L.A. Metro Breaks Ground on Metro Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth
First Official Measure R Construction Project Begins
June 24, 2009
Marking the first official project to begin construction under the new voter-approved Measure R transportation sales tax, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today broke ground on a four-mile extension of the highly successful Metro Orange Line.
The extension of L.A. County’s premier dedicated busway will begin at the line’s current terminus in Canoga Park and extend four miles north to the Chatsworth Metrolink/Amtrak Station. The extension will add new north-south mobility options in the West San Fernando Valley and create a vital connection between Metro Orange Line service and the broader inter-urban rail system spanning all counties of Southern California and beyond.
City and county officials today met with Sully-Miller Contracting Co. at the Chatsworth Station for groundbreaking ceremonies on the first phase of construction – a north parking lot that will replace a south parking lot needed to accommodate current train passengers during construction. Later construction work on the alignment will commence in late 2009/early 2010. The busway extension is projected to open in mid-2012, more than three years ahead of schedule as a result of Measure R’s passage.
“Angelenos want more public transportation options, and we're making that a reality beginning with the extension of the Metro Orange Line,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa. “The voters made their voices heard loud and clear when they overwhelmingly passed Measure R, and now we're able to deliver this project three years ahead of schedule. This is the first of many projects now in the pipeline that will dramatically improve regional mobility, create news jobs and generate new economic opportunities for all Angelenos.”
L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Zaroslavsky was among the first public officials within Los Angeles to advocate for a local dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. “The extension to Chatsworth will build on the success that has made the Metro Orange Line one of the most renowned busway projects in the nation,” Yaroslavsky said. “We’ve already proven that you can create a premium rapid bus service that is both affordable and flexible enough to serve the growing needs of today’s transit riders. Now even more commuters stand to benefit from connections with the Valley’s best short-cut.”
In November 2008, Measure R was approved by a two-thirds majority of voters, committing a projected $40 billion to traffic relief and transportation upgrades throughout the county over the next 30 years. The tax goes into effect July 1, 2009. While the project is a Measure R deliverable, it is expected to receive additional State funding that will free up Measure R project funding for later use in transportation improvements within the same subregion.
The tax measure will help fund dozens of critical transit and highway projects, create more than 210,000 new annual full-time equivalent construction jobs and infuse an estimated $32 billion back into the local economy, according to estimates by the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).
The LAEDC also estimates that the $215.6 million construction phase of the Metro Orange Line Extension project will create 3,000 annual full-time equivalent jobs as well as infuse $461 million in direct and indirect business revenues back into the local economy.
When complete, the Metro Orange Line extension will transform the Metro-owned right-of-way into an attractive landscaped busway similar to the existing Metro Orange Line corridor. Major features will include four station stops at Sherman Way, Roscoe, Nordhoff and Chatsworth, a new 207-space park & ride facility at the Sherman Way Station, landscaping and parallel bicycle and pedestrian paths.
“I have worked for and supported the Metro Orange Line extension from day one," said L.A. City Council Member Greig Smith. “It will dramatically improve the public transit options available to residents and employees in the Northwest San Fernando Valley and Ventura County and offer safe, fast, inexpensive transportation in a few years, not decades.”
The design-build project also will include an elevated bridge at Lassen Street for buses to safely pass over Metrolink and Amtrak train tracks as they enter Chatsworth Station. Metro also will build privacy walls where the busway is built next to residential properties, as well as install new traffic signals and other roadway improvements.
The extension will provide high-capacity transit linkages between major local activity centers, and is expected to help relieve congestion on North-South arterial streets.
“The expansion of the Orange Line is going to benefit the northern part of the San Fernando Valley,” said L.A. City Council Member Dennis P. Zine. “Providing commuters with efficient transit options helps the entire community. The busway is going to move people more effectively between their residences, workplaces, schools, and shopping centers. The Metro Orange Line extension will also reduce negative environmental impacts by removing cars from the crowded roadways and saving fuel.”
Chatsworth Station has the second highest daily boardings on Metrolink’s 70-mile Oxnard to Los Angeles Ventura County Line, with 4,940 average weekday boardings. Only boardings at Metrolink’s Simi Valley Station are higher. Additionally, Amtrak’s San Diego to San Luis Obispo Pacific Surfliner trains logged nearly 54,000 boardings at Chatsworth Station last year. Other transit services at Chatsworth Station include several Metro Local bus lines, LADOT Commuter Express, Simi Valley Transit and Santa Clarita Transit.
“The Metro Orange Line extension is an example of regional cooperation that will create opportunities for Metrolink and Metro riders,” said Richard Katz, Metro Board Member and Metrolink Board Vice Chair. “The Chatsworth Metrolink station is becoming the place to go in the West Valley for all of your transit options.”
The Metro Orange line has exceeded ridership estimates since its first day of operation in October 2005. It carries an average of 22,000 boardings per day. By the year 2030, the extension is expected to generate 9,000 new average weekday boardings.