The 405 and Sepulveda Pass
Last month, LA County Metro and Caltrans announced the opening of the 10-mile, northbound carpool lane on the 405 Freeway. After five years of construction, this milestone represents a major achievement in the $1 billion-plus endeavor to improve the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass. Los Angeles residents are long overdue for traffic improvements, and this carpool lane will relieve some of the busiest traffic through the Sepulveda Pass that links the San Fernando Valley to the Westside.
Not surprisingly, the Federal Highway Administration reports that the 405 is our nation’s busiest highway, carrying about 300,000 cars a day, with that number expected to grow past 430,000 by 2025.
The new lane connects the last remaining gap in the 405 carpool lane network which includes over 70 miles from Orange County to the north end of the San Fernando Valley.
According to Metro, carpool lanes save each traveler about one minute per mile of drive time. For Angelinos traveling over 10 miles a day to work, that could save ten minutes per day, and 50 minutes per week depending on traffic. Even if you are not in a carpool lane, the fact that other drivers are using it means there will be fewer cars in your lane.
In addition to building the new carpool lane, improvements were also made to the supporting infrastructure along the freeway. Workers rebuilt three bridges, reconfigured ramps and put up more than 20 miles of new sound walls and retaining walls.
In Congress, I began my efforts to secure funding for this project in 1998. While standing at the top of what is now the Courtyard Marriott Hotel at the 101/405 interchange, I was joined by the then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation to see firsthand America’s most congested interchange. At that time, I was able to announce funding I helped secure to study improvements to the busy interchange and the Sepulveda Pass. Since then it has been a long fight to secure funds for the new lane on the 405.
I am also pleased to have secured federal funds for the Orange Line, which now carries a daily average of 25,000 riders along a dedicated bus way from Warner Center in Woodland Hills to the North Hollywood Red Line Station. In 2012, the Orange Line was extended from the Warner Center area to the Chatsworth Metrolink Station.
However, adding dedicated bus lanes and carpool lanes are only part of the solution to improve traffic and congestion. Our already strained highway system in southern California has little room to grow. That is why our next priority should be to intensify the effort to build a subway through the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, with a tunnel under the 405. This would link residents in the Valley to LAX, with connections in West Los Angeles to the Purple Line, now under construction.
No great city in the world is without an extensive subway system. The key axis for a subway system in Los Angeles is an east-west line from downtown to Santa Monica (purple line) and a north-south line from the Valley to LAX.
The Sepulveda Pass is one of the most congested areas in the country, and a new subway line would be instrumental to commuters on the Westside traveling back and forth from the Valley as well as folks commuting to LAX. These projects not only provide jobs for those who build them, but improve our regional economy and competitiveness, and thus help create jobs in all economic sectors.
Over the next decade the MTA (Metro) board will make the transportation decisions that will affect our area throughout the 21st century. We need a board dedicated to accelerating the construction of the purple line to the sea and building a new line south from the Valley.
The 3rd District County Supervisor will sit on the Metro board and represent the Westside and the Valley. Hopefully the person we elect will be dedicated to unsnarling our transportation system.
While the addition of a new subway line may be a ways away I intend to do all I can to advocate for this project. As always, I believe that in order to do my job, I need to hear your views on both local issues and those affecting our entire nation. I continue to believe that there are more good ideas in the Los Angeles than in Washington, which is why I appreciate hearing from you. Do not hesitate to contact my San Fernando Valley office to share yours, (818) 501-9200 or email me at Brad.Sherman@mail.house.gov