Regarding the bad smell on Wilshire, an employee of KNX NewsRadio emails that it's definitely coming from the excavation at Wilshire and Hauser. In this Google Earth pic from before work began on the residential project going in, you can see the oil and tar seep. This is a couple of blocks east of the tar pits. He emails: "All that construction is right next to us and the smell is awful. Since they started in mid-November with the major digging next to us, many staff members have been sick including myself. Just walking outside yesterday on the way to lunch I took one breath of the air as I walked past the site and had a coughing fit. It's awful."
Also, USC Ph.D candidate in transportation planning Peter McFerrin emails:
Today's reminder of the Miracle Mile area's disagreeable geology should put transit watchers on notice that building a subway through this ever-so-geologically-pleasant area is going to be very, very expensive. It might well be cheaper to build an elevated rail line along the median of Wilshire in the area--say, between La Brea and San Vicente--and then compensate commercial property owners along the route for the cost of noise mitigation.
Of course, an elevated structure would have to be sinfully ugly in order to meet seismic safety regulations: look at the elevated portions of the Green and Gold lines. I'm sure the hysteric preservation crowd (not a typo) would be up in arms at the prospect of that. The alternatives, though, are either a subway that costs half a billion dollars a mile, smells like rotten eggs, and blows up every so often; or no rail line at all.
Photo: Google Earth