The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), joined by city, county and state officials, today celebrated the completion of the Metro Orange Line Extension, a four-mile addition to the wildly popular dedicated busway that will enhance regional transit connections to and from the Western San Fernando Valley.
The first transit project identified in Measure R to begin construction in 2009 has been completed ahead of schedule by three and a half years, and its original $215.6 million budget is currently forecasted to come in at approximately $154 million, $61 million under budget. The final project savings will depend on the closeout of the project, including the resolution of any final change orders with the contractor. Prior to the passage of Measure R, this transit project was scheduled to open in 2016.
The brand new north/south busway extension from Canoga Park to Chatsworth was built on a Metro-owned, former Union Pacific railroad right-of-way and adds four new stations, three new or reconfigured parking lots, a new busway bridge over active railroad tracks, two new busway bridges that cross waterways, new signalized busway/street crossings, street resurfacing improvements, new bicycle/pedestrian path, and landscaping similar to the original Metro Orange Line.
Now at 18 miles, the busway and its adjacent pedestrian/bikeway are the longest of their kind in Los Angeles County.
“Today we celebrate yet another Measure R transit milestone in Los Angeles with the opening of the Metro Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair. “The busway extension will greatly expand the connectivity of the region’s transportation network, creating new linkages between Metro, Southern California’s Metrolink system and the statewide Amtrak network. It is the latest example of how Metro is creating a world class 21st century transportation system in Los Angeles County.”
The official opening of the line will be Saturday, June 30. Community festivities will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday only at the Canoga and Chatsworth Stations and will include food trucks, live music, group bike rides and much more. Free rides on the extension are planned both Saturday and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Regular fares will apply on all other Metro Rail, Metro Rapid and Metro Local lines.
“The Orange Line is the most successful busway in America,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Director. “With the opening of this new segment, the northwest San Fernando Valley will now be served by this very popular mass transit line.”
Metro’s Congestion Management Plan reports that nearly 50 percent of San Fernando Valley home-to-work trips are made to destinations outside the Valley. The extension of the busway to the Chatsworth Metrolink/Amtrak Station, which also serves several Metro and municipal bus lines, is expected to offer these residents more public transit options for these trips. The Chatsworth Station is one of the busiest stations on Metrolink’s Ventura County Line. Amtrak’s San Diego to San Luis Obispo Pacific Surfliner also makes stops at Chatsworth.
“The Orange Line Extension is a project that improves L.A.’s transportation system by connecting different modes of public transportation to entertainment venues and employment centers,” said Richard Katz, Metrolink Board Chair and Metro Board Director. “Metrolink customers will now have a direct connection from the Chatsworth station to the Warner Center, a major employment and retail shopping destination in the San Fernando Valley and can take advantage of the Metro Orange Line connection at no additional cost with their Metrolink ticket.” By the year 2030, the extension is expected to generate 9,000 new average weekday boardings. Metro projects the entire Metro Orange Line including the extension will generate 45,000 daily riders by 2030. When originally opened in October 2005, Orange Line ridership immediately exceeded Metro forecasts, with nearly triple the amount of daily boardings. Most recent ridership figures for May 2012 were 26,670 average weekday boardings.
“The new four mile Orange Line extension is the latest addition to Metro’s rapidly expanding transit system,” said State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). “The Orange Line extension is a
huge plus for people living and working in the San Fernando Valley, as well as improving the quality of life of residents throughout our region.”
New platforms have been added at the Canoga Station for Metro customers heading north on the extension, and a new 207-space park and ride lot has also been built at the Sherman Way Station. There will be a total of 1,075 parking spaces available at all three park & ride lots on the extension, and more than 4,000 parking spaces throughout the line.
“The Orange Line Extension is a tremendous benefit for valley commuters,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman. “It is clear evidence of the major transit improvements Measure R is enabling us to achieve for the greater LA region.”
The travel time for the busway is approximately 51 minutes from North Hollywood to the Chatsworth Station. Service will be split between North Hollywood/Warner Center and North Hollywood/Chatsworth. Peak weekday shuttle service will operate between Warner Center and Chatsworth approximately every 15 minutes.
“Bumper to bumper traffic should not be an inevitable part of our daily routines in Los Angeles where we are always one highway closure away from Carmageddon,” said Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley). “We are one step closer to providing real transit alternatives for the Valley so that people can get of their cars and on with their lives.”
Several contributing factors led to the project being completed ahead of time and under budget: a low bid during a significant economic downtown, good project management and cost savings associated with early completion.
The Metro Art program has installed art works at all Metro Orange Line stations. Tours of the stations along this line, as well as all Metro Rail stations, are available by arrangement for groups of 15 or more. For more information, visit metro.net/art.
The Orange Line Extension is a Measure R project. Fortunately, Metro was able to secure other funding to help pay for busway construction. Measure R taxpayers will benefit from $182 million that was earmarked for this transit project which can be applied to another San Fernando Valley transportation improvement in the future subject to Metro Board approval.
For additional information, visit metro.net/projects/orangeline