SM LIBRARY — As officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plan for a subway extension to Santa Monica, one of the questions it will face is whether the western part of L.A. County will have the demand to support two public transit infrastructures, the other being light rail.

Included in the proposal for the Westside Subway Extension, also known as the Subway to the Sea, are three stations in Santa Monica, including one at the corner of Fourth Street and Wilshire Boulevard, which is just half a mile away from the planned terminal for the Exposition Light Rail at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue.

It was one of several aspects of the subway extension covered during a meeting at the main library on Thursday updating the community on the heavy rail project, which is currently in the draft environmental review phase.

The project is estimated to receive about $4.1 billion from Measure R, the half cent sales tax increase that was approved by county voters in November for public transportation-related projects. The measure is estimated to raise $40 billion over the next 30 years.

Construction for roughly 17 miles of subway however is estimated at $9 billion.

In order to qualify for federal matching funds, the project will have to meet certain cost effectiveness standards, a formula based on construction cost and ridership.

“Because [a] heavy rail subway is so expensive to build, to meet cost effectiveness numbers, you really have to have high ridership to compete for federal funds,” Jody Litvak, regional communications manager for the MTA, said. “By the time you get to Wilshire and Fourth, you have another rail line that is not even a mile away.

“As you get further west, those lines get very close to each other.”

The second leg of Expo, which will go from Culver City to Santa Monica, is anticipated to begin service by 2015, while the subway extension won’t reach the I-405 Freeway for at least another 20 years. Construction will be done in four segments with the area west of the 405 being the final stage.

The MTA is studying two possible alignment options for the subway, including one that would start at the Purple Line connection in Koreatown, heading down Wilshire Boulevard and ending at the Fourth Street intersection in Santa Monica. The second option would include an extension from the Red Line Hollywood/Highland station and travel through West Hollywood, connecting back at the Wilshire/La Cienega Boulevard stop before heading back down Wilshire to Santa Monica.

The preliminary plans show three stops in Santa Monica, including one at Wilshire and 16th Street and another at 26th Street. There is also a stop planned at Bundy Drive and officials are also studying possible stops at Barrington Avenue and at the VA.

The final alignment option is expected to go to the Metro board for approval by the end of next year, after which it will be submitted for federal review.

Construction for each station will take approximately 48 to 54 months to complete, with the most disruptive activities taking place during the first two to five months — for drilling piles along the roadway and installing the decking — and the final two to four months — to remove the deck and restore the street.

“The most disruptive part of constructing a subway is when we have to open the ground,” Litvak said.

A tunnel boring machine will be responsible for doing much of the excavation underground. The new generation of the machines maintain pressure in the surrounding earth, which reduces the risk of collapse.

The machines have been used for the 1.8 mile Gold Line Extension and there have been no substantiated property damage claims, MTA officials said.

For Santa Monica resident Juan Matute and his girlfriend Sirinya Tritipeskul, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, the subway can’t come soon enough.

It takes Matute about 40-50 minutes to get from Santa Monica to his work at UCLA and Tritipeskul about 70 to 90 minutes to the same destination from the valley.

Neither commute by car and are basing their future residential decisions on the subway.

“It would dramatically decrease travel time,” Matute said.

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