Beverly Hills High Renews Fight Against Subway

metro-purple-bhhsLOS ANGELES (CN) — Beverly Hills Unified School District has filed a fresh legal challenge to a decades-old plan to extend a subway under Beverly Hills High School, after a judge ruled that construction can proceed.

The school district sued the Federal Transit Administration in May 2012 for its approval of L.A. Metro’s extension of the Purple Line beneath Beverly Hills High.

The school district said Constellation Boulevard was chosen for the Century City subway station without proper review of the seismic risks of tunneling under the school, and other environmental impacts.

In August, U.S. District Judge George Wu declined to halt construction of the subway but ruled that an environmental review of the extension did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

In a new federal lawsuit filed Thursday, BHUSD says the plan to tunnel beneath the high school “will cause permanent and irreparable harm” to historic buildings and jeopardize a $340 million expansion of the school.

Even though the environmental review is unlawful, Metro “has proceeded unhindered in its pursuit of construction” of the Westside Subway Extension Project, the school district says.

The subway project, in the works for almost 30 years, will extend the Metro Purple Line from its terminus at the Wilshire/Western station to incorporate seven new stations.

From Beverly Hills to Century City’s Constellation Station, the proposed line will extend northwest to Westwood, ending near the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital.

Tunneling beneath the school and homes could have been avoided had officials not switched the preferred base station away from Santa Monica Boulevard to a block south at Constellation Boulevard, the City of Beverly Hills said in a legal challenge filed in 2013.

In the new complaint, the school district seeks an injunction to stop Metro from committing to the Constellation Boulevard site without conducting the supplementary environmental review that it says Wu ordered in August.

According to the lawsuit, Metro has entered into a binding $1.4 billion agreement with a third-party contractor, without a closer look at alternative sites for the station, even though the legal challenge against the Constellation site is pending.

The school district is represented by Jennifer Recine with Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman.

In a statement, Metro said the school district is restating arguments the court has already rejected.

“In his August 2016 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge George Wu upheld the FTA’s approval of the Purple Line Extension Project’s second phase. The required supplemental environmental analysis will be completed well before the anticipated 2018 start of major construction of the section that will travel underneath Beverly Hills,” Metro said.

“The court allowed the project to proceed through the federal funding and procurement processes because these do not foreclose alternatives or additional mitigation measures that may result from the supplemental environmental process that is underway. Just last week county voters overwhelmingly reaffirmed their support for Metro’s projects by approving the Measure M transportation sales tax.

“Nearly 70 percent of voters countywide voted to bring this project and other transportation improvements to reality, including nearly 67 percent of Beverly Hills voters. Metro is committed to delivering critically needed transportation projects to L.A. County voters on time and on budget.”