Purple Line Construction Progress Recounted in Two Recent Meetings

Marlon Walker, Metro’s Assistant Manager of Construction Relations, led the Purple Line Section 1 Construction Community Meeting on Thursday, April 25.

Last week, Metro held not just one but two meetings to update the community on its Purple Line Subway Extension progress.  The first was a web-based meeting on Wednesday, April 24, providing an overview of the entire Purple Line Extension project, which will run along Wilshire Blvd. from Western Ave. to the VA Hospital in Westwood…and the second was the quarterly Section 1 Construction Community Meeting, on Thursday, April 25, specifically focusing on progress of Section 1 of the extension, from Western Ave. to La Cienega Blvd.

Purple Line Overview Webinar

During Wednesday’s webinar – the first Metro has held for this particular project – status updates were provided on all the various parts of the Purple Line Extension project.  These included:

Section 1 – Western Ave. to La Cienega Blvd. (Opening in 2023)

Purple Line Maintenance Facility – This facility is actually located downtown, on Santa Fe Ave. in the Arts District.  It will provide necessary maintenance for both Purple Line train cars and the other maintenance vehicles that service both trains and tracks along the route.  The facility will be the first component of the Purple Line to be finished…in June of this year.

Interior of the new Purple Line maintenance building, now nearing completion in downtown Los Angeles.

Tunnel Boring Machines – The TBMs, named Elsie and Soyeon in a contest last spring, are now making their way from La Brea east toward Western Ave., a journey of about 9,500 feet.  Soyeon has just crossed Crenshaw Ave. (about 7,000 feet along the route), while Elsie is a bit behind, just past Plymouth Blvd., at about 6,000 feet.  The machines will reach their destination in June, and then will be removed from the tunnel, transported back to La Brea, and reinserted, facing west, to start their journey toward Fairfax Ave. in September. The two machines (there are two because there will be two tunnels, for trains running east and west) both dig the tunnels and, as they move, install the concrete panels that line the tunnels.  These two TBMs will be used just for Section 1 of the Purple Line, while a new set of machines will dig Section 2 when that section is ready.  (A new naming and art contest for the Section 2 TBMs is now open for votes.)

Wilshire/La Brea Station – Crews are now installing tunnel rings (marking the spots on the station box wall where the TBMs will begin their work) on the west wall of the underground station box at Wilshire and La Brea…and also currently pouring the floor for the concourse (ticketing) level of the station.

Tunnel rings being installed on the western wall of the La Brea station.

Wilshire/Fairfax Station – Excavation for the Fairfax station is also complete, and crews are pouring a protective slab (temporary floor) in the station area, and wrapping the walls and floor in 100ml HDPE plastic sheeting, which serves as a water and gas barrier.  (Note: there will be some local street closures coming up during the concrete pours.)

Working on the concrete floor at the Fairfax station.

Wilshire and Crescent Heights – There won’t be a station at Wilshire and Crescent Heights, but Metro crews are currently doing some investigative drilling there to plan for the coming tunneling operations underground.

Wilshire/La Cienega Station – According to Metro officials, this station – demonstrating that La Cienega (which is Spanish for “The Swamp”) is aptly named – has produced the most fossils of any dig site so far along the Purple Line.  Station box excavation is still underway here, and there are intermittent street closures at Gale Dr., east of La Cienega, to allow for the entry and exit of trucks hauling the excavated dirt.

And finally, Metro officials invited everyone to join them for free pizza and sno-cones on Sunday, June 2, at the La Brea Tar Pits, to celebrate 50% completion of Section 1.

Section 2 – La Cienega Blvd. to Century City (Opening in 2025)

Wilshire/Rodeo Station and Wilshire/Reeves Dr. Staging Yard – Pre-construction activities are now complete at the Wilshire/Rodeo station area, and Advanced Utility Relocation operations are now underway.  At the staging yard on Reeves Dr., sound walls are being installed.

Wilshire/Cañon Dr. Staging Yard – Buildings have been removed at N. Cañon Dr. for another staging yard, and water and sewer lines in the area will also soon be replaced.  Cañon Dr. will be closed just above Wilshire this summer (see image below) to allow trucks better access to the staging yard.

Century City Station (Constellation/Century Park East) – Metro is now peparing for excavation of the new  Century City station box, which will stretch under Constellation Ave. from Century Park East to Avenue of the Stars, and the eventual arrival of the second set of Purple Line Tunnel Boring Machines.  Concrete street decking has been installed on Constellation, and excavation has begun.  Constellation Blvd. at Century Park East is now closed, and will remain so until at least the end of the year (or possibly longer if an application Metro submitted for an extension is approved).

Section 3 – Century City to the VA Hospital (Opening in 2027)

Wilshire/Westwood Station – Advanced Utility Relocation work is now underway at the site of the future UCLA station, which will be located at the NE corner of Wilshire and Westwood Blvd., with entrances on both the north and south side of Wilshire).  The installation of steel piles will begin next year.

VA Hospital Station (Wilshire/Bonsall) – This location – unique among all the Purple Line stations – will have a “kiss and ride” drop-off area (but still no parking), with a 30-minute maximum stay and shuttle and bus access.  Utility relocation work has also begun here, near the intersection of Federal and Ohio.

Finally, Metro representatives also presented information about the Purple Line Eat, Shop, Play program, which provides advertising and publicity for businesses along the construction route…and the Business Interruption Fund, which provides grants to help small businesses along and adjacent to the route, which might otherwise suffer financial harm from the extended construction.  According to Metro’s Assistant Manager for Construction Relations Marlon Walker, the BIF has made 884 grants to businesses along Sections 1 and 2 the Purple Line so far, totalling $20.8 million. (Section 3 grants will begin soon.)

The full slide presentation from Wednesday’s webinar can be found at http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/ple_community_webinar_2019-0424.pdf

Meanwhile, Thursday’s meeting provided some additional information specific to the Section 1 construction.

Purple Line Section 1 Construction Community Meeting

At Thursday’s in-person meeting, focusing much more specifically on Section 1 of the Purple Line alignment (from Western to La Cienega), Walker confirmed that all three new Section 1 stations (La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega) will open on schedule in the fall of 2023.

In reviewing the tunneling details and progress of the Tunnel Boring Machines so far, Metro’s Senior Construction Relations Officer Ned Racine filled in a few additional details about the work (beyond those provided in the webinar, above), including that the TBMs move by pushing themselves against the concrete tunnel panels that they install.  Also, the dirt dug by the TBMs is being hauled out of the tunnel at the staging yard at the SW corner of Wilshire and La Brea…while the concrete tunnel segments are loaded into the tunnel at the staging yard at the NW corner of that intersection.

In addition to the details provided at Wednesday’s webinar about construction at the Fairfax station area, Scott Donahue, representing Metro’s design-build contractor, Skanska-Traylor-Shay, noted that concrete work will be continuing for the rest of this year, and Orange Grove Ave. will be soon be closed at Wilshire for the duration of construction (more details about the closure will be provided soon).

Section of Orange Grove Ave. that will be closed for the remainder of this year (and possibly longer).

Donahue also said that, in addition to the work at Crescent Heights and Wilshire, described in Wednesday’s webinar,  soil improvement work (hardening the soil with a concrete grout mixture) is now underway in that area as well, and will continue through mid-May.

After fielding a few queries about noise and other issues near the construction zones, Racine invited people to contact him directly whenever they have a question or problem. (“I’m disturbingly easy to get hold of,” he said.)  Racine can be reached at racinen@metro.net or (323) 900-2190.  For other questions, information and issues, contact:

Finally at Thursday’s meeting, Racine also introduced guest speaker Emily Kantrim, a volunteer with the Midtown Homeless Coalition, who reminded attendees that the city has a new resource – the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal – LA-HOP.org – that people can use to connect homeless individuals to helpful resources (without calling police just because someone is on the street).  Kantrim noted that LA-HOP does not provide instant solutions, but does connect people in need with a variety of helpful sources (not just housing programs, but things like free showers at the Saban Community Clinic) that can be good first steps to longer-term solutions.  Also, Kantrim urged people to call LA-HOP whether they see a homeless individual new to the area, one who has been there for a while, or someone has returned after being gone for a while.  People’s situations can change over time, Kantrim said, and re-connecting them to LA-HOP’s resources can be helpful, even if they’re already in the system somewhere.  Reports can be made anonymously, or you can provide your name and contact information to receive updates after your report.

Emily Kantri speakes about LA-HOP at Thursday’s Purple Line Section 1 meeting.

Full presentation slides from Thursday’s Section 1 Construction Community Meeting can be found at http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/presentation-ple-2019-0425.pdf

 

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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