Public says: 93% favor rail tunnels, not an overhead monorail, for mega Sepulveda Pass project

A rendering of what the BYD SkyRail monorail would look like coming down the Sepulveda Pass on an elevated track in the middle of the 405 Freeway. (courtesy of BYD)
A rendering of what the BYD SkyRail monorail would look like coming down the Sepulveda Pass on an elevated track in the middle of the 405 Freeway. (courtesy of BYD)

Anderson said the Sherman Oaks group prefers Alternative 2, a monorail in the middle of the 405 and along certain thoroughfares in the San Fernando Valley, with an aerial automated people mover connection to UCLA from the D (Purple Line) stop. He said noise from monorail cars with rubber tires “should be minimal.”

The CHP stated the agency is against monorail stations along the 405 Freeway and opposes Alternatives 1, 2, and 3 because the proposed stations “would create visual hazards, reduce traffic flow” and would “aggravate the existing challenging traffic conditions along the corridor.”

Anderson said since LA Metro has a project budget of about $7.5 billion, it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to build an underground subway that he estimates, using inflation factors from engineering companies, to be closer to $16 billion.

When asked about explaining the costs of each alternative, Metro’s Peter Carter, project manager, declined to answer attendees’ questions, saying it was premature. He would not verify the project applicants’ cost estimates.

More intensive examinations of the alternatives will begin as Metro starts an environmental impact study. “We will be looking at costs,” he said, as well as the cost of buying rights-of-way, operating the line, ridership projections, track alignments, station locations and travel times for each alternative.

A draft EIR could take two years. Once completed, the public will have 45 days to comment. LA Metro is expected to give its next public update in the fall, he said. Ultimately, the LA Metro Board will determine the preferred route, mode and station alignments. Completion is estimated between 2032-2035.

Anderson in Sherman Oaks fears that should LA Metro or one of its partners begin building an all-underground subway, Metro would start out undergrounding but then run out of money and convert to at-grade or aerial guideways in the San Fernando Valley, something his group opposes.

“We don’t want one route under Bel Air as a subway, then above-ground in the Valley,” he said.

He said Metro needs to meet with homeowner groups and explain the cost-benefit analysis. Without such figures, the public can’t make informed comments.

Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA, a transit advocacy group, said more information is needed on the cost of the alternatives. “It appears that excluding a rigorous discussion of cost comparisons of the alternatives may unfairly prejudice the discussion in favor of options that are far more costly but may not provide additional benefits commensurate with the additional costs,” wrote Zane in an emailed response.

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