Metro staff this month is 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 (Red/Purple) Line alternative that would travel underground with an aerial section along Sepulveda Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.
•A heavy rail alternative that is underground, including along Sepulveda Boulevard in the Valley.
•A heavy rail alternative that is 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 long-awaited alternative to the perpetually-congested 405 freeway between the San Fernando Valley and West L.A. area and will also offer access to the 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 Feasibility Study. We think these five give the Metro Board the best options when it’s their turn to eventually select a final alternative, 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. 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. Without diving into the weeds, just developing the PDAs was a long and deliberative process that, we think, resulted in a smart approach that could result in a public-private partnership.
Why is that 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 the federal bucks. Our D Line Extension project received more than $3 billion from the feds and the Regional Connector another $670 million. With President Biden having proposed to greatly expand infrastructure spending, we want the Sepulveda project — arguably the most desperately needed of our future lines — to have a shot at future dollars.
And the best way to do that is study a variety of route options. What do you think of these routes, Source readers?