The Purple Line Extension continues to make headway in connecting the Eastside and Westside, with Beverly Hills’ first subway station at Wilshire/La Cienega on track to open in 2023.
The high-speed rail project will continue its path through the City with the Wilshire/ Rodeo station set to open in 2025.
As part of the federal government’s “Coronavirus Guidance for America,” transportation infrastructure is considered essential. As such, construction on Metro’s Purple Line Extension project, which will connect the Wilshire/Western station to Westwood in three distinct sections, has not been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Purple Line Section One construction is progressing well, with construction of the first four-mile section now 62 percent complete. The project is on pace to begin revenue operations as forecasted. Section One of the project travels through some of the most complex underground conditions of the entire 9-mile alignment. Metro has now tunneled through three out of four miles of this challenging area already. We anticipate completing the last mile of tunneling to Wilshire/La Cienega in Beverly Hills this fall,” Metro Spokesperson Dave Sotero told the Courier. “Section Two is also progressing well.”
According to Metro, its contractors are following safety precautions during the pandemic, including implementing social distancing when applicable and the use of masks and other PPE.
Construction recently began on the tunnel eye at the east side of the Wilshire/La Cienega station, which will provide a stable gateway for the Tunnel Boring Machines to enter. The breakthrough is anticipated to occur in August. As part of the construction, there will be intermittent lane reductions on Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevards. This past Saturday, June 20, Wilshire was reduced to two lanes in each direction from Hamilton to San Vicente, with K-rail barriers now in place 24 hours a day through September.
While the North Canon cul-de-sac is slated to remain in place at least through fall 2021 as construction continues on the Wilshire/Rodeo Station, South Reeves is expected to again reopen in August once Metro has finished installing steel beams and concrete deck panels near the future station entrance at South Reeves and
Wilshire Boulevard. As part of the process, geotechnical instruments are being installed within the station box and along the tunnel alignment to monitor ground movement, settlement, and other geological conditions.
According to Robert Welch, the City’s project manager for the Purple Line Extension, the recent expedited construction permitting on Wilshire Boulevard between Crescent Drive and El Camino for the Wilshire/Rodeo station, which resulted in the street being closed 24/7 from April 3 through June 15, proved to be a real boon for the community.
“The amount of work that was done in that time period was quite substantial,” he told the Courier. During that time, Metro was able to install both piles and decking, both of which are particularly disruptive to residents. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s “Stay at Home” order significantly diminishing the amount of vehicle traffic in Beverly Hills, the City Council voted to temporarily close the street to expedite the work, as opposed to just allowing work to continue during the weekends. “Since the beginning of the Purple Line extension project, the City has worked diligently to minimize the impacts to our community and this expedited construction supports those efforts.”
Sotero said the ability to close a portion of Wilshire Boulevard and expedite work there allowed Metro to complete decking of the Wilshire/Rodeo Station site seven months ahead of schedule. “That is expected to help mitigate future construction impacts to local businesses,” he said.
During that time, Metro relocated utilities, installed dewatering wells, installed piles and steel beams, and replaced the street surface on Wilshire between Crescent and El Camino with concrete deck panels. Excavation of the station box is slated to continue below ground over the next several months. Metro is predicting that the station excavation, which began in May, will continue through first quarter 2021 to a depth of about 100 feet. As a result, traffic closures may be required on Wilshire Boulevard during the nighttime (between 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week) in order to remove the debris.