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Metro Committee Approves $225M Cost Overrun for Westside Subway Section 1 Construction

Wilshire subway 4-mile extension section 1 (Western to La Cienega) budget swells from from $3.14B to $3.35B. Section construction is 91 percent done, now anticipated to open fall 2025

Metro photo of D Line subway construction

This morning, the Metro board Construction Committee approved a seven percent cost overrun on construction of the first section of the Westside Subway. That section is currently 91 percent complete, and anticipated to open in Fall 2025.

The overall nine-mile Metro D Line extension project will extend from Koreatown to Westwood. 25 minute rides between Westwood and downtown L.A. will be a game-changer.

Metro map of nine-mile D Line subway extension project

Construction is already well underway on three separate segments, as well as rail yard upgrades.

Today's approval was for D Line extension section 1, which will take riders from the current Koreatown Wilshire/Western terminus to Beverly Hills. The four-mile section includes three new stations: Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cienega.

Wilshire/La Brea Station under construction - via Metro presentation

Section 1 construction broke ground in 2014. At that time, the section was forecast to cost $2.8 billion and to open in 2023.

Section 1 tunneling was difficult and costly, but wrapped up successfully in 2021.

In 2020, Metro approved a $200 million (7 percent) overrun for this section, then another $150 million (5 percent) in 2021. With today's $225 million, the three section 1 cost overruns total $575 million- just over 20 percent of the original budget.

There's no specific big problem today's overrun can be attributed to. The funding is mainly for construction work. Per Metro's documentation, added construction costs are for "Tunnels, Stations, Trackwork, Systems and Systems Integration Testing." Some additional costs (including small increases to pay to extend construction easements) are still resulting from earlier tunneling delays.

Cost overruns are never good news, and transit capital overruns on one project can hinder and delay other transit projects. But $575 million added to bring in a ten-year-long three-billion-dollar project is not unheard of.

What is worrying is that this isn't the last Purple Line construction overage. A separate item at this morning's meeting (presentation - see page 13) noted that, this fiscal year, Metro staff expect budget increases on Section 2 (overrun ~$125 million) and on the downtown rail yard supporting all three sections (that sub-project, called Division 20 Portal Widening Turnback Facility, is already over budget and apparently needs another ~$50 million).

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