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Metro Introduces Purple Line Extension Section 2 Tunneling Machines: Harriet and Ruth

1:02 PM PDT on June 18, 2019

This morning, Metro celebrated the unveiling and naming of new tunnel boring machines for section two of the Westside Purple Line Extension.

Metro already has a few TBMs carving Purple Line subway tunnels. Just last week Metro announced that one of two Purple Line section one tunnelers broke through to Western Avenue.

Today's ceremony was held at Metro's construction staging yard on the eastern edge of Century City, a stone's throw from Beverly Hills High School. The proximity to the school is a reminder of the numerous lawsuits, campaigns, and protests that Beverly Hills Unified School District has waged against the subway. While the legal battles have been decided in Metro's favor, they did result in wasted time and money.

Metro CEO Phil Washington speaking at this morning's celebration
Metro CEO Phil Washington speaking at this morning's celebration

None of that controversy was in evidence at this morning's celebration, where the focus was to "accentuate the positive" - the name of a song performed there by Beverly Hills singer Oya Thomas. Metro boardmember Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker hosted the ceremony, touting the many benefits of the project, including improving quality of life, travel times, and air quality - and providing "thousands of good-paying jobs."

Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch touted his city's walkability
Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch touted his city's walkability

Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch welcomed the Purple Line to help visitors explore Beverly Hills and help residents go other places. Mirisch touted work that his city is doing to make first/last mile connections: walkability, bikeability, and plans for complete streets and autonomous shuttles. Century City BID liaison Susan Bursk touted Century City walkability, and praised the subway's arrival as coming full circle on subway transit connectivity planned decades ago.

Metro CEO Phil Washington acknowledged project partners federally and locally. He stated that he anticipates the Purple Line Extension section 3 federal full funding grant agreement to be signed "this summer." That FFGA has been delayed for more than a year; it was already overdue last February, when it was expected "any day now."

The stars of today's ceremony were the youth who won contests to name and decorate the TBMs.

Ruby Santamaria (right) named Metro Purple Line section 2 TBMs Ruth and Harriet
Ruby Santamaria (right) named Metro Purple Line section 2 TBMs Ruth and Harriet

Culver City sixth-grader Ruby Santamaria named the TBMs Harriet and Ruth. Harriet is for Harriet Tubman, conductor of the underground railroad. This is the second Metro TBM named Harriet; the first dug tunnels at the northern end of the soon-to-open Crenshaw/LAX light rail line. Ruth is for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who Santamaria acknowledged as having "paved the way for women everywhere."

Hans Smallwood's drawing will adorn the Purple Line section 2 tunneling machines

The TBMs will be decorated with the artwork by Beverly Hills third-grader Hans Smallwood.

Soon, the two TBMs will begin tunneling eastward from Century City. They will pass under Beverly Hills High School and then continue, mostly below Wilshire Boulevard, to La Cienega Boulevard.

Westside Purple Line sections - map via Metro
Westside Purple Line sections - map via Metro

The nine-mile Metro Purple Line Westside extension is being built in three phases, each about three miles long. The project will extend the existing Purple Line subway from Koreatown all the way to Westwood. Section one is under construction, half-built, and expected to open in 2023. As mentioned by Phil Washington, section three is in pre-construction, awaiting final federal approvals.

Today's tunnel machines will dig section two of the project. The 2.6-miles long Westside Purple Line Extension section two is anticipated to open in 2025. It will include two new stations.

Rendering of future Wilshire/Rodeo Purple Line station - via Metro

The Wilshire/Rodeo station will be located two blocks east of Beverly Hills famous shopping street - at the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Reeves Drive.

Rendering of future Century City/Constellation Purple Line station - via Metro
Rendering of future Century City/Constellation Purple Line station - via Metro

The Century City/Constellation station will be located at the northeast corner of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars.

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