Feasibility study completed for Sepulveda Transit Corridor

The feasibility study for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project has been completed, looking at the need and possible routes for a rail line or monorail in the heavily trafficked corridor between the San Fernando Valley, Westside and LAX area.

The study is now online and available for public review. It will be presented as a receive-and-file item (here’s the accompanying staff report) at the Metro Board of Directors’ meeting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5. That meeting will be live-streamed with a link appearing here when the meeting begins. The project web page is here.

The timing of the study’s release, we think, is apt. The recent Getty Fire and associated road closures showed once again how badly our area needs a fast and frequent transit alternative in the 405 corridor.

To be clear, this project is expected to be fast: the study shows travel times for the first segment between Van Nuys and the Expo Line to have a range of 16 to 26 minutes (depending on the route and whether it’s a rail line or monorail). That’s far faster than drive times many hours of the day.

Does the map below look familiar? That’s the evening commute on the 405 between National and Roscoe on a typical weekday evening earlier this month.

Credit: Google Maps.

The feasibility study looks at various routes for the project, which under the Measure M spending plan would be built in two phases. The first segment would run between Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley and the Expo Line. A later segment would then run between the Expo Line and LAX.

The Metro Board of Directors will decide in June or July of next year which routes will be studied as part of the project’s more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement/Report.

The routes below will be familiar to those who have been following the feasibility study. Here are the basics:

•Four potential routes have been identified between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station in the Valley and the Expo Line on the Westside as part of the first phase of the project. All would have stations allowing for transfers to the Orange Line and Purple Line subway in Westwood (that project is under construction), as well as a station at a site to be determined on the UCLA campus.


•All four of these routes would also have some overlap with the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail project that Metro will build between the Orange Line in Van Nuys and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station. The idea is to intercept some of the heavy ridership demand we expect on the East San Fernando Line.

•Still to be determined: whether the Sepulveda project would connect with the Expo Line at Expo/Bundy or Expo/Sepulveda stations. That issue needs more study. For example, there is greater population density near the Sepulveda station whereas Bundy has higher job density. There are also questions of which offers the best access, future development and routes to the south toward LAX. See Section 6 of the feasibility study for more.

•The feasibility study determined that the Sepulveda line should connect to the Purple Line at Wilshire and Westwood Station, which is in the heart of Westwood.

•The feasibility study also identified three possible locations for a rail yard that would be needed for the Sepulveda project — all in industrial zoned land adjacent to the routes under study:

–Sepulveda Boulevard at Nebraska Avenue on the Westside: this 26-acre site is located between the 405 and Sepulveda Boulevard, south of Nebraska Avenue and north of Olympic Boulevard. It could serve all alternatives.

–Van Nuys Boulevard at Arminta Street in Van Nuys: this 25-acre site is located on the north side of Arminta Street, east of Van Nuys Boulevard. It could serve the HRT 1 and HRT 2 alternatives.

–Metrolink at Woodman Avenue in Van Nuys: this 39-acre site is located south of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor, west of Hazeltine Avenue and east of Woodman Avenue. It could serve the HRT 3 and MRT 1 alternatives.

•Below is how the alternatives compared to one another from the feasibility study:


•The second phase of the Sepulveda project will run between the Expo Line and the future Airport Metro Connector Station to be built at Aviation Boulevard and 96th Street, adjacent to LAX. That station will serve Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line trains, as well as the LAX Automated People Mover that will connect to airport terminals.

•Four routes have been identified between the Expo/Sepulveda Station and LAX and two routes between Expo/Bundy and LAX. One of the Expo/Bundy routes would be an extension of the Purple Line.

The feasibility study also provides early cost estimates for the Westside-LAX segment ranging from $6 billion to $10.6 billion. Through value engineering — and potential help from private sector partners — Metro will rigorously examine all project costs, including design, vehicle, right-of-way acquisition, facilities, operations and maintenance.


•As part of that process, Metro will team with private industry by hiring up to two private sector firms as part of a Predevelopment Agreement. These firms would help with project planning and could submit a proposal to build the line, potentially lowering overall costs, accelerating construction and improving project performance. An interesting wrinkle: the firm(s) may also submit different routes for Metro’s consideration. 

•As for project timelines, the project’s first phase has a target opening year of 2033 under the Measure M spending plan. The second phase between the Westside and LAX has a target opening year of 2057. Metro is exploring whether it could accelerate the project via a partnership with the private sector (also known as a public-private partnership).

•Metro is also in the process of hiring a firm to compile the project’s Environmental Impact Statement/Report and another firm to conduct the extensive public outreach that will accompany the EIS/R. Both of those contracts are expected to be awarded by next summer, when the Board will consider which of the above alternatives should be studied in the EIS/R. 

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor web page has tons more info on the project and its planning process.

I know many of you reading this have been following the feasibility study process over the last couple years and are familiar with the above routes. Thoughts? Questions? Comment please. 

13 replies

  1. HRT3, Sepulveda, and bring down the tunnelling costs. One long tunnel with no stations should be a savings.

  2. Good to see them exploring a large single bore TBM for the long tunnel mountain crossing tunnel!

    the ventilation and cross passages benefits of doing a single bore for the long tunnel will massively reduce both the environmental impacts of the construction and more importantly the construction impacts on the billionaires of bel air who would NIMBY fight it to death if traditional construction were used.

    But it’ll be important to NOT use large bore for the other parts of phase one as large bore stations are simply too deep, reducing their utility and accessibility–they also take more _years_ to excavate than normal stations.

    Full shallow cut and cover for the Valley section would be ideal, but it is probably too late to put that in place before the ESFV breaks ground. NYC subway stations for the overlap with the ESFV would be best–with no mezzanine, minimal depth excavations. It would massively reduce the construction time and cost for the sepulveda line to implement an option that doesn’t have the overbuilt purple line station palaces.

    we call them station palaces because the red and purple line stations are the size of a palace and they also cost 500 million each (at minimum) to build, just like modern palaces!

    Still no explanation why per mile this costs the same as the purple line. The red line phase three that tunneled under this same mountain range cost–per mile–less than half the per mile cost of the red line construction of phase one and two.

    In inflation adjusted dollars, the Red Line Phase three is actually the LOWEST cost, per mile, subway construction in the entire United States of America post wwII.

    Tunneling under the same mountains for the sepulveda project ought to yield the same (or greater) extravagant per mile cost savings.

    the well known reason the Red Line phase three had such a low per mile construction cost is that there was a single long tunnel under the mountains at the Cahuenga pass.

    Since tunneling is relatively cheap compared to other parts of construction, like station building, The long tunnel reach under the mountains lowered the entire per-mile cost of the projects by HUNDREDS of millions of dollars, overall.

    And the Sepulveda Line’s long tunnel will be three times longer than the red Line’s long tunnel, so it should drive down the per-mile costs of the project even more.

    But metro is anticipating it will cost as much or more than the purple line per mile. This suggests shenanigans and or ignorance, as a result will wind up bilking tax payers for billiions they didn’t need to pay.

    Metro needs to demand that the per mile cost estimates of sepulveda phase one reflect that massive per mile cost savings from the long tunnel reach.

    To apply the per mile cost of the purple line to the special circumstances of the sepulveda line is CRIMINALLY negligent.

  3. This line shouldn’t go past the Expo line,if someone want to go to LAX they just have to transfer (to the Expo then to the Crenshaw line) no need for this line to go to LAX,save the money,just like the WSAB line why take it to DTLA when people can transfer to the A LINE (BLUE) at Slauson they should continue that line west on the Slauson ROW to connect with the Crenshaw line,save more money on tunneling ,then maybe we can get a LRT down Vermont ,come on Metro don’t give the people what you think they want give them what they need

  4. Great stuff. I’m glad that a station near/on the UCLA campus is part of the early plans. The Westside-LAX alternatives are going to require a little more thinking. Brentwood/Sawtelle and Palms are the only Westside neighborhoods that could justify a heavy rail station but they aren’t exactly in a straight line. Maybe the Sepulveda corridor can skew east into Palms and we could get rid of the VA station on the Wilshire line and just extend that subway into Brentwood/Sawtelle. I keep hoping that Metro really isn’t serious about the VA station.

  5. HRT3 on north end and HRT Sepulveda on the south end are the best choices- most connections and a straight shot. On the refined Westside Concepts, i like the Purple Line extension concept, except my modification is after the VA hospital stop, continue it to Santa Monica to complete the “Subway to the Sea” idea , then turn it south down Lincoln Blvd through Venice- Marina Del Rey- etc. to LAX instead of spending more money on fancy rapid bus down Lincoln. On a north/south basis, Lincoln and Sepulveda are far enough apart, that you end up having
    2 good north -south lines on the westside of town to complement your 2 east-west lines (Purple & Expo)

    My other idea on north end of the project at Van Nuys near the Metrolink/Amtrak station where Metro would build a subway yard, in the future, curve the Sepulveda line east/southeast along the Metrolink right of way to Lankershim, then turn south under Lankershim to connect with the Red Line. Basically, you could loop your subway lines=
    NB Sepulveda line becomes SB Red Line and in reverse, Northbound Red line becomes SB Sepulveda. Much more efficient turnbacks and the yard can both both lines, not all equipment would have to go back to the yards near LA Union Station and the other proposed yard near LAX.

    • This has always been my point. With the vast distances between each station, there should be enough swing to be able to hit Ventura/Sepulveda, Ventura/Van Nuys, MOL/Van Nuys and upward…

  6. I certainly hope with Skirball and a Getty fires, and fires along Sepulveda, that a monorail is no longer a consideration. If winds had taken a turn, either of those fires would have imperiled the monorail running alongside the 405. If that happens, no 405, no Sepulveda and no monorail. HRT 1 makes the most sense to avoid destruction by fire on a monorail.

    • A monorail would be a concrete structure with steel reinforcement. A brush fire would not generate enough heat to compromise a structure. Plus a structure like that would probably not have grass or trees near by.

      • What about the electrical power and signal equipment. A fire could damage that and knock service out for months.

        • Modern monorail equipment has on-board battery storage. Trains will also have in-cab signalling.