments proposed for evaluation are extensions from Wilshire/Western to: 1) Fairfax, 2) Century City, 3) Near the I-405, and 4) Near the I-405 plus the West Hollywood Connection from Hollywood/Highland to the Wilshire Boulevard alignment.
At the conclusion of the Draft EIS/EIR process, the Metro Board will be asked to approve a recommended Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) defining the project that will move forward into the Final EIS/EIR process.
The Draft EIS/EIR community outreach begins in April 2009 with public scoping meetings that provide the public an opportunity to comment on the project purpose, alternatives, and the potential effects of construction and operation that should be considered in the Draft EIS/EIR.
Metro and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will be preparing a joint document that meets the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
After the scoping meetings are complete, Metro plans to continue the high level of public engagement that took place during the Alternatives Analysis. During the next 18 months, Metro will:
- Conduct public meetings, approximately quarterly, to present the results from the previous meetings and report updates on the additional refinements and analysis
- Schedule station area meetings to focus on planning and urban design around the stations
- Schedule public hearings on the Draft EIS/EIR to present the study conclusions including the recommended LPA
The Draft EIS/EIR is scheduled to be released for public review in mid-2010 and, if an LPA is adopted, will be followed by a 13-month Final EIS/EIR phase.
How to Comment & Stay Involved
As part of the Public Scoping Process, Metro will accept comments until May 7, 2009. Comments may be submitted in a number of ways as follows:
- Provide verbal comments at Public Scoping Meetings
- Complete a written comment form at Public Scoping Meetings
Mail comment form or letter to:
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
1 Gateway Plaza, M/S 99-22-5
Los Angeles, CA 90012