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Sepulveda Pass toll lanes, tunnel on Metro's $120B project wishlist

The 405 from the Mulholand bridge. Recent contraction on the freeway has unearthed rock formations that haven't seen the light of day for millions of years.
Ken Scarboro/KPCC
FILE: Toll lanes on the 405 Freeway are among the projects envisioined if Metro can convince Los Angeles County voters to approve a $120 billion sales tax initiative in November.

It's official: the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to build a rail line tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass and, above it, toll lanes on the 405 Freeway.

The project is one on a long list released Friday that details what the county transit agency hopes to fund if it can convince voters to approve a $120 billion sales tax initiative on the November ballot.

In the latest proposal, the Sepulveda Pass project is scaled back a bit from early speculation that it would include both a train and a toll road underground. Instead, Metro would add toll lanes to the 405 and just a train underground.

The project list also includes speeding up work on the Purple Line subway to Westwood with an accelerated opening date of 2024, extending the Gold Line out to Claremont and adding new transit lines to the east San Fernando Valley along Van Nuys Boulevard and another on Vermont Avenue.

"It’s incredibly exciting to finally see a bold, big ambitious program to get the job done," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also sits on the Metro board. He told KPCC he hopes county voters will share his enthusiasm for the sales tax initiative.

"I think there’s something in there for everyone. It’s responsible. It’s well thought out while laying down those lines that will make the difference in our lives," he said.

The ballot initiative would add add a half-cent sales tax for 40 years and extend the previous Measure R half-cent sales tax to raise about $120 billion over four decades.

The initiative needs a two-thirds majority of Los Angeles County votes to pass.

The proposal will be voted on by the Metro board next week and will be subject to public comment until June before being put on the November ballot.

Metro's blog, The Source, breaks down the timeline of projects in the plan as follows:


• Rail station/transit center where Crenshaw/LAX Line riders will transfer to a people mover (which LAX is planning to build) that will serve LAX terminals.

• The Purple Line Extension subway to Westwood (a decade earlier than currently planned).

• A potential rail line or bus rapid transit project on Van Nuys Boulevard north of the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley.

• A new ExpressLane and bus service along the 405 spanning the Sepulveda Pass. A second phase of the project would add a potential underground rail line between the Orange Line and Purple Line. A third phase would extend the project from the Purple Line to the LAX area.

• Grade separations and improvements for the Orange Line busway in preparation for a mid-century conversion to light rail.

• A potential light rail line between Artesia and the Green Line in South Gate. A second phase in the 2030s would extend this new line from the Green Line to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

• A bus rapid transit project on Vermont Avenue between the Red/Purple Line and the Expo Line.

• An extension of the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont.

• Bus rapid transit between the Orange Line and Red Line in North Hollywood and the Gold Line in Pasadena.


• Purchase of right-of-way for the High Desert Corridor, a potential new freeway, energy and high-speed rail corridor between the 14 Freeway and State Route 18 in San Bernardino County.

• A project on the 710 South between the ports and the 60 Freeway to improve congestion, ease truck traffic and improve the movement of freight. It will be built in two phases, with the second phase in the next 15 years of the spending plan.

• New lanes for the 71 Freeway in Pomona between Interstate 10 and Rio Rancho Road.

• ExpressLanes on the 105 Freeway between the 405 and 605.

• A new carpool lane and truck lane in each direction on the 5 Freeway between the 14 Freeway and Lake Hughes Road in the Santa Clarita area.

• SR 57/SR 60 interchange improvements.

The Los Angeles River bike path between downtown Los Angeles and the western San Fernando Valley is included in the plan for the first 15 years.

Projects to be built in the second 15 years of the plan: extension of Green Line to Torrance; extension of Eastside Gold Line to South El Monte or Whittier; direct HOV connectors for the 60/105 and 405/110 interchanges; new auxiliary lanes and ramp improvements on the 405 in the South Bay, and an extension of the 110 ExpressLanes to the 405.

Projects in the final 10 years of the plan: a potential northern extension of the Crenshaw Line to the Purple Line, West Hollywood and Hollywood; bus rapid transit on Lincoln Boulevard; and an extension of the Green Line to the Norwalk Metrolink Station.   

Metro Draft Expenditure Plan