Tunneling complete for Metro’s D Line expansion to West L.A.

After five years of construction and numerous delays, crews have completed tunneling operations for the 9-mile westbound extension of the D Subway 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 a broadband connection from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside, according to the LA Metro website. Construction on the $9.5 billion project began in 2019.

“As one of the busiest areas in Los Angeles, the Westside is the second largest employment center in the region,” Metro says on its website. “We are closer than ever to connecting high-traffic areas and improving travel for everyone who lives, works and plays in Los Angeles County.”

The D Line extension, also known as the Purple Line, is occurring in three phases over sections each approximately 3 miles long.

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

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

A worker guides a train carrying construction materials to the site of the Los Angeles Metro’s future Wilshire/Fairfax station.

(Étienne Laurent / Los Angeles Times)

“The safe completion of tunneling in this part of Los Angeles is an important milestone in Metro’s work to expand fast, reliable public transportation throughout the region,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said Tuesday , during a press conference.

Now that tunneling is complete, construction crews will work to build the new stations, install electrical components and complete street restoration work, a Metro representative said.

Construction has been halted several times in 2022 due to safety concerns. A 40-year-old construction worker was killed last March when he was struck by a service vehicle used to transport parts and people to the construction site. Work was halted again in October 2022 after dozens more workers were injured.

A worker in orange safety equipment stands near a series of illuminated safety cones in a dark tunnel, looking up

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

(Etienne Laurent / For the Times)

Resistance to tunneling under Beverly Hills, including at 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 filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to have the project redirected.

In 2018, students at Beverly Hills High staged a walkout to protest tunneling under campus. Several studies have shown that being on the surface while tunneling does not present a security threat, The Times has already reported it.

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

Officials, however, expect the entire expansion project to be completed before the 2028 Olympics.

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