Thursday, August 20, 2009

One step closer to subway: Electeds and high-level officials gather to celebrate soil sample collection in Westwood parking lot

Amended August 21, 2009

Metro's drilling for soil samples in Lot 36 by Wilshire and Veteran.
Could the subway be here as soon as 2019?

That's what I heard today at a press conference called the mayor's office this morning at Lot 36, which is by Wilshire and Veteran. The occasion? The conclusion of drilling for soil samples as part of the draft EIR process for the Westside Subway Extension. Metro has already collected over 70 soil samples from various points along the projected subway route(s).

Anyway, I'm vaguely trained in hard news writing, so I attempted to write up some of the statements made by Mayor Villaraigosa, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and many other elected politicians and high-level officials, such as Metro CEO Art Leahy. They called out for the passage of the LRTP (looong delayed); highlighted benefits (expanded mobility, travel time reductions, and job creation); and declared that with federal matching funds, the Wilshire Subway Extension could make it to Westwood in 10 years - meaning 2019.

L to R: Rita Robinson, General Manager at LADOT; Pam O'Connor, Mayor Pro-Templore of Santa Monica and Metro board member; LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (speaking); Metro construction worker; LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl (he's tall).

This assumes many things happen, including...
1) It is safe to tunnel along the projected route
2) The delayed Long Range Transportation Plan is passed by Metro.
3) There is traction in the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank
4) Maybe our subway will even get a direct financial allocation in the renewal of SAFETLU, the federal government's transportation bill, scheduled for September.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragoisa, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, 5th District Councilman Paul Koretz and other area elected politicians and high-level public officials came together today at UCLA’s parking lot 36, by Wilshire and Veteran, to celebrate a major milestone in the path to building the Westside Subway Extension: the conclusion of drilling for soil testing.

Villaraigosa touted the conclusion of soil sample collection as an important step in bringing the subway to fruition, a project that is Villaraigosa said would generate jobs, cut travel times, and end Los Angeles’s vulnerability as the punch line late night jokes about congestion and rush hour traffic.

The Westwood soil sample collection is one of over 70 samples collected this summer by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority for analysis as part of the subway extension’s draft environmental impact report.

At the press conference, Villaraigosa once again thanked voters for passing Measure R, which he and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroskavky interpreted as a mandate from voters to build a rapid transit system which would transport Angelenos around the Westside and across the County.

Villaraigosa stated that with federal matching, the subway extension to Westwood could be completed as soon as 2019. Los Angeles will not see a Westwood subway station before 2036 if the city and Metro does nothing. This led Villaraigosa to call for the Metro Board of Directors to approve the Long Range Transportation Plan, whose passage was postponed to September last month, which would then enable Metro and other subway supporters to lobby for federal matching dollars.

Besides generating at least 32,000 construction jobs, the subway extension would expand mobility for the transit dependent, particularly those coming from the central and eastern parts of the County to job rich areas on the Westside, Yaroslavsky said. “The days when the west county’s transit needs get ignored are over,” Yaroslavsky declared.

Students, staff, and the 10 million annual visitors to UCLA would also benefit from the opening of a subway station in Westwood. “UCLA is the 7th largest employer in Los Angeles,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, “and a subway would eliminate thousands of vehicle commute miles annually.”

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block talked about how UCLA would benefit from the subway

Juan took the pictures.

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