Could the San Fernando Valley get a new subway line?
That’s what the influential Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association wants.
In a letter sent yesterday to Metro, the group expresses overall support for Metro’s East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor, which will link the Van Nuys Orange Line station to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station—about 9 miles to the north. The project won’t reach Sherman Oaks, but the group argues that it will have a potentially large impact on the neighborhood.
The letter also urges Metro to consider putting the line underground, maintaining that this option would be “faster and less intrusive on autos, pedestrians, and bikes.”
In the project’s environmental impact report, released by Metro last month, only four alternatives are considered: a light rail line, two rapid bus options, and a tram. The light rail line would include 2.5 miles of underground track between Panorama City and Van Nuys, but the rest of the route would run at street level.
Putting the project underground would increase the projected cost of the project far beyond the $2.7 billion price tag Metro has estimated for the mostly above-ground light rail. Metro spokesperson Kimberly Upton tells Curbed the cost of an entirely subterranean line would likely be between $7 billion and $8 billion.
Further review of this possibility could also delay the project’s construction, she says.
But the homeowners association argues that Metro should explore all options to find that funding. “We understand that it would be costly,” the group writes in the letter, “but the Valley deserves it.”
The homeowners association also argues that a Sepulveda Pass transit line, which could pass through Sherman Oaks, should also proceed underground.
Right now, the East San Fernado Valley project, scheduled to begin construction in 2021, is set to receive $1.3 billion in funding through Measure M, the sales tax initiative approved by LA County voters in November. Metro could obtain further funding for the project through grants or a public-private partnership, as the letter notes.
The transit agency is also in the midst of studying the possibility of whether a proposed rapid bus line along Vermont Avenue could instead be built as an extension of the Red Line subway system, which now runs south on Vermont through East Hollywood and Koreatown before turning east at Wilshire Boulevard.