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U.S. Department of Transportation to Award Metro $2 Million for Van Nuys Corridor Project and Transit Forecasting Model

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Tuesday December 21, 2010

In a move that marks new progress for the region's aggressive Measure R agenda and 30/10 Initiative, The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to receive a $2 million grant to perform an analysis of transit alternatives for the Van Nuys corridor in the San Fernando Valley and for support work for other Measure R transit projects.

A grant notice from the Federal Transit Administration's $25.7 million nationwide Alternatives Analysis Program Livability Initiative represents the maximum possible agency award. Metro will now submit a grant application for the funds.

"We would like to thank the Federal Transit Administration for selecting our projects for the maximum possible funding of $2 million," said L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, Chair of Metro.  "The funding will be used for the review of transit alternatives for the Van Nuys corridor and help Metro improve its transit forecasting model, which will benefit a host 30/10 transit projects now in the pipeline.  It's just the type of federal support we need to help fulfill the promise of Measure R."

The Van Nuys Corridor Rapidway Alternatives Analysis (AA) study is part of the East San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways Project, which seeks to improve transit speeds on key Valley corridors.  More than $68 million in Measure R funds have been identified for the East San Fernando Valley project starting in 2013.  The goal of the Van Nuys project is to significantly improve mobility on a 10-mile portion of the boulevard between Ventura and Foothill Boulevards. This section of Van Nuys is the Valley's most densely populated corridor. Metro currently carries approximately 27,000 weekday boardings for buses operating on Van Nuys Boulevard, including Lines 233, 761, and 902.  Although bus ridership here is among the highest in the county, service reliability suffers due to traffic congestion and overcrowding.

The Alternatives Analysis (AA) will analyze a No Build and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) Alternative as well as build alternatives that will include bus rapid transit, light rail transit and streetcars. The AA study is a precursor to the draft environmental process.  Work will begin soon after the grant application is approved.

"This grant toward another Measure R project shows strong federal support for our efforts to build L.A. County's transit network," said L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Member Antonio Villaraigosa. "Van Nuys Boulevard is a key route for buses and a lifeline to the Valley economy. I am grateful for the ongoing federal support to improve mobility in our region and bring 30/10 Initiative projects one step closer to reality."

Congressman Brad Sherman strongly supported Metro's grant request.  "I am committed to supporting practical solutions to ease traffic congestion and to ensuring that the San Fernando Valley receives its fair share of federal transportation dollars," said Congressman Sherman.  "Thousands of Valley residents along the Van Nuys Corridor depend on daily bus services to connect to the Metro Orange Line for work.  We should not only study ways to improve existing service and reduce overall travel times along the corridor, we should also focus on how commuters along the Van Nuys and Sepulveda Corridors could connect with alternative forms of transportation through the Sepulveda Pass to the Westside."

Senator Barbara Boxer has been an advocate for the 30/10 initiative and at a recent hearing she commented on the importance of projects, such as this one:  "The 30/10 initiative in Los Angeles County is an example of how timely federal assistance can leverage local investments in transportation....Measure R, will generate an estimated $40 billion over the next 30 years, including approximately $13 billion for transit projects throughout the county. Accelerating projects would create an estimated 160,000 jobs while easing congestion and reducing dangerous pollution. That means healthier families - and a healthier economy -in the LA region."

Of the $1.33 million total cost for the study, the FTA will fund approximately $970,000 and Metro will contribute $360,000 with state and local funds. The agency has already released its Request for Proposals to conduct the AA work, and could be ready at the beginning of 2013 to recommend a Locally Preferred Alternative for the project.

The grant notice also funds the performance of technical work to improve Metro's travel demand forecasting model, which will analyze transit service capacity, transit vehicle overcrowding and bus "bunching" - the affect created when many buses are grouped together along the same route location.  Metro will conduct a supplemental transit survey to better determine how automobile commuters access transit stations to complete their journeys on transit.  Metro also will conduct an on-board survey of municipal transit operators within L.A. County to further improve its modeling capabilities. These efforts will support ongoing modeling activities related to four other Measure R projects: the Westside Subway Extension, Eastside Transit Corridor Phase II, the Metro South Bay Green Line Extension, and the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor. 

Of the $1.41 million total cost for the modeling, the FTA will contribute $1.03 million and Metro will contribute $380,000. Work is scheduled for completion in 2015.

Metro's travel demand forecasting model is considered innovative, and will be transferable to other transit agencies in the United States to incorporate new approaches to their travel demand models when conducting alternatives analysis work for their projects.