With everything else going on the the world today, it’s often easy to forget there are some things proceeding pretty much according to plan at the moment…and one of them – with just a couple of small hiccups – is the ongoing construction of the Purple Line (soon to be known as the D Line) Subway Extension.
We caught up with the project at Metro’s quarterly webinar yesterday, and learned that because the Extension is classified as “essential critical infrastructure,” it has not been hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and is still set to open on schedule – with Section 1 (Western to La Cienega) going into service in 2023, Section 2 (La Cienega to Century City) opening in 2025, and Section 3 (Century City to Westwood and the VA Hospital) opening in 2027.
Here are the latest details for Section 1, as presented at this week’s webinar:
Downtown/Union Station Area
Currently, at the downtown end of the Red/Purple Line, Metro is working on a portal widening and turnaround area near Union Station, which will provide new car storage areas and help accommodate and speed up service after the Purple Line Extension opens.
And at the same time, crews are also working on the First Stret bridge nearby, including widening the bridge and performing necessary maintenance and repairs.
West of Western
Along Wilshire Blvd. between Western and La Brea, work is currently focused on two underground cross-passages, which allow movement between the eastbound and westbound subway tunnels. There is a street-level work zone for Cross Passage 8 between Plymouth and Windsor Blvds. (as shown in the image above), and another, for Cross Passage 12 (shown below), between Rimpau and Hudson. In both areas, most work is taking place during nighttime hours, with noisier activities during the day. The Rimpau location is also used for deliveries of concrete and other materials.
La Brea Station Area
Meanwhile, further west toward the new Wilshire/La Brea station, work has begun on several underground “appendage” structures, which include things like ventilation shafts, utility rooms, and emergency exits adjacent to the main tunnel and station areas. Work is now nearing completion on the Phase 1.0 appendages in the graphic above, near Orange Dr. and Sycamore Ave., and will shift to the Phase 1.2 areas later this month, followed by the Phase 1.1 area later this year.
Street level lane closures and detours in this area are currently in effect as shown in the first slide below, and will shift around a bit (see second slide below) as the work locations shift over the next few months and through the summer.
Also, near Sycamore Ave., plans are moving forward to install a large radio antenna at Wilshire and Sycamore. The antenna will help the station communicate with local emergency and first responder networks. It will be located at the SE corner of the Wilshire/Sycamore intersection, above the station’s underground communications room, and will be about 62 feet tall, and less than 12″ in diameter.
Meanwhile, at the La Brea station itself, crews are now working on the station’s stairways and walls.
Fairfax Station Area
Moving west to the Fairfax station, work continues on the underground station box itself…
…as well as the appendage (utility, ventilation, emergency exit, etc.) structures for that station. (This work will continue throughout 2021, according to the schedule below.)
The ongoing closure of Orange Grove Ave., south of Wilshire, will also remain in place until next January, to help facilitate excavation of the appendage construction areas.
San Vicente Anomaly
Perhaps the most intriguing detail of the Purple Line construction in the last few months is the underground “anomaly” found in the path of the planned tunnels near Wilshire and San Vicente. So far, Metro officials say only that the item appears to be “a big hunk of metal,” possibly part of the structure of a storm drain or old bridge, but they have not publicly identified it further, even though investigations and excavations are ongoing.
At this week’s presentation, Metro representatives said they won’t know or announce what the item is until it has been fully removed. They did, however note that its presence has delayed tunnel boring in this area, which means that although the first Tunnel Boring Machine (Elsie) is scheduled to reach its western destination at La Cienega Blvd. in March, the second TBM, Soyeon, is now not expected to arrive until summer.
Meanwhile, while work continues at the anomaly site, there will be street-level work zones, lane closures, detours and other traffic adjustments in place at Wilshire and San Vicente for the next few months.
La Cienega Station Area
Work at the third station in Section 1 of the Purple Line Extension project, La Cienega Blvd., isn’t as far along as at the other two stations, but it is proceeding quickly.
For the next few months, according to Metro, there will continue to be street and lane closures near the construction staging yard and underground opening at Wilshire and Gale Ave., and construction will continue on the station roof underground this month.
Work will also begin soon on the underground appendage structures for the La Cienega station, as shown below.
And finally in this station area, Metro is currently negotiating for use of the empty lot on La Cienega Blvd. where the Benihana restaurant used to be (green square in the photo below), for construction worker parking. According to the plan, the lot would provide space for 45-50 personal vehicles, 24 hours a day. But according to Metro, there would be noise mitigations (sound blankets, etc.) installed at the site, signs would be posted asking workers to keep noise down for the adjacent neighbors, and no large construction vehicles would be parked at the location.
inally in this week’s presentation, Metro representatives also reported that its Eat, Shop, Play marketing program and Business Interruption Fund continue to provide assistance to small businesses along the project route (though the BIF compensates only for construction-related losses, NOT losses related to other factors like COVID-19). To date, says Metro, the BIF has awarded more than $30 million in grants to small businesses citywide, and more than $6 million to businesses along Section 1 of the Purple Line project.
For more details on Purple Line Section 1 construction, this week’s full presentation will soon be posted at https://www.metro.net/projects/westside/westside-meeting-presentations (it also includes information on Sections 2 and 3 of the project, including the stations in Beverly Hills, Century City and the Westwood/VA Hospital area, which are not included in this story).
Metro’s next lunchtime webinar for construction updates on Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Purple Line Extension is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5, from 12 to 1 p.m., via Zoom.
For more information about Purple Line construction, support programs or community meetings, you can contact Metro directly at: