Federal Transit Administration announces intent to help fund East San Fernando Valley light rail project

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given Metro a “Letter of Intent” to announce its intention to obligate nearly $1 billion in future federal funds for the first phase of Metro’s new, 9.2-mile East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project that will connect the Metro G Line (Orange) Station in Van Nuys with the Metrolink Station in Sylmar/San Fernando.

The letter also lays out several conditions that Metro must meet within the next two years to allow the project to be considered for a Full Funding Grant Agreement. That grant agreement could potentially provide up to $908.75 million — which is less than 25 percent of the project’s cost — through the FTA’s Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program. This federal pilot program seeks to accelerate the delivery of fixed guideway transportation projects across the nation with the understanding that federal funding will not exceed 25 percent of eligible project costs.

“With today’s FTA announcement, we are another step closer in our ultimate goal to obtain critically needed federal funding for the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project,” said Metro Board Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, representing the First District. “We are committed to working hand-in-hand with FTA to ensure we successfully qualify for this grant. I would like to sincerely thank FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez for her unwavering assistance in reaching this early but significant milestone. Metro is also grateful to the outstanding advocacy of our U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Tony Cardenas — who have championed this project for many years.”

The East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project will mark a historic transit milestone for the San Fernando Valley. Street-level local stop rail service in the Valley has not been seen for 70 years. The last Pacific Electric Red Cars discontinued service along portions of Van Nuys Boulevard back in 1952.

“When we talk about securing more mobility, more equity, and more connectivity with Metrolink, we are talking about the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project,” said Metro Board Vice Chair Ara Najarian. “I’m so glad that Metro is aggressively moving forward with this smartly designed and innovative project that will bring a better quality of life to all the residents of the San Fernando Valley.”

By building a new light rail line here, Metro will add more rail service in the heart of the San Fernando Valley and connect important transit services and destinations, including Van Nuys Civic Center, Van Nuys Amtrak/Metrolink Station, Panorama Mall, Van Nuys multi-residential housing, Arleta High School, downtown San Fernando and others.

“The San Fernando Valley, where I grew up, is finally poised to receive the world-class transit it deserves — especially along congested Van Nuys Boulevard,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Director Eric Garcetti. “When fully built, this new line will transform how people get around and connect them to new opportunities across Los Angeles County.”

“When the voters of Los Angeles approved Measure M, Metro had 100 rail transit stations around the County. The San Fernando Valley, a place that’s home to 2 million people, had only two of them. Today we’re changing that inequity and making sure major transit investments come to the Valley,” said Los Angeles City Council Member and Metro Board Member Paul Krekorian. “The FTA’s Letter of Intent to provide federal funding is a key step forward for one of the most important transit priorities in the Valley. The East San Fernando Valley line will not only be a critical backbone of mobility, it will also generate affordable housing development and create thousands of good jobs. Thanks to Senator Padilla and Congressman Cardenas, who have been championing local hire in Congress to ensure that when we build lines like this one, we put Angelenos to work and create opportunities for local small businesses to flourish.”

The project’s first phase will consist of 6.7 miles of rail primarily on Van Nuys Boulevard, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Valley. A one-way trip for this first segment is expected to take approximately 31 minutes.

“I am so happy to see our new light rail line in the great Third District, which I proudly represent, getting the attention it absolutely deserves,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Sheila Kuehl. “We need federal funding to round out our dedicated local funding and get this project built for the residents of the San Fernando Valley.”

A supplemental study will be conducted for a second, 2.5-mile shared right-of-way segment from San Fernando Road/Van Nuys Boulevard to Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station. The entire project will include 14 new stations.

“Metro is deeply grateful to the FTA for its strong and sure leadership in supporting the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project,” said Metro CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins. “I am particularly grateful to see the Biden-Harris Administration investing federal transportation dollars – consistent with their Justice40 initiative – in the disadvantaged communities across the East San Fernando Valley that will be served by this light rail line. Finally, I want to thank U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Tony Cardenas, and our Board members for their staunch support for this worthwhile project. Working together with a broad and deep coalition of public officials, business, labor and community groups — and with robust funding from the Measure M sales tax adopted by LA County voters in 2016 — we have been able to take this project from the drawing board to its construction phase.”

Early last year, FTA granted Metro a “Record of Decision” for the project, officially certifying that the project satisfied all federal guidelines for environmental analysis and making it eligible for future federal funding opportunities in the pipeline. Additional local funding sources come from the Measure R and M voter-approved transportation sales taxes as well as SB-1 gas tax funds. Construction of Phase 1 could begin later this year.

For additional project information, please visit www.metro.net/eastsfvtransit.

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13 replies

  1. Wait this only covers 25 percent of the cost?! So this entirely at-grade, mostly street-running line is going to cost almost 4 billion dollars?! The entire expo line cost only 2.5 billion and has many elevated sections and a trench…. am i missing something here? I can’t even with this. absolutely incredible… what the hell is actually going on? is this just the new norm now for the foreseeable future?! because if that’s the case than LA really is screwed…

  2. This project has so many problems beyond the utter slowness of the route.
    They eliminated the underground portion in Van Nuys around the Amtrak station- thats a crowded area and guarantees time issues
    The northern end will simply not fit on the Union Pacific- Metrolink- CHSR right of way- need a different route into San Fernando and make sure a quality connection to the Metrolink Antelope Valley Line . I would also extent this further north maybe to around 210/5 junction for a large-park-n-ride. South End needs to get to Ventura Blvd. The connection to the Orange Line needs to be configured so that trains off ESFV line could continue to North Hollywood. Van Nuys Blvd needs to go on a road diet and the sidewalks-bicycling facilities improved. I could go on… I almost wish this money would have gone to converting the Orange Line to Light Rail as we at least know there was prior to Covid solid ridership and revisit the ESFV line in the future

    • “South End needs to get to Ventura Blvd. The connection to the Orange Line needs to be configured so that trains off ESFV line could continue to North Hollywood.” This! very much this! Unfortunately this is another example of Metro failing to think with networks and instead continues to choose to stick to line by line planning in isolation. Another egregious example of this is the failure to plan for any track connection between the future Sepulveda line and the D line extension.

  3. Let’s petition metro to consider raising the max street running speed for this line to 40 mph to match the local speed limit for automobile traffic. That will probably help remove about 4 mins from the total travel time and make it less slow

    • Light rail can not climb the pass. One of the reasons it was rejected for Sepulveda Line.

    • That was going to be the original preferred mode, but then the residents in the valley who spent 2 decades fighting rail suddenly started crying about not having rail and now this is the result. Center running BRT would have honestly been so much faster than this. Also don’t forget that Sherman oaks was still fighting tooth and nail to make sure neither the BRT, LRT or HRT options made a stop south of the Orange Line, so that also answers the question regarding why the Sepulveda Subway has no stops proposed between UCLA and Orange Line, and I personally couldn’t be any happier to see that

      • All versions of the Sepulveda Line has a stop at Ventura/Sepulveda.

        The Van Nuys line is a glorified streetcar with little grade separation or signal priority.

  4. 1. I wonder what the current bus speed is on this route
    2. Is this intended to replace any bus lines

  5. 6.7 miles in 31 minutes is going to make the Expo Line look like a bullet train. This thing’s going to be an utter waste. Metro has seemingly learned nothing from their other lines.

  6. When Metro is gets the money from Uncle Sam, why not also ask for funds to build a taller “safety wall” getween the 210 Freeway and the Gold (L?) Line in Pasadena? There have already been several accicidents (6?) where trucks and autos have rolled over the current “Mickey Mouse” belly-high safety wall and onto the tracks risking life and limb from a crash with a trolley (opps “light rail”) car. I have talked with Metro’s engineering folks and they are worried that new funding is found new products but none for improving the 210 Freeway safety wall. I guess there is always money availible for careea-building new projects but little for repair work to obviously unsafe vintage projects.