Big news today on Metro’s plans to build a light rail line in the San Fernando Valley: The Metro Board certified the project’s Final Environmental Impact Report, which officially ends the state-required environmental review process.
That’s a big step forward toward construction of the light rail line that will run between the G Line (Orange) Van Nuys Station and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station with 14 stations. The official name of the project is the East San Fernando Light Rail Project; the project’s home page is here.
A federal environmental review process is expected to conclude in January with an anticipated Record of Decision by the Federal Transit Administration. That action is anticipated to confirm the project meets all federal environmental guidelines and makes it eligible for federal funding.
For those of you closely following Metro’s Measure M projects, you know that the agency’s transportation sales tax measures provide local funding needed to attract additional state and federal funds. This shovel-ready project already received state funding from SB 1 and could be well-positioned to compete if any federal funding opportunities become available.
A key item contained in the Board’s EIR approval today is the option for the line to be built in segments, as is typically done for major Metro rail line construction projects. Building the line in “interim operating segments” gives Metro the flexibility to determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to build its projects. Interim operating segments will be included in all future Measure M projects.
For the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project, that will enable Metro to begin pre-construction work as early as next year on the first 6.7-mile segment between the “G” Line (Orange) in Van Nuys to San Fernando Road in Pacoima. Subject to additional funding, a second, 2.5-mile segment would extend the line along the San Fernando rail right of way north to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station.
Metro will continue to study the second segment after receiving new stakeholder comments during the Final EIS/EIR’s public review period. Staff will coordinate closely with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority — the agency that operates the Metrolink Antelope Valley Line — and the City of San Fernando to address concerns mainly related to shared track and railroad crossings along San Fernando Road.
The Metro Board also approved Metro’s complementary First/Last Mile Plan, which identifies improvements that make it safer, more pleasant and more comfortable to walk, bike and roll to and from transit stations. The Board directed Metro to continue to work with the city of Los Angeles to identify a preferred First/Last Mile parallel bike route to replace existing bike lanes on Van Nuys Boulevard that would be removed by the project in Panorama City and Pacoima.
The project will officially begin major construction in 2022 and is scheduled to open by 2028. When complete, the new Valley light rail line will make it easy to connect between Metro’s G Line, Metrolink, Amtrak and numerous east-west Valley bus lines. Another Metro project — the Sepulveda Transit Corridor — proposes to build a high-capacity transit line from Van Nuys across the Sepulveda Pass to the Westside and then beyond to LAX. That project is currently in the planning phase as different routes and financing plans are being studied and developed.