What will commuting to and from Century City look like in the next 10, 20, and 30 years?
City and public transportation officials motored to the business capital of Los Angeles to paint this picture Wednesday, Nov. 4.
Moderated by Zev Yaroslavsky, former Metro Boardmember and Los Angeles County Supervisor, Third District, the panel “Commuter Connections: How Getting Around L.A. Is Changing And What It Means To You” discussed topics like pre-construction activities for Section 2 of the Purple Line Extension, Expo Light Rail to Santa Monica completion, how the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metro are working together to mitigate traffic impacts, and what is being done to secure additional funding to excel these transit projects.
“The Chamber has been a staunch supporter of bringing better and more efficient transportation options to the Westside,” said Chamber President and CEO Susan Bursk to kickoff the two-hour discussion.
Since its inception in 1970, the Century City Chamber of Commerce had advocated for more transit options on the Westside, among many other things.
“But I think the most important transportation decision that we advocated for was the extension of the Purple Line, the subway,” Bursk said. “And the idea of it was to bring it here, in the heart of Century City at the corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars. That’s really where the workforce is of our 27,000 employees within a quarter-mile radius. And I’m happy to say and really thrilled to say, it’s on its way and coming.”
From the Department of Transportation, which oversees construction, transit, and parking and traffic controls, General Manager Seleta Reynolds underlined the focus of the L.A. branch: traffic, of course.
“Our focus is how to live within our means,” Reynold said. “How to use the system we have. We know that we cannot build our way out of this problem. We know it will not get better if we do nothing.”
Reynolds said of the City of Los Angeles’ progressive Mobility Plan 2035, that it will work like a network. Some streets will work better with transit, bike lanes, cars, pedestrians, or all modes.
The panel also lauded sponsor Skanska’s success-of-a-project, the $576 million design-build Expo Light Rail Phase 2, “which has just been a dream to work with,” Yaroslavsky said.
Samantha Bricker, chief operating officer of the Expo Light Rail Construction Authority, called the streamlined Phase 2 “a model project,” crediting the stakeholders and cities involved, Metro, DOT, and contractors.
“And we also had great political leadership,” she said. “People wanted this project.”
Yaroslavsky addressed “the elephant in the room,” or the Purple Line Phase 2 (from La Cienaga to Century City, speculated to open roughly 2026) and ultimately Phase 3 (from Century City to Westwood, speculated to open roughly 2035).
Right now, Phase 1 of the Purple Line is about 20 percent complete, and scheduled to open in 2023, said Metro CEO Phil Washington. After putting in the Request For Proposal, Washington said they wait in the pre-qualification phase for Phase 2, which he foresees picking a contractor late 2016.
“But at the same time we want to accelerate Section 3,” he said.
The Metro CEO also revealed that his department scrambled for a week in July to submit an expression of interest for a pilot program for Expedited Project Delivery within the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Normally one project is submitted, but Metro submitted two: Section 3 of the Purple Line and Airport Connector.
Lisa Trifiletti, director of Environmental and Land Use Planning for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) said construction for the Airport Connector will begin in 2017, a $5.5 billion infrastructure program. The rail connection to LAX will open by 2024, pegged for the Summer Olympics big, with six stops.
To watch highlights from the panel visit westsidetoday.wpengine.com/wttv.