At its bi-monthly Construction Community Meeting on Tuesday, September 26, representatives from Metro and construction contractor Skanska-Traylor-Shea provided a number of updates on various aspects of the Purple Line subway extension project…but the main overall news was that construction is generally proceeding smoothly and on schedule for the planned 2023 opening.
Locally, the biggest news for the “Section 1” portion of the line (running from Western Ave. to La Cienega Blvd.) is that work is ramping up at the eastern end of that path, where the new tunnels will eventually connect with existing tunnels and the Western Ave. station. Currently, underground utilities and sewer lines are being relocated to prepare for the new tunneling, which will cause some lane closures along Wilshire as the work moves around. Also, Metro will be driving piles in that area between October and December of this year, which will require some full closures of Wilshire Blvd. on weekends (8 p.m. Fridays through 6 a.m. Mondays). Additionally, after the holidays and during the first and second quarters of 2018, crews will also be installing surface-level concrete decking along Wilshire, from Western to Manhattan Place, which will allow traffic to continue to flow along the street while tunneling and construction take place underground. The decking installation will also require several full weekend closures of Wilshire in that area.
At Wilshire/La Brea, the underground station area is now about 85% excavated, about 50-60 feet underground, and preparations are being made to begin actual construction of the station. Also, Metro is eagerly awaiting delivery of two new tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), which are now being constructed in Germany. Metro is currently running a contest for school age children to provide artwork (Kindergarten through 5th graders) and names (6th-12 graders) for the new machines…and winners will attend a welcoming ceremony for the machines. The TBMs will be inserted into the construction area at the Wilshire/La Brea staging yard, and will then – next summer – begin tunneling east toward Western Ave. at the rate of about 4 inches per minute. It will take about a year for them to reach Western Ave. At that point, the machines will be removed from the tunnels, transported back to La Brea, re-inserted into the construction area, and then start tunneling west toward Fairfax.
Currently, the area for the Fairfax station (the entrance for which will be at Wilshire and Orange Grove, near the eastern side of the Petersen Museum), is being excavated. According to Metro representative Mindy Lake, the most surprising thing about the excavation work there at the moment is that crews have found no fossils, even though the location is in such close proximity to the fossile-rich La Brea Tarpits. So far, significant fossil finds have been made at both the La Brea and La Cienega excavation areas, but none at Fairfax, which is where the most fossil deposits were expected.
Meanwhile, work is also proceeding now at the La Cienega station area, where pilings are being driven, and where weekend closures will soon start for the installation of concrete decking there as well. The decking, and weekend closures, will take place for the rest of this year and into the first part of 2018.
Finally on Tuesday, Metro also reported on its Eat, Shop, Play program to remind people that businesses along the construction route are still open and need customer support…and its Business Interruption Fund, which has so far made 111 grants, worth more than $2.6 million, to 50 small businesses along the Purple Line route.
The next Purple Line construction update meeting will be held on Thursday, November 16, 6 p.m., at John Burroughs Middle School.