Seeking to unite homeowner and business leaders behind a single rail proposal for the San Fernando Valley, two elected officials Friday endorsed a plan to extend the Metro Rail line partly underground from North Hollywood to Sepulveda Basin, where passengers would transfer to buses.
In supporting westward extension of the downtown-to-North Hollywood subway, though only to Encino, state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana) and Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude became the first elected officials to endorse a specific rail route.
Several others have condemned specific routes, but most say they are awaiting results of a Los Angeles County Transportation Commission study on route options.
That study, expected to yield cost and feasibility estimates in September, looks at the key elements of the plan endorsed by Robbins and Braude. However, Friday’s announcement represents the first time the various elements have been grouped together as a single proposal.
A key aspect of the plan is halting the rail line at Balboa Boulevard. Planners have found no way other than costly tunneling to get trains through the West Valley without disturbing some residents.
The pair envision express buses carrying travelers to and from a Sepulveda Basin rail station and such major employment centers as Warner Center and the Chatsworth-Northridge industrial area.
Braude predicted that Warner Center business leaders would “complain a lot about this but will eventually see that this is the only plan that is practical.”
The plan also calls for the 7.6-mile line to go underground only between Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Woodman Avenue, a distance of 2.3 miles, although Robbins said “it might be necessary to expand that somewhat depending upon what experts tell us about noise.”
Braude, who represents Encino and portions of several other south Valley communities, acknowledged that none of the seven other council members with districts extending to the Valley have backed the plan.
But he expects to see support now, he said, “both because this is all that can be built from the point of political feasibility and because time is fast running out.”
And Robbins predicted that after study the plan would get “complete and total community support.”
Under study by the Transportation Commission, which has final say, are two cross-Valley routes which connect with Metro Rail.
The routes are from Universal City to Warner Center along the Ventura Freeway’s southern shoulder and from North Hollywood to Warner Center along a Southern Pacific railroad freight right of way that roughly parallels Chandler and Victory boulevards.
Consultants are weighing whether the line should be a subway, in a shallow trench, at ground level or elevated, and whether the line should use Metro Rail vehicles or whether travelers should switch to cheaper light-rail trains in North Hollywood or Universal City.