Metro Rail Project in L.A.
The people of Los Angeles are entitled to “absolute assurances” that it is safe to build and operate a subway in this area. Mayor Tom Bradley announced in Washington that he has no doubt “whatsoever” about the safety question. Will he personally take full responsibility for this decision in writing? I doubt it--he is being misinformed because the issue of safety has not been adequately addressed.
From my 35 years as a licensed architect in Los Angeles and with firsthand knowledge and experience of the methane gas in the La Brea tar pits area, I don’t know of any responsible consulting engineer and/or contractor who would issue a personal guarantee that the sub-surface conditions can be designed, built and maintained with adequate safety.
The presently known “feasible” methods of protecting the subway “tube” from water and/or methane gas, its installation, workmanship and maintenance are very unsure. A small crack in the protective membrane--a spark from the subway or a lighted cigarette--and you’ve had it. What about the cracks in all the surface streets? Monitoring devices along with back-up devices are also not much of a guarantee. Suitable venting of the methane gas to the atmosphere is expensive and almost impossible to maintain in working order due to the sandy soil saturated with tar that would clog the venting system.