In the last four weeks, the East San Fernando Valley light-rail project has been showered with about $631 million in funding, a sign that local and state officials see the project as a top transit priority for the city of Los Angeles.
The 9.2-mile project would extend north from Van Nuys Boulevard and the G-Line station to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station, and would add 14 stations. The first phase would stretch 6.7 miles down the middle of Van Nuys Boulevard to San Fernando Road and the second phase would travel 2.5 miles along the Metrolink rail line.
LA Metro announced on Monday, Feb. 27 that the project’s first phase picked up $31 million from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to broaden early construction and promote community engagement with residents and businesses.
The money from Metro included approval of a contract with San Fernando Transit Constructors (SFTC), a joint venture of Skanska USA Civil West California District, Inc., and Stacy and Witbeck, Inc.
“Approval of this contract is an important next step in building a transformative transit project to connect the San Fernando Valley, which has not had local stop rail service for seven decades,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Lindsey Horvath, in a prepared statement.
The first phase would include 11 new stations that will connect the communities of Van Nuys, Panorama City, Arleta and Pacoima. Some of the destinations along the line include the Van Nuys Civic Center, the Panorama Mall, multi-residential housing in Van Nuys and Arleta High School.
The money adds to SFTC’s early construction work, which includes design and utility relocation. The contractor is also working on a “cultural competency” aspect that will engage with 20 community groups to explain the project, construction closures, and other issues. SFTC will focus on Spanish-language outreach, Metro reported.
“The communities that surround the new East San Fernando Valley Light Rail corridor are highly transit-dependent and predominantly Latino,” said L.A. City Council President and Metro Board Member Paul Krekorian in a prepared statement.
“That’s why it’s especially important that our contractor be committed to community-specific approaches like language translation and interpretation so all residents clearly understand the planned pre-construction services work as well as the overall benefits this new line will bring to their communities,” Krekorian stated.
The first phase is expected to be built by 2030. The project broke ground on the first segment in December.
“We’ve also learned from previous projects that partnerships with the community are key to a project’s success; that’s why cultural competency was such an important part of this procurement,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins in a prepared statement.
On Jan. 31, 2023, the project received a $600 million grant from the state Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). It was the largest grant awarded in that cycle in the state.
In May 2022, the Federal Transit Administration announced it would provide the project $909 million over two years for the project’s construction. The money is part of the FTA’s Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program.
Stuart Waldman, president of Valley Industry & Commerce Association, said he’s pleased to see more money flowing toward this one-of-a-kind San Fernando Valley project.
“Is the San Fernando Valley finally getting its fair share of good news? Of course it is,” he said on Wednesday, March 1.
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Waldman’s group has fought for the project since its inception and helped include it as a top priority project in Measure M, the half-cent sales tax measure for transportation projects approved by L.A. County voters with 71.15% support in 2016.
The project is geared toward removing cars from the road but LA Metro says the line will be used by a transit-dependent community, many of whom use buses or ride-hailing services because they don’t have access to a car.
“There was a survey done that showed people who live near Van Nuys Boulevard are a majority-minority community who are transit dependent,” Waldman said. “This will be good for the Valley.”
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