County and city leaders Friday celebrated the completion of the 4-mile Orange Line busway extension from Canoga to Chatsworth set to .
The extension of the dedicated bus lane into the Northwest San Fernando Valley will provide a key transfer point and connection for Metrolink and Amtrak riders traveling into the rest of the Valley and into central Los Angeles.
"We're connecting the spokes of the regional transit system and the Chatsworth Station is an important spoke for the West San Fernando Valley, one of the busiest Metrolink stations on the Ventura County line," Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said.
The estimated $154 million extension from Canoga Park to Chatsworth includes three new stations at Sherman Way, Roscoe Boulevard and Nordhoff Street and new platforms at the Canoga and Chatsworth stations.
The line, which was built on a former Union Pacific railroad right-of- way, also includes three new or reconfigured park-and-ride lots, new signalized street crossings, street resurfacing improvements and a new bicycle and pedestrian path.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the outgoing chairman of Metro's board, praised the extension of the Orange Line ahead of the scheduled opening, calling the existing 14-mile busway from North Hollywood to Warner Center a "workhorse" that surpassed all expectations.
The Orange Line was originally expected to move about 8,000 people. Daily ridership in May was about 26,670.
Metro estimates the new addition will add about 9,000 additional riders in the short term and hit 45,000 daily riders by 2030.
Metro officials touted the line's completion well ahead of schedule and $61 million under the budgeted pricetag for the line. The extension was scheduled to be finished in 2016, but the project was accelerated after voters approved Measure R, a half-sent sales tax increase to fund transportation, in 2008.
About $182 million that was earmarked for the project but never spent can be applied to another San Fernando Valley transportation project in the future, Metro officials said.
"The Orange Line is the most successful busway in America," county Supervisor and Metro board director Zev Yaroslavsky said. "With the opening of this new segment, the northwest San Fernando Valley will now be served by this very popular mass transit line."
Metro is offering free rides along the Orange Line extension from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, there will be live music, food trucks and organized bike rides at the Canoga and Chatsworth stations.
For additional information, visit metro.net/projects/orangeline.