Metro Receives Key Federal Approval for Westside Purple Line Extension Section 3

Federal approval means that construction can proceed on the third phase extending the Metro Purple Line. Photo: Wikimedia
Federal approval means that construction can proceed on the third phase extending the Metro Purple Line. Photo: Wikimedia
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At this morning’s Metro Construction Committee, CEO Phil Washington announced that Metro had received a federal letter of no prejudice (LONP) for construction to proceed on the third phase of the Westside Purple Line. Washington aptly described this as a “big deal,” as this was the first major transit project that this administration has approved to proceed to the federal New Starts engineering phase.

Under the current administration, there is a significant backlog of transit project funding that was already approved by Congress, but not yet distributed to localities to build projects. The Federal Transit Administration has been delaying funding for transit projects in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Durham, New York City, Milwaukee, Seattle, and elsewhere.

Three-phase Westside Purple Line extension map - via Metro
Three-phase Westside Purple Line extension map – via Metro

Metro is extending the Purple Line heavy rail subway nearly nine miles westward in three sections. Phases one and two are already under construction and expected to open in 2023 and 2025, respectively. Phase three is expected to cost $1.3 billion (updated: this is only the tunneling cost) and will extend the subway 2.6 miles from Century City to Westwood and the V.A. Hospital.

The federal letter of no prejudice covers an initial $491 million, nearly all for tunnel construction. The LONP guarantees that the feds will reimburse the local expenditures under a forthcoming full-funding grant agreement (FFGA).

Metro had anticipated the federal funding would be approved several months earlier. The agency had already gone through a competitive process to approve a contractor bid for tunnel boring. That bid is about to “go stale” by expiring in early October, which would likely mean re-opening the selection process. The LONP directs Metro to work with its contractor to extend the bid expiration deadline so the final tunneling arrangements get the go-ahead by early December. Metro’s Chief Program Management Officer Richard Clarke stated that the agency had already touched base with the contractor and that extending the bid arrangement by two months did not appear to be a problem.

In August, Metro received proposals for the rest of section three construction, including stations, track work, and systems.

Washington acknowledged Metro Board Chair County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti for their actions to secure the federal approval. He also emphasized that the federal letter means that Purple Line construction is on track to be completed in time to serve people attending the 2028 Olympic Games.

  • Intractable

    Fantastic! This is an incredible boon for the region.

    The projections for added ridership will be crushed… probably even more so than the Expo line (which hit 2020 projections in 2014).

  • jamesjamonsta

    OMG get a life.

  • BamKablam

    You make some very valid points but you discount your credibility by needlessly and childisly denigrating trangender people. Despite your knowledge germane to the article and the priorities of the city, your superfluous use of terms like “male-she” greatly reduce your overall impact.

  • Matt

    This basically has nothing to do with the subway. The current subway construction is on time and under budget so far, although the Regional Connector and Crenshaw have been problems.

    Crime did rise from 2013 – 2016, but it is down this year and it was down virtually every year from 1992 to 2012. LA has never had more than 10,000 officers although I agree it should be at least 12,000.

    The schools and pensions are major problems, but they have nothing to do with the subway or Olympics.

    Overall, this is great news as this would have thrown the whole last part of the extension over budget with a multiyear delay.

  • LazyReader

    It’s one of the standard tropes of politics, that hosting the Olympic Games,
    or other such festivals for sportsmen like the World Cup, will boost
    the local economy. It’s one of the standard tropes of economics that
    hosting the Olympic Games, or other such festivals for sportsmen like
    the World Cup, is a financial loss maker that has the ability to
    bankrupt places with less than rock solid finances. That London hosted
    the Olympics recently was lovely in one manner and financially lost some
    couple of tens of billions of pounds.

    Democratic nations are no longer buying the argument that hosting the
    games is a wise investment. Every potential 2022 host city with a
    democratic government eventually pulled out of the bidding, many over
    economic concerns, leaving Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the IOC’s
    only two options.

  • Matt

    Yeah, that has nothing to do with Los Angeles. Those cities spent tens of billions of dollars building new stadiums and Olympic Villages. LA is building only a couple of temp. venues and no new Olympic Village and the LA budget is only a tiny fraction of recent Olympic games. They aren’t comparable.

    BTW, this isn’t a post about the Olympics anyway. It is about the subway and you took it off the rails.

  • LazyReader

    I don’t know why they’re expanding the subway or the lightrail when transit ridership is declining for both. A report
    from the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies finds that the main
    cause of declining ridership in southern California is poor people
    buying cars. Between 1990 and 2000, when ridership was growing, the Los
    Angeles region grew by 1.8 million people but only 456,000 cars, or
    about one car per four people. Between 2000 and 2010, when ridership was
    shrinking, the region grew by 2.3 million people and gained 2.1 million
    cars, or nearly one car per new person.

    Combine that with the government giving illegal immigrants driver’s licenses, the incentive to ride transit just isn’t there.

  • Ben Phelps

    Number of transit advocates your trolling of streetsblog has convinced of anything: 0

  • Ben Phelps

    he’s a disturbed person