Engineers: Metro Quake Fault Studies Incomplete

Shannon & Wilson calls for more studies of the potential faults along the proposed routes of the Westside Subway Extension. It also says tunneling under Beverly Hills High School could probably be done safely.

Engineering consultants told the Beverly Hills City Council Tuesday that a study of earthquake faults commissioned recently by Metro was incomplete and therefore inadequate to enable an informed decision on the Beverly Hills portion of the Westside Subway Extension.

Geotechnical firm Shannon & Wilson, Inc. was hired by the city at a cost of $100,000 to conduct a peer review of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s fault and tunnel reports. Metro staff recommended March 19 that the subway extension be routed under to Constellation Boulevard in Century City.

Shannon & Wilson suggested that the MTA order more thorough testing to determine the presence of active earthquake faults along the two proposed routes that go through Beverly Hills. Its report notes a disparity between the level of data gathered from the Santa Monica Boulevard route and the Constellation Boulevard route.

"When compared with the studies completed at the Santa Monica Station, the relatively sparse exploration data presented for the Constellation Station does not indicate, nor fully negate, the presence of faulting," the Shannon & Wilson report states. "We recommend that comparable geological and geotechnical explorations be carried out for the Constellation Station."

A key issue was the method of determining whether or not a fault is active.

"Trenching" is a more accurate though more costly way to investigate a fault zone, according to Shannon & Wilson. To date, Metro's scientists have only employed the "boring" method, which gathers a less comprehensive data set, the firm said.

Regarding tunneling below BHHS, the report indicates that tunneling probably would not impact existing campus facilities.

"The proposed BHHS underground parking garage could be constructed above the tunnel to a maximum depth of about 30 to 50 feet below grade, leaving at least 20 feet of undisturbed soil above the tunnels," the report states. "Risks associated with ground loss during construction, vibrations during construction operation, and hazards from methane and other gasses should be mitigated by the design plans and specifications for the project."

Shannon & Wilson also suggests relocating the proposed Santa Monica Boulevard station at least one block further east from its current proposed spot, which extends past Century Park East into the Santa Monica fault zone.

The 25-page report and 40 pages of related information can be found here.

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John Mirisch April 06, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Wonder who the royal "we" here refers to but others could take the view that the Metro report is a big waste of time and money, and it's a real shame that Metro is going to spend billions (not a few million) of taxpayer bucks enriching their staff, with their bloated salaries and benefits, as well as enriching their own lawyers and benefiting rich developers. Whether you're an old fart, a young fogey or a self-styled hipster who knows better than everyone else, Beverly Hills is, in fact, not a part of Los Angeles. While the principles of local control may be difficult for you to grasp, it has been its own independent city for almost a hundred years. And for many of us who live in BH and don't want to be subject to the whims of LA politicians but want to be able to exercise the right of self-determination, we intend on keeping it that way. While we are happy to participate in regional efforts that can benefit all of us, the region itself can thank Beverly Hills for not always kowtowing to the special interests who are able to run rampant in LA and who have caused much of the overdevelopment that has created such adverse effects for all of us. By maintaining a mostly low-rise, human-scale Community, Beverly Hills shows that there is another way and provides an oasis in the middle of a region which is becoming more and more unlivable because of bad policy decisions from the Insiders' Club of special interests.
Larry Miller April 11, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I agree with Jon Gluck. The only legitimate argument against tunneling under BHHS is the effect on future development of the school site. The district laid out the problems in detail in a letter to the MTA last year. Why we haven't been hammering away with this argument is a mystery to me. Instead, we have a bunch of whining about safety, corrupt developers and politicians, and fear of construction inconveniences, all of which make us look like a bunch of selfish NIMBYs.
Joe Parker April 12, 2012 at 12:01 AM
The issues with MTA are complex and having one stance would be dangerous. No aspect should be ignored. Concerns include the motive for MTA's decision, the safety issues of tunneling through oil wells and areas of known methane gas deposits, flawed scientific reports that MTA is basing their decisions, the ground conditions of the two proposed sites, the extra cost (60+ million for putting the station on Constellation) and the extra travel time, the vibration (if not the sound) the subway will cause in the classrooms, the extra costs the school district, i.e. the community of BH, will incur to build a school over subway tunnels per Dept. of State Architecture specifications (which by the way DSA has never encountered and will have to formulate those specifications). Anyone else see another issue? I'm sure MTA would love to have "one stance" in order to throw their millions of dollars and obliterate, but right now all these reasons are creating an overwhelming argument that MTA should give their decision pause.
Joe April 13, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I, for one, am opposed to the very idea of getting from Westwood to downtown in 25 minutes without paying for gas or parking. Won't someone think of the children! (and the oil that is being pumped from the school?)
John Mirisch April 13, 2012 at 05:58 AM
The implication being, of course, that you wouldn't get from Westwood to downtown if the subway's Century City station were on Santa Monica rather than Constellation. Now you're making sense. But if you do want to leave from Westwood on the subway, I'm guessing it won't be from UCLA. And if you want to think about the children, how about the kids at UCLA who will not be well served by the so-called "UCLA/Westwood" station all because Metro doesn't want to tunnel under a cemetery.


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