“The insanity that has engulfed this city for the last year and a half, [is] the result of this hysterical campaign being run about explosions and migrating methane gas, that were designed to inflame and alarm the public,” L.A. County Supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky, said to The New York Times.
Advocates of the tunnel route say Beverly Hills is just full of rich people used to getting their own way, citing a fierce political battle in the 1960s in which the city blocked a 10-lane freeway link that would have connected nearby skyscrapers in Century City to Los Angeles.
Opponents of the tunnel, meanwhile, are saying, “follow the money,” pointing to investigative reports that have traced the influence of developers that stand to benefit from the project. One such developer, Chicago-based JMB Realty Corporation, raised nearly $300,000 for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who heads the MTA.
According to an investigative cover story in Los Angeles Weekly, the sub-school tunnel would enable the project to run “almost to the lobbies” of two high rises built by JMB, with a third, just a half-block away.
According to the PTA-created video, the Beverly Hills Unified School District is happy to support an alternate route that would avoid the entire problem, and require transit users to walk perhaps two-and-a-half minutes.
Mayor Villaraigosa – who is rumored to be interested in becoming US secretary of transportation if Obama is reelected – says the project is part of his vision to ease the region’s stultifying traffic congestion, and says residents are just creating a climate of fear.