On Metro’s Purple Line metro expansion to the Westside of Los Angeles, Tunneling is formally ongoing.

Tuesday, under the junction of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, the first round of tunneling began.

Twin 450-foot-long tunnel boring machines (dubbed Elsie and Soyeon) will carve out about 60 feet of tunnel daily for the next two years, en route to the Wilshire / Western station, where Purple Line trains now turn back for Downtown Los Angeles.

The first phase of the Purple Line extension broke ground in 2014 and is expected to open in 2023. The $2.82 billion project will add a little under 4 miles of track to the subway route, bringing it to the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards.

The expansion will eventually take the train to the VA hospital just south of the 405 on the Westwood and Brentwood boundary. The project will be built in three sections.


Phase two will take place in Century City between La Cienega and Constellation Boulevard. The third phase will add a stop near UCLA en route to the VA. Altogether, the extension will add roughly 9 miles to the Purple Line and is expected to carry nearly 60,000 riders daily.

But the project is not popular with inhabitants of Beverly Hills and college officials who have constantly sued for blocking the project’s second leg, arguing that tunneling under the Beverly Hills High School campus may pose a danger to student safety. These claims were steadfastly rejected by Metro authorities.


Last week at Will Rogers Memorial Park, students, educators, and school administrators in the town collected to protest the subway project.

Tunneling work has not yet begun on the second stage of the project, and Metro spokesman Dave Sotero told Curbed last week that the agency chosen a path under high school because that path “offers the biggest advantages with the least impact.” Another suggested path along Santa Monica Boulevard would have intersected with an earthquake failure.

Sotero claims Metro will continue to seek out “an abundance of caution” for unmapped oil wells under Beverly Hills. Despite protests and legal difficulties, Metro expects all three stages of the project to be completed by 2026.