The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced Tuesday via its official blog new details for the four potential routes that it is studying for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, along with preliminary cost estimates that range from $9.4 billion to $13.8 billion. The new line would connect the San Fernando Valley to the Los Angeles Westside and then eventually to Los Angeles International Airport.
Three of the four routes would use heavy rail and one would be built as a monorail, but all would provide an alternative to travel on the overcrowded Interstate 405. The monorail, projected to cost between $9.4 billion and $11.6 billion, would be the cheapest option, with only 35% of the 15.4-mile line using tunnels. The most expensive line, one of the heavy rail options, would cost between $11 billion and $13.8 billion, using tunnels for its entire length of 13.5 miles.
Steve Hymon, editor of the Metro's blog, said that the price estimates have not been fully fleshed out and have not yet been subject to any value engineering. However, any one of the routes will benefit from the $5.7 billion Measure M sales tax funds that are available for the Sepulveda project. The authority is also meeting with private firms that might be able to help with the design and reduce costs.
If private companies are enlisted to perform the design work, the firm responsible for the selected route will have the chance to build the project as a public-private partnership (P3), providing needed financing and possibly operating and maintaining the line as well.
The Metro will likely ask the federal government to assist with funding of the Sepulveda project. Phase 3 of the Westside Purple Line extension, for example, is in line for almost $2.7 billion of federal funding out of a total estimated cost of $3.7 billion, according to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) most recent project update. Almost $1.4 billion will come from Federal Highway Administration programs and another $1.3 billion will come from an FTA New Starts grant. The state will contribute almost $32 million, while local funds will cover the rest. This includes more than $2 billion from Los Angeles County tax measures — $1.2 billion from Measure M tax and almost $894 million from Measure R.
Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2016, is expected to raise a total of $860 million annually for county transit projects. Measure R's half-cent sales tax took effect in 2009 and is expected to provide $40 billion for transit over a 30-year period.