San Fernando Valley Council of Governments proposes rail system

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CORRECTION: The proposed projects will be either a rail system or bus rapid transit within the East Valley Corridor. The Sepulveda Pass Corridor is not estimated to be $5 million to $6.5 million as stated in the story. The project is estimated to be $10 billion to $12 billion and will include a highway and rail system. The Metrolink station in Sylmar that will connect to San Fernando Valley Road will also connect to Van Nuys Boulevard to ease congestion, according to Dave Sotero, MTA public information officer.

Two public projects may ease traffic congestion in the San Fernando Valley.

The San Fernando Valley Council of Governments agreed Jan. 10 to support a study that will determine the feasibility of creating a light rail system partially designed and operated by a private company.

The study determines the possibility of a selected private company to provide money for the creation of a Sepulveda Pass Corridor system and the East San Fernando Valley Corridor.

The creation of these corridors will provide CSUN students “opportunities to get to high-paying jobs” by getting there faster than driving a car, said Mel Wilson, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board director.

Wilson said the transportation corridors were separate projects, but they will be “one project that will connect the Northeast San Fernando Valley to the West side.”

“A lot of people live in the East San Fernando Valley (and) a lot of them want to go to work in Century City and West LA,” Wilson said.

Jocelyn Roman, 19, communications major, said she spends about $8 to $9 one way to get to her hometown of West Covina when she is unable to obtain a ride.

“(These projects) will help me get me home faster instead of taking a bunch of buses,” Roman said.

Roman added that taking several buses and the rail lines is cheaper than taking the Metrolink train.

Wilson said the creation of the projects can help CSUN students “get (to their destination) in 30 to 40 minutes,” and they could use that time to take a nap or do homework.

Wilson said there are 318,000 riders everyday going from San Fernando Valley to the West side.

The creation of the projects can help “save money, reduce congestion and improve the air quality,” Wilson said.

The Sepulveda Pass Corridor will cost $5 billion to $6.5 billion to complete, while the East San Fernando Valley light rail will cost $1.6 billion to $2 billion.

Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase which passed in 2008, allocated $40 billion for traffic relief funds in Los Angeles County, according to the MTA.

The East San Fernando Valley corridor was set to start construction by 2018 and the Sepulveda Pass corridor by 2039, but Wilson said MTA is trying to create these projects sooner than the projected time. It will be through a public-private partnership, which is an agreement between a public and a private agency.

The agencies collaborate to deliver a service or facility for the general public, according to The National Council for Private-Public Partnership.

The MTA is in the process of accepting proposals from interested companies, and all Metro board members will vote on a company to create a contract with, Wilson said.

The company will help allocate more funds to create the projects as Measure R does not fully cover the projects. Wilson said the selected company will help design, build, operate and maintain the systems.

Wilson said the study may take a year and will look at environmental impact, ridership, route alignment, cost and potential station locations.

The East San Fernando Valley Corridor will start at the Metrolink station in Sylmar and go south on San Fernando Road at ground level.

The rail system will go through Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City and Van Nuys and end at Oxnard Street at Sepulveda Boulevard, Wilson said.

Wilson said they do not know exactly where the Sepulveda Pass Corridor will start, but will run from the San Fernando Valley, through an underground tunnel that will allow the light rail system and cars to run parallel to the 405 freeway to Westwood, about half a mile from UCLA.

“[It] takes a long time to get [from] point A to point B,” Wilson said. He added the main purpose of this study is to “get the whole region to work together.”


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