The LA Metro D Line reaches a milestone: Tunnel construction for the west side extension is completed

After five years of construction and numerous delays, crews have completed tunneling work on the 9-mile westward extension of the Metro-D Line, which will extend from the current terminus in Koreatown to a new Westwood/VA Hospital station.

The Expansion project will add seven subway stations and high-speed rail from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside, according to LA Metro’s website. Construction of the $9.5 billion project began in 2019.

“As one of LA’s busiest areas, Westside is the region’s second-largest job center,” Metro’s website says. “We are closer than ever to connecting busy areas and improving travel for everyone who lives, works and plays in LA County.”

The expansion of the D Line, also known as the Purple Line, will occur in three phases in sections each approximately 3 miles long.

Section 1, which will include Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega stations, is initially scheduled to open in 2025.

Section 2, consisting of Wilshire/Rodeo Station and Century City/Constellation Station, is scheduled to open in 2026. Section 3 is expected to be completed in 2027 with the Westwood/UCLA and Westwood/VA Hospital stations.

A worker in orange safety gear in a tunnel next to a train car transporting material

A worker controls a train carrying construction materials on the site of LA Metro’s future Wilshire/Fairfax station.

(Etienne Laurent / Los Angeles Times)

“This safe completion of tunnel construction through this part of Los Angeles is a milestone in Metro’s work to expand fast, reliable public transportation throughout the region,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said at a news conference Tuesday.

Now that tunnel construction is complete, construction crews will work on building the new stations, installing electrical components and completing road rehabilitation work, a Metro official said.

Construction was interrupted several times in 2022 for safety reasons. In March of this year, a 40-year-old construction worker died when he was struck by a service vehicle used to transport parts and people around the construction site. Work was halted again in October 2022 after dozens more workers were injured.

A worker in orange safety gear stands next to a row of bright safety cones in a dark tunnel and looks up

A worker at the future Wilshire/Fairfax train station checks the ceiling of the completed tunnel on Monday.

(Etienne Laurent / For the times)

Opposition to tunneling under Beverly Hills, including Beverly Hills High School, threatened to stop the project before construction began. The Beverly Hills Unified School District sought to block the work entirely in a Superior Court lawsuit. The district also sued in federal court to have the project rerouted.

In 2018, students at Beverly Hills High organized a walkout to protest the construction of tunnels under campus. Several studies have shown that this occurs when staying above ground while tunneling do not pose a security risk, The Times previously reported.

Metro also said tunneling workers faced challenges such as underground gas pockets, oil sands and abandoned oil wells.

Nevertheless, those responsible assume that the entire expansion project will be completed before the 2028 Olympic Games.

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