Tunnel-boring machine makes key Purple Line link

LOS ANGELES — In a construction milestone for the Purple Line extension project, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced June 12 that a tunnel-boring machine has broken through to connect with the Wilshire/Western subway station in Koreatown.

“Our last [tunnel boring machines] at Wilshire/Western were powered down over 23 years ago, so we are definitely going ‘back to the future’ in our modern-day mission to extend this subway,” said county Supervisor and MTA Board Chair Sheila Kuehl, referring to a decades-long effort to extend the Purple Line farther west underneath Wilshire Boulevard.

“I’m glad that this enormously complex operation has gone off without a hitch,” she added. “It’s a testament to the ways in which the MTA and its contractors meticulously plan and execute their tunneling work.”

The 1,000-ton, 400-foot-long tunnel-boring machine, named “Soyeon,” burrowed through the last remaining cluster of soil 50 to 70 feet below Wilshire June 11. It’s one of two TBMs to mine about two miles of parallel subway tunnels between the future Wilshire/La Brea Station and the existing Wilshire/Western Station.

MTA officials said it took Soyeon, which was originally lowered into the ground at the MTA’s Wilshire/La Brea station site in the Miracle Mile area last fall, eight months — working five days a week, 20 hours a day — to reach the bulkhead wall at the face of the Wilshire/Western subway terminus.

Anticipating future westward subway expansion, the transit agency built the retaining wall as part of construction of the station, which originally opened in 1996.

The second TBM named “Elsie,” which was launched six weeks after Soyeon, is also expected to break through to Wilshire/Western later this month. When done tunneling this project section, both TBMs will have mined nearly half a million cubic yards of earth.

“Our tunneling achievements to date prove that we can successfully mine through some of the most challenging conditions that any subway project anywhere in the world is likely to face,” MTA CEO Phillip A. Washington said.

After tunneling this leg, both TBMs will be used to tunnel west to future station sites at Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The machines are expected to reach the end of the four-mile subway section in Beverly Hills by mid-2020.

Following the tunneling operation, the MTA said it will focus on completing construction of its first three subway stations over the next three years.

The $9.8 billion, nine-mile underground subway project will extend the Purple Line from its current terminus in Koreatown to the Westwood/VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. The first section is scheduled to be completed in 2023, the second in 2025 and the third in 2027.

People can follow the TBMs’ progress on Twitter at

Alan Arkin honored with star on Walk of Fame

HOLLYWOOD — A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled June 7 honoring Alan Arkin, whose more than 50-year acting career includes a supporting-actor Oscar and three other Oscar-nominated performances.

Arkin’s son Matthew, who appeared with him in five films, the 2001-02 A&E legal drama “100 Centre Street” and the 1978 made-for-television movie “The Defection of Simas Kurdika,” and Steve Carell, a castmate of Arkin in three films, joined him in speaking in the late-morning ceremony in front of the Miniso store on Hollywood Boulevard.

“I don’t really feel like I deserve this. I had fun for my entire career,” Arkin said. “But by the same token, I had shingles two years ago, and I didn’t feel like I deserved that either, so maybe the two things kind of canceled each other out.”

Arkin received a best supporting actor Oscar in 2007 for his portrayal of a grandfather who coaches his beauty pageant contestant granddaughter (Abigail Breslin) in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Arkin received a best actor Oscar nomination in 1967 for his major feature film debut, playing the political officer aboard a Soviet submarine that runs aground on a sandbar near a New England island in “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.”

Arkin also received a best actor Oscar nomination in 1969 for his role as a deaf mute who seeks to become the guardian of his institutionalized best friend (Chuck McCann) in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

Arkin received his second best supporting actor Oscar nomination in 2013 for playing a movie producer involved in a ruse to help free Americans from Iran in “Argo.”

Born March 26, 1934, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, a grandson of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, Arkin began taking acting lessons when he was 10 years old. Arkin was an early member of the famed Chicago-based improvisational theater group The Second City, and he performed with it in the
1961 Broadway musical revue, “From the Second City.”

Arkin won a best featured actor in a play Tony Award in 1964 for playing a young aspiring actor in the 1930s in “Enter Laughing.” He received a best direction of a play Tony nomination in 1974 for “The Sunshine Boys.”

Arkin’s other memorable film credits include “Catch-22”; “Popi”; “Little Murders,” which he also directed; “Hearts of the West”; “The In-Laws”; “Havana”; “Edward Scissorhands”; “Glengarry Glen Ross”; “So I Married an Axe Murderer”; “Grosse Point Blank”; and “Get Smart.”

Arkin co-stars with Michael Douglas in the Netflix comedy “The Kominsky Method,” which brought him Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for his portrayal of an agent trying to cope with his wife’s death.

Longtime AIDS activist leads WeHo Pride Parade

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Thousands lined Santa Monica Boulevard June 9 for the LA Pride Parade which sought to convey the theme of the three-day 2019 LA Pride Festival, #JUSTUNITE.

The parade began at 11 a.m. at Crescent Heights Boulevard and continued west along Santa Monica Boulevard to Almont Drive.

The theme is a call “to set aside our differences and celebrate what truly unites us” and “to stop working against each other and, instead, start working with each other to make our community stronger and more resilient than ever before,” festival organizers said.

Longtime AIDS activist Phill Wilson was the community grand marshal. The Los Angeles LGBT Center was the organizational grand marshal. Actor and writer Ryan O’Connell was the celebrity grand marshal.

Wilson is president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, which he founded in 1999. The institute describes itself as the nation’s only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on black people. Its mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in black communities by engaging and mobilizing black leaders, institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“I am so proud of our community because we strive to include all of us,” Wilson said at a news conference that preceded the parade. “We’re not perfect — we’ve never been perfect, I doubt we’ve ever been perfect — but that is our aspiration. We understand that we are great when all of us are included and we are all diminished whenever we exclude any one of us.

“We are at a time today when we need to redefine what our movement is all about,” Wilson added. “Today, our movement is certainly about inclusion and equality for LGBT folks, but it is also about equality and justice across the planet. It is about equality for immigrants and migrants. It is about equality for women and reproductive rights. It is about the right to health care for everyone because if we don’t have a free and just world none of us can be free.”

The Los Angeles LGBT Center bills itself as providing services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world.

O’Connell is the creator and star of the Netflix comedy “Special,” about a gay man with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants. The series is based on his memoir,
“I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.”

The grand marshals are chosen by the board of directors of Christopher Street West, the nonprofit organization which produces the parade and festival, based on a number of factors, including their lifetime accomplishments and service to the LGBT community.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti walked in the parade alongside Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, also participated in the parade.

The Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Galaxy and AEG, the parent company of the Kings and Galaxy, had a co-branded float, featuring a variety of Kings personalities, including team mascot Bailey.

An attendance figure was not available.

The parade was first held in 1970 in Hollywood, where it was held until 1979 when it moved to West Hollywood.

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