(Although I have admit it is a little eyebrow-raising that this document was released BEFORE the Public comment period was officially over.)
As I expected and as Metro has been hinting at for months, they will go with Alternative 2. This means extending the Purple Line to the V.A. in Westwood through Century City. This means that the full Purple Line extension to West Los Angeles and Santa Monica will not happen at this time. It also means the hoped for heavy rail subway connector through West Hollywood will not happen either, especially as Metro will is cancelling any plans for a heavy rail transfer structure at the La Cienega station:
This structure is not recommended for inclusion in the LPA. The cost of $135 million is not within the available funding reserved through the LRTP for the project. Additionally, the heavy rail option for the West Hollywood Line did not perform as well as anticipated when evaluated against FTA New Starts criteria in the DEIS/DEIR. As such, the high cost of the connection structure is not justified when there may be alternative, less costly, solutions to serve the route through West Hollywood.
While the DEIS/DEIR identifies that the West Hollywood line has very high potential as a transit corridor, further study is needed to determine if a more cost-effective transit alternative such as light rail subway may provide a project that would be more competitive under federal funding criteria. If such an alternative were selected in the future, there would not be the need for a heavy rail connection structure.
So there are really three basic options for those of us who dream of a Santa Monica Blvd. metro rail line.
(1) Since federal funding is out and there will be no transfer station at La Cienega, find the money from somewhere else for a heavy rail subway. Good luck with that. Metro will spend the next thirty years paying off Measure R.
(2) Metro does state that a light-rail subway may be possible. This option would most likely be the Crenshaw-north option, a northern extension of the Crenshaw Line from Crenshaw/Expo up San Vicente to Santa Monica Blvd then over to Santa Monica/LaBrea and then up to Hollywood/Highland. Now there is no designated money for this either, but it would be less expensive to built than a heavy rail spur of the Purple Line.
Another possibilty is a separate light-rail subway project involving Santa Monica and LaCienega Blvds. to Venice Beach or LAX.
(3) This would be the at-grade streetcar option.
The advantage to this is that this could be built within five years with a coordinated effort. It it were put in a transit only lane, it would move very well. Yes, two weekends a year, during the gay pride festival and Sunset Junction street fair, there may have to be substitute buses running, but the benefits to the other 352 days a year a worth it. This could use the back end of Beverly Hills ROW that Metro is sitting on. Would people be prepared to give up a lane of traffic/parking for this? I would, but I suspect some motorists and store owners may object. But who are we designing our transportation network for? People or single-occupancy autos?
NO ONE has been a bigger advocate for a Santa Monica Blvd. rail line than me. Today's recommendations for the LPA are hugely disappointing. But I encourage those others who support a rail project on Santa Monica Blvd. to get behind the less expensive and therefore more feasible options of a light-rail subway or at-grade modern streetcar running in a transit only lane. Personally, I like the light-rail extension of the Crenshaw Line. There would be a one-seat ride from LAX to/from Beverly Hills, Beverly Center, Miracle Mile, West Hollywood and Hollywood. That is no small compensation for not having a one-seat ride to the beach.
However, I am just one person and would like to hear your suggestions about how we should proceed from here forward.