Local

Beverly Hills tunneling moves closer to reality with Purple Line funds

Federal funding for the Purple LIne second phase will allow the project to move forward, but tunneling under Beverly Hills High School remains controversial.
Federal funding for the Purple LIne second phase will allow the project to move forward, but tunneling under Beverly Hills High School remains controversial.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Listen to story

01:00
Download this story 0MB

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently announced a new infusion of federal funds to help build out the Purple Line subway along Wilshire Boulevard, but the plan continues to cause controversy in Beverly Hills.

Metro made its major announcement last week at a corner of Constellation Boulevard in Century City, unveiling $1.5 billion in federal grants and loans for the second phase of the Purple Line subway. The Century City location is near where Metro plans to build a subway station. 

But it’s also a site that has been at the center of a years-long court battle with officials in Beverly Hills. That’s because to reach that location, Metro would have to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School, which opponents say would cause "irreparable harm."

The school district has tried and failed in two separate lawsuits to stop Metro’s plan — once in L.A. Superior Court and again in a federal court challenging the Federal Transit Administration's approval of the project.

In a ruling last August, a federal judge ordered Metro to complete an additional environmental review detailing why the agency chose the Century City location and how construction would affect air quality near the high school.

Beverly Hills Unified School District is still pursuing legal action to stop Metro from moving forward with the construction until it finishes the environmental report. It filed another federal lawsuit in November, seeking an injunction against Metro's plan to hire a contractor to start designs based on the assumption that the Constellation Boulevard station will go forward.

According to Metro, the supplemental environmental review will be completed by this summer. Construction on that part of the subway isn’t set to start until 2018 and the entire length of the subway to Westwood by 2035.

But Metro officials hope to accelerate the schedule with funds from Measure M, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax increase, and potential private partnerships, to finish the entire length of the subway by 2024.