In a sign of eventual relief for commuters who have languished in West Los Angeles traffic, major construction officially began Monday on the third and final leg of the Metro Purple Line extension that will bring the subway to the Veterans Affairs campus near Westwood.

“We believe in what is happening here,” Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez said during a ground-breaking ceremony at the VA campus. “This project has been long awaited by many, much-anticipated. Of course, it is critically important for Angelenos.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation contributed $1.3 billion toward the $3.6 billion stretch of the Purple Line — now known as the D Line — from Century City to the VA campus. The project will include subway stations at Westwood/UCLA and at the VA terminus of the line. The overall extension of the line from the Koreatown area to the VA campus is estimated at $9.5 billion, with federal grants covering roughly half the cost.

The Purple Line stretches all the way to Union Station north of downtown.

“This new Metro line connecting the Westside to downtown Los Angeles — L.A.’s two biggest job centers — with fast and frequent and reliable transit service is going to revolutionize how Angelenos move around the city,” Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin said. “This is the single most important investment we are making to untangle the notorious, soul-sucking Westside traffic, and to give people real genuine alternatives to sitting in and being stuck in that traffic.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti noted that when the full extension is completed in 2027 — one year ahead of the 2028 Olympic in Los Angeles — “our neighborhoods will be better connected across this city.”

“It will not just be faster, but easier to travel back and forth from West L.A. to downtown and points in between,” he said. “… Riding this train, get this, you’ll be able to to go from the Westside to downtown at rush hour in 20 minutes. Now, anybody who’s been here on the Westside knows, it takes 20 minutes usually just to get this last block. Seriously. It’s not an exaggeration. It can take 20 minutes to literally even get on the freeway to even try to think about getting downtown.”

The first phase of the Purple Line extension, stretching the line from its current terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevard is scheduled to open in 2024, followed the next year by the roughly 2.6-mile leg through Beverly Hills to Century City.

Although Monday’s ceremony marked the start of “major” construction on the final leg of the extension, Metro officials said overall work is roughly 20% complete. The first extension phase is about 70% completed, and the second about 45%.

Metro officials said when the extension is completed, they expect 49,300 daily weekday boardings at the seven new stations, while generating about 78,000 new daily trips on the overall Metro rail system.

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