The second phase of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Purple Line extension is officially underway, following a groundbreaking ceremony with local, state and federal officials. in Century City on Friday.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and others dug their shovels into the soft sand off Constellation Boulevard to commemorate the subway's next 2.59-mile extension, bringing it closer to its final destination – the Veterans Affairs West L.A. campus.
"Today's groundbreaking is a clear indication that this project to link Downtown L.A. to our region's second-largest job center is on time and on budget," Garcetti, who serves as Metro Board Chair, said in a statement. "Angelenos deserve a world-class transportation system that takes the burden off their commutes, connects people with our countless sights and attractions, and makes Los Angeles a more accessible and sustainable city."
The extension's second phase has a $2.53-billion budget, including $1.5 billion from a federal grant and loan, and is expected to be completed by 2025. It will run west from Wilshire Boulevard and La Cienega Avenue to Century City, passing underneath Beverly Hills High School along the way.
Years of legal challenges to the project's route by the Beverly Hills school district were put to rest by a federal judge in 2016.
The contractors building the extension, Tutor Perini and O&G, are expected to begin major work in the spring, Metro officials said. Tutor Perini's last subway project with Los Angeles led to a protracted legal battle that ended with a jury awarding Metro $29 million. The company's chief executive, Ronald Tutor, reassured city officials last year when the project was awarded that his bid and timeline were feasible.
The first phase of the extension between Wilshire Boulevard/Western Avenue and Wilshire/La Cienega is 30% completed and expected to open in 2023. The third and final section from Century City to the VA campus is expected to break ground in 2019 and open in 2026, two years before the Summer Olympics arrive.
"Los Angeles laid out a bold vision for its future, and today's groundbreaking marks a significant step in making that a reality," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a statement. "As we begin construction on the second phase, I remain committed to working with our local leaders and the federal government to complete the Purple Line Extension on time. I'm confident that by 2028, Los Angeles will have a world-class subway system when we welcome the world for the Summer Olympics."
The Purple Line extension project is the most ambitious transportation project Los Angeles has undergone in at least a generation and is expected to cost about $6.3 billion. Much of that funding will come through a pair of tax measures voters approved in 2008 and 2016.
When finished, the Purple Line will have seven more stops, which officials estimate will generate 49,300 daily weekday boardings and 78,000 new daily trips on the entire rail system.