May 08--BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Opponents of a proposed subway route beneath Beverly Hills High School released a video Monday showing methane explosions threatening the school's students but officials in favor of the route say the video is just a scare tactic.
The 'Subway to the Sea' project would extend the Purple Line nine miles towards Los Angeles' westside and current plans show the route would run directly beneath the high school.
The Beverly Hills High School PTA produced a YouTube video claiming that methane gas from old oil fields beneath the school could be disturbed by subway tunneling.
"We all want a subway, we just don't want our children at risk under that building while they are building," said Susie Roberts, executive vice president of the Beverly Hills High School PTA.
The concerned parents said the video isn't a scare tactic.
"Yes, they used special effects but you know what? It's a risk and we wanted to let people know that we have an issue," said PTA president Jennifer Terrell-Schwartz.
Metro officials originally planned to build the subway route under Santa Monica Boulevard at Century City but they now want to move it a few blocks south to Constellation Boulevard because of earthquake fault lines under Santa Monica.
The new route passes directly beneath Beverly Hills High School, which sits atop an old oil field, including a well that still produces oil.
"We can't make a mistake," said Gary Woods, superintendent of schools for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. "There are 2,000 kids here, over 300 employees each and every day. We have to make sure this is perfectly safe."
Metro officials claim improvements in tunneling practices have all but eliminated the chance of igniting methane and putting students in danger.
"We just built a 1.7-mile tunnel for the eastside Gold Line extension through the Boyle Heights oil fields with no problems," said Metro spokesman Marc Littman.
Beverly Hills policymakers will take their concerns about the route May 17 to a Metro public hearing. If Metro doesn't re-route the subway back under Santa Monica Boulevard, city officials say they are ready to take the matter to court.
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