Breaking News: Metro Can’t Complete Trenching Studies in One Weekend

(Update: Metro was actually on campus for seven different days doing studies in 2011: 2/19, 2/26, 2/17, 3/5, 3/6, 3/12, and 3/13. On some of the days, poor weather prevented them from getting good samples, but we should note they were there longer than one weekend.)

Here we go again.

The publicity wing of the Beverly Hills Unified School District, known as the Beverly Hills Courier (pgs. 1 and 24), is using the new tests being completed by the School District in an attempt to discredit the seismic tests completed last year by Metro.  Apparently, Beverly Hills’ paper of record isn’t done it’s groundbreaking reporting on the issue of “Beverly Hills vs. Metro” as this story follows their expose on Metro sending secret mailings throughout Beverly Hills that you could also download off Metro’s website.

To read the Courier's full coverage, or any of the excitement from last week's issue, just click on the image.

For those of you just joining this debate, studies unveiled October by a team of Metro paid for geologists and seismologists revealed that faults that run running underneath Santa Monica Boulevard made planning the Westside Subway along the route too dangerous to try.  After implying that Metro’s team was lieing, the Beverly Hills Unified School District announced that it was hiring its own team to determine whether it is safe to tunnel under their high school.

Fair enough, although I’m not sure what the end goal is here for the School District.  Do they really want to prove that it’s dangerous to do more development on school property?  Wouldn’t such a finding also endanger the same expansion plans that might be endangered by the subway?

Once the Beverly Hills Courier realized the School District was doing different studies than Metro, and doing more extensive studies at that, they wrote an editorialfront page article declaring that Metro’s studies were deficient.  Most damming of all, a statement by Metro showed that the agency even conceded their study was lacking.  Thus the headline at the Courier, “Metro Admits Santa Monica Blvd. Seismic Work Not Adequate.”

It’s little wonder that the article was authored by “Courier Staff.”  I wouldn’t want my name attached to that reporting either.

First, Metro admitted no such thing.  In fact, the statement that they provided the Courier, helpfully posted at The Source, barely mentions Santa Monica Boulevard and says the opposite of what the Courier says it says:

Metro’s initial fault investigations focused on the Santa Monica Fault on Santa Monica Boulevard and were appropriate for subway planning at this stage. Urbanization, including the presence of subsurface utilities, traffic and permitting precludes trenching in that location.

In other words, Metro can’t trench on land it doesn’t own without a permit which would be inappropriate at this stage of testing.   As for the big reveal that the BHUSD tests will be more accurate than the one’s completed by Metro’s team, Metro doesn’t argue this point, even conceding that “Trench information is useful because a continuous “face” can be mapped to more accurately locate the fault(s).”  So why didn’t Metro trench for its studies?  The BHUSD wouldn’t allow them to, giving Metro staff only one weekend to complete their work compared to the weeks of work access given to their team for trenching.  While Metro staff was allowed weekend access to the campus for studies, weekday access was more guarded presumably to allow students a better atmosphere for their studies.

Some other notes from the Courier article:

  • The Beverly Hills Unified School District is not allowing Metro or independent consultants to be on-site during their trenching study.  No reason is given, but the Courier makes it sound as thought the BHUSD’s decision is based partly on their own frustration getting information from Metro.
  • After Metro was refused access to the facility or to data, the Beverly Hills City Council asked for the same data.  This somehow proves collusion between the two against the School District.
  • The trenches being dug on high school property will be over 100 feet long and 20 feet deep.  Some of the trenching will be done while school is in session.  One of the reasons for BHUSD’s opposition to the subway is that construction 75 feet underground might be disruptive to exchange students from Krypton.
  • BHUSD Lead Consultant Tim Buresh sounds reasonable, articulate and competent.  A google search of his name finds him to be well qualified to do this sort of research.
  • “Courier Staff” have reading issues.  Their article states, “The MTA refused to respond to The Courier’s request to explain why the more accurate trenching process was not used in the first place except to blame it on “urbanization.”
    Metro’s statement reads, “Metro’s initial fault investigations focused on the Santa Monica Fault on Santa Monica Boulevard and were appropriate for subway planning at this stage. Urbanization, including the presence of subsurface utilities, traffic and permitting precludes trenching in that location.
    For the tests conducted at Beverly Hills High School, BHSUD gave Metro limited access to the school property — initially one weekend only which was then extended to other weekends due to rain. Scientific analysis of trenches excavated to the proper depths (at least 15 feet) and spanning the entire width of the fault zone would take a minimum of 14 days and probably more.”
    I count three different reasons that Metro didn’t do a trenching study: the presence of subsurface utilities, the permitting involved in closing Santa Monica Boulevard for two weeks, and limited access to BHUSD property.