Metro staff this month are releasing five alternatives to be studied as part of the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project’s environmental review process. The five are:
•A monorail alternative along the 405.
•A monorail alternative that would use an underground segment to connect to UCLA, which is about one to two miles east of the 405 depending on campus location.
•A heavy rail (i.e. with trains similar to Metro’s B/D Line subway) line that would travel underground with an aerial section along Sepulveda Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.
•A heavy rail alternative that is entirely underground, including along Sepulveda Boulevard in the Valley.
•A heavy rail alternative that is entirely underground, including along Van Nuys Boulevard in the Valley.
Let’s back up a step for those new to the project.
As many of you already know, the project will be a high-speed, high-capacity heavy rail line or monorail that will run between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the E Line (Expo) on Los Angeles’ Westside. The line will be the desperately needed option to driving on the perpetually-congested 405 freeway between the San Fernando Valley and West L.A. and will also offer access to the Metro G Line (Orange), Ventura Boulevard, the UCLA campus and the Purple (D Line) Extension.
In March, the Metro Board awarded contracts to a pair of firms to do pre-development (PDA) work on two different potential types of transit (see this earlier Source post for more details) on the project:
•LA SkyRail Express is developing its proposed monorail concept that would follow the 405 freeway and take 24 minutes to travel between the Van Nuys Metrolink station and the E Line. The details are below:
•Sepulveda Transit Corridor Partners – Bechtel is developing a proposed heavy rail line that would be 60 percent underground with the rest mostly aerial. That line would take 20 minutes. Details below:
The idea behind the selection of these five alternatives is to study the two proposed PDA transit solutions along with other options that emerged from the project’s Feasibility Study that was completed last year. We think these five alternatives give the Metro Board the best options from which to choose when they eventually select a final route, otherwise known as the Locally Preferred Alternative.
In regards to money: the idea behind the pre-development work is to bring private firms into the planning phase much earlier than is usually done for transit projects. We think that greatly increases the likelihood that the project can be built via a public-private partnership (PPP) that allows innovations in design, engineering, construction approach, financing and operations. Just developing the PDAs was a long and deliberative process that we think will result in a better project.
Why else is this important? Because this is a very big, very complex and very expensive project. Metro has $5.7 billion in funding from a variety of sources — most prominently the Measure M sales tax approved by L.A. County voters in 2016. But the project is almost certainly going to cost more than $5.7 billion, which is the exact reason that Metro is exploring a PPP. We think it may be our best chance to fund, finance and accelerate the project.
We’re also, of course, working to make the project eligible for federal funding. Because Metro has local dollars from Measure M and three previous sales taxes, we have a good track record of using local dollars to lure and secure federal grants. Our subway extension project to Westwood has received more than $3 billion in grants from the feds and the Regional Connector in DTLA another $670 million. With President Biden proposing to greatly expand infrastructure spending, we want the Sepulveda project — arguably the most desperately needed of our future projects — to have a shot at future dollars.
And the best way to do that is study a healthy variety of route options. What do you think of these routes, Source readers?