Industry NewsTunnel Boring

Tunneling is complete of LA Metro’s expansion to the Westside

After five years of construction and numerous delays, crews have finished tunneling operations for the 14.4 km (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 LA Times reported that 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.”

The extension of the D Line, also known as the Purple Line, is taking place in three phases in sections that are roughly 5 km (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.

 “This 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 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.

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.

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.

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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