April Metro Board Wrap-Up: Full Speed Ahead on Purple Line Subway
Yesterday’s Metro board meeting was the shortest in recent memory. Only seven of thirteen boardmembers attended. Seven votes is the minimum to approve items, so, due to conflicts of interest, several items were postponed to future meetings.
Among the postponed items were:
- Approval of a planned 5-year contract for biomethane gas to fuel buses which has been controversial as a coalition pushes for Metro to run all electric buses
- Approval of a joint development agreement for the North Hollywood Red/Orange Line Station area
- The current MacArthur Park Station joint development agreement was renewed for 30 days, with a full renewal (through December) on next month’s agenda
- Allocation of $1.26 million to close out the North Hollywood pedestrian underpass project
- Approval of a contract for highway project delivery support services
As anticipated the board approved the following items:
- Final approvals for 2017 bike-share expansion to Wilmington, San Pedro, Venice, and Pasadena
- Approval of four alignments for West Santa Ana Branch light rail environmental analysis
- Approval of three alternatives for Eastside Gold Line expansion environmental analysis
- Approval of a categorical exemption for phase one of the Rail2River walk/bike path, and selection of the Randolph Street right-of-way for Rail2River phase two
- Approval of a motion for additional L.A. River bike paths paralleling the lower 710 Freeway
- Approval of an additional $450,000 to close out the contract for the completed Universal Station pedestrian bridge – the budget there ballooned from $19 million to a final $24.7 million.
The most far-reaching item approved by the board was a formal funding commitment for phase 3 of the Metro Purple Line subway extension. Metro’s Purple Line Subway is being extended in three phases. Phase 1, under construction, will extend to La Cienega Boulevard in 2023. Phase 2, fully funded and with construction just yesterday given notice to proceed, will extend to Century City by 2026.
The 2.6-mile phase 3 of the Purple Line includes two addition stations: Wilshire/Westwood and VA Hospital. Metro CEO Phil Washington and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti have stated that they would like to see the Purple Line to Westwood up and running in time for L.A. to host the 2024 Olympics.
Phase 3 has funding in Metro’s 2008 Measure R expenditure plan, though, solely under Measure R the anticipated completion date would have been 2036. Under the 2016 Measure M expenditure plan, the date was moved up to 2024-2027. Yesterday’s board action now commits Metro to $899.9 million in accelerated Measure R funds for the project’s third phase.
With Metro’s $899.9 million toward the roughly $3-billion project, there are still other funds needed, including $994 million from Measure M.
Metro is seeking $1.3 billion to be funded by the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. Future FTA funding is anything but clear. Phil Washington and others speak of working with the new administration. President Donald Trump is supportive of an expected trillion-dollar infrastructure program. Congressional Republicans are looking to cut spending. Metro is full speed ahead on the Purple Line, but it will take some real determination to steer the project into a 2024 opening.