At Last Metro Expanding & Updating Orange Line For Light Rail

Metro votes to speed up ride times on Orange Line, prepping it for conversion to light rail. Valley residents are already reaping the rewards of Measure M.

That’s how the Valley Industry and Commerce Association’s Armando Flores framed Metro’s decision Thursday to approve a project aimed at speeding up ride times on the Orange Line, the popular bus rapid transit that runs for 18 miles from Chatsworth to North Hollywood.

“These are exciting times for folks in the San Fernando Valley,” he said.

The project will add 35 railroad-style crossing gates at intersections along the line designed to stop cars from driving into the busway. With the gates, bus drivers will no longer have to slow down through intersections to avoid collisions.

In addition, Metro will remove at-grade crossings at Van Nuys and Sepulveda boulevards and will build bridges and aerial stations instead.

To the tune of $286 million, the project, which is expected to cost as much as $393 million, will be funded mostly with revenue from Measure M, a half-cent sales tax hike approved two years ago by voters in Los Angeles County to pay for transportation improvements across the region.

But the changes are expected to make the crossings safer and reduce travel times on the Orange Line by about 20 percent. They’re also the first step toward converting the busway to light rail decades from now.

“The Orange Line has been a spectacular success since the first day it opened to the public,” Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro board chair Sheila Kuehl told The Source. “We are now planning short- and long-term investments to take this popular Valley transit line from rubber wheels to steel wheels, making it much safer, faster and capable of accommodating more riders in the years ahead.”

Via Metro

The project’s approval comes just one month after Metro’s board signed off on plans to build an entirely new light rail line in the eastern San Fernando Valley.

The new train will run from the Orange Line station in Van Nuys to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station, about 9 miles to the north. Construction is expected to complete by 2027.

The Orange Line project is expected to open two years before that, in 2025, with construction starting next year. Its conversion to light rail wouldn’t start until 2051.

To the tune of $286 million, the project, which is expected to cost as much as $393 million, will be funded mostly with revenue from Measure M, a half-cent sales tax hike approved two years ago by voters in Los Angeles County to pay for transportation improvements across the region.

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