Faced with rising construction costs, Metro's Board of Directors voted last year to split the East San Fernando Valley light rail line in phases, focusing its initial efforts on a 6.7-mile corridor connecting Van Nuys and Pacoima. Now, with a groundbreaking for the project roughly one year away, the agency will begin exploring new methods to connect the project with the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station.
In a presentation given yesterday to the Board's Planning and Programming Committee, Metro staff detailed three alternatives for closing the final 2.5-mile leg of the East San Fernando Line, which would be located in an existing right-of-way shared by Metrolink and the Union Pacific Railroad. They include:
- Full-build: completing a quadruple track from Van Nuys Boulevard to Sylmar/San Fernando Station, with two tracks for light rail and two shared tracks for Metrolink and the Union Pacific Railroad.
- New connection: Build a new station at the intersection of Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road, supporting more frequent service on Metrolink and enabling transfers to the new light rail line.
- Federal Railroad Administration-compliant light rail: Build the East San Fernando Valley line to FRA Tier-III standards which would permit trains to share tracks with the Antelope Valley Line.
Metro's study will also include updated traffic counts and an analysis of all grade crossings - including the potential for grade separating one or more intersections - along the project corridor.
The agency's exploration of new alternatives for the right-of-way parallel to San Fernando Road follows concerns raised by both Metrolink and the City of San Fernando that the East San Fernando Valley line's environmental study had assumed that light rail vehicles would be sharing right-of-way with a single track shared by both Metrolink and Union Pacific Railroad trains. However, plans to add a second main line track to an 11-mile segment between Brighton Street in Burbank and Roxford Road in Sylmar are not reflected in the earlier study.
Additional concerns expressed via letter by Metrolink and the City of San Fernando include increased delays of vehicle traffic at street-level crossings and increased demand for parking at the proposed Sylmar/San Fernando terminus.
A caller, speaking in support of the proposal to make use of Metrolink service, noted that eliminating the need for a curving section of track between Van Nuys Boulevard and the San Fernando Road right-of-way would likely save several nearby businesses from the wrecking ball.
The initial phase of the East San Fernando Valley Line, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2022, will offer a 30-minute end-to-end trip between Pacoima and the G Line busway's Van Nuys Station - which is also expected to be grade separated and converted to light rail in the future. Service on the Van Nuys corridor is expected to begin after five years.
- East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Line (Urbanize LA)