LA Metro’s Westside Subway Extension (Purple Line), Section 1 Earns Envision Platinum Award for Sustainable Infrastructure
LA Metro’s Westside Subway Extension (Purple Line), Section 1 in Los Angeles received the Envision Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure, designated by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). To reach Platinum status, a project must demonstrate that it delivers a heightened range of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the host and affected communities.
Section 1 of the Westside Subway Extension, also known as the Purple Line Extension, is one of the most significant infrastructure programs in the region. The 3.92-mile segment, comprised of twin bore tunnels, will add three new stations to LA Metro’s rail system. The three additional stations will be located at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cinega. The project will extend the current Purple Line from Koreatown through Miracle Mile and is expected to be operational in 2023.
Located beneath some of Los Angeles’ most heavily traveled boulevards, this $1.6 billion subway line extension will provide a high-capacity, high-speed, and dependable transportation alternative for commuters to alleviate congested roadways. This project will also deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to the area.
“Metro is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing transportation systems and we are using our local investments as a force for good,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Sheila Kuehl. “This prestigious award reconfirms our commitment to using our power and resources to improve the environment and deliver social and economic benefits such as the 35,000 construction jobs and the estimated 30 to 60% reduction in travel time that will be created by the Purple Line extension.”
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) is working in close collaboration with Skanska, Traylor Bros., Inc., and J.F. Shea Co., Inc. to deliver this award-winning sustainable project.
Skanska is delighted and proud of the Envision Platinum achievement for the Westside Purple Line Phase 1 Subway,” said Mike Aparicio, executive vice president of Skanska USA. “Skanska is very committed to sustainability for all our projects, and particularly pleased to partner with Metro for a Green Los Angeles!”
The Envision system examines the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole, through five distinct categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Resilience. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community.
Key factors contributing to the Westside Subway Extension (Purple Line), Section 1 earning Envision Platinum include:
Wilshire Boulevard, under which this subway extension will run, is one of the most congested streets in Los Angeles County. More than 300,000 people travel to West Los Angeles every day from across the region, and more than 100,000 people travel from West Los Angeles to other outside destinations. The Westside Subway Extension, Section 1 will offer new mass transportation options and improve connectivity to the entire LA Metro bus and rail network, as well as providing much needed connectivity to municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services. In addition, commute times will decrease with the addition of this subway extension; travel times are projected to improve between 30 to 60 percent.
LA Metro and its project partners have worked in close collaboration with the community throughout project planning, design, and construction. During five years of project planning, for example, LA Metro hosted more than 70 community meetings. Advisory groups comprised of community representatives from around the three new stations along section 1 of the Westside Subway Extension have also been formed. Their role is to share information about the project and construction schedules and processes with the communities they represent, as well as provide information, feedback and suggestions from their communities to the project team. The degree of stakeholder engagement that has and continues to occur throughout this project led to a robust design that meets the needs and expectations of the host and affected communities in the region. Also, that voters resoundingly passed “Measure M” – a funding mechanism to support infrastructure development such as this project – is testament to the community’s support for this project.
Economic growth and development
This project is expected to create more than 35,000 direct jobs during the construction phase, and more than 27,000 indirect jobs. The Westside Subway Extension, Section 1 is being constructed in a culturally rich area, which will improve access to a number of local businesses, restaurants and attractions, including art, automotive, and architecture and design museums. Also, in anticipation of the subway extension becoming fully operational in only a few years from now, housing developments and retail spaces are being developed in the area, helping to reduce a housing shortage in the area, and providing more business opportunities.
Environmentally sensitive design
The project has also been designed to improve environmental conditions, such as reducing stormwater runoff and air pollution. In terms of managing stormwater runoff, a common problem in highly developed urban areas that can lead to flooding, this project implements a number of strategies to dramatically reduce runoff, including the use of innovative biofiltration and infiltration basins, dry well, and porous pavement strategies.
Although population growth is expected to continue in Los Angeles during the project’s construction and operational life, which will inevitably lead to an increase in vehicle miles travelled, by building Section 1 of the Westside Subway Extension, the number of vehicle miles is expected to increase far less than under a ‘no-build scenario’ that would see roadways further constrained by vehicle traffic. Even with the added energy load to the grid to support the subway extension’s power demands, the project will have an overall net positive impact on air pollution.
“It’s exciting to see one of the most high-profile infrastructure projects in the region deploy Envision as a tool to improve its sustainable performance,” said Melissa Peneycad, managing director at the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. “The Westside Subway Extension project will provide new, much-needed transportation options to residents, commuters, and visitors to the area. It will improve travel times and provide better access to local businesses, attractions, and public amenities, stimulating local economic growth and development during construction and when the project is operational. ISI is pleased to present this project with an Envision Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure.”