It came as a bit of a shock to residents of the 800 block of South Lorraine when a two-story ‘soundwall’ was erected quickly one day on the southwest corner of the METRO Purple Line staging lot on Wilshire and Lorraine.
Residents of Windsor Village knew there was to be a community meeting with Metro on January 29th to discuss mitigation efforts regarding the staging area, so were surprised to see the wall erected prior to the meeting. The lot, on Wilshire across the street from the Harbor Building, is currently used to park vehicles, store equipment and pile materials related to the utility relocation at the future subway stops down the line along Wilshire, at La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega.
Windsor Village residents put together a list of issues they wanted addressed, which include regular maintenance of the area outside the wall, additional trash receptacles, removal of Metro signage on the wall along Lorraine Boulevard, and reducing noise and light from trucks going in and out of the yard.
“Kasey Shuda and her team at Metro are serious about communications with the neighborhood,” Lorraine Blvd resident James Healy told the Buzz. “But we’re still working it out. It seems that when a contractor is awarded the bid, that company then gets to use the lot as an amenity for staging the work they’re doing. So we’re talking to Metro, who is then talking to the contractor.”
Healy confirmed that the wall did substantially cut down on noise from the lot, where the works goes on through the night. Twenty feet tall and dark green in color, it also cuts down on the amount of light coming into his home. Kasey Shuda, Construction Relations Manager for Metro, explained the sudden wall in an email to community residents in late January . “I apologize for the lack of communication about the wall. We have been pushing this through to get it up quickly and the builder went ahead with construction without sending notice. The benefit of this noise mitigation will be great,” she wrote.
We spoke with Shuda via telephone to hear more about the wall, which will be used as a staging for Purple Line construction until 2020 or 2021. “This is a temporary sound wall. Another sound wall, built with wood and lined with sound blankets in the interior, will be built around all four sides of the block.” There is an example of this type of Metro wall at Wilshire and Ogden. The more permanent “temporary wall” will be built in 2016 when Metro finishes these early stages of utility relocation, and the design/builder begins the real construction. The Purple Line is expected to become operational in 2023.
Shuda told the Buzz that Metro is already working on the neighborhood’s list of concerns. The contractor has agreed to do a nightly cleanup around the perimeter of the fence. Metro has put in requests to the City for additional trash and recycling bins at the two bus stops near the corner. Metro signage is being removed from the Lorraine Blvd side of the sound wall, and they have worked on making the entrance and exit of trucks via the Crenshaw driveway less noisy. The contractor has also been asked to use the SW corner of the lot as little as possible since it abuts a private home.
The march of the “Subway to the Sea” will certainly impact the greater Wilshire area for the next 10 years, but Metro is doing its best to work with communities to make it as palatable as possible. Residents who have complaints about noise, blocked driveways or other Metro construction related issues are encouraged to call the Metro Hotline at 213-922-6934.