Feds pledge $900M for San Fernando Valley light-rail line

North-south line to break ground this year, cost up to $3.6B

LA Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins and a rendering of the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Line (LinkedIn/Stephanie Wiggins, Metro)
LA Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins and a rendering of the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Line (LinkedIn/Stephanie Wiggins, Metro)

A proposed light rail line through the San Fernando Valley is set to pull out of the station with $900 million in new federal funding.

The Federal Transit Administration said it will provide $909 million over two years to help build the Valley’s first light rail line since the Pacific Red Cars left the tracks in 1952, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The FTA earmarked $100 million of those funds for the current fiscal year for the proposed East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Line, LA Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins announced.

The 9.2-mile line between Van Nuys Station and the Metrolink Station in Sylmar/San Fernando is expected to cost between $2.8 billion and $3.6 billion. The rail project is scheduled to break ground at the end of the year and start running in June 2028.

The first phase will travel 6.7 miles from the Orange (G) Line busway along the center median of Van Nuys Boulevard to San Fernando Road. A second phase continues northwest another 2.5 miles along the Metrolink rail line.

For its Valley railway, Metro plans to build 14 new stations, nine traction power substations, an overhead contact system, and a maintenance and storage facility on Keswick Street for 34 new vehicles.

The new line will connect to Van Nuys Civic Center, senior and assisted living facilities, Charter High School of the Arts, county family and children’s services, a shopping center at a former General Motors plant, Panorama and Arleta high schools, Pacoima neighborhoods and the City of San Fernando.

When complete, the new rail line is expected to carry 35,000 riders per day with subway links to Union Station, with connections to Koreatown and eventually to an extended Purple (D) Line ending at UCLA.

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Besides funding and rising costs, the pending East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Line has caused rumblings in the lower-income northeast Valley about gentrification, transit advocates say..

Similar concerns have been expressed in Highland Park in northeast Los Angeles, where the L Line passes through enroute to Pasadena on one end and Downtown L.A. on the other.

Once rail lines are built, properties can rise in value and sometimes, older buildings are torn down and newer, more expensive apartments or condos are built, they say. Rents rise and that can lead to existing residents being forced out.

“There is a concern that developers will come in there and start ripping things out, like older properties, and then they put in something new,” said Bart Reed, a Sylmar resident who serves as executive director of The Transit Coalition, an advocate for bus, rail, pedestrian and bike ways.
The line is supported by Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and state elected officials who say transit options are sorely lacking in the San Fernando Valley.

“The San Fernando Valley, where I grew up, is finally poised to receive the world-class transit it deserves — especially along congested Van Nuys Boulevard,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “When fully built, this new line will transform how people get around and connect them to new opportunities across Los Angeles County.”

A $2.3 billion makeover and expansion of Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles just picked up $720 million in new Metro funding.

[Los Angeles Daily News] – Dana Bartholomew

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