FTA environmentally clears L.A. Metro’s East San Fernando Valley light-rail transit project

Feb. 2, 2021
The project will officially begin major construction in 2022 and is scheduled to open by 2028.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) has been granted a Record of Decision (ROD) from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for its East San Fernando Valley Light-Rail Transit Project, officially certifying the project has satisfied all federal guidelines for environmental analysis and making it eligible for federal funding opportunities.

The FTA’s action allows L.A. Metro to potentially seek some type of funding in the federal pipeline for the final design and construction of the 9.2-mile project, which is planned to connect the Van Nuys Metro "G" (Orange) Line Station with the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station. The light-rail line will travel primarily along Van Nuys Boulevard — one of the Valley’s most heavily traveled corridors. L.A. Metro received the State of California’s environmental clearance for the project last December.

Approximately $1.3 billion has been identified for the project, most coming from local Measure M, Measure R and State funds. The project now could be well-positioned for expanded opportunities to compete for any future federal funding opportunities as part of L.A. Metro’s "Shovel Ready" Plan to move major rail, bus and highway projects closer to implementation. L.A. Metro will present its board with recommendations for a comprehensive federal grant strategy for its major transit projects this spring.

L.A. Metro will build the line in segments, as is typically done for major Metro Rail construction projects. Building the line in "interim operating segments" gives L.A. Metro the flexibility to determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to build its projects. Interim operating segments will be included in all future Measure M projects.

The agency will begin major pre-construction work later this year on the first 6.7-mile segment between the "G" Line in Van Nuys to San Fernando Road in Pacoima. Subject to additional funding, a second, 2.5-mile segment would extend the line along the San Fernando rail right-of-way north to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station.

"The East San Fernando Valley Light Rail project has been one of my top transportation priorities since I was elected to the city council," said L.A. Metro Director Paul Krekorian. "This critical backbone project will be the first light rail line in the Valley, connecting communities, revitalizing neighborhoods, reducing congestion and improving air quality. Last month, we pushed the project forward with a $30-million investment in utility work to expedite construction. Now, with the Federal Transportation Authority's Record of Decision, this line becomes eligible for federal funding opportunities, and we are well on our way toward full funding and completion of the foundation for the future of transit in the San Fernando Valley."

L.A. Metro will continue to study the second segment after receiving new stakeholder comments during the Final EIS/EIR’s public review period. Staff will coordinate closely with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority — the agency that operates the Metrolink Antelope Valley Line — and the city of San Fernando to address concerns mainly related to shared track and railroad crossings along San Fernando Road.

L.A. Metro has also developed a complementary First/Last Mile Plan for the project that identifies improvements to make it safer, more pleasant and more comfortable to walk, bike and roll to and from the 14 planned transit stations. L.A. Metro will continue to work with the city of Los Angeles to identify a preferred First/Last Mile parallel bike route to replace existing bike lanes on Van Nuys Boulevard that would be removed by the project in Panorama City and Pacoima.

The project will officially begin major construction in 2022 and is scheduled to open by 2028.

With an end-to-end travel time of 31 minutes, daily boardings are anticipated to exceed 30,000 by the year 2040.

"The East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project is just one of several major transportation improvements we have in store for the San Fernando Valley," said L.A. Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. "It just happens to be the first one to go into construction as we deliver on our promise of better mobility for Valley residents."

Another L.A. Metro project — the Sepulveda Transit Corridor — proposes to build a high-capacity transit line from Van Nuys across the Sepulveda Pass to the Westside and then beyond to LAX. That project is currently in the planning phase as different routes and financing plans are being studied and developed. Other Valley projects include the North Hollywood to Pasadena Transit Corridor, North San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor and Metro Orange Line Improvements Project.