LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Despite objections from Beverly Hills city and school officials, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors approved plans Thursday to dig a tunnel under Beverly Hills High School as part of the Purple Line subway's extension to Century City and Westwood.
The board had previously approved a roughly 3.9-mile extension of the so-called "Subway to the Sea," from Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard and Wilshire.
KNX 1070's Margret Carrero reports opponents of the project like BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Gary Woods urged the board to postpone any final decision.
"I respectfully request that you take your time to make the right decision," said Woods.
The board ultimately delayed approving the next two phases so it could hear more arguments from Beverly Hills officials about the route.
Thursday's vote approved the next two phases of the extension, first to Century City then to the Veterans' Administration hospital at Wilshire Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway.
The board approved the extension on a 7-2 vote, with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Duarte Mayor John Fasana dissenting and calling for more study.
Beverly Hills officials said that Metro's intended tunnel would be dangerous for students and interfere with plans to renovate the BHHS campus.
At a hearing last week, geologists and engineers hired by the Beverly Hills Unified School District presented geo-technical analyses that questioned the MTA's studies of earthquake faults in the area. The district's team argued there are no earthquake faults beneath Beverly Hills High and that a fault below Santa Monica Boulevard is not active.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a member of the Metro board, insisted there are subway tunnels built under courthouses, homes, schools and businesses elsewhere that have caused no problems.
He added that the Westside is a major destination point for people from throughout the Southland.
"People will be coming from all over the region because the Westside — for better or for worse — has become a major employment center," the supervisor said.
Yaroslavsky warned that if the subway extension did not feature a Century City stop, it would be a mistake of historic proportions. Such an error, he said, would be "added to the list of mistakes" such as not linking a rail line to Los Angeles International Airport and failing to build a Red Line stop at the Hollywood Bowl.
In the first phase of the extension, the train will stop at La Brea and Fairfax avenues and La Cienega Boulevard. Future segments would take the train south toward Century City, then west, with stops on Wilshire near UCLA and the Veterans Administration hospital just west of the San Diego (405) Freeway.
When complete, riders will be able to travel from downtown to Westwood in 25 minutes, according to Metro officials, who predict an average 49,300 weekday boardings.
Draft environmental documents put the cost at $4.36 billion in 2009 dollars. The final documents calculate the projected cost using the estimated value of the dollar in 2022, when the first phase is scheduled to open.
The subway route does not go all the way to the coast — although it is often dubbed the "Subway to the Sea."
Metro hopes to break ground on the extension by the fall of 2013.
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