Metro and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in coordination with the cities of Los Angeles and San Fernando, are evaluating the feasibility of a major mass transit project that would operate in the center or curb-lane along Van Nuys Bl from the Van Nuys Metro Orange Line Station north to San Fernando Rd where it would proceed northwest along San Fernando Rd to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station – a distance of 9.2 miles.
Where We’ve Been
When the study began in 2010, 29 alternatives (i.e., routes and modes) were considered. That resulted in an Alternatives Analysis (AA) Report released in January 2013 that, based on analysis and public input, recommended five initial build alternatives for further study through the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) as required by federal and state laws. These alternatives were further refined throughout 2013 and 2014.
Currently, there are two alternatives for dedicated bus rapid transit (BRT) service and two for rail service, along with the federal and state required “No Build” and “Transportation Systems Management” (TSM) alternatives. Public participation has been critical throughout the study process and Metro has hosted numerous community meetings to update residents, businesses, elected officials and stakeholders on the study progress, and to encourage input. Following the last round of public outreach in 2014 and 2015, Metro evaluated the alternatives and prepared the project’s Draft EIS/EIR that compared each alternative and identified any impacts, as well as mitigation measures, if any, that may help offset the impacts. There were a wide range of issues studied, including transportation, parking, communities and neighborhoods, construction, air quality, safety and security, and environmental justice. In 2016, Metro submitted the Draft EIS to the FTA for review. In July 2017, the FTA authorized the release of the Draft EIS for public review.
What We’ve Learned So Far
- Van Nuys Bl has the 2nd highest transit boardings in the San Fernando Valley, following the Metro Orange Line.
- On an average weekday, there are nearly 25,000 boardings on Metro buses operating on Van Nuys Bl.
- Approximately 50% of the Boulevard’s boardings occur along a 2.8 mile stretch, between the Metro Orange Line and Roscoe Bl.
- In the same segment (Metro Orange Line to Roscoe) transit users experience the slowest bus speeds – where buses slow to approximately 10 mph during the afternoon rush hours.
Where We’re Going
The Draft EIS/EIR was approved for circulation by the FTA, and the document was released for public review and comment on September 1, 2017. During this period, Metro held five Public Hearings on the document throughout the corridor to present its findings and to request input from those that may benefit or be impacted by the project. In response to community feedback, Metro held an additional informal Information Session for the public and extended the public review period from 45 to 60 days. After conclusion of the public comment period on October 30, 2017, the Metro Board of Directors will be asked to select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) in early 2018.
After the LPA is selected, Metro will prepare the Final EIS/EIR, which will respond to all public comments received during the project’s 60-day public review period. The Metro Board will then be asked to certify the EIR (the State environmental document), and it becomes final. The federal environmental review process concludes when the FTA grants the project a Record of Decision (ROD).
In November 2016, the voters of Los Angeles County approved Measure M, a ½ cent sales tax designed to make funds available for a number of transit and highway projects. Measure M earmarks $1.3 billion for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor, which is sufficient to build either an at-grade Light Rail Transit or Bus Rapid Transit project for the 9.2-mile corridor.
Refined Alternatives Being Studied
In addition to the No Build and Transportation Systems Management (TSM) alternatives, the following four build alternatives were evaluated as part of this study. All costs listed are preliminary capital costs in 2014 dollars and are subject to change.
Curb-running Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
Similar to the Wilshire BRT, there would be 6.7 miles of curb-running dedicated busway on Van Nuys Bl and 2.5 miles of mixed-flow operations along San Fernando Rd, operating either 24 hours or only in peak periods with 18 enhanced stations. This alternative is projected to cost $294 million.
Similar to the Metro Orange Line, buses would run in a 6.7 mile dedicated median busway in the center of Van Nuys Bl and 2.5 miles of mixed-flow operations along San Fernando Rd, and would include 17 stations. This alternative is projected to cost $402 million.
Median-running Light Rail Transit (LRT) with 28 stations
Similar to San Diego, Portland and European systems, this alternative would operate in a dedicated guideway in the center of Van Nuys Bl for 6.7 miles and 2.5 miles in mixed flow along San Fernando Rd, with 28 enhanced stations. This alternative is projected to cost $1.3 billion.
Median-running LRT with 14 stations and a subway option
Similar to existing Metro LRT Lines, trains would operate for 6.7 miles in a median dedicated guideway on Van Nuys Bl with 2.5 miles underground. The trains would run for 2.5 miles on railroad right-of-way adjacent to San Fernando Rd. There would be 14 stations, three of which would be underground. This alternative is projected to cost $2.7 billion.