Metro Breaks Ground on Purple Line Subway Extension

Assembled dignitaries break ceremonial ground on the 4-mile Purple Line subway extension this morning at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Assembled dignitaries break ceremonial ground on the 4-mile Purple Line subway extension this morning at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This morning Metro broke ground on its fifth simultaneous rail construction project: the Purple Line Extension. The new phase will extend the subway from downtown to La Cienega Boulevard, with two additional future phases planned to extend the line to Century City and Westwood.

The ceremonies took place at the L.A. County Museum of Art, which will be served by the future Wilshire/Fairfax station. Attendees numbered roughly 500, mostly governmental and consultant staff. The Master of Ceremonies was KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak.

Speakers included Federal Transit Administration acting head Therese McMillan, Senator Diane Feinstein, Congressmembers Karen Bass and Henry Waxman, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and L.A. City Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, and Tom LaBonge.

Numerous speakers acknowledged the long series of leaders that brought this latest construction project to fruition: from former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa to former Metro CEO Roger Snoble. Administrator McMillan spoke enthusiastically about bringing transit to Wilshire Boulevard, “where car culture was born.” Mayor Garcetti spoke of Los Angeles as a multi-modal city, where people can walk, bike, ride, and “if you want to stay in your car, God bless you.”

Maybe most tellingly, Senator Feinstein singled out the need for continuity of leadership, specifically mentioning County Supervisor-elect Sheila Kuehl who was seated in the front row of the audience. Feinstein also spoke of the importance of the task of keeping full federal funding on track in the current Congress. 

Full funding for the Purple Line Extension was announced in May. This phase will extend 3.9 miles, from Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard, all underground below Wilshire Boulevard. There will be new stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cienega. At stations, construction will be cut-and-cover construction, with underground tunnel-boring construction connecting them. The extension costs to $2.8 billion, and is anticipated to be completed in 2023.

Today's announcement means that Angelenos should be able to ride the Wilshire Subway to La Cienega in 2023. Image: Metro website
Today’s groundbreaking means that Angelenos should be able to ride the Wilshire Subway (dashed purple above) to La Cienega in 2023. Image: Metro website

Future Purple Line subway phases referred to during today’s ceremony included:

  • Section 1 (under construction today) – 3.9 miles, Koreatown to La Cienega – scheduled to open in 2023
  • Section 2 – 2.6 miles, La Cienega to Century City – speculated to open roughly 2026
  • Section 3 – 2.9 miles, Century City to Westwood – speculated to open roughly 2035

Today’s groundbreaking means that Metro officially has five new rail projects under construction.

  1. Expo Line phase 2 – Culver City to Santa Monica – estimated opening 2016
  2. Gold Line Foothill Extension – Pasadena to Azusa – estimated opening 2016
  3. Crenshaw/LAX Line – South L.A. to LAX – estimated opening 2019
  4. Downtown L.A. Regional Connector – Little Tokyo to Financial District – estimated opening 2020
  5. Purple Line Westside extension phase 1 – Koreatown to West L.A. – estimated opening 2023
  • davistrain

    Considering that LA County had zero miles of electric railway (or diesel-powered suburban trains) in service 25 years ago, this is rather amazing. As a side note, I’m amused at the present form of “groundbreaking”–it’s more like giving grownups a chance to play in a sand pile without feeling foolish.

  • User008

    Streetsblog LA can you look into a piece any ways that the purple line will be sped up? It is right along the primary urban corridor of Los Angeles, and while there are still issues when this project gets to Beverly Hills, it is so imperative that we find a way to accelerate it.

  • Erik Thompson

    Nine years to complete — Really?

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Dignitaries at this morning's Westside Purple Line Extension section 2 groundbreaking. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

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