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Metro Rail Problems

* Re “Street Vanishes in Subway Sinkhole,” June 23:

As the pavement on Hollywood Boulevard slowly sinks into the sunset, the Red Line subway project has once again run into problems that will not further delay its completion but will certainly add to its already astronomical costs.

When will stubborn Los Angeles transportation officials ever wise up to the fact that they made the wrong decision in selecting a subway rather than an elevated system? The $1-billion 4.4-mile Downtown segment of the Red Line took a little more than six years from the time of its groundbreaking to opening day. By comparison, the much cheaper ($500 million) Blue Line took about four years to build and it runs 22 miles. There were no major problems during its construction.

With the history of problems the Downtown Red Line segment had during and after its construction, I would think that our transportation officials would have learned by now that building subways in Los Angeles is unpredictable and expensive. Evidently, they haven’t learned.

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And what is the reasoning for building a subway through the Cahuenga Pass? Wouldn’t an elevated line have worked?

The time is long overdue to remove these so-called transportation experts.

DENNIS A. PIERCE

Los Angeles

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* I am really quite amazed that anyone should be surprised that another portion of Hollywood Boulevard collapsed because of a water problem. Several of the stores on the boulevard received extraordinary water bills in the initial months after the Northridge earthquake (e.g., a one-month bill for $6,000 in water usage for a store that has exactly one sink and a lavatory).

The DWP refused to investigate the leakage and denied any responsibility for leaking mains not directly under “public” land. In combination with the absolutely mind-boggling incompetence displayed by the MTA in the Hollywood subway tunneling, the DWP’s utter lack of concern for the stresses on 60-year-old water mains in the Hollywood Boulevard vicinity in the period after the Northridge earthquake makes me skeptical that MTA has been the only party at fault in this fiasco.

Maybe now somebody will start paying attention.

CLIFF MARTIN

Hollywood

* The continuing MTA disasters on the Red Line route through Hollywood should not come as a surprise. Hollywood Boulevard is the main drain of the community, with concentrations of water mains, sewer lines, power and telephone lines.

For exactly this reason, over 20 years ago the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD), after a careful geologic and economic survey of Hollywood Boulevard, decided that the least disruptive and least costly way to bring the subway to the Hollywood central business district would be via Selma Avenue, a little-developed street, which is midway between Hollywood and Sunset. Further, the Selma route went north up Highland Avenue and provided a station at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC) simply abandoned the Selma route without analysis or explanation. The Hollywood Boulevard route was announced with little public discussion. LACTC scrapped the Highland Avenue/Hollywood Bowl route as well. To cross the Santa Monica Mountains by subway, LACTC moved the proposed line to the west and tripled the amount of hard-rock tunneling required. In addition, the new route requires two 800-foot deep ventilation shafts during construction, sited in Runyon Canyon Park. Each shaft is 16 feet in diameter and is topped by huge circular fans.

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It is not too late to blunt this looming disaster that the MTA has inherited. The subway tunnel can be redirected from the Hollywood/Vine station diagonally south to Selma, then north in the original Highland/Hollywood Bowl configuration. This realignment would cost less than continuing through the crumbling Hollywood Boulevard route and the environmentally disastrous, longer subway route planned west of Highland.

ABRAHAM FALICK

Former Planning Economist

City of Los Angeles

* Mayor Richard Riordan had better review the chief engineers and the contractors involved with the Metro Rail project. In the time it has taken to tunnel from one disaster to another, William Mulholland could have constructed six aqueducts.

STEVEN ODA

Alhambra

* When the first disasters began many months ago, I waited for the MTA’s head man, Franklin White, to fall on his sword for demonstrated complete incompetence, if not for sinister corruption in his ranks. At the least, I expected The Times to give him a gentle shove in that direction. And a harsher one if necessary. The level of failure had become embarrassing.

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Instead, last October, The Times published a major, front-page puff piece on White. What a super administrator and fun guy he is. His name is now barely mentioned in your stories, as the disasters become geographic in scope. Leaving White in position has become reckless.

NEAL TABACHNICK

Culver City


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