By Sirinya the Intern
LOT 36-- UCLA Chancellor Gene Block joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragoisa, 5thDistrict Councilman Paul Koretz and other area elected politicians and high-level public officials today at UCLA’s parking lot 36, by Wilshire and Veteran, to celebrate a major milestone in the path to building the Westside Subway Extension: the start of drilling for soil testing in Westwood, a potential western subway terminus point.
The soil sample collection in Westwood was as an important step in bringing the subway to fruition, a project that Villaraigosa said would expand accessibility to UCLA, generate jobs, cut travel times, and end Los Angeles’s vulnerability as the punch line late night jokes about congestion and rush hour traffic.
The Westwood soil sample collection is one of over 70 samples collected this summer by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority for analysis as part of the subway extension’s draft environmental impact report.
Chancellor Gene Block of UCLA was amongst the speakers at today's conference who indicated his support for the subway project.
Students, staff, and the 10 million annual visitors to UCLA will benefit from the opening of a subway station in Westwood, Block said.  “UCLA is the 7thlargest employer in Los Angeles,” added Block, “and the subway would eliminate thousands of vehicle commute miles annually.”
Villaraigosa stated that with federal matching, the subway extension to Westwood could be completed as soon as 2019. Los Angeles will not see a Westwood subway station before 2036 if the city and Metro does nothing. This led Villaraigosa to call for the Metro Board of Directors to approve the Long Range Transportation Plan, whose passage was postponed to September last month, which would then enable Metro and other subway supporters to lobby for federal matching dollars.