Completion of the final leg of a proposed subway line crossing the San Fernando Valley would be pushed back more than a decade--to 2020--under a suggested rail and highway construction schedule released Wednesday.
Most other proposed Valley-area construction projects--including widening the Simi Valley Freeway and building a new freeway in the Santa Clarita Valley--held their places in the long-awaited final draft of a 30-year transportation plan prepared by the staff of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission.
The 11-member commission is expected to debate the plan for several months before taking action.
The proposed long delay in building the last eight miles--from Van Nuys to Warner Center--of a cross-Valley extension of the downtown Metro Rail subway immediately rekindled the debate over what kind of rail line to build across the Valley. Earlier drafts of the plan had recommended that it be finished in 2008, and staff members could not immediately explain why they want to postpone it.
"It just shows me that building only a six-mile subway line is silly because the line will never reach the West Valley," Commissioner Nikolas Patsaouras said. He was referring to a plan, tentatively approved by the commission, to build Metro Rail westward from North Hollywood only to the San Diego Freeway.
Under the schedule released Wednesday, construction of the westward Metro Rail extension from Lankershim and Chandler boulevards to the San Diego Freeway would be completed in 2000--at the same time the Hollywood-to-North Hollywood segment is scheduled to be finished.
The 18-mile downtown-to-North Hollywood route was approved nearly a decade ago and the commission is required to build it under a 1984 state law. But Valley leaders have disagreed sharply over the type and location of a cross-Valley line that would connect with the downtown subway.
Patsaouras and County Supervisor Mike Antonovich favor building an elevated monorail along the Ventura Freeway median from Universal City to Warner Center. Commission rail experts say that plan, which is still being studied, would cost $2.3 billion.
However, most Valley elected officials and homeowner and business leaders continue to support the commission-approved plan for a 5.6-mile Metro Rail extension westward from North Hollywood along the Southern Pacific railroad's Burbank branch freight line, which parallels Chandler and Victory boulevards across the Valley.
The first leg would cost $1.1 billion, and the final leg to Warner Center would cost $1.6 billion, commission staff members say.
City Councilman Marvin Braude, who led efforts to form the coalition that supports the Metro Rail extension, contends that West Valley rail passengers can be carried to and from Van Nuys on express buses until the line is completed to Warner Center.
The commission's 30-year plan unveiled Wednesday was drafted in the wake of voter approval in November of an extra half-cent sales tax for transportation.
The staff's final draft postpones building the Valley line and, for the first time, includes a new proposed spur to USC and the Coliseum off the Blue Line, the light-rail line operating between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Even after the commission approves the 30-year plan, it will remain open to change, staff members said.
But Commissioner Ray Remy predicted that "once this thing is adopted, changing it is going to be as difficult as changing a freeway route" because the attempt would galvanize competing interests throughout the county.
Other Valley rail projects included in the plan are commuter rail lines from Moorpark in Ventura County to downtown and Santa Clarita to downtown. The lines, operating on Southern Pacific main lines, are scheduled to open in October, 1992.
Also included is a proposed new $1.6-billion freeway across the north part of the city of Santa Clarita connecting the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways, and a $580-million "urban bypass freeway" from the Golden State Freeway near Gorman to Interstate 15 near Wrightwood.
Under the staff's schedule, both projects would be finished in 2008.
Also included are four Valley freeway widening projects in which the new lanes would be open only to car pools and buses.
They are a $133-million widening of the Antelope Valley Freeway from Santa Clarita to Palmdale by 2000, a $32-million widening of the Simi Valley Freeway from the Ventura County line to the Golden State Freeway by 1995, a $17-million widening of the Hollywood Freeway between the Golden State and Ventura freeways by 1998, and a $566-million expansion of the San Diego Freeway from Sylmar to the Orange County line by 2000.
What's Up the Road
* Commuter rail line from Moorpark to downtown Los Angeles: October, 1992
* Commuter rail line from Santa Clarita to downtown: October, 1992
* $32-million widening of the Simi Valley Freeway from the Ventura County line to Golden State Freeway: By 1995
* $17-million widening of Hollywood Freeway between the Golden State and Ventura freeways: By 1998
* $566-million expansion of the San Diego Freeway from Sylmar to the Orange County line: By 2000
* $133-million widening of the Antelope Valley Freeway from Santa Clarita to Palmdale: By 2000
* Hollywood-to-North Hollywood segment of Metro Rail: 2000
* Westward Metro Rail extension from Lankershim and Chandler boulevards to the San Diego Freeway: 2000
* $1.6-billion freeway across the north part of the city of Santa Clarita connecting the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways: By 2008
* $580-million "urban bypass freeway" from the Golden State Freeway near Gorman to Interstate 15 near Wrightwood: By 2008
* Final leg of proposed rail line crossing the San Fernando Valley: By 2020