Well, that only took 30 years. Groundbreaking for the badly needed Wilshire Purple Line subway extension happened this morning. The new extension will run from the current terminus at Western along Wilshire Boulevard to La Cienega, with stops at La Break and Fairfax in between. I can’t overstate how important this project is for mobility in Los Angeles. It will serve as the transit backbone for the Westside and will provide a mobility option for the most densely populated corridor west of the Mississippi River.
Of course, if Congressman Waxman hadn’t stopped the line back in the mid-1980s, the ceremony would be occurring today on Wilshire and Fairfax instead, and we’d be looking at an extension now into Century City. But oh well, no point in looking back. (Or we could just look at the photo of Waxman sitting next to the podium, celebrating an event that he tried to stop and then succeeded in delaying for decades.)
But in the meantime, this new 3.9-mile extension isn’t slated to open for almost a decade, in 2023. And these projects have a way of falling behind schedule. This after voters essentially approved the funding six years ago in 2008 with the passage of Measure R. So the delays involved are mind-boggling.
This timeline must be shortened. I hope rail advocates and elected officials step up the pressure to get this project completed in a few years and not decades. There’s simply no reason in this modern age why a 3.9-mile tunnel should take that long. We should have a thorough, transparent explanation for the construction timeline and a plan for how to overcome the challenges. Angelenos should know what they can do to move this project along.
So while there is a lot to celebrate today, there’s more work to be done to make sure this project gets built quickly, inexpensively, and in a manner that maintains the public’s trust.