At its bi-monthly Construction Community Meeting on Thursday, January 18, representatives from Metro and the Purple Line Extension’s design-build contractor, Skanska-Traylor-Shea (STS), provided several updates on current subway construction activities along Wilshire Blvd.
Ned Racine, Metro’s Construction Relations Officer for the eastern segment of the Purple Line Extension, reported that the staging yard at Crenshaw and Wilshire was recently provided with new banners, and graffiti at the site has been cleaned up. He also noted that the jet grouting activity now taking place to strengthen the soil for future tunneling work near Rossmore and Arden Blvds. will be complete in mid-February, and then that operation will move east, to the part of Wilshire between Norton Ave. and Wilton Pl., and between Gramercy and St. Andrews Pl.
Racine also reported that excavation for the new Wilshire-La Brea station is taking place just east of that intersection, underneath the concrete decking panels that were installed at the street surface last summer and fall. Jill Steiner, from STS, noted that crews access the underground area through shafts at the staging yards at the NW and SW corners of the Wilshire-La Brea intersection, and also by removing some of the concrete panels, behind K-rail barriers, to create additional holes for the delivery of construction materials.
To make this process even easier, however, Metro and STS have proposed the creation of a more permanent center-lane opening on Wilshire, between Sycamore Ave. and the mid-point of the block between Orange Dr. and Mansfield Ave. Unlike the current, smaller, openings, which move around and require constant shifting of traffic patterns, the proposed semi-permanent center opening would be larger, easier to access, and static for the next six to 10 months, allowing traffic to flow without interruption and maintaining two lanes in each direction. But Metro is still discussing that option with the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, local businesses that would be affected, and City Council District 4, so a final decision has not yet been made.
Construction is also moving west fairly quickly, and Metro’s Mindy Lake and STS’s Billy Parent reported that piles are now being driven for the Wilshire-Fairfax station box, and installation of concrete decking along Wilshire in that area will begin in February. The decking work will take place during full closures of Wilshire Blvd. on weekends, as it did at the Wilshire-La Brea section of the project last year. According to Parent, Wilshire will be closed for Fairfax station area decking installation for a total of 18 weekends – 10 for the section of Wilshire between Ogden and Fairfax, 4 for the Wilshire-Fairfax intersection itself, and 4 for the section of Wilshire just west of Fairfax. Metro is currently working on community outreach for the decking project, and will be mailing information on street closures and detours to all homes within a 1-mile radius of the project. There are also representatives delivering information door to door in neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the work area.
Overall, the Purple Line project is still on schedule and, according to Metro’s Michael Cortez, the passage of Measure M in November’s election will provide some extra funding that could accelerate the pace at least a bit. Also, if Los Angeles is chosen to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, Cortez said, even more resources will be provided, which would assure that additional Purple Line segments could be completed before that event.
Metro’s next community construction meeting will be held on March 16, at a location still to be determined.