Metro Board approves Final EIR for East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project

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.

A rendering of the new light rail line’s transfer point to the G (Orange) Line in Van Nuys. A separate project will build a bridge over Van Nuys Boulevard for the G Line.

A rendering of the future light rail line near the existing Van Nuys Metrolink Station.

20 replies

  1. It’s about time we’re getting back to the great Pacific Electric rail line routes.

  2. I’m happy that the Board approved the ESFVTC LRT EIS/EIR. After 9 years of public engagement, we can finally move forward with the San Fernando Valley’s 1st light rail line.

  3. Cool, but there should be provisions made so that once the orange line (G line) bus is upgraded to LRT, the tracks from this line can be connected to that route allowing for the possibility of different service patterns or at the very least, allowing for a single maintenance facility to serve both the G and this line. It would be rather silly to not have some type of connection once everything is all said and done… Oh, and please pressure LADOT as much as possible to give actual signal priority to this line especially given that most of it is street running.

  4. It is long over due for the San Fernando Valley. Metro should rethink those Metro lollipop signs as pictured above, their ugly and cheap looking. The one thing that will make a big difference is the Sepulveda Pass line, whenever that will be built.

  5. Unfortunately this line will be slow, missing a key subway section in the most crowded section just north of the Metrolink/Amtrak station and a “transfer” station at the Orange Line that will prohibit through running ESFV trains onto to Orange line (once converted to rail) over to North Hollywood and I was really hoping then on to at least the Burbank Metrolink station.
    This line will be an orphan short line (with a yard no less- expensive). Maybe to salvage this line- extend it south to Ventura Blvd to connect with east /west major bus route and how about extending on the north end maybe to Newhall or at least closer up to the junction of the 210 & 5 for a large park-n-ride. Would have rather seen all this money get the already well used Orange Line converted to rail or at least start building more grade separations and quad-gates at crossings.

  6. The slow moving Orange line BRT needs to be upgraded to a light rail line now not in some future year. The orange line stops a every street crossing like a bus. It is not given priority over street traffic. Light rail is given priority.

    • The Valley fought light rail during the planning of the Orange Line, prohibiting it in zoning. Since that was repealed a few years back, light rail conversion on the Orange Line must wait its turn with other projects. Top priority is heavy rail connecting the Valley and west side.

      • Thank you, glad someone said it. The valley shoved its own foot in its mouth with the Robbins bill and now if the new generation wants to complain about it, blame your Baby boomer grandparents and Gen X parents for almost fighting the Red Line extension to the death. The Busway itself even faced so much opposition and now suddenly that isn’t enough. Wait your turn. People bash on the San Gabriel Valley but unlike the SFV or even the Westside they lobbied, voted and embraced rail this entire so yeah, don’t complain.

    • Light rail is not given priority, it is a glorified bus. This is a waste of tax payer money, it is more efficient and cheaper to run busses. What good is rail if it has to stop at every traffic intersection? It should run underground just like the rest of the rail systems around the world.

  7. This is a tram/streetcar…. it’ll be slow….it’s not rapid transit. Real rapid transit is grade separated and doesn’t share street crossings. Don’t be fooled by the marketing.

    • Well yeah, but I don’t think anyone outside of media/metro is calling this “Rapid Transit.” The only actual Rapid Transits in the LA areas are the Red Line with that short stub in Koreatown, that’s it. Yes, Purple Line, Vermont and Valley/405 are the only other lines that will be “Rapid Transit” but that’s it.

      I hate to say this but this should’ve been BRT, and I honestly think the only reason this was chosen as rail is because Metro wanted to throw a bone on Valley residents, as even they were ready to sell this as BRT early on. Congrats Valley residents, Karma has hit you guys hard with that Robbins bill, and as a result you will be getting what will in the future be the Stepchild of LAs rail system. Hope this lone line at least gets that heresay extension to the Santa Clarita Valley someday.

      Enjoy the Rail line that will never go past 35 MPH.

  8. Well said James. What L.A. Metro is doing is an embarrassment, they count on people not knowing what a real rapid transit system looks like (NYC, London, Berlin, etc.). They cover it up by calling it “Light Rail” but in reality it is a tram/streetcar/trolley/glorified bus.

  9. The Van Nuys Blvd rendering above is pretty interesting and looks nice. Some things worth noting about the rendering: It appears Metro is serious about this rail line, using 3 car trains, The Orange Line appears to be using red rapid buses and a Metro Rapid sign can be seen left of the tree, despite NextGen eliminating all Rapid lines. The bridge and rest of the infrastructure appear white, giving the whole area a more welcoming, brighter feel, as opposed to dull grey concrete (like walking under a freeway overpass). There aren’t very many lights depicted, especially on the underside of the bridge, so it might be rather dark at night. Maybe I’m looking too much into this rendering.

    • Those are just renderings, that’s it, not the final product. Literally anything can change between now and 2028. The fact that it’s white would worry me though, that’s an instant graffiti magnet.

  10. This article doesn’t mention how it will connect to the future Sepulveda Line. It should eventually have the same train technology. The stations are all to places that you might want to visit, but no way to get from the residential areas. The problem with these projects is the disconnect between lofty promises and commuter needs. There are no commuter needs considered. No jobs sites, just tourism and shopping.

    • The Sepulveda Line is a Separate project that will actually override (or rather complement) this line between Van Nuys Orange Line and Van Nuys Metrolink (though I think it should have been extended into Panorama mall).

      Why would you build only for residential areas? That not only would still require Parking because no one in LA likes to walk, but you would only be serving said residential area, which means only a few thousand people at best, while also assuming EVERYONE in that residential area would even use it? You want the best ridership numbers as possible while also placing stations distant enough from each other where you don’t have a train stopping every half mile with at-grade traffic, further compromising the experience. Metro may have done right putting stations where people want to go rather than live, but placing them within 0.5-0.75 miles from each other is what will put the nail on the coffin here.

      • Dave: Where did you get the idea that I said “build only for residential areas”? The issue of these Metro project is always first mile last mile. How do commuters go from their residences to the locations they need to be like shopping and work. People don’t commute from a residential area to another residential area unless they are visiting friends and family. Metro should be regarded as suitable for commuters like from residential areas to work. That’s where they get the most bang for their buck. In the evenings and weekends, allow for shopping and visiting people. Currently, the main reason for METRO PARKING is to go to work. Since the pandemic, many people are working from home, thus, less reason to use Metro. Residential customers have no reason to use Metro to do shopping since cars can be driven directly to markets and malls. The reason to use Metro decreases no matter how they come up with their lofty projects since customers can’t find a real reason to use them.

  11. this train has way too many stations that are very close to each other, and there is no grade separation along the busiest intersection in that area. I would only include stations such as Orange line, a stop between Sherman Way and Vanowen, Van Nuys North Metrolink, Roscoe/ Panorama City, combining Woodman and Arleta into one stop, Laurel Canyon, San Fernando and going north to Pacoima at Glenoaks. Victory is too close to Orange Line station within walking distance and should skip it. A combined stops between Sherman Way and Vanowen will better serve two major corridors within walking distance. Van Nuys North should also serve the The Plant Shopping Center. Arleta stop should between Beachy and Canterbury Ave to better serve the Arleta high school and the DMV office, and it is also a walking distance to Woodman Ave and Arleta Ave. Also consider to allow transfer with Metrolink by adding a station at Van Nuys/ San Fernando between two trains, so it would not have to duplicate with the Metrolink service while also serving San Fernando residents. In addition to it, the route south of Parthenia Ave should be entire above grade or underground as it is significant road and ped traffic on downtown Van Nuys area. With the initial proposal, I bet the average speed of the train would be 20MPH or less on this route. It is no different than using a bus or even riding a bicycle.

  12. This looks very similar to the first section of the Expo line, which is very slow by having to stop at all of the lights. Van Nuys Blvd is busy and has many traffic lights, top speed will be 25MPH max. A subway is costly, but so much faster. The positive is with a 3 car train more people can ride it than the bus. This line will go right past my house in Arleta, not sure I’ll enjoy the noise, but it may boost the property value!