Thursday, January 24, 2013

How about a West Hollywood Transit Tunnel (inspired by Seattle)

Seattle has a transit tunnel downtown in which buses run underground unencumbered with auto traffic.  Seattle's growing light rail system also uses this transit tunnel creating a four station underground transitway shared by buses and rail.  Here is a picture.

West Hollywood could put one of these under Santa Monica Boulevard.

We do not necessarily need to wait for Metrorail to build it.  Perhaps our City Council candidates could be asked to raise bond money to build it for Rapid buses today (while local buses continue to run on the surface), while we can add light-rail tomorrow as Seattle has done.

With ever more congested traffic and density, we cannot depend on single-occupancy vehicles as the sole means of transportation to/from/within West Hollywood anymore.

We could partner with the cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills to create a transit tunnel from Hollywood/Vine to Century Century using the unused Metro right-of-way through Beverly Hills.

However, a four stop transit tunnel underneath Santa Monica Blvd. through West Hollywood would be very attractive to bringing future transit improvements. Stations at San Vicente/Robertson, La Cienega, Fairfax and La Brea come to mind. Imagine rapid buses entering the tunnel through at Doheny and exiting at La Brea.  Eventually the neighboring areas would want to extend it and add light-rail and streetcar.

And as an affluent city, I believe West Hollywood could start on this as a capital project were it so inclined.  West Hollywood voted 86% in favor of Measure R and was also the highest voting  city for Measure J.  Right now we are getting NOTHING for that vote.  For those who want to build something cheaper than an underground tunnel, we could create our own transit-only lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Metro depends on the overwhelming "Yes" votes West Hollywood, Hollywood and surrounding areas in order to pass countywide transit measures, yet it still offers us NO Metrorail projects for our sales tax dollars. While I strongly supported Measure R and Measure J and still do, what if instead of voting to spend our sales tax money on the rest of the county, West Hollywood spent its own sales tax revenue on its own transit infrastructure?

Just a thought.  What are yours?


Alex Hall said...

This is a great idea. The key question is cost. I assume it's a lot cheaper than building a heavy rail subway. But still, putting a tunnel in must be pretty expensive. Could a single municipality the size of WeHo take the lead on a project of that magnitude?

Blake Alexander said...

I lived in Seattle and loved that transit tunnel however a heavy rail project could link the Hollywood/Highland red line station with the LaCiennega/Wilshire purple line station. Light rail wouldn't sync up unless that's not the intention.

Conversely though, if they run the future Crenshaw light rail line from Expo/Crewnshaw up to the purple, then through WeHo, that would make LRT the go to method.

Interesting. I wonder the cost difference between the two. I'm sure LRT makes more financial sense.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. I've always felt it was ridiculous that West Hollywood so staunchly supports transit, but isn't represented by any of Metro's near future plans.

Existing tunnel infrastructure would be very attractive to an upgrade for light rail. The only issue is that since that upgrade would likely be a northern extension of the Crenshaw line, the stations would need to be upgraded to high floor platforms.

whiteguyfromtheprojects said...

I doubt that it would be substantially cheaper than building heavy rail/light rail in the first place - the real huge cost is for the tunnel itself, the tracks and vehicles are small potatoes by comparison.

Jordan said...

Excellent Idea, but you have weight the pros and cons. A below grade transit tunnel is exceptional for brt. However, this involves metro purchasing hybrid bus vehicles. The ones used in Seattle are Diesel/electric and buses don't run faster the 30mph through the tunnel. Metro's current mainly operates on CNG.. But good Ideas..

Alek F. said...

I've always supported efficient transit in West Hollywood, but I think - if we build a tunnel - Light-Rail should be placed. As MTA has affirmed, building tunnels - and especially tunnel Stations - is the most expensive investment in transit. Simply running buses in a tunnel is very cost-ineffective. That's why, we have to write to our local , state , and federal legislators to convince them that we need Metro-Rail in West Hollywood!

Anonymous said...

Have you been under Santa Monica Blvd? Working under there now is bad enough, making room for something like this would create a huge mess of utility re-routing on a huge scale. By huge, I mean multi trillion dollar effort.

Dayle Diamond said...

I got here because this is linked to from
Underground BRT or Light Rail under WeHo is an outstanding idea!

Plus once it's built, there's more incentive than ever for a purple line connection!

Eric Lopez said...

I love this idea and I would fully support it. Except there is one problem. Beverly Hills....I mean, they are already complaining about the purple line subway going under ground. Let's not even imagine what they will say about this. But I really love the idea and hope it gets more attention by the public and that it can be built quick.