Residents Impacted by Expedited Metro Purple Line Work
On April 2, a temporary full closure of Wilshire Boulevard between Crescent Drive and Beverly Drive took effect after the Beverly Hills City Council approved an accelerated construction timeline for the Metro Purple Line Extension Project. The decision was made in an effort to expedite the construction of two subway stops, taking advantage of the reduced traffic due to the COVID-19 emergency. However, what may have seemed like an ideal time to move forward on the project — residents are under stay at home orders — is now under question. Residents living near the construction sites have reached out to the City regarding the loud noise negatively impacting their mental and physical wellbeing, citing “constant banging” sounds. Some residents, such as Beth Braun, Ph. D., reached out to the Courier and are speaking out publicly.
“The Metro has been pounding on Wilshire from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. six days a week. It is brutal. It is impossible to sleep, homeschool kids, work or relax in the middle of a global pandemic,” Braun told the Courier.
Braun expressed frustration that when the City announced the accelerated Metro construction on April 2, it took her and her neighbors by surprise. “The City decided to do this with no notice to residents,” she said. Braun noted that she and several of her neighbors called the Metro hotline numerous times to air their grievances. Time after time they felt invalidated by the person on the other end of the line. Braun and at least seven other residents also reached out to the City. Although Braun said her concerns were initially politely dismissed, she was provided with a small noise machine.
City spokesperson Keith Sterling responded to the issue of whether residents received notice of the proposed plans to close Wilshire Boulevard.
He told the Courier: “Metro did not hand deliver notices to the community because of the COVID-19 restrictions. However, in addition to extensive City outreach through multiple channels (and significant media coverage), Metro sent out electronically distributed information related to the closure. The closure was discussed at the April Community meeting webinar and included in the Purple Line Extension Newsletter.”
Sterling also pointed out that the Wilshire Boulevard closure has not resulted in a change to overall work hours. “Drilling is specifically ordered to cease at 9 p.m. while additional work is permitted until 11 p.m.,” he said.
On April 21, Braun called in to voice her grievances about the noise during the public comment period of the City Council meeting. That same evening, the City issued a statement on the matter.
“Crews are making significant progress on completing extensive piling work on the Metro Purple Line Project,” said the statement. “The piling work on the south side of Wilshire was originally scheduled to last through August. Under the current expedited timeline, the piling work is expected to be complete by early May,” it added.
“While we recognize this work is some of the most difficult and impactful to date, it is happening at a more rapid pace and will reduce future congestion in our busy business district when merchants re-open following the COVID-19 emergency,” said Mayor Lester Friedman in the statement. “We appreciate the community’s patience as crews complete this complex project as quickly and safely as possible.”
The day after the City Council meeting, Public Works Department engineering manager Robert Welch called and spoke to Braun. “I’m feeling better about the City taking care of us and spending 45 minutes on the phone to talk to me,” Braun told the Courier. “He [Welch] said the City is in the process of buying 20-foot sound curtains to block the noise. But the lesson I learned is that the Metro can’t be beat, it’s too big to mess with.” Although she has lived in Beverly Hills for 15 years, she is now considering a move.
“We certainly understand this is a difficult time for our community members as we all endure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sterling. “The City continues to receive support for the plan to expedite this section of the project and we expect crews to complete the work in the coming weeks.”
For more information on current Metro Purple Line Extension construction, visit www.beverlyhills.org/purpleline.