The troubled Metro Rail project has hit another snag. Entertainment industry officials on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood say that the noise and vibration caused by the transit system could interfere with their recording operations.
The group has taken its concerns to Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo, who represents the Hollywood area. Woo said that he will appoint a special advisory panel to investigate the complaint and suggest possible solutions.
"We want to keep as many of the entertainment and communications jobs in the Hollywood area as we can," the councilman said Tuesday. "We don't want to give these studios an excuse for moving to Burbank or somewhere else."
City Councilman Nate Holden, chairman of the council's Traffic and Transportation Committee, joined Woo at the press conference. Holden said that he supported the study and would abide by the panel's recommendations.
Holden called the noise and vibration concerns a "minor technical point." He said the study should not cause any further delays for Metro Rail.
Section to Be Above Ground
The concern about noise and vibration stems from the fact that the Sunset Boulevard section of the city's $4.2-billion mass transit system will be located above ground. The raised track will run from Vermont Avenue to Gower Street, past half of the television stations and one-third of the radio stations in Los Angeles.
Broadcasters and other entertainment industry officials--the area also includes several recording studios and sound stages--fear that the thunder and the fury from the high-speed transit system could drown them out.
Bill Welsh, the president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said Metro Rail poses a serious threat to the communications companies.
"This affects a major portion of the entertainment industry," said Welsh, who also appeared with Woo on Tuesday. "The area is an electronic mile."
Steve Bell, general manager of KTLA-TV, which is located on Sunset Boulevard, said he was pleased with Woo's call for an advisory panel. Bell said the panel should be able to find a way to reduce the noise and vibrations from the transit system.
The decision to elevate certain portions of Metro Rail, which has also sparked complaints from neighborhood organizations, came after officials learned of the existence of underground pockets of methane gas in the Fairfax area.
The City Council approved the Sunset Boulevard stretch of Metro Rail in April. Woo said that the council was unaware of the possible noise and vibration problems at the time.
The councilman said his advisory panel will consist of "nationally known experts" on transit. If the panel decides that a problem exists, Woo said, there are several possible solutions. Officials could reroute the Sunset Boulevard track. They could also build sound walls around the raised track. A third solution, the most expensive, would be to place the tracks underground.
'Stop the Rhetoric'
The advisory panel will hold its first meeting in October. Its recommendations will be forwarded to the mayor and the City Council.
"It's time to stop the rhetoric and gather all of the facts," Woo said. "If Metro Rail is going to unfairly impact the longtime businesses here, then the route should be changed. If there is no impact, then let's get down to the business of building Metro Rail."
Metro Rail, which would link downtown Los Angeles with several outlying communities, has been plagued by problems for years. The completion date, initially scheduled for the early 1990s, has been pushed back to the year 2000.
The amount of federal funding for the project has fallen short of initial projections and the expected cost has risen by nearly $1 billion.