A map of the Purple Line

Beverly Hills loses epic battle against LA subway extension

28 May 2014 | By Joe Quirke 0 Comments

A generation-long struggle over the extension of a subway line to the wealthy Beverly Hills suburb of Los Angeles appears to have been decided by a legal battle and a $2.1bn federal grant.  

The grant follows the conclusion of a court case that was brought by the city of Beverly Hills against Los Angeles County two years ago. The case arose when it was announced that the Purple Line extension was to pass beneath Beverly Hills High School. Last month it was decided in the Los Angeles Superior Court that the county’s $13.8m environmental review of the subway’s proposed route had been “thorough and fair”. 

The city had also sued the  US Federal Transit Administration and the Department of Transportation over federal grants and loans allocated to the subway, saying the project violated environmental, transit and administrative laws.

Transportation officials told The Los Angeles Times that the ruling ended a generation of controversy and studies over the extension, which will connect the central business district to west Los Angeles and relieve the pressure on a chronically congested commuter corridor. As planned, the nine mile, $5.6bn line, which is due to open in 2035, will include seven new stations between Koreatown and Westwood.

The extension, which will be built beneath Wilshire Boulevard, was first proposed in 1961, and was the subject of popular ballots in 1969 and 1974.

It then became a perennial issue in LA local politics. The New York Times commented: “The dispute has stirred tensions between Beverly Hills school officials and Los Angeles transit advocates, bringing to the surface old charges that the community, synonymous with wealth and privilege, does not want to open its borders to mass transit and the not-so-prosperous people who ride it.” The extension to the Purple Line is expected to handle 20,000 trips a day. During construction about 22,000 jobs will be created.  

The LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive $1.25bn in a construction grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Funding will also come from a $856m loan from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act programme. 

Anthony Foxx, US transportation secretary, commented: “The continued expansion of LA’s public transportation system is vitally important to the millions of residents who need reliable and affordable access to jobs, education and other ladders of opportunity that this region has to offer.”