Metro is moving forward with plans for a new rail line in the eastern San Fernando Valley.
One of the 28 projects that the agency plans to have up-and-running in time for the 2028 Olympics, the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor would run from the Orange Line station in Van Nuys to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station, about 9 miles to the north.
Metro had considered building the line as a rapid bus route, rather than rail, but on Thursday the agency’s board of directors approved plans that would advance the project as a light rail route similar to the existing Gold, Blue, and Green lines.
“I have long dreamed of a day when we would have more than two Metro train stops,” Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, told the Metro board.
He called the line the “largest economic development project in the San Fernando Valley this millennium.”
Most of the line would travel along Van Nuys Boulevard, with trains traveling on tracks built in the center of the road. For the final 2.5 miles of the route, trains would travel on San Fernando Road to the northernmost stop.
Metro expects a trip from end-to-end would take about 29 minutes, and that the train could carry close to 50,000 riders per day by 2040. Eventually, the line could connect with a future transit project through the Sepulveda Pass.
That would give Valley residents significantly more options when navigating the city.
Since the line will be served by light rail, Metro will need to add a service station for trains that travel along the route. The agency had considered putting that facility on a parcel of land close to the Van Nuys station, but local property owners complained that the plan would displace hundreds of businesses.
Now, Metro plans to put that maintenance yard closer to the Van Nuys Metrolink station, where it would have to acquire fewer properties. Some businesses would still be displaced, and several business owners expressed concern Thursday that they could be forced to close up shop.
These businesses would be eligible for relocation fees, and on Thursday Metro Boardmember Sheila Kuehl also asked staffers to look into creating a fund to compensate business owners for disruptions caused by construction of the line.
The light rail tracks would serve 14 stations running through the communities of Van Nuys, Panorama City, Arleta, Pacoima, and the city of San Fernando. The entire project would cost about $1.3 billion to construct. Metro previously considered running a short leg of the line underground, but found that would more than double the project cost.
Now that Metro has settled on a design for the project, the agency will complete a final environmental review before preparing to begin construction.
Under the Measure M funding timeline—approved by LA County voters in 2016—the project would break ground in 2021. Construction is expected to wrap up by 2027.