By Ken Alpern, July 21, 2015
THERE FROM HERE-To my neighbors in the San Fernando Valley, I say to
you all: "Relax, I come in peace." While I've had lots of past
criticism for the Valley political leadership in their failure to kill
the Robbins bill that could have (and should have!) established the
Orange Line as a light rail, and not a Bus Rapid Transit project, at
least they're now showing vision.
the political climate is so different now that the San Fernando Valley
can finally move beyond the knee-jerk opposition to rail, but the San
Fernando Valley Council of Governments (COG) actually came out with a
great list of what they're FOR, and not what they're against.
of why it's so obnoxious that we have to pay twice for the Orange Line,
which the COG now wants converted to light rail to increase the
capacity of that very successful Busway, is that transportation
advocates fought against that Busway for it to be done right, and were
told that the Robbins Bill (which required only a Subway to be routed
west of the Red Line through the Valley, not a surface light rail) was
But that was
then, and this is now. The San Fernando Valley COG also wants the Red
Line Subway extended to Burbank Airport, more money to the Metrolink
system, a light rail line or busway connection from the Sylmar Metrolink
station to the Orange Line, and a Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor to
link the Valley with the Westside.
this would be paid for by a potential "Measure R-2" that is being
worked on my Metro planners and politicians to further the wish-list of
transportation projects that this City and County of L.A. are so overdue
in funding, planning and building.
It should be noted that:
1) It wasn't that long ago
that Caltrans and local politicians were all freaking out on how we
could tackle the problematic 405/101 interchange and 405 widening
projects. We did it, with some but not enough help from Sacramento and
Washington...but we've got more respect and support from those two
capitols than ever because we put our own collective money where our
2) The projects linking the East Valley to the West Valley
(I know, I know, most non-Valley residents don't distinguish the two
regions from the other...but they should!), and the projects linking the
West Valley to the Westside, are gigantic regional projects that have
enormous implications for countywide regional connectivity, and even a
rail/airport grid that is visionary and helpful for the 21st Century.
the Valley is getting their voice raised for a host of first-rate
projects. I realize that it doesn't get enough play, but both the 101
and 5 freeways should get their chokepoints widened so that a smoother
driving experience can be created despite the crushing traffic. That's
part of mobility, too.
not hard to visualize a light rail, perhaps underground or above ground
when appropriate, is needed from the Metrolink station in Sylmar
through the Sepulveda Pass, Westside, LAX and South Bay. It would need
to be a rail line that could handle hundreds of thousands of commuters a
day (like the Red and Purple Line Subways), but it would be both
overdue and well-received by commuters and visitors in our county.
crazy? Well, so is the idea of an Ocean To The Eastern Regions (OTTER)
line, or whatever you want to call it...but the establish of the Expo
and Gold Lines, and connecting Downtown Connector, will do just that.
And the 405/101 interchange seemed like a crisis that was one for which we had no money or political will to fix.
But we did it.
if the Valley can get out of the unhelpful world of "no", then it
behooves the rest of the City and County of LA to do the same.