Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tunneling Concerns Stump Subway To The Sea

Los Angeles METRO’s plans for a western extension of its subway lines along Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard all the way to Santa Monica Pier were blocked last week when more than 100 witnesses, including angry parents and teachers of Beverly Hills High School students, protested plans to tunnel beneath the school’s 19.5 acre campus on Moreno Drive.  In response, METRO’s board approved the 3.9 mile Wilshire Boulevard phase, but voted to hold public hearings on safety of the high school tunnel before giving the go ahead to the last 5 miles of the project.

Completion of the $5.66 billion project may have to await completion of a study commissioned by Beverly Hills officials to suggest alternate routes around the school. Franny Rennie, Beverly Hills high School PTA president, says student safety should be METRO’s first priority: “Your experts keep saying it’s safe. Well, there’s no guarantee. Our number one point is safety for our 2,000 students. Don’t risk our kids.”  Opposing the delay for public hearings, transit advocate Denny Zane responded: “I see no public evidence that there are genuine risks to the high school,” he responded.

MTA board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky predicted the battle over the high school tunnel may be headed for the courts. “If we’re going to get into a court battle with the school district, let’s get that started now,” he blustered. Maybe the truth is that the Beverly Hills moms and dads who drop their kids off at school in their Bentleys just don’t want a subway stop frequented by the less fortunate anywhere near their precious campus.

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