Ready to Roll: Metro Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth


Video of today’s event in Chatsworth by Mario Noriega.

Metro Orange Line bus breaks through banner at dedication event held at the new CHatsworth Station. Yes, that's Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in the operator's cab. Photo by Gary Leonard.

Metro Orange Line bus breaks through banner at dedication event held at the new Chatsworth Station. Yes, that’s Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in the operator’s cab. Photo by Gary Leonard.

Here’s the news release:
June 29, 2012
CONTACT: Dave Sotero/Marc Littman– Media Relations
213.922.3007/213.922.2700

Measure R Project Success:
Officials Celebrate Completion of Metro Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth Ahead of Schedule, Under Budget

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), joined by city, county and state officials, today celebrated the completion of the Metro Orange Line Extension, a four-mile addition to the wildly popular dedicated busway that will enhance regional transit connections to and from the Western San Fernando Valley.

The first transit project identified in Measure R to begin construction in 2009 has been completed ahead of schedule by three and a half years, and its original $215.6 million budget is currently forecasted to come in at approximately $154 million, $61 million under budget. The final project savings will depend on the closeout of the project, including the resolution of any final change orders with the contractor. Prior to the passage of Measure R, this transit project was scheduled to open in 2016.

The brand new north/south busway extension from Canoga Park to Chatsworth was built on a Metro-owned, former Union Pacific railroad right-of-way and adds four new stations, three new or reconfigured parking lots, a new busway bridge over active railroad tracks, two new busway bridges that cross waterways, new signalized busway/street crossings, street resurfacing improvements, new bicycle/pedestrian path, and landscaping similar to the original Metro Orange Line.

Now at 18 miles, the busway and its adjacent pedestrian/bikeway are the longest of their kind in Los Angeles County.

“Today we celebrate yet another Measure R transit milestone in Los Angeles with the opening of the Metro Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair. “The busway extension will greatly expand the connectivity of the region’s transportation network, creating new linkages between Metro, Southern California’s Metrolink system and the statewide Amtrak network. It is the latest example of how Metro is creating a world class 21st century transportation system in Los Angeles County.”

The official opening of the line will be Saturday, June 30. Community festivities will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday only at the Canoga and Chatsworth Stations and will include food trucks, live music, group bike rides and much more. Free rides on the extension are planned both Saturday and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Regular fares will apply on all other Metro Rail, Metro Rapid and Metro Local lines.

“The Orange Line is the most successful busway in America,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Director. “With the opening of this new segment, the northwest San Fernando Valley will now be served by this very popular mass transit line.”

Metro’s Congestion Management Plan reports that nearly 50 percent of San Fernando Valley home-to-work trips are made to destinations outside the Valley. The extension of the busway to the Chatsworth Metrolink/Amtrak Station, which also serves several Metro and municipal bus lines, is expected to offer these residents more public transit options for these trips. The Chatsworth Station is one of the busiest stations on Metrolink’s Ventura County Line. Amtrak’s San Diego to San Luis Obispo Pacific Surfliner also makes stops at Chatsworth.

“The Orange Line Extension is a project that improves L.A.’s transportation system by connecting different modes of public transportation to entertainment venues and employment centers,” said Richard Katz, Metrolink Board Chair and Metro Board Director. “Metrolink customers will now have a direct connection from the Chatsworth station to the Warner Center, a major employment and retail shopping destination in the San Fernando Valley and can take advantage of the Metro Orange Line connection at no additional cost with their Metrolink ticket.”

By the year 2030, the extension is expected to generate 9,000 new average weekday boardings. Metro projects the entire Metro Orange Line including the extension will generate 45,000 daily riders by 2030. When originally opened in October 2005, Orange Line ridership immediately exceeded Metro forecasts, with nearly triple the amount of daily boardings. Most recent ridership figures for May 2012 were 26,670 average weekday boardings.

“The new four mile Orange Line extension is the latest addition to Metro’s rapidly expanding transit system,” said State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “The Orange Line extension is a huge plus for people living and working in the San Fernando Valley, as well as improving the quality of life of residents throughout our region.”

New platforms have been added at the Canoga Station for Metro customers heading north on the extension, and a new 207-space park and ride lot has also been built at the Sherman Way Station. There will be a total of 1,075 parking spaces available at all three park & ride lots on the extension, and more than 4,000 parking spaces throughout the line.

“The Orange Line Extension is a tremendous benefit for valley commuters,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman. “It is clear evidence of the major transit improvements Measure R is enabling us to achieve for the greater LA region.”

The travel time for the busway is approximately 51 minutes from North Hollywood to the Chatsworth Station. Service will be split between North Hollywood/Warner Center and North Hollywood/Chatsworth. Peak weekday shuttle service will operate between Warner Center and Chatsworth approximately every 15 minutes.

“Bumper to bumper traffic should not be an inevitable part of our daily routines in Los Angeles where we are always one highway closure away from Carmageddon,” said Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley). “We are one step closer to providing real transit alternatives for the Valley so that people can get of their cars and on with their lives.”

Several contributing factors led to the project being completed ahead of time and under budget: a low bid during a significant economic downtown, good project management and cost savings associated with early completion.

The Metro Art program has installed art works at all Metro Orange Line stations. Tours of the stations along this line, as well as all Metro Rail stations, are available by arrangement for groups of 15 or more. For more information, visit metro.net/art.

The Orange Line Extension is a Measure R project. Fortunately, Metro was able to secure other funding to help pay for busway construction. Measure R taxpayers will benefit from $182 million that was earmarked for this transit project which can be applied to another San Fernando Valley transportation improvement in the future subject to Metro Board approval.

For additional information, visit metro.net/projects/orangeline.

Rock the 1st of July at East L.A. Civic Center

Sadly, we won’t be getting a government mandated three-day weekend this Fourth of July (if you’re taking three days off work anyway, good for you!), but that doesn’t mean the weekend is a total bust. There’s the Orange Line Extension opening events to look forward to on Saturday, and ArtsFest 2012 kicks off on Sunday with Rock the 1st of July.

Rock the 1st of July takes place at the East L.A. Civic Center, just steps from the Metro Gold Line station of the same name. The event includes a bike clinic, artwalk, food and refreshments, a veterans tribute and concerts. The day starts at 12 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. with a fireworks show.

Then, every Friday from July 6 to August 24, you can hit up the East L.A. Civic Center for a J.A.M. Session. Each Friday night J.A.M. Session features dancing and mucis from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A movie will be shown afterward, with additional movie showings on June 29 and August 31.

Other parks participating in ArtsFest 2012 include:

  • Rimgrove Park, July 10 and Aug 7 at 747 N. Rimgrove Drive, Valinda 91744
  • Valleydale Park, July 6, July 27 and Aug 24 at 5525 N. Lark Ellen Avenue, Azusa 91702
  • San Angelo Park, July 13 and July 27 at 245 San Angelo Avenue, La Puente 91746
  • Pellissier Village, Aug 11, location to be announced

 Use Trip Planner to plan the best route for you. The Metro Gold Line connects with the Red and Purple Lines at Union Station.

Metro Board votes 10-3 to ask county voters to extend Measure R sales tax to 2069

The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday voted 10 to 3 to ask Los Angeles County voters to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax for 30 years beyond its 2039 expiration date to possibly accelerate transit and road projects funded by the original Measure R while creating jobs in the region.

The three ‘no’ votes came from Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas. The remaining members of the Board voted ‘yes.’

The Board had to decide between an indefinite extension of Measure R, a 30-year extension and leaving Measure R as is. Metro staff proposed an indefinite extension but the Board chose to back a motion by Directors Diane DuBois and Richard Katz to go with the 30-year option.

The Board hopes to put the issue to voters in November when a high turnout is expected because of the presidential election. In order for that to happen, the state Legislature must first approve a state bill, AB 1446 (by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles), that if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown would allow the Measure R extension on the ballot. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors must also vote to allow the item on the November ballot.

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa said after the vote that the extension proposal was backed by a wide coalition who viewed an expanded transit system as a way to make Los Angeles County look and function better while creating jobs in the process.

Villariagosa also noted that a new transportation funding bill pending in Congress would include an expanded federal TIFIA low-interest loan program. A Measure R extension could allow Metro to leverage those loans into potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for project acceleration.

Metro staff are recommending an extension of Measure R as a way to possibly complete the 12 Measure R transit projects by the mid-2020s and have the projects under construction within five years; the staff report is here (pdf). Under current plans, six Measure R plans would not have been complete until the late 2020s or 2030s but now may be accelerated. The projects are:

•The Westside Subway Extension to Westwood

•The Eastside Gold Line Extension to South El Monte or Whittier

•The Metro Connector to LAX

•The Green Line South Bay Extension to Torrance

•The West Santa Ana Branch Corridor project

•The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project

In addition, a Measure R extension would help fund the Regional Connector, which is currently planned for a 2019 completion.

Metro staff says that an extension of Measure R would allow them to use future Measure R revenues beyond the year 2039 to pay back loans and/or bonds that could be used to accelerate the projects. The Measure R extension proposal, however, does not obligate Metro to take any loans or sell any bonds.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 28

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Orange Line busway is Metro’s quiet success story (L.A. Times)

With the Orange Line Extension opening Saturday, the reporter posits that perhaps there should be more busways and less rail projects in L.A. County and cherrypicks a few stats to back up that point. I think the Orange Line is a success, but I also think the story could have pointed out that four of Metro’s rail lines have significantly higher ridership than the busway and that the fifth rail line — Expo — just opened.

Tentative deal reached on 2-year transportation bill (New York Times)

After nine extensions of the transpo funding bill approved by Congress in 2005, the current Congress looks to have an agreement on a two-year bill. Funding stays at current levels and the bill looks to more closely resemble a bipartisan version reached in the Senate rather than a highly partisan bill floated by the Republican-led House.

Battle lines drawn in high-speed rail vote (L.A. Streetsblog)

A good overview of the three main proposals on the table as the state Legislature prepares to vote on whether to release funds for construction of the first segment of the bullet train in the San Joaquin Valley.