Elected officials, and a handful of Los Angeles community members, celebrated the opening of the Orange Line extension on Friday, a 4-mile addition to the popular busway in the San Fernando Valley.
The Orange Line travels 14 miles east-west from North Hollywood to Warner Center. The north-south extension runs between the Canoga station and the Chatsworth Metrolink station, allowing a one-seat ride between Chatsworth and North Hollywood, where passengers can catch the Red Line subway.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the project, saying it had come in on time and under budget. Officials recently estimated the effort would end up costing about $180 million (the original price tag was $215.6 million), but said Friday it was forecast to be about $154 million.
“The final costs haven’t been determined, but we anticipate it will come in $62 million under budget,” Villaraigosa said.
Officials predict the Orange Line (including the extension) will have 45,000 riders each weekday by 2030. But Villaraigosa said: “I don’t think it’s going to take till 2030. I think it’s going to happen a lot faster than that.”
Matt Weintraub of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council, who is a cycling enthusiast, was more excited about the bike path adjacent to the route than the line itself.
“There’s been a dearth of north-south cycle trails in the Valley,” Weintraub said. “To get around as a cyclist, we can’t just go east-west.”
“It’s an outstanding new infrastructure for Valley cyclists,” he said, adding that the extension provides his community with “much easier and much less expensive access into downtown.”
The extension officially opens Saturday and passengers can ride it for free throughout the weekend from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
-- Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles TimesCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times