Three transit projects in the San Fernando Valley are included in the first draft of an expenditure plan proposed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority connected with a potential ballot measure.
The Valley projects, supported by the Valley Industry & Commerce Association and San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, include building a light rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard, improvements to the Orange Line busway and connecting the Valley to the Westside with a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass.
The Metro board is considering a measure on the November ballot to raise the sales tax a half cent and extend the current Measure R half-cent sales tax dedicated for transportation projects to 2057.
Voters approved Measure R in November 2008 to raise $40 billion over 30 years. An initiative to extend it in November 2012 failed to win voter support by a slim margin.
The Valley transit projects have become a rallying point for Valley on Track, a coalition of community and business groups and public officials formed last year by VICA, the business advocacy group in Sherman Oaks.
VICA President Stuart Waldman called the inclusion of the three projects a banner day for the Valley coalition and the elected officials who worked to get them on the expenditure plan.
“As soon as the plan with these projects is finalized by the Metro board, I look forward to recommending that the VICA board endorse the measure and then help lead a campaign in the Valley to obtain the necessary two-thirds vote in November,” Waldman said in a prepared statement.
The East Valley Transit Corridor project linking the Van Nuys Orange Line station and the Sylmar Metrolink station via Van Nuys Boulevard would carry a price tag of $1 billion. Improving the Orange Line busway with grade separations at key intersections would cost $300 million, while converting the line from bus to light rail would cost about $1.4 billion. The Sepulveda Pass project from the Valley to the Westwood area carries a cost between $7 billion and $9 billion.
The plan now goes before the Metro board on March 24, which is expected to take public comments through public meetings, focus groups, telephone town hall meetings and public and social media polls. The results of that input will be presented to the board in June.