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MTA Tunnel Construction

August 25, 1996

The Times' coverage of the construction of the Metro Rail project through the Hollywood Hills displays a consistent pattern of disregard for the facts and positions of the MTA (Aug. 18 and 20). We have repeatedly provided factual explanations of our actions and interpretations of our documents, and have spoken on the record. Yet in story after story, The Times gives greater credence to anonymous experts whose credentials and motives for commenting are never revealed.

The judgment and reputation of our contract engineers have been irrationally called into question regarding the current interruption to tunneling, as to whether the conditions we encountered should have been anticipated sooner. Hindsight is always 20/20. The engineers' assessment of conditions at the site was defensible and professional.

The reporter's repeated assertion that four-inch steel ribs were substituted for six-inch ribs, thereby compromising the strength of the tunnel, is absolutely false. He has repeatedly been told that the four-inch ribs were used as a substitute for expansion bolts in the section of tunnel in question, and in fact, provided greater support than the expansion bolts specified for use in the construction contract.

The reporter cited a lack of upbeat comments in the tunnel inspection reports as evidence of "a litany of woes," but either failed to understand the nature of these reports or chose to ignore their purpose. Inspection reports are intended to highlight areas where action is required.

Colorful adjectives are a basic tool of the reporter's trade, but have no place being attributed to persons who did not use them. The reporter may have believed that concrete segments were "heavy" and "most costly," while steel rings are "much lighter-weight," but he sourced these terms to Charles Stark, who never used them.

JOSEPH E. DREW

Chief Executive Officer

MTA, Los Angeles

* Yet another $200 million has been approved for the MTA subway system (Aug. 21)--L.A.'s money hole. This amounts to $125 per family of four for Los Angeles taxpayers. Why? No one wants this subway. Less than 1% of the population of Los Angeles will use the subway. The route is from nowhere downtown to nowhere in the West Valley, serving but a small percentage of the L.A. population or commercial operations. A total political boondoggle.

I challenge the mayor, the supervisors and the City Council to let the voters decide. Place a proposition on this year's ballot, giving the voters a choice--yes for the subway or no, cancel the subway.

CHARLES DUSHECK

Chatsworth

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