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Experts Emphasize Flaws in Metro's Westside Subway Studies

If Metro decides to route a subway under Beverly Hills High School, it will be faced with a lawsuit to prevent tunneling under the campus.

Geologists hired by the Beverly Hills Unified School District argued Thursday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is using to support a subway route that requires tunneling under Beverly Hills High School to reach Century City.

The controversial route is part of the proposed Westside Subway Extension, an expansion of the Purple Line to Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

The allegations that Metro is were made during a public hearing before Metro's Board of Directors. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who chairs the board, said the purpose of the hearing was to allow Beverly Hills the chance to present evidence and testimony regarding its opposition to tunneling under BHHS.

The board took no action after the hearing. A decision on the subway's route to the Century City stop may be made at its next regular meeting on May 24 or at a later date, Villaraigosa said.

Citing BHUSD and city-commissioned studies, Beverly Hills City Attorney Larry Wiener told the board that it needs more complete data "to make an informed decision" on where to place the subway.

"We heard it appears that the West Beverly Hills Lineament is not a fault. It appears that there is strong evidence that the Santa Monica Boulevard Lineament...is not an active fault," Wiener told the board. "There has been no risk analysis, not a quantitative risk analysis, not even a qualitative risk analysis, that compares the risks of going under Santa Monica Boulevard or having a station at Santa Monica Boulevard versus tunneling under Beverly Hills High School."

Beverly Hills' city and school district officials  to avoid routing the subway under the high school. The Westside Subway Extension's Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/R) recommends tunneling under BHHS to reach a station on Constellation Boulevard in Century City.

"Right now we'll know what impact, if any, we've had on the MTA directors based on their vote next Thursday, May 24, when they decide on the alignment for Century City—whether it's Santa Monica Boulevard or Constellation," BHUSD Board of Education President Brian Goldberg told Patch. "After that, we'll have no choice if they continue to want to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School, than to go to court and seek a fair hearing on our issues and our concerns with that."

Leighton Consulting, Inc., which was hired by BHUSD, conducted detailed studies that conflict with Metro's consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, suggesting that there are no active faults under BHHS or Santa Monica Boulevard, as Parsons' study concluded.

"By having Leighton present the scientific data, it appears that there's a tremendous discrepancy between what Parsons Brinckerhoff and Leighton are both concluding," Beverly Hills Councilman Barry Brucker told Patch. "It's clear also that Leighton conducted the most comprehensive testing, which is the trenching testing. It leads us to believe that maybe Parsons Brinckerhoff may not have had all the data to make the conclusions that it did make."

Eldon Gath, a geologist and engineer with Earth Consultants International who was hired by BHUSD, told the board that Parsons' study ignored obvious data found by digging trenches on the campus and presented inexplicable findings about the location of faults underneath the school.

"It's not science," Gath told the board. "It feels like it's paradigm-driven and opinion-driven, and maybe a bit of arrogance thrown in."

Robert McMurry from Gilchrist & Rutter, who was commissioned by the city of Beverly Hills, presented the board with three alternative routes for reaching a station on Constellation Boulevard without tunneling under BHHS.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who sits on the Metro board, blamed Villaraigosa for not allowing consideration of alternative routes.

"The mayor and his friends are trying to jam through an alignment that does not meet the needs of the community," Antonovich told City News Service. "We have alternative alignments that are being presented today that need to be considered."

Villaraigosa's senior press secretary, Peter Sanders, said he had no comment.

The Metro board approved plans in late April for the first phase of the $5.6 billion Westside Subway Extension, but  so it can consider Beverly Hills' objections to tunneling under BHHS. 

"I think that the hearing allowed us to provide a scientific assessment of our data publicly to the Metro board and compare it to the data that was produced by Parsons Brinckerhoff, and basically show that their science was not based on an in-depth study," Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien told Patch. "The studies we've presented today are clearly far more in-depth, raise continued safety questions, and don't adequately assess or rule out the ability to use an alternative alignment." 

This report was compiled with information from City News Service.

Kyle May 19, 2012 at 05:08 AM
George Hill, you have no idea what you are talking about and apparently are unemployed, because all you do is repeat your lies (that have been fed to you by PR firms and the tabloid, The Courier)
John Mirisch May 19, 2012 at 08:23 AM
Ms. Spencer, you are referring to an Alquist-Priolo zone, which would not only affect school construction, but any construction intended for human habitation. If the Metro experts are right, much of Santa Monica Blvd. would be within an Alquist-Priolo zone, which would make further construction -- any kind of construction -- almost impossible. The 39 story condo tower which your city recently entitled right on Santa Monica Blvd., despite the seismic information from Metro, is an example of building which would not be permitted within an Alquist-Priolo zone. It's very interesting that your city's Department of Building and Safety evidently had no qualms about giving the green light.
Dainist May 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Just another step in trying to F the project before it starts Same thing with Farmers Field and Los Angeles Stadium at Grand Crossing all the time 24/7. GET OVER IT PEOPLE THE SAME THING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUILD AND FINISHED IN THE 60s WHEN IT ORIGINALLY WAS WORKED ON BEFORE "WAXMENS WALL TO THE WEST" ENSUED WILL GET FINISHED, AND HOPEFULLY SOONER THAN LATER Just don't rip up the Heart of Beverly Hills on Wilshire while doing it, Mr Meiger, please. Concerned and proud Angeleno and Porciunculan {its the original name for the LA river for whoevers wondering, it was a rio before it was a river}...
Jake May 23, 2012 at 02:04 AM
The 39-story condo tower approved by LA is not on a side of Santa Monica in the fault zone, but "much of Santa Monica Blvd." is. It's untrue to say that the city approved it "despite the seismic information from Metro" because Metro's studies found the area where the condo tower is planned to be safe, but the much larger areas that would need to be developed for the subway were not. It's very interesting that Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills John Mirisch evidently had no qualms about lying on the internet.
John Mirisch May 23, 2012 at 03:12 AM
The 39-story condo tower is exactly at the point where Metro claims the West Beverly Hills LIneament bisects the Santa Monica fault. Metro's studies most emphatically did not find that this property would be outside of the potential Alquist-Priolo zone. In fact, Metro tried to suggest that it would be unsafe to build on the BHHS property, which is directly contiguous to 10000 Santa Monica. What's more, the Westfield mall tower proposed on Santa Monica would also be in Metro's "death zone." Think LA's Building and Safety Dept. is gonna have a problem with that one, Jake? You must be a bit confused, Jake. Even though I predicted Metro's tactics and "findings" months before they published them, I have no problem pointing out inconsistencies, double-standards and hypocrisy on the Internet. I understand that this may be a little bit uncomfortable for a MÜA ("Metro über alles") dude like yourself, but there you have it. And while those logical inconsistencies from your favorite massive governmental bureaucracy undoubtedly just drive you loco, my advice would be: Forget it, Jake: it's Chinatown.

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