Los Angeles Gets Ready for Its Own ‘Big Dig’

The Big Dig under construction.
The Big Dig under construction. –David L Ryan/The Boston Globe

Los Angeles is hoping to start this year on a project that will bring a new “Subway to the Sea’’ to the California city.

The proposal involves extending a subway line from downtown Los Angeles to the beaches in Santa Monica by constructing new tunnels and stations underneath Wilshire Boulevard, Reuters reported.

Part of the project was actually completed in 1996, but controversy surrounding the potentially disruptive construction eventually led to a shutdown.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Transportation helped bring the proposal back to life by approving $2 billion in funding, the report said. The budget includes $1.2 billion of granted money and $821 million in loans.


If this is starting to sound familiar, that’s because it sounds more than a little like a west coast variation on Boston’s Big Dig. Boston’s own little underground construction venture was similarly budgeted (at about $2.8 billion) and was helped by federal funding.

But instead of meeting that budget and the projected completion date of 1998, the project ran on for another nine years, ended up costing $14.6 billion. It became the most expensive highway project in the country’s history and was widely criticized as a catastrophic failure.

Don’t get us wrong, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a great green space in the city and the Zakim Bridge (which was also part of the project) is beautiful and possibly a new symbol for our city. But when the phrase “billion-dollar underground construction project’’ can make an entire city collectively cringe, you might want to think twice before breaking ground.

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