MTA Responds to Waxman's Letter on Subway

Metro CEO Arthur Leahy replied to Rep. Waxman's letter about the Westside Subway Extension.

A top official restated Metro's commitment to safety in the Westside Subway Extension project and its choice for the subway station in Century City at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman.

"Safety has been and will remain our number one priority when considering all aspects of this and any other project, from its construction to its eventual operation," wrote Metro CEO Arthur Leahy in a response to a letter from Waxman. Leahy also wrote in the letter that concerns raised by Beverly Hills about the safety of tunneling under Beverly Hills High School were addressed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and "could be successfully addressed and mitigated using standard methods and good engineering practice."

To read more Patch articles about the Westside Subway Extension, click here.

In the following statement released Friday, Waxman said he is committed to ensuring Metro "fully complies with safety measures" during the project:

Decisions for the Westside Subway must be driven by safety and the best available science. I am pleased that Metro CEO Art Leahy reaffirmed these fundamental principles in his response to my letter, as the Metro Board prepares to complete its environmental review.

It is imperative that the system include a stop in Century City as the line extends to West Los Angeles. The proposed location for the Century City Station deserves particular scrutiny because of the major seismic challenges foreclosing station options on Santa Monica Boulevard and the concern that a stop at Constellation Boulevard would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. 

It is vitally important that Metro abide by all of the provisions stated in their geotechnical and seismic studies and their responses to the scientific studies commissioned by the City of Beverly Hills regarding tunneling construction safety measures on the Constellation alignment. Many of these recommendations were also identified by the Independent Review Panel commissioned by Metro. I am committed to ensuring that Metro fully complies with these safety measures at every step of the process.

Leahy's letter is posted in full below. To read Waxman's original letter, .

The Honorable Henry Waxman
United States House of Representatives
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Congressman Waxman:

Thank you for your correspondence of April 12, 2012 in which you shared your strong support for the Westside Subway Extension and outlined your concerns with respect to tunneling and safety issues related to this planned transit project.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is committed to building the Westside Subway Extension in a safe manner. Safety has been and will remain our number one priority when considering all aspects of this and any other project, from its construction to its eventual operation. At the direction of the Metro Board of Directors, during the past year and a half, our agency conducted extensive geotechnical and seismic stUdies for both the Constellation and Santa Monica Boulevard alignments. These reports, prepared by preeminent geotechnical, seismic and engineering experts, found that the Santa Monica subway route in Century City would pass within and through the confluence of two major earthquake fault zones and is not recommended as a safe location for the Century City Station. Conversely, the Constellation route was found to be outside of the seismic risk areas and is considered to be a safe location for the Century City Station. These findings were confirmed by an Independent Review Panel that reported directly to my office.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement found that tunnels could be safely constructed under Beverly Hills High School and that the concerns expressed about this route could be successfully addressed and mitigated using standard methods and good engineering practice. The School District's extensive list of issues that were addressed included risk of settlement, noise & vibration, gassy ground & oil wells, tunneling through fault zones, use of the school as an emergency evacuation center, impacts on plans to expand and remodel the high school and overall risks to students, faculty and community. In all of the above instances, it was determined that there are reasonable designs and mitigation measures to successfully address these concerns.

Thank you again for your thoughtful correspondence regarding the Westside Subway Extension. Again, as I have shared with you in our conversations in Washington, D.C. and through this correspondence, safety has been and will remain our highest priority when considering all aspects of this project, from its construction to its eventual operation. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at (213) 922-6888 with any questions related to this matter or any other transportation issue.


Arthur T. Leahy
Chief Executive Officer

Ira kaplam April 21, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I agree that safety is of high concrn but I also beleive metro has and is doing everything posdible to ensure safty on the project Ira kaplan bramer 184
Joe Parker April 21, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Metro's commitment to safety is a big question. The Blue Line is the deadliest light rail system in the country with 103 deaths at last count. Or watch this video about the building of the Red Line http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79w_161D-Wc&feature=share Supposedly, the seismic testing MTA conducted in the Century City area was "exhaustive" as Dr. Dolan has said, but we'll soon see that their science is seriously flawed and anything but exhaustive. People and organizations do not change. MTA has not been careful in the past. Why should they be trusted in the future?
Alexander Hollywood-Man April 21, 2012 at 02:37 AM
This is a great, and a wise, response, to the unwise and ungrounded concern of an anti-subway person Mr. Waxman. Just like BHUSD, Mr. Waxman's concerns have barely any merit or logical reasoning. I salute Mr. Art Leahy's response, and look forward to a timely completion of the subway extension.
Simon April 21, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Joe Parker, the Blue Line runs above-ground, the Purple Line under. So, sorry, unless kids are crawling into the tunnels, it's not an appropriate comparison (and many of the deaths on the Blue Line are suicides). And yes there was a sinkhole 15 years ago--did anyone get injured, no. That subway now carries hundreds of thousands of people every day across the city. Let's not let irrational fear guide us.
Joe Parker April 21, 2012 at 05:58 AM
@Simon There are so many things wrong with Metro's alignment through Century City that it's sad, not funny. It's ignoring the safety issues with methane gas and hidden oil wells. It's ignoring the soil conditions at the station site. It's the extra cost, the extra travel time, the flawed seismic reports, the wrong ridership numbers. Not worth arguing about it now. It will all come out next week. I agree with you. Not fear; let's allow reason to guide us once we know the science.
Simon April 21, 2012 at 06:21 AM
How on Earth could ridership be higher on SMB, across from a golf course? Like Metro's going to knowingly build a subway they know is dangerous, opening them up to litigation and casualties. This is SO RIDICULOUS, it's not worth wasting time on irrational people like you and your ilk. The damage you're doing to Beverly Hills' reputation will be the enduring legacy of all this.
centurycitysubway.org April 21, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Simon: The Draft EIR determined that a station at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars would have higher ridership than Constellation. We aren't making this up. You can read it for yourself here: http://www.metro.net/projects/westside/draft-eis-eir-sept-2010/ The Final EIR failed to consider or analyze a station at SM/AOS, so your anticipated response that the FEIR found otherwise is irrelevent because it deals with an entirely different proposed location East of Century Park East. As far the contention that SM is unsafe because of faulting, isn't it conceivable that Metro's paid consultants at Parsons Brickerhoff got it wrong? That seems to be the opinion of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning which recently approved the construction of several high rises along that same Santa Monica Blvd. http://www.bhcourier.com/article/Local/Local/Los_Angeles_Rejects_MTA_Seismic_Study_Approves_39-Story_Tower_On_Top_Of_MTA_Faults/87437
centurycitysubway.org April 21, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Simon: We know that people like "you and your ilk" are close-minded and like to avoid even considering the facts for what they really are so that you can spout your spurious notions of the truth. So we are going to make this really easy for you; click thie link below and look at Table 3-1 on page 3-4 which clearly shows that the SM/AOS (Century City) has a higher projected ridership than Constellation (Century City Optional). http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/final_eir-eis/23.%20Smart%20Growth%20Evaluation%20Report.pdf So who is being irrational and wasting who's time? Some would argue that you are the offending party!
Joe Parker April 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Simon, your response is interesting. When people start making personal attacks, such as you calling me and "my ilk" irrational, in my experience people have realized that they have lost the battle/argument, but yet aren't acknowledging it to themselves. But to answer your question. MTA's methodology is flawed. Their analysis looks solely at potential Century City transit riders without fully accessing the implications of the longer alignment and the impacted travel time on the entire subway system. This is just one of the flaws in their ridership analysis. Others will soon be revealed.
Simon April 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Yeah, Joe, keep telling yourself you've won the argument. Oh, and as for CenturyCitywhatever.org, I'm not going to be lectured by a paid flack that's not interested in what's best for the area, just cashing their fat checks. We're not fools--a draft EIR is not a final EIR,and there's not enough spin in the world to convince the city that SMB's a better option. Oh yeah, and nor the LATimes: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-subway-stop-beverly-hills-20120421,0,6539795.story
Chadwick Mason April 21, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Erik Griswold April 21, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Wasn't the Gold Line just tunneled under First Street Elementary School in East Los Angeles?
Simon April 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM
OK, Joe, keep telling yourself you won this argument. As for centurycitywhatever.org, I'm not going to be lectured by a paid flack who's only looking to cash their fat checks, not what's best for the area. We're not fools, we know the difference between a draft EIR and a final EIR. All the spin in the world can't convince the city that SMB is a better option, and I guess not the LATimes either, which just published an editorial blasting the NIMBY delay tactics. Better cash that check soon!
Joe Parker April 22, 2012 at 12:28 AM
The LA Times is owned by the Tribune Company, based in Chicago. JMB Reality is based in Chicago. Suppose there's a connection?
JDRCRASHER April 22, 2012 at 12:37 AM
very poor comparison
iRideandiDrive April 22, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Let's build it, and build it right. So far, I haven't heard anyone giving a good reason as to why it shouldn't go where Metro thinks it should. Metro has done their study, and now BH's lobbyists and lawyers say that they're so concerned about a difference of a few thousands of transit riders (boarding in another city) that Metro shouldn't dig 75 feet under the high school, and are willing to block the whole thing. Sounds fishy to me.
JDRCRASHER April 22, 2012 at 01:12 AM
ENOUGH... time to put this childish act of victimization to rest: http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/final_eir-eis/Chapter%207%20Comparative%20Benefits%20and%20Costs.pdf Page 14/32: " Daily boardings at Century City in 2035: Century City Constellation: 8,566 Century City Santa Monica Blvd: 5,492 "
JDRCRASHER April 22, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Joe, please elucidate and provide substance to your analysis on why you believe the research methods done by Metro when projecting ridership estimates are inaccurate when considering various present AND future variables that directly/indirectly affect said estimates, such as commuting patterns, expected wages by nearby residents, fuel prices, fare policy, behavioral research, initial proposed train headings, parking fees, customer service, marketing, rolling stock, alternative transit and bicycle lanes in the vicinity, proximate real estate transactions, crime data, and so on and so forth...
Mario H. April 22, 2012 at 05:56 AM
I'm so disgusted in centurycitysubway.org I'm numb. How dare you come on here and attack like a hyena in the African bush! Your patronizing treatment was unwarranted, unprofessional, and undignified. "...isn't it conceivable that Metro's paid consultants at Parsons Brickerhoff got it wrong?" Well, I have a questions too: isn't it conceivable the BHUSD is looking to get a free underground parking facility from Metro in exchange for the "privilege" of tunneling under the high school unobstructed? In a related question: isn't it conceivable the city of Beverly Hills is trying to disenfranchise Century City so that more visitors/tourists end up on Rodeo instead of at the Century City Plaza? Once those questions are answered, we can discus why Parsons Brickerhoff wouldn't risk their reputation by getting it wrong the first time or any time!
Chris Loos April 22, 2012 at 07:47 PM
"The LA Times is owned by the Tribune Company, based in Chicago. JMB Reality is based in Chicago. Suppose there's a connection?" Seriously, that's the logic you're going with here? Association by city? Hey everyone! Joe Parker's in LA. And I heard there's some gangs in LA. Suppose there's a connection?
Joe Parker April 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Yes, Metro has done their study. Now BHUSD is doing theirs. The school district doesn't have the money to throw at this as Metro does, but from what I've seen and heard, they are doing it right, getting good experts to work with them (not just in peer review), and not making mistakes. This is their only shot at this. So far, from what I've seen and heard, serious flaws have been found in Metro's study - both errors in the science and in the methodology. Watch the Board meeting on Tuesday to learn more. A lot will be revealed at that time.
Joe Parker April 22, 2012 at 08:31 PM
This is puzzling to me as well. Why would Parsons Brickerhoff risk their reputation with bad science and wrong methodology? Watch the Board meeting on Tuesday and your question, "isn't it conceivable that Metro's paid consultants at Parsons Brickerhoff got it wrong?", might very well be answered. In response to your disgust at centurycitysubway.org, the BH school district does not have the "machine" that Metro has with backing from JMB Reality to throw at all this. Having a voice to defend the District's position isn't that unreasonable, is it?
centurycitysubway.org April 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Mario H: Is it your contention that Parsons Brinckerhoff has never been wrong or made mistakes?
bingo35 April 22, 2012 at 11:41 PM
ITA which makes Waxman's letter superfluous and just another reason he needs to find a new job. His generic response to any concerns are actually amusing. One can change the topic and get precisely the same response. Moron.
Joe Parker April 23, 2012 at 08:38 AM
@Chris Loos Your comment is fair. But the LA Times editorial was strange. I checked around and the LA Times did not talk to any of the Board members at BHUSD, nor the senior staff or the City Council. It was as if they had talked with only someone like Simon or a particular MTA Board member I know. It was as if someone rushed to get this out in order to sway the City Council not to vote to force Metro into a public hearing. If so, it didn't work. It was a 5-0 vote.
Mario H. April 23, 2012 at 09:07 AM
Centurycitysubway.org, shame on you! You know better than to ask that; and I'm not feeding your 'what if' hyperbole when you tacitly know that no one person or entity is perfect. Hey, I can sit in a crowded room or at a computer and bring up "what if's" and scare trusting people into a frenzy. That's what is happening in Beverly Hills right now; and that is tragic. I think Beverly Hills and the high school need to compromise: let the tunnel be; when tunneling reaches the high school, bore before classes start in the morning, after school when classes let out, during the weekends, and during pupil free days. Sure, it'll take forever, but think of it this way: if there's a cave in and a building collapses, the campus will get a brand spanking new building built up to code on Metro's dime. Joe Parker: please don't try to make the Beverly Hills Unified School District seem as though it has no resources. Parents with deep pockets or skills to donate (in law practice) can accomplish anything! By the way, that question is a quote from an earlier centurycitysubway.org post.
Joe Parker April 23, 2012 at 04:48 PM
@Mario H. Had no intention to plagiarize. If you say 2+2=4 and then I say the same thing, I'm just stating the truth as you are. And the truth is what we want to have good science and correct methodology. Then we can make intelligent decisions, not emotional ones or ones driven by political interests. I encourage you to watch the Board of Eduction meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Mario H. April 24, 2012 at 08:03 AM
Joe Parker: I'm with you on sound decision making. Facts should be presented; interested parties should be able to take them in calmly, weigh them carfully; and local trusted politicians should avail themselves for clarification. After all is said and done, this subway line is not even for us. It's for our progeny. The next generation does not see a car as a right of passage the way we did. They see it as a source of pollution along with buses and trucks. So, let's give them something they will want to use and put the stations in common sense locations. I'm obviously missing something or the people wouldn't be allowing their unruly passion to get the better of them. I'm very tempted to be there, even as a fly on the wall. Hmm?


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