Update on Sepulveda Transit Corridor and opportunities for public input

With some key milestones being reached this week, we wanted to provide a quick update on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project. This is Metro’s effort to build a fast, high-capacity transit line between the San Fernando Valley, the Westside and LAX.

•On Wednesday, August 26, proposals from private firms are due for the project’s Predevelopment Agreement (PDA). Metro will select up to two PDA teams to help with project planning and design and propose transit solutions for the project. These concepts will be refined and evaluated during the environmental review phase.

At the conclusion of the PDA process, a team may submit a formal proposal to Metro to build the line as a public-private partnership (P3) that would include private sector participation in building and financing the project. This approach could improve performance, reduce financial risk and possibly accelerate the project. 

•On Thursday, Aug. 27, the Metro Board of Directors will consider a $48.3-million contract with HNTB Corporation, Terry A. Hayes Associates Inc. and AECOM Technical Services to do the required environmental studies and advanced conceptual engineering for the project.

Some important background: In late 2019, Metro released the Feasibility Study for the project. The study identified four potential routes — three heavy rail lines and one monorail — between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the Expo Line. Travel times ranged from 16 to 26 minutes, meaning the project would be faster than driving a comparable route on the 405 or surface streets at many times of the day and night.

After next Wednesday’s deadline for the PDA proposals, Metro staff will — as usual during a procurement — spend several months evaluating the proposals. After selecting one or two highest ranked proposal(s), staff will return with a recommendation to the Metro Board of Directors in early 2021. This graphic explains the planning process and how the PDA fits into that process:

 

At that time, the Board will decide over the course of two meetings which firm or firms will be awarded a PDA contract from Metro. The Board will also be informed of which transit concepts will be studied as project alternatives in the project’s formal environmental studies. The alternatives for environmental review are likely to include concepts from the PDA proposals and from the project’s Feasibility Study.

Metro is keenly aware of the public’s interest in seeing the PDA proposals before the issue goes to the Board. While Metro fully intends to be transparent about how the proposals are scored by our evaluation team, federal best procurement practices, California government code and Metro policies require our staff experts to evaluate the proposals without outside influence. That’s why we are not releasing proposals at this time.

As is the case for every procurement, the contract recommendation will be made public through the issuance of the Notice of Intent to Award and release of the draft Committee agendas no less than 72 hours before the Committees meet. The staff report to the Board will include the names of all proposing teams and their proposed concepts, as well as a summary of why the selected team or teams are being recommended.

Staff plans to initially present the recommendation for the PDA to the Board and then return to the Board the following month for the action to award a contract to one or more private sector teams. This will allow the public sufficient time to review the Board report, learn more about the procurement process and the factors that led to the recommendation for award. And, of course, provide any comments to Metro or directly to the Metro Board.

Project stakeholders will be informed about how to submit comments to Metro and to the Board in advance of the Board’s action on the item, whether the Board meets in person or virtually as is now necessary due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The need for the Sepulveda project is indisputable. That’s why we are focused on completing a PDA solicitation with the highest levels of integrity, with consideration of the proposals’ technical and financial merits as well as public feedback received to date. Metro appreciates the huge amount of public interest in the project and is committed to giving the public ample time to contribute to the decision making process. That begins with the PDA selection and will continue over the course of the estimated four-year environmental review process.

12 replies

  1. I would like the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project to be consistent with the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. So either both of them should be light rail, or both of them should be heavy rail, just not “one of each”. That way, they can be merged into one line going from LAX to Sylmar. If light rail is chosen, then the line can even continue on from LAX and become what is now the C Line (Green) going to Redondo Beach and eventually to Torrance. Even more ideal would be if the line can continue past Redondo Beach and Torrance and end at the same place in Long Beach that the A Line (Blue) ends. That would make it run from Sylmar to Long Beach.

    • Yeah, that’s been spoken about already, but light rail just doesn’t have the capacity to handle the projected ridership this Line will have, and best believe ridership projections will be exceeded here. I was completely against this as well but what made end up saying okay was the fact this the subway will actually overlap the light rail train between Orange Line and Metrolink, thereby actually providing an Express Train option. Also, Light rail would have been much slower through the Sepulveda Pass which is actually Critical for this train to actually compete with traffic not just during Rush Hour but even on weekends and evenings where the train will still be faster than the car for almost its full LAX to Van Nuys route.

      Also, when the Light Rail train gets eventually extended into Santa Clarita, that mode would make more sense than a Subway. Ultimately I wanted this Line to actually COMPETE with traffic compared to that dumpster fire known as the Expo Line, so heavy rail from Valley to LAX it is. As much as I wanted heavy rail it just doesn’t make sense south of the Orange Line long term. I do partially blame Metro and their stupid persistent decision of 3 car (Light Rail) and 6 car (Heavy Rail) platform configurations. It just goes to show they still only think of the present in some regards.

  2. Are the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor meant to operate as separate lines requiring a transfer? I don’t currently live along the Sepulveda corridor, but as a Pasadena resident working in Santa Monica, transfers are a serious concern that has made me less likely to use Metro.

    Even though my morning commute is within peak hours and therefore frequent service, my evening commute is not, so poorly-timed transfers with 25-minute service frequency can add over an hour to my trip home (waiting for the E Line to depart, then transfers to the B/C Lines and the L Line). It’s currently a one mile walk and two full hours for me to get to work by Metro at the best of times, and significantly longer than that in the evening due to longer transfers.

    I realize this specific issue will be alleviated somewhat by the eventual opening of the regional connector, but with so many supercommuters in the service area Metro should really prioritize eliminating transfers wherever possible from the planning stage.

    • Hi Ian;

      They are separate lines. East San Fernando will be a light rail line. The mode of Sepulveda is to be determine — in the feasibility study three routes were heavy rail and one was monorail. A firm could advocate a different mode as part of that project’s Predevelopment Agreement. The transfer between the two lines should be relatively quick, especially at peak hours when service is at its highest frequency.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. If the P3 isn’t decided on until 2025, will the line still be able to open by 2028? I thought the project was being accelerated, but 3 years seems like not enough time for construction.

    • Hi Dylan;

      No decision has been made on acceleration and 2028 is a goal. But for now the project is on its original Measure M timeline until something changes. Because of the complexity of the project, 2028 is a high hurdle to cross. We are absolutely trying to find ways to accelerate but clearly a lot would need to happen quickly to get it done by 2028.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. How and where will the MTA tie in this proposed route at LAX? Currently the MTA has had to modify the Green Line and the LAX Transit Terminal to accommodate the tie in with the Crenshaw Line. Are we to see a ill conceived termination to the line requiring bus shuttles as we saw with the Green Line that was proposed to go into LAX, or the Expo Line not reaching the beach and of course the Gold Line not reaching East L.A. College, a major destination in that area.

    • Expo Line not reaching the beach? People in this city really can’t walk 4 blocks? No wonder the obesity crisis is real in this country. I’ve had to walk the equivalent of 6-8 blocks, at rail stations outside the US yet no one really complains about it, I think people can walk 4 blocks from a Train station that’s way much smaller than a football field long to reach the beach.

  5. From what I read here you are saying that the public will not have any input on what the final project will be? I’m sorry that is wrong to have just 72 hours for the public to respond. You had asked the public before now you scrapped that input and will not provide transparency or adequate community input from the people most affected by you decisions. Change the process to involve the communities affect by the sepulveda project

    • Hi Thomas;

      That’s not what the post says. Rather, it says we’ll post the staff report about the PDA procurement at least 72 hours before Metro Board Committees meet. The PDA procurement is not the same as the final project — it’s ideas from private firms about what the final project may be. The procurement will then go to the Metro Board the week following committees and there will be ample time and opportunities in the following months and years for the public to learn about the project and offer input during the environmental studies over what the project looks like and mitigations for any impacts.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source