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Metro moves ahead with environmental review of north Valley bus rapid transit

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Starting the review as soon as possible is vital to building the busway on time

A photo of a bus at a stop with people getting on and off.
Bus rapid transit lines like the Orange Line have dedicated bus lanes.
Dan Reed (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The plan to put a bus rapid transit line in the north San Fernando Valley is moving forward, with Metro directors voting today to undertake an environmental study of the project.

The study will evaluate potential routes for the BRT, including options on Roscoe Boulevard and Nordhoff Street, an alignment that has come up against opposition.

Starting environmental review as soon as possible is vital to building the busway, which will have dedicated bus lanes, on time. It’s forecast to be finished by 2025, in time for the 2028 Olympics.

“BRT in the north Valley is going to happen, it will be built,” said Metro board member Paul Krekorian, a Los Angeles City Councilmember whose district in the southeast Valley includes North Hollywood, Van Nuys, and Sun Valley.

What’s up for debate, Krekorian said, is where it will go.

The BRT, which was included in the project list for voter-approved Measure M, would run between Chatsworth and North Hollywood, either near the North Hollywood Red and Orange line stations or just west of that, at Laurel Canyon and Chandler boulevards.

The route would run through Sun Valley, Panorama City, and Northridge, and it would link the existing Orange Line BRT to a future light rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard.

The eastern part of the route, as proposed, would run along Roscoe, but turn north to Nordhoff, near the 405 freeway. That version of the route connects to Cal State Northridge; if the bus went entirely along Roscoe, it could potentially stop at CSUN or near it, depending on the route option selected.

Metro will look into other possible routes too as part of the alternatives the environmental review will study—routes turning north from Roscoe to Lindley Avenue or at Reseda Boulevard would connect with the campus have been explored by Metro before.

Opponents of a Nordhoff route are predominantly homeowners who are concerned that removing traffic lanes along the street for a dedicated busway would increase gridlock and torpedo home values nearby. Many of them would prefer the line travel entirely on Roscoe.

Many of the speakers at the meeting were in favor the new bus line in general, regardless of the route, citing a diverse array of benefits from connections to jobs and employment hubs to the need to reduce emissions for environmental and public health purposes.

A number of students and staff at Cal State Northridge supported the Nordhoff route and a direct connection to the school, telling the board that students rely on public transit to get to school, and that inadequate service to the campus affects students’ academic performance.

Prior to voting, some board members drew attention to the reason why this bus project was included in the Measure M project list.

The Valley is always “crying” about not getting enough attention in terms of transportation projects, and they are right that they don’t get their fair share, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who serves on the Metro board.

“This was a way to say we agree,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the Roscoe route would not connect to CSUN. It would either connect to the school or have a stop nearby.