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The Real Deal Los Angeles

President Trump invoked to stop Metro tunnel in Beverly Hills

Anonymous group seeks to block tunnel beneath Beverly Hills High School
July 06, 2018 04:00PM

Beverly Hills High School, Donald Trump, and local officials celebrating a 2014 groundbreaking on the Metro Purple Line Extension (Credit: Neon Tommy via Flickr, Wikimedia Commons)

Between negotiating peace on the Korean Peninsula and Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, President Donald Trump has plenty on his plate.

Now an anonymous group of Beverly Hills residents is asking POTUS to weigh in on a years-long spat over a planned subway extension that will pass beneath part of Beverly Hills High School, according to the Beverly Hills Courier.

The “Stop the Purple Threat” campaign wants the president and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to withhold federal funding and force the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to re-route the tunnel elsewhere.

The campaign contends that tunneling will “likely disturb pockets of deadly methane gas and hydrogen sulfide” trapped beneath the surface in dozens of abandoned oil wells there. It claims that construction noise will negatively impact students and faculty, and that dust from construction poses a health hazard to them.

The group started a petition with the goal of getting 100 signatures to send to Trump and Chao with their plea. It has 54 signatures as of 7:30 pm on July 6th.

The Beverly Hills United School District has been in court with Metro since 2011 over the plan. Both the school district and the City of Beverly Hills are challenging an environmental analysis of the project released in November.

The ongoing struggle has seen some colorful arguments in the past. Other opponents of the project have suggested that Metro could inadvertently blow up methane deposits beneath the school. In 2014, the Beverly Hills Courier suggested that the tunnel posed a terror threat, because terrorists could blow up the school through the tunnel.

For their part, organizers say that stopping federal funding will allow an independent review of the project, which can then be the subject of negotiations between Metro and local officials.

The tunneling is part of Phase 2 of the Purple Line Extension, which will extend the line to two stations — one on Wilshire Boulevard and Canon Drive, and another on Constellation Boulevard in Century City.

Construction started on Phase 2 in the spring and is scheduled to wrap up in 2025. Metro officials signed off on $410 million in funding for the third and final phase of the project on Thursday. [Beverly Hills Courier] – Dennis Lynch