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Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project Frequently Asked Questions

Study Overview

1. What is the goal of the Feasibility Study?

The goal of the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Feasibility Study is to identify and evaluate rail transit concepts that will provide high-quality service to the large and growing travel market between the San Fernando Valley, the Westside and the LAX area. For transit to be a competitive travel option that attracts new riders, it must be fast, frequent, high capacity, reliable, and it must provide convenient connections to existing and planned transit corridors. At the conclusion of the study in Fall 2019, a reduced number of alternatives will be recommended to the Metro Board of Directors for further study during the environmental review process.


2. How long will the Feasibility Study take?

The study is expected to take approximately 20 months, with work concluding in Fall 2019. Its findings will be the basis for future project refinement and environmental analysis.

Feasibility Study Schedule

Feasibility Study Schedule graphic displaying milestones and dates for the study.

3. What are the next steps in the planning process for the project?

Beginning in 2020, the state and federal environmental review process will evaluate and identify environmental impacts and mitigation measures associated with different project alternatives. The draft environmental analysis is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022, at which time, the Metro Board would select a single alternative for advancement, referred to as the locally preferred alternative (LPA). The final environmental analysis is expected to be completed in 2024, after which the project would move into engineering and construction.

4. When will the project open?

The Measure M expenditure plan identifies the opening year for the Valley-Westside section of the project as 2033, and the opening year for the Westside-LAX section of the project as 2057.

5. What’s the possibility of completing this project in time for the 2028 Olympics?

Under Metro’s 28 by 2028 initiative, the Valley-Westside portion of the project is identified as a candidate for potentially accelerated completion by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles (LA 2028). This project may be expedited through a public-private partnership (P3).

Public-Private Partnership

6. What does it mean that the Sepulveda Transit Corridor could be developed as a public-private partnership (P3)?

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor has been identified as a project in which Metro would allow private contractors to compete for the right to help develop the project’s design in collaboration with Metro and stakeholders. This would allow for early insights on project design decisions that may help reduce the project’s cost, ensure feasibility, accelerate completion and improve the performance of the project. Metro would retain control over project decisions, and any contractor-proposed designs would be subject to Metro’s environmental analysis.

Although the current feasibility study is intended to narrow the alternatives brought into the environmental phase, it does not foreclose the possibility that new ideas will emerge based on those alternatives during the environmental and P3 process. Later this year, Metro is planning to release a Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) to identify one or more private partners to work with us on this project in what is known as a Preliminary Development Agreement (PDA). Metro remains open to new ideas and will welcome innovative proposals from the private sector that will emerge through that process. Please see our fact sheet for more information on public-private partnerships.


7. How will this project be funded?

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor is part of the Measure M expenditure plan, with approximately $5.7 billion for new transit service to connect the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Approximately $3.8 billion is allocated to extend that service from the Westside to LAX. Funding is based on anticipated federal, state and local contributions, including Measures R and M.

8. What is the cost of each transit concept?

The study is currently in the process of analyzing capital and operating costs for each of the transit concepts. Cost information will be shared at the third round of community meetings in Summer 2019.


9. What routes is Metro studying for this project?

At the second round of public meetings in early 2019, Metro presented four refined concepts for the Valley-Westside section. These included two heavy rail concepts, known as HRT 1 and HRT 2, alignments that are fully below ground, as well as another heavy rail alignment and a monorail/rubber tire alignment, known as HRT 3 and MRT 1 respectively, that are a combination of above and below ground sections.  Metro also presented four initial concepts for the Westside-LAX portion of the project. The current Valley-Westside and Westside-LAX concepts can be found here .

10. Does Metro have a preferred route or stations for this project?

At this time, there is no preferred concept. The current study is intended to identify and evaluate a wide range of rail transit options with the goal of narrowing down the number of transit concepts that will be considered in more detail during the subsequent environmental review phase. We encourage you to provide feedback on the concepts developed to date, as community input is an important part of the evaluation process.

11. Is Metro considering new commercial and residential development along corridors in the study area during the planning process?

Land use is one of the primary factors influencing transit ridership, and the Metro ridership model includes both existing and future land use. Analyzing ridership helps to inform the siting of stations and the evaluation of different alignment concepts. Ridership results for the project’s Valley-Westside concepts were provided as part of the second round of public meetings. Ridership results for the project’s Westside-LAX concepts will be provided as part of the third round of public meetings.

12. How long would it take to travel between the Valley and the Westside?

Metro’s four concepts range from 15 minutes to 26 minutes for travel between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the Expo Line for the four alternatives. All the travel times are a significant improvement in speed and predictability over travel by car.


13. What transit connections is Metro studying for the project?

Metro has presented transit concepts that could connect to the following stations:

  • Metrolink Ventura County Line: Van Nuys Station
  • East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project: Metrolink Van Nuys Station and Van Nuys Station
  • Orange Line: Sepulveda or Van Nuys Station
  • Purple Line: Westwood/UCLA Station
  • Expo Line: Expo/Sepulveda or Expo/Bundy Station
  • Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project: Airport Metro Connector Station

14. Where will stations be located?

Everyone getting off a train is a pedestrian when they connect to the next leg of their trip or their final destination. Stations are therefore useful to the most people, and generate the greatest ridership, when they allow for easy connections to other transit lines and are close to major destinations, such as business districts, retail and entertainment complexes, medical facilities and other activity centers.

In addition to careful station siting, Metro also develops first/last mile strategies to improve station access. Each location is different, and Metro works closely with cities and neighborhoods where stations are located to evaluate options. For more information, see question 18.

15. Is there a possibility for additional stations between the Purple Line and the Expo Line on the Westside?

In response to comments received during the second round of public outreach, the possibility of an additional station between the Purple Line and the Expo Line is being studied further. The California Geological Survey identifies the Santa Monica fault zone in this area, which makes station siting here more challenging. See question 32 for more information on the topic of building in areas with earthquake faults.

16. Why isn’t there a planned station at the West Los Angeles VA Hospital?

A station at the VA Hospital was considered as a possible point of connection between the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project and the Purple Line Extension. However, this station option was removed from further consideration due to lower ridership potential. The lower ridership for alignments connecting directly to the VA resulted from the inability of those alignments to locate a station on the UCLA campus, which as a major activity center would generate significant ridership for the project. Given the VA Hospital’s location west of I-405, the team was unable to identify an alignment that could reasonably serve both the VA Hospital and the UCLA campus.

17. Will parking be provided at the stations?

Metro understands that parking is an important component of transit access and is considering several options for parking availability near proposed station locations. Metro has shared possible parking locations and expects to provide more information about the projected parking demand at the third round of public meetings in Summer 2019.

18. How will cars, bicycles and pedestrians access this future line and stations?

Metro is committed to maximizing access to transit in support of the region’s significant investment in its transportation network. Metro has developed a First/Last Mile Strategic Plan to comprehensively plan and implement improvements for the first/last mile portions of an individual’s journey. Examples of these improvements include:

  • Infrastructure for walking, rolling and biking (e.g. bike lanes, bike parking, sidewalks and crosswalks)
  • Shared use services (e.g. bike share and car share)
  • Facilities for making modal connections (e.g. kiss and ride and bus/rail interface)
  • Signage and wayfinding, and information and technology that eases travel (e.g. information kiosks and mobile apps)

To learn more, click here .


19. What types of rail are being evaluated for the project?

At the outset of the study, we considered several different technologies. Of these technologies, light rail transit (LRT), heavy rail transit (HRT), monorail and rubber tire were the most promising for further evaluation. Metro currently operates HRT on the Red and Purple Lines and LRT on the Blue, Green, Gold and Expo Lines. As part of the evaluation of initial Valley-Westside concepts, LRT was eliminated due to insufficient capacity. More information on these and other types of rail are available here .

20. Why is the Monorail/Rubber Tire transit concept (MRT 1) the only option for an above-ground alignment through the Sepulveda Pass?

Conventional trains, including LRT and HRT, have steel wheels that run on steel rails. This design is more efficient than vehicles that have rubber tires because there is less friction. However, because there is less friction, steel-wheel vehicles require special design considerations for traveling on steep grades, particularly for stopping in an emergency, or for starting on a grade if a train should have to stop for any reason, such as a delayed train ahead of it.

Grade is measured as a percentage, calculated by dividing the change in elevation by the horizontal distance traveled. For example, if a rail line climbs 50 feet over a distance of 1,000 feet, that would be described as a five percent grade (50/1,000). Generally, Metro rail design guidelines call for grades to be limited to four percent, but they allow for five percent or even six percent over short distances. A typical situation in which a Metro rail line might exceed a four percent grade is when it rises and falls relatively rapidly to cross a street. These steeper grades usually extend for only a few hundred feet.

Much of the north side of the Sepulveda Pass (the Valley side) is steeper than four percent. The maximum grade on the I-405 is approximately 6.5 percent. The average grade is approximately five percent for almost 7,000 feet. Metro design guidelines permit a five percent grade for only 1,000 feet, so the length of the grade required to follow the I-405 alignment would greatly exceed Metro design guidelines.

By comparison, the greater wheel friction in monorail and rubber tire trains allows them to easily handle the steeper grades in the Sepulveda Pass. This is why MRT 1 can propose an alignment that goes over the Santa Monica Mountains above-ground, while HRT 1, HRT 2 and HRT 3 must go through the mountain in a tunnel.

There are railways around the world that exceed five percent grades, but most often these grades are sustained for much less than 7,000 feet. The MAX Blue Line operated by Portland TriMet has a segment of track that exceeds five percent, but it is shorter than would be required in the Sepulveda Pass. On another segment of the same line, TriMet opted to construct a tunnel where a lengthier section of steep grade would have been required.

The Bernina Railway, which connects St. Moritz, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy, is one of the steepest conventional steel-wheel railways in the world, operating over grades of up to seven percent. However, trains on this railway operate no more than twice per hour and travel at an average speed of under 20 mph through the steepest segments. The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project will be required to operate with high reliability at greater frequencies and higher speeds.

21. Why can’t all concepts be entirely underground?

Cost estimates for the project concepts are still being developed, but tunneling is typically the most expensive method of constructing a rail line. This is why, where physically possible, the study is considering segments that operate above-ground. If there are more cost-effective ways of delivering the project, it is part of the study’s due diligence to understand the strengths and challenges of these options.

22. Why are there no aerial alignment options on the Westside?

Aerial alignments on the Westside were investigated at the beginning of the study. Following this investigation, elevated configurations on the Westside were not pursued because of several limitations. The Feasibility Study began with an analysis of travel patterns in the study area. That analysis identified UCLA as one of the largest destinations for trips in the Sepulveda corridor. Subsequent ridership forecasting confirmed the importance of serving the UCLA campus directly, as transit concepts that did not do so had substantially lower ridership. An aerial guideway in or adjacent to the I-405 right-of-way was ruled out south of the Getty Center because it would not be possible to serve the UCLA campus directly without crossing through residential neighborhoods or the National Cemetery.

In addition, south of UCLA, the roadways on the Westside are generally not as wide as roadways in other parts of the study area. Between Wilshire Boulevard and I-10, the roadways of Bundy Drive, Barrington Avenue, Sawtelle Boulevard, Sepulveda Boulevard, Veteran Avenue, Westwood Boulevard, and Overland Avenue all have lengthy sections where the publicly owned right-of-way is less than 100 feet across. Construction of an aerial guideway in these areas would require removal of travel lanes or extensive property acquisitions.

23. Could a rail line be operated in the median of I-405?

We looked at the possibility during the Feasibility Study, but the project is currently focusing on other concepts. The median of I-405 between U.S. 101 and I-10 is currently planned for the I-405 ExpressLanes project, although Metro is open to innovative concepts that may be proposed through the P3 process. See questions 6 and 34 for more details.

24. Have you considered maglev as a potential mode for the project?

The primary advantage of maglev over other technologies is the higher speed that it can achieve. The benefits of higher speed help to justify the substantially higher construction and operating cost of the maglev system. On the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project, because of the close spacing of stations, the higher speeds that maglev potentially offers cannot be achieved. However, as noted in question 6, Metro remains open to innovative proposals through the P3 process.

25. Is Metro considering new tunneling technologies, such as those being used by The Boring Company?

As part of this project, Metro is consulting with the Tunnel Advisory Panel (TAP), a group of independent experts who specialize in tunnel construction. The TAP is familiar with the latest tunneling technologies being used by The Boring Company and others, both in the U.S. and internationally, and they are supportive of innovative tunneling approaches. Please click here for more information on tunneling and the TAP.


26. If the project is underground, will construction also be underground?

Underground projects can be less disruptive during construction because much of the work is below ground. Nevertheless, some surface construction work is required and the impacts are generally localized to those areas.

Unlike tunnels, which are excavated underground using tunnel boring machines (TBMs), underground stations are excavated down from the surface. The most challenging part of construction occurs at the beginning of station construction for the initial excavation, when temporary concrete street decking is installed over the excavation, and again at the end of station construction when the decking is removed and the street is restored and paved. In between, much of the station construction occurs below the decking with access from construction staging sites immediately adjacent to the station box.

27. Can you provide more detail on the tunneling process?

Tunneling for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor will be accomplished using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). A TBM is a giant drill that slowly drills through the earth, digging tunnels needed for an underground project. Once the TBM is below ground doing its work, it is unlikely that people on the surface will see, hear or feel its operation. Metro continually monitors the progress of the TBM underground to ensure it is operating safely at all times.

The latest technology uses pressurized, closed-face TBMs that maintain pressure in the ground surrounding the tunnel, protect workers inside the TBM and immediately install concrete tunnel liners that support the tunnel as they proceed in the newly drilled portions of the tunnel. The front section of the TBM is called the shield with a cutter head at the very front. Each cutter head is like a giant circular cheese grater and engineered for the specific ground conditions where the TBM will be operating. A TBM is about the length of a football field at full size and, depending on ground conditions, tunnels at the rate of about 60 feet per day.

Several acres of property are needed to launch the TBM to drill the tunnels. That location is also used to remove the dirt from the tunnels. A smaller property is typically needed to remove the TBM at the tunnel’s endpoint. Between these starting and ending points, TBMs are generally sufficiently deep to avoid any impact to underground utilities. Exact locations for launching and extracting the TBM, as well as how much space will be needed to do so, is determined as part of the environmental process.

28. What would construction be like if the project is above ground?

If some or all of the project is aerial, supports will be needed for the elevated tracks and stations. If there is not a separately dedicated right-of way, those supports will be built in the roadway or freeway and may result in a reduction in lanes for automobiles both during construction and once the project is completed. At station locations, additional space would also be needed for platforms, ticketing and street access. Street-level space would be needed for stairs, escalators, elevators and walkways to access the stations. If the project is at-grade, space would be needed at street-level for these same features with additional space needed during construction.

29. What wildlife crossings or corridors could be affected by the monorail concept as it travels through the Sepulveda Pass?

The current phase of the study will identify the potential for effects on environmental resources. A more detailed analysis of impacts and mitigations will be conducted as part of the project’s environmental process, following the Feasibility Study. At this point in the study, identified wildlife crossings and corridors potentially affected by MRT 1 include: Mulholland Overpass, Skirball Center Overpass, the wildlife corridor between Skirball Center Drive and Mulholland Drive, Brownfield Drive/Bel Air Crest Road, and Sepulveda Boulevard crossing under I-405 north of Getty Center Drive.

30. Will the project require a maintenance and storage facility?

Yes, regardless of which technology is selected for the project, Metro will need a new maintenance and storage facility. Potential locations for this facility will be shared as part of the third round of public meetings in Summer 2019.

31. Will there be property acquisitions for this project?

Yes, given the size of the project and its location, property acquisitions will be necessary. During the second round of community meetings, Metro shared that the aerial and above-ground alternatives are expected to have greater property impacts than underground options. Metro will present more details about potential property acquisition in Summer 2019. Please see our Property Acquisition Fact Sheet for more information.

32. How can subways be built and operated safely in an area with earthquake faults?

Many underground facilities – subway tunnels, sewers, storm drains, and buildings with deep basements and underground parking garages – have been built in Los Angeles and throughout California near active fault zones. California has some of the strictest building standards when it comes to designing infrastructure to withstand earthquakes. One of the initial steps in planning a subway is to identify fault zones located in the area and understand their characteristics. The goal in planning a subway is to avoid fault zones if possible. If that is not possible, then every effort is made to minimize exposure by crossing the fault zone(s) in a perpendicular orientation. Various special engineering techniques are employed in fault zones to reduce risk, limit damage that may occur and allow for a swift return to regular operations should a seismic event take place. These techniques include constructing larger diameter tunnels, such as those built for the Metro Red Line between the Hollywood/Highland and Universal City Stations, or utilizing secondary or enhanced tunnel linings, and other measures to accommodate ground movement in fault zones.

At the same time, no transit agency in North America has knowingly built a subway station within a known active fault zone. In fact, Metro station location decisions for two other lines currently under construction were partially influenced by the information about earthquake fault zones. The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project moved the location of its planned La Brea Station to avoid having it sit atop the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone. The Purple Line Extension located its Century City Station outside of the Santa Monica Fault Zone.

Subways throughout the world have excellent records of withstanding major earthquakes over the last 35 years. Some examples include:




Impact on Subway

Mexico City



No damage to tunnels. Some power disruption.
Patrons evacuated safely. Used to transport rescue personnel.

Loma Prieta (SF)



No damage to tunnels. Subway served as lifeline structure.




No damage.

Kobe, Japan



No damage to tunnels. Damage to station and sewer
pipes – attributed to 1962 design with moderate seismic provision.




No damage.




Running next day. Some damage at entrance to stations.

Fukushima, Japan



Parts of the Tokyo Metro re-opened the same day; others re-opened soon after.

Puebla, Mexico



Mexico City subway tunnels unaffected.

Related I-405 Projects

33. Is this project related to the highway widening on I-405?

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project was a Caltrans freeway project to add 10 miles of HOV lanes and infrastructure improvements, such as ramps, bridges and soundwalls on the I-405 freeway, while widening lanes from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to the Ventura Freeway (US 101). This highway widening is more directly related to the I-405 ExpressLanes project.

34. How does this project relate to the I-405 ExpressLanes project?

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project assumes implementation of the I-405 ExpressLanes, a 10-mile High-Occupancy-Toll (HOT) lane project between the I-10 and U.S. 101 freeways. Metro’s ExpressLanes provide additional freeway travel options and travel time savings, particularly during peak periods.

Under federal law, the HOV lanes on I-405 are considered degraded. An HOV lane is degraded if its speed falls below 45 mph more than 10% of the time in a 180-day period. The ExpressLanes offer a means to mitigate this HOV degradation, particularly during peak periods.

Due to the success of the I-10 and I-110 ExpressLanes, the Metro Board directed staff to prepare an ExpressLanes strategic plan for LA County. The strategic plan evaluated all existing, in construction and planned HOV lanes in the county and classified them into Tiers 1, 2 and 3, with Tier 1 being the highest priority. I-405 Freeway between U.S. 101 and the LA/Orange County line is included in Tier 1 of the strategic plan. In January 2017, the Metro Board directed staff to begin planning studies for Tier 1 projects.

35. Where is the money coming from to construct the ExpressLanes on the 405?

Measure M provides $260 million for the I-405 ExpressLanes project.

36. How soon will the ExpressLanes project be starting?

Preparation of the environmental document and preliminary design will begin in early 2020.  The Measure M expenditure plan indicates a 2026 completion year.

37. Are the ExpressLanes going to be used until the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project is complete or will they remain after?

The ExpressLanes would remain after the transit project is complete, providing transportation options for residents and commuters of LA County.

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