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L.A. Metro’s D Line hits a milestone: Tunneling is complete for expansion to the Westside

A worker in bright-yellow gear and a hardhat walks up a stairway from underground into daylight amid a construction project
A construction worker at the future Wilshire/Fairfax stop on Monday as L.A. Metro celebrated completion of tunneling for the subway’s D Line extension into the Westside.
(Etienne Laurent / For the Times)
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After five years of construction and numerous delays, crews have finished tunneling operations for the 9-mile westward expansion of the Metro D Line, which will stretch from the current terminus in Koreatown to a new Westwood/VA Hospital Station.

The expansion project will add seven Metro stations and a high-speed connection from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside, according to L.A. Metro’s website. Construction of the $9.5-billion project began in 2019.

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

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Los Angeles transit officials have shut down construction of the Westside’s $2.4-billion Purple Line Extension for two weeks amid a litany of “serious safety concerns” that have injured dozens of workers since July 2021.

Oct. 24, 2022

The extension of the D Line, also known as the Purple Line, is taking place in three phases in sections that are roughly 3 miles long each.

Section 1, which will include the Wilshire/La Brea Station, Wilshire/Fairfax Station and Wilshire/La Cienega Station, is slated to open first, in 2025.

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

Two workers in orange safety gear alongside a train car carrying materials in a tunnel
A worker guides a train carrying construction materials at the site of L.A. Metro’s future Wilshire/Fairfax Station.
(Etienne Laurent / Los Angeles Times)

“罢丑颈蝉 safe completion of tunneling through this part of Los Angeles is a milestone in Metro’s work to expand fast and reliable public transit across the region,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said Tuesday at a news conference.

Now that tunneling is finished, construction crews will work on building the new stations, installing electrical components and completing street restoration work, a Metro representative said.

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Construction was halted multiple times in 2022 due to safety concerns. A 40-year-old construction worker was killed that March when he was struck by a service vehicle used to carry parts and people around the site. Work was stopped again in October 2022 after dozens of other workers were injured.

A worker in orange safety gear stands by a series of bright safety cones in a dark tunnel, looking up
A worker at the future Wilshire/Fairfax Station checks out the completed tunnel’s ceiling Monday.
(Etienne Laurent / For the Times)

Pushback against 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 in an effort to get the project rerouted.

Beverly Hills High School students are being encouraged to “walk out” of their classrooms on Friday, board buses and travel to a local park to protest the extension of the Purple Line subway, a $9-billion project that will require tunneling underneath their campus beginning next year.

Oct. 12, 2018

In 2018, Beverly Hills High students staged a walkout to protest the digging of tunnels beneath campus. Several studies have shown that being above ground during tunneling does not present a safety threat, The Times previously reported.

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

Still, officials expect the entire expansion project to be completed before the 2028 Olympic Games.

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