Tuesday, February 25

Future Sepulveda Pass rail line requested to run underground to UCLA’s campus

The Westwood Village Improvement Association requested that Metro build a rail line between the San Fernando Valley and Westwood that would run completely underground, stop at UCLA and connect with the planned Metro Purple Line Extension. The UCLA stop would be the busiest nontransfer stop in the entire Metro system, a Metro project manager said. (Tanmay Shankar/Assistant Photo editor)

A planned rail line between the San Fernando Valley and Westwood was asked to meet three criteria by the Westwood Village Improvement Association in a meeting Sept. 19.

The WVIA board of directors unanimously voted to draft a letter to Los Angeles Metro calling for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project to run underground, stop at UCLA and connect with the planned Metro Purple Line Extension subway stop in Westwood.

The STC Project would allow commuters to travel from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside and eventually to the Los Angeles International Airport.

Peter Carter, Metro’s deputy manager for the line, and David Karwaski, senior associate director of UCLA Transportation, presented to the WVIA board before it made its decision. The board did not endorse any of the four specific proposals for possible routes by Metro.

“What Metro has come up with is a great, long overdue (and) needed project,” Karwaski said. “I’m sure you all know, you go to other cities, particularly in Europe or Asia, and LA’s transit system is – we’re way behind.”

Carter outlined four proposed versions of the project, with travel times ranging from 15 to 26 minutes depending on the plan. All four options included a stop at UCLA, though designs ranged from a direct underground subway to a mixture of elevated monorails and underground rail.

“We noticed as we were doing this analysis that the UCLA campus station would be the busiest nontransfer station in the Metro system when the line opens,” Carter said.

Karwaski said UCLA supported the version of the project that was most direct, entirely underground and would stop in the middle of campus.

“We’ve been talking to one of the companies that is likely going to bid on the partnership opportunity with Metro, and we’ve been stressing to them underground, underground,” Karwaski said. “We don’t want an aerial train coming through Westwood.”

An ideal STC Project line for UCLA would stop on campus near the turnaround loop by the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center before connecting with the Purple Metro Line on Wilshire Boulevard, Karwaski said.

Renee Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation, said Metro should keep the project entirely underground and not cut corners on such a significant project.

“I mean, it’s just what makes sense,” Fortier said. “This project is going to (last) 100 years, maybe even 200 years, and it doesn’t make sense to, you know, do (a) short shrift solution.”

The project is still in the early planning stages and looking to work with the private sector under predevelopment agreements, Carter said. The agreements would allow private expertise to contribute as key design and engineering decisions are still being finalized.

“So the thought is to get those ideas as we’re in the process of narrowing down from many to one,” Carter said. “Then that (predevelopment agreement) team would have the ability to competitively bid on the project.”

Carter said the STC Project is currently undergoing a feasibility study that will be presented to the Metro board of directors by the end of the year. This will be followed by an environmental review, and construction should begin around 2024.

He added the entire project should be completed by 2033. However, Metro is aiming to complete the connection from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside in time for the 2028 Olympic Games as part of the city’s “28 by ‘28” initiative to complete 28 Metro projects before the start of the games.

“This project is on the ’28 by ‘28′ list,” Carter said. “So this is put together by the city of LA and endorsed by Metro board, something that we the staff, of course, are supportive of.”

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