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.
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.
•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.