Subway’s Tunnel VisionOP-ED: Transportation officials have been planning since the 1960s for a station at Constellation Boulevard. Monday, August 1, 2011
There are schools all over the country, including California, that have subway tunnels underneath them. The Bentley School in Oakland has been around since 1920 and is directly over a Bay Area Rapid Transit tunnel; the West Portal Elementary School in San Francisco is also over a BART tunnel and has been operating since 1951 (again, BART was built sometime later). Locally, at Wilshire and Vermont Avenue, a station goes under the grounds of a middle school and no vibrations or any other issues have been reported.
There are buildings all over the world with subterranean parking structures built over subway tunnels. The Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles is being built and calls for a three-level underground parking structure over a proposed Metro tunnel at Grand Avenue and Second Street, as well as the station at Hope Street and Second. There is a proposed commercial development at the Universal City Metro Station with similar conditions.
Nabih Youssef, a structural engineer involved with these projects, states, “There are several other tunnels and Metro stations currently in design with appropriate measures to allow for future development above without compromise of structural performance or vibration concerns.”
People take transit for any number of reasons. But one of the most common is to get to work. According to a report from the Brookings Institute, “Transportation leaders should make access to jobs an explicit priority. … Metro leaders should coordinate strategies regarding land use, economic development and housing with transit decisions in order to ensure that transit reached more people and more jobs efficiently.”
According to recent surveys, a station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars currently would encompass more than 11 million square feet of existing commercial space and approximately 28,000 employees within one-quarter mile. This location is also closer to the southern portion of Century City’s residential community as well as Fox studios.
A station at Santa Monica and Century Park East encompasses a little more than 4 million square feet and approximately 9,800 employees within a one-quarter mile. This location is anchored on one side by the Los Angeles Country Club, which would produce no ridership.
Without question, safety is key, no matter where we put a subway. We have one opportunity to get this right, and I suggest we stick to the facts and keep emotions under control. Let’s stay on track and work together to find solutions that address legitimate concerns, but let’s not stop “America’s Fast Forward.”
Susan Bursk is president and chief executive of the Century City Chamber of Commerce.
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