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A key environmental impact report on plans for a $3 billion expansion of the studio lot and theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood is due to be released soon.

The report could determine whether Universal can proceed with the ambitious expansion, or whether it will be forced to reduce the scope of the planned upgrades. It hopes to overhaul the production facilities at Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as adding new attractions to the attached theme park and additional venues to the CityWalk entertainment district. The company also intends to construct a residential community adjacent to the studios.

Universal claims the plans will create 31,000 jobs during construction and 12,000 permanent jobs on completion. However, opponents such as the Studio City Neighborhood Council claim that the development will strain local facilities to breaking point. In particular, the impact of the extra traffic generated by the expansion is set to be a major consideration of the environmental impact report.

For its part, Universal plans to invest $100 million in transportation improvements around Universal Studios Hollywood, helping to alleviate any traffic issues. Some of the money would be invested in public transit systems, with the aim of limiting the number of extra cars attracted to the region's roads.

The proposed expansion of the facilities at Universal Studios Hollywood is designed to encourage more production to remain in Los Angeles, which has been under pressure from cities such as Toronto that offer tax breaks to producers. Universal hopes that the upgrades will entrench its position as the largest production studio in the world.

The company also hopes to improve attendance at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, where is already due to add a major new attraction based on the Transformers movies in 2011. It plans to add 146,000 square feet of new attractions to the park, along with a new hotel and 39,000 square feet of retail and dining options at Universal CityWalk.

An in-depth analysis of the NBC Universal Evolution Plan and the opposing views of local groups can be found on Patch.com. Full details of the plans can be found on the NBC Universal Evolution Plan website.


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