A little more info on the Sepulveda Pass Corridor project

The aerial view of the Sepulveda Pass corridor from Google Maps.

The part of the Metro website devoted to projects was recently updated with a little more information about a project that I know is near and dear the hearts of many Source readers: The Sepulveda Pass Corridor, which proposes to improve transit between the Westside and the San Fernando Valley via the Sepulveda Pass Corridor.

From the project home page:

The Sepulveda Pass Corridor is a vital project for the Sepulveda Pass that connects the San Fernando Valley with West Los Angeles. Potential project alternatives could include light rail, bus rapid transit service on the I-405 carpool lanes with bus-only on and off ramps, peak-hour bus rapid transit-only shoulder lanes, or a transit/toll facility. All elevations (aerial, tunnel, etc.) and parallel routes, such as Sepulveda and Van Nuys Boulevards, will be explored.

Metro Planning, using its on-call technical consultant benches (planning, modeling, environmental, civil engineering, etc), will conduct an in-house technical feasibility study of various alternatives for the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, as a necessary condition to move forward with any project in the corridor. Obviously, a project embracing the initial concept of a multimodal transit and express toll road will be one of the concepts examined by staff. It is clear to all that under current financial conditions, no major project in the corridor can be built without consideration of a public-private partnership. Once a set of potential alternatives is identified, the Metro Board may then decide to undertake an analysis of the economics and feasibility of a P3 approach. This consideration by the Metro Board is likely to take place in mid-2012. Stay tuned.

A few other points worth considering after the jump…

•Measure R provides $1 billion in funding for a project. As the above says, a major project will likely need more money — especially because the current Measure R timeline has this project being completed in the late 2030s, when whatever gets built will likely cost more than if built now.

•I think this project is yet another fine example why Congress needs to pass the full America Fast Forward legislation that Metro is seeking to accelerate the construction of Measure R projects. At this point, parts of America Fast Forward have been embraced. The whole enchilada is needed.

•And this project, I believe, demonstrates the importance of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project that is adding a carpool lane to the northbound 405 between the 10 and 101 freeways. Critics of the project have said the carpool lane won’t do much to help traffic on the 405. But carpool lanes in the future can be managed quite differently than now and could greatly help transit get across the Sepulveda Pass. I also think some of the ramp improvements being done will benefit all traffic in the area, including bus traffic.

•Planning for this project has yet to begin, but when it does there are some ginormous questions to be answered. How will the project connect with the Westside Subway Extension, which will have a station at VA next to the 405? Or the Expo Line, which will have a station at Pico and Sepulveda, near the 405? And how will it connect with the future Van Nuys Rapidway project to improve transit service on Van Nuys Boulevard? And how will it connect with the Orange Line?

Your thoughts? Comment please!

17 replies

  1. If a BRT is determined is to be the best alternitive during the AA study, then that is what should be built. But a complete AA study needs to be done for a complete route from Sylmar to LAX as one study in order to deternmine the best route and system.

  2. Reality check: there is no imaginable source of funds for this beyond the $1 billion Measure R allocation. And petty politicians on the eastside will fight for their parochial interests (I’m talking to you, Molina and Antonovich.

    Sure, it would be great to have a subway from Van Nuys to LAX. But that is not likely.

    BRT is the logical alternative. Ramps to and from the Orange Line busway onto a busway along Sepulveda Dam seems doable. The busway could fly over the 101/405 mess to the center divider for the Sepulveda Pass busway (3+ carpools OK).

    In Westwood, a dedicated bus lane should avoid the Veterans Cemetery but land in Westwood for UCLA and Purple Line passengers. Double deck it so it can also let buses to/from LAX can access it from the busway south to LAX.

    And we need a busway ramp from the 405 to the Green/Crenshaw/Airport peoplemover transit center at LAX.

  3. The Sepulveda Pass Corridor and both the Van Nuys Blvd and the Sepulveda Blvd Rapidway need to be combined into one integrated study. The Van Nuys Blvd and the Sepulveda Blvd Rapidway are overlapping study areas. The only way to have a complete effective and efficient transit system is if it gets studied and designed as a complete system.

    There needs to be a light rail system that runs from Sylmar to LAX and connects with the Green Line or Crenshaw Line.

    The Sepulveda Pass Corridor needs to connect to the expo line at Sepulveda and run to the Sylmar Metro Station. (With a possible future link to Santa Clarita. Not part of this study). Another study needs to get started for a connection from the Expo line to LAX, whether through Marina Del Ray or a connection to the Crenshaw line or via the 405 / Sepulveda Blvd corridor.

    Funding for these projects is always going to be a challenge. We need to make the decision to build a complete transit system and get the required studies completed so we know what funding is needed and as the funding becomes available we can get it built.

    Combining these studies is also going to be a better use of the limited funds that are available.

  4. BRT without a completely separate right of way would be a disaster and would inevitably lead to eventual encroachment by common autos, just like what happened with the El Monte “busway” due to political pressure.

    As far as connecting to the Van Nuys corridor, I would suggest this: Going south, the train would turn west at Ventura blvd. where there would be a Ventura/Van Nuys station, after traveling down Van Nuys blvd. (hopefully grade separated at least from Vanowen or Sherman Way), continue under Ventura blvd. untill Sepulveda blvd. where there would be a station as well since that is a fairly active area. Then from there it curves south again and is a straight shot to west LA. It then makes a station stop that connects either to VA or UCLA purple line stations, continues south and makes a stop under Santa Monica Blvd. This is then followed by a connecting stop at Pico/Sepulveda to the expo line. At this point the train could ascend from the subway tunnel and into the freeway median. It could have stops at Venice or Washington Blvd., Jefferson then Manchester and finally Century where it would connect the the LAX people mover. This would be an expensive project but oh boy would it be worthwhile! If this happens we would have a world class rapid transit line that would attract tons of riders AND would hit destination points AND be fast.

  5. It would seem the Grades associated with the Sepulveda Pass would preclude an entirely at-grade scenario, regardless of how wide the Pass is. If there is rail, it would probably be a combination of below-grade and above-grade, as well as at-grade.

  6. A one seat ride from Van Nuys Amtrak to West L.A. Purple line should be the bare minimum of expectations from the Sepulveda Pass and Van Nuys Boulevard projects. These projects are the backbone of the Valley. Having to switch transit modes at Ventura and Van Nuys will doom transit in the Valley to being an expensive replacement for the already existing bus service and not much more.

    Witnesses for the argument: the regional connector. The Orange line. The G shuttle bus to LAX.

  7. If it’s a rail line, there’s no need to make this a subway tunnel. That’s going to take years and years and years and years to finish.
    The Sepulveda Pass is twice as long as the Cahuenga Pass. But it is also much wider, which means there’s much more room to construct a surface/cut/semi-elevated rail right-of-way.

    Plus, 405 drivers in the pass deserve to see a train speeding past them…

  8. This is a long time in the making. No-build, Light Rail or subway should be the only modes studied here. I agree with Me that it should go to LAX and make it an extention of the Van Nuys line. Also have a subway stop connecting the Getty Museums people mover.

  9. I agree with the Heavy Rail underground, but i feel that it should go at least as far south as LAX, either connecting with the Crenshaw line or Greenline. Of course, that’ll probably be farther down the road

  10. Having Metro acknowledge a relationship between the SFV and Sepulveda projects is a minor victory for vigilant transit advocates. However, these studies need to be formally merged. The timeline differences and funding are insufficient justification for separating them. Who cares how long it takes to get the money? Get the plan right and chip away at if for 30 years. Metro already has too many lousy rail connections determined by arbitrary constraints.

  11. Too bad this couldn’t have been studied earlier so that the construction of anything major (light rail, HOT lanes, bus lanes, etc.) could’ve been involved in the current HOV lane addition project…

    That would’ve greatly minimized impacts to the neighbourhood, as well as traffic. Now, instead, the freeway will get the HOV lane, but will have to suffer again in the near future.

  12. I still hold out hope for an eventual light rail line from Sylmar to the Long Beach Transit Mall.

  13. Light rail under the hill from Van Nuys/Ventura to UCLA Westwood Village, then on to Westwood/Wilshire and the expo line.

  14. It seems like this is one of those geographical situations in L.A. where there is a very strong argument for transportation alternatives.

    Right now there is (effectively) only one way to move people from this portion of the valley to this portion of Los Angeles — a major multi-lane highway that is always going to be crowded (although I share your views on carpool lanes, Steve).

    This project should focus on building an alternative to this current route, and not just put large-capacity buses in special lanes. We need an entirely different technique of getting people over (or through) these mountains.

  15. Ideally, it would go from Sylmar Metrolink station to the Expo Line, but that is far too expensive for the money we have. Possibly, we can go after New Starts money and get this from the Orange Line to Expo as a tunnel with a new stop at Venture, UCLA campus, a connection at Westwood/Wilshire with the Purple Line and then use the Expo light rail maintenance facility instead of building a new one. That won’t be cheap though.

  16. Heavy Rail. Start the line at the Van Nuys Amtrak Station, head south down either Van Nuys Blvd. or Sepelveda Blvd. then under the pass to UCLA were it will link up with the Purple Line Extension at Wilshire.