To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, June 16, 2014

Valley Coalition Formed to Advocate for Rail


By Matt Thacker, June 14, 2014

The Valley Industry & Commerce Association has launched a coalition aimed at bringing rail transit to the San Fernando Valley.

Last week, the business advocacy organization formed “Valley on Track” which supports converting the Metro Orange Line busway to light rail to ease overcrowding on the bus line. The 18-mile Orange Line runs from Chatsworth to Warner Center and then across to North Hollywood.

The group also supports creating a rail system along the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor and building the Sepulveda Pass Corridor as a rail system with a tunnel through the Santa Monica Mountains.

“We need to get people out of their cars. We need to make the freeways better, and we need to help people who are transit dependent. The best way to do that is through rail,” said VICA President Stuart Waldman.

If the San Fernando Valley was its own city, it would be the fifth largest in the United States and the only major city without a rail system, Waldman said.

VICA insists that these three projects must receive priority in future funding efforts, including ballot measures and federal funding requests, for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to maintain the Valley’s support.

“Metro is likely to place on the ballot a proposition that would fund transportation projects. We decided we need to put together a coalition of supporters and make sure whatever list of projects is put forth for the 2016 ballot measure that the Valley is well taken care of,” Waldman said.

VICA is in the early stages of “rallying the troops” and meeting with elected officials, Waldman said. In initial conversations, local officials have been supportive of their ideas, especially converting the Orange Line to rail, Waldman said.

“I don’t think we have a single Valley elected official who didn’t agree with us on the Orange Line,” he said.

The Sepulveda Pass, which connects the Valley with West Los Angeles, is one of the most congested traffic corridors in the United States.

“No mode besides rail can even begin to address the transit demands,” the coalition states on their website.

Late last month, a 10-mile northbound carpool lane opened on the 405 Freeway. The carpool lane was a major component of a $1.1 billion improvement project. Congressman Brad Sherman said the new lane will relieve some traffic through the Sepulveda Pass, but he said it is not time to celebrate.

“Now is the time to intensify the effort to build a subway through the Sepulveda Pass, from the Valley to LAX, with a connection in West Los Angeles to the Purple Line, now under construction,” Sherman said.

The voter-approved Measure R allocated $1 billion for the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, but projected completion is still 25 years away. Several options have been considered, including bus lanes on the 405 and light or heavy rail. In 2016, voters may be asked to increase the county sales tax by another half-cent to pay for this project and others.