San Fernando Valley Orange Line extension breaks ground

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Wednesday broke ground on a four-mile extension of the Orange Line in the western San Fernando Valley. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze has more.

Frank Stoltze: The project will add four stops to the Orange Bus Line from Canoga Park north to the Chatsworth Metro station. $215 million from the new voter-approved half-cent transportation sales tax, Measure "R," will pay for it.

Orange Line critics say it should be a light rail system, not a bus line. L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky says it's an inexpensive and “strategically targeted” way to provide mass transportation. He called the Orange Line, which uses dedicated busways, a “train on rubber wheels.”

Yaroslavsky also says the project will do more than just expand mass transit in the Western San Fernando Valley.

Zev Yaroslavsky: During the construction, Metro will transform this railroad right of way along Canoga Avenue – transform it into an attractive landscaped busway very much like the Orange Line in the southern part of the San Fernando Valley. It will have a bikeway and a walking path parallel to it.

Stoltze: Economists estimate the construction of the extension will create 3,000 much-needed jobs and pump $460 million back into the local economy. The extension is supposed to be completed in three years.