All Eyes May Be On Tokyo, But LA Is Making Moves For 2028 Games
As the athletes in Tokyo begin their second week of the 2020 Olympic Games a year late, the wheels are turning to make the next Olympics on American soil a success.
In preparation for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Twenty-Eight by ‘28, a list of 28 Metro transit projects that he wanted to complete in time for the Games. A majority of those projects were already scheduled to be ready by 2028, but for those that were not, a 2028 completion would shave years off their original timelines.
One of those projects, a rail line through the Sepulveda Pass that would link LA’s Westside to the San Fernando Valley, was originally expected to open in 2033. Though the exact details of the project are still being considered, what is known at this point is that it will be either a monorail or a high-speed, high-capacity heavy rail line that runs between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the E Line, formerly the Expo Line, on the Westside.
Some Valley residents and stakeholders think that, in addition to offering a public transit option through the oft-congested Sepulveda Pass, the project could invigorate the areas around new transit stations.
“What comes with transit? In North Hollywood around the station, there is now a cool, walkable community that people want to move to,” Valley Industry Commerce Association President Stuart Waldman said.
It may be more than a decade before the effects of the rail line on the neighborhoods it travels through are seen. Metro has $5.7B for the project but would need more to complete it — exactly how much more depends on the version of the project that is chosen to be built, but a total ranging from $9.4B to $13.6B for the line that is expected to transport between 121,000 and 137,000 people per day.
All hope is not lost: Metro continues to actively pursue federal funding and is also looking into the possibility of public-private partnerships for four of the most important projects, including the Sepulveda Pass rail line. The agency is also forging ahead with the environmental review process — set to begin this fall — so the projects are ready to speed up should the funding come through, a Metro spokesperson told Bisnow.
To get a better sense of the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, what it will bring to the Valley and the Westside and whether the LA Games can go on without it, Bisnow spoke with Metro Senior Director of Systemwide Mobility Corridors Peter Carter.
Bisnow: Why is this project, the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, important to LA's public transportation network and future?
Carter: In terms of the importance of the project itself, it's both a mobility benefit to the specific area where it is and also a connectivity benefit. So the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project offers a high-capacity, auto-competitive transit alternative for travel between the San Fernando Valley, the Westside and, ultimately, Los Angeles International Airport. It gets people through the Sepulveda Pass, a geographically constrained area where there's not a lot of ways to travel, beyond the 405 Freeway and Sepulveda Boulevard.
And a north-south Sepulveda Transit Corridor Line also provides connectivity to the East San Fernando Valley Line, a future Metro project; the G Line, formerly known as the Orange Line; the Purple Line extension projects. And so connecting the Valley to the Westside is really going to have a profound positive effect, serving this part of the county and offering greater transit opportunities throughout the region.
Bisnow: Why is it necessary to connect the Westside of LA to the Valley with transit?
Carter: It's something that we looked at in our early planning study and our feasibility study. We identified that there was an existing travel need. All you have to do is get onto the 405 Freeway at pretty much any time today and you can see there's a lot of people who want to make that trip between those two parts of Los Angeles County. There is also a future travel demand that we expect will only increase the amount of traffic on the 405 Freeway and the demand for trips between the Valley and the Westside.
Bisnow: How does the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project relate to the Olympic Games, in addition to possibly being completed in time for the Games?
Carter: The Sepulveda Transit Corridor project from the Valley to the Westside is on the Twenty-Eight by ‘28 list — projects Metro would like to accelerate and complete on the occasion of the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics. It’s sort of an aspirational list. It's going to be a tight fit, but we're doing everything we can do in order to make the Olympics. Metro’s CEO, Stephanie Wiggins, has indicated that one of her immediate goals is to begin preparing for the Olympics now. She'll be making it a priority to provide an outstanding travel experience for both residents of the area as well as international visitors and to demonstrate a seamless and fully integrated transportation system.
Bisnow: So if this project isn't delivered in time for the Olympics, it's not likely to change Metro’s overall plan for public transit during the Games?
Carter: Metro has got a lot going on related to the Olympics. There's more to the world-class transit experience that Metro would like to contribute to the Olympics than this project. But the goal, the aspirational goal, is for it to be one of those elements.
Bisnow: Five alternatives for the project, with different modes and routes, are set to be studied for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor. What’s the current range of costs for those alternatives?
Carter: I think that everybody, including us, would like to know the answer to that. The best answer I can give you now is going to be based on an early planning study, with the caveat that this was an early study and it would be misleading to say this is the final word. But if we take the range of the alternatives from that study for the Valley to the Westside, the cost ranges from $9.4B to $13.6B.
Bisnow: And how many people would that be carrying between the Valley and the Westside?
Carter: The same caveats are going to apply to the ridership forecasts — that they are specific to the early versions of the alternatives, which are going to be different than the ones we’re studying [in the upcoming environmental review]. But those early estimates range from 121,000 to 137,000 people per day.
Bisnow: At some other Metro stations — for example, MacArthur Park and Little Tokyo — Metro has partnered or is partnering with developers to build housing on top of stations or on nearby Metro-owned parcels. Even at this early stage, is that something that Metro is considering for this project as well?
Carter: It's definitely something that is likely to be in the mix in some way. But to be honest, it's really too early to tell if there will be specific joint development opportunities on future Metro-owned properties that are associated with the project.
Bisnow: What about for the stations themselves? Are there any plans or thoughts about where stations might go along the route and how space will be acquired to build those stations?
Carter: We have some initial thoughts about where the stations might be based on the alignments from a feasibility study and the proposal documents produced by the pre-development contractor teams. But again, before we actually enter into our scoping period and have more fully defined and finalized those designs, it's a little too early to say exactly where a station is going to be and what acquisition may or may not be needed in order to potentially build that station.