Garcetti Floats Idea Of Sepulveda Pass Monorail

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Mayor Eric Garcetti believes that a monorail system could provide a solution to some of Los Angeles’ traffic woes.

Speaking on KNX 1070’s “Ask The Mayor” Tuesday, Garcetti said that he is looking into whether a monorail would be feasible through the Sepulveda Pass, the congested corridor which connects the San Fernando Valley to the Westside.

According to Garcetti, China’s smaller cities are not allowed to build subways, so they have opted for monorail systems. Garcetti touted Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD, which has its North American headquarters in Los Angeles. BYD unveiled a monorail system in Shenzhen, China, last year, called SkyRail.

“(BYD) developed a new monorail which gets rid of the problems of the old monorail; that there wasn’t emergency access, that they were very expensive to build, and that they didn’t have earthquake strengthening,” Garcetti said. “They have now built one and they are looking at a $20 billion business just in China alone.”

The mayor said he is planning to travel to China in order to examine their monorail systems. He argues that a monorail could be more effective than a conventional Metro rail for reasons other than just saving taxpayers money in construction costs.

“The Sepulveda Pass, potentially, wouldn’t have to be tunneled, because a tunnel is necessary because regular trains can’t go up a very steep incline,” Garcetti said. “Well monorails can, and they can go at about the same speed as rail cars.”

Last November, Los Angeles County voters approved the Measure M sales tax, which slated an estimated $6.8 billion towards transit and freeway improvements through the Sepulveda Pass.

Another $1 billion is estimated to be available from the Measure R sales tax approved by voters in 2008, making for a combined $7.8 billion.

In 2014, Metro completed a five-year, $1.1 billion project to add a carpool lane to a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway in Sepulveda Pass, part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. A 2015 study found that the expansion was not successful in easing congestion.

More than 300,000 vehicles travel through the Sepulveda Pass daily, making the 405 Freeway one of the nation’s busiest. That number is expected to rise to 430,000 cars a day by 2030.

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