Color Chatsworth orange. Metro’s busway extension is inching ever closer to the community’s Metrolink station as the $216-million project passes the halfway point in its 2½-year construction.
Crews recently began work on the key piece of the busway – a bridge spanning the Union Pacific tracks at Lassen Street. It will allow the Orange Line articulated buses to travel between Chatsworth and Canoga Park without waiting for passing trains or crossing railroad tracks.
“It’s a key safety feature,” explained Dave Sotero, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman.
The bridge construction marks a new phase in the project, which is pushing for a summer 2012 completion. Much of the work to date has been acquiring right-of-way, demolition and adding 310 parking spaces at the Chatsworth Metrolink station to accommodate Orange Line riders.
Now work begins in earnest on the busway itself and accompanying bike and pedestrian paths. Recently, workers began a demolishing a portion of the park-and-ride lot at the Canoga Park Orange Line station to make way for new platforms.
“They’re going to be getting into a much more intense level of construction,” Sotero said.
As with the original busway, the four-mile extension follows the abandoned Burbank branch railroad line, this time as it turns north along Canoga Avenue. It will connect to the main Orange Line that travels from Warner Center in Woodland Hills to the Red Line subway station in North Hollywood.
And as with the original line, the extension will have stations one-mile apart with automated ticket kiosks for faster boarding. The new stations will be at Sherman Way, Roscoe Boulevard, Nordhoff Street and Chatsworth. Also, a park-and-ride lot will be built at the Sherman Way station.
The Orange Line has seen a steady rise in ridership since it opened in 2005. As of March, the average daily boardings were 24,965, Sotero said. By 2030, he said, the extension is expected to generate an additional 9,000 riders a day. The fares will remain the same, $1.50, and riders will be able to travel from Chatsworth to North Hollywood without changing buses for the east-west journey.
The extension project is expected to have the effect of strengthening Chatsworth’s position as a key western gateway to the San Fernando Valley.
While some have questioned the need for the extension when commuters can take Metrolink from Chatsworth to downtown’s Union Station, Sotero pointed out that it will provide a commuters from Ventura County rapid access to far reaches of the Valley.