Studies released Tuesday of alternative Westside Metro Rail routes concluded that the potential saving from an above-ground alignment would be substantially less than predicted earlier.
The report said a saving of up to $800 million initially anticipated from the aerial option would be only about $300 million. Al Perdon, the Southern California Rapid Transit District’s assistant general manager, said additional engineering and higher than expected right-of-way acquisition costs led to the lower estimate.
Still, the aerial option is the cheapest of the four proposed alternative routes--$2.9 billion in 1985 dollars compared to as much as $3.25 billion for the most expensive subway alternative.
The study also provided new information about the location of the underground methane gas pockets in the vicinity of the proposed Metro Rail routes. Some of the highest readings were found along Crenshaw and San Vicente boulevards--where three of the four routes would travel.
RTD officials said they did not pose a major hazard because the gas is under minimal pressure.
The Metro Rail rerouting was ordered by Congress last year at the urging of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) to avoid tunneling through an area of potentially hazardous underground gas identified in the wake of a clothing store explosion.
Three of the routes being studied by the district form a wishbone around the hazardous area. In all three cases, a subway line would travel north on either Vermont or Western avenues from Wilshire Boulevard. From each of those routes, a branch subway line would extend south down Crenshaw Boulevard and west on San Vicente Boulevard.
The fourth route includes an aerial segment west along Wilshire Boulevard over the gassy area, and another aerial segment north on Vermont toward Hollywood.
The reports were presented at community meetings Tuesday. The RTD staff will recommend its preferred route next month.