Could A 405 Expressway Tunnel Dramatically Improve Traffic? - KMSP-TV

Could A 405 Expressway Tunnel Dramatically Improve Traffic?

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Imagine your traveling on the 405. It's backed up. A bad accident ahead. Next exit ahead... the 405 tunnel. That's right. A tunnel that would take you along an expressway under the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass or, a park and ride where you can pick up a subway. This may be LA's westside future.

The idea of a subway/expressway tunnel(s) under the 405 freeway has been out there for about 6 months when it was presented to the METRO Board as one of several possible plans that could be done to improve dramatically 405 traffic. Ever since METRO's Chief of Real Estate Roger Moliere says the project has been fast-tracked. So much so,  that Moliere tells me that the transit agency could be looking for funding partners within a year. He also says work could begin within 2 to 3 years. To build a tunnel or two of them under the freeway it could take 4 to 5 years.

The funding would be from a private-public partnership which could involve big international construction and financial companies. 

Without such a Public Private Partnership (P3) Moliere says this would have taken 20 to 30 years to pull off. The estimated cost of such a project is in the area of 10-Billion dollars. There is Measure R tax money of one billion that could be used. The other 9 would come from private investors (P3) who would get their money back from expressway tolls if such a roadway is part of the project and/or fees for subway service. The present thinking is a train/expressway system that uses two tunnels or one very large one. Moliere tells me the first phase would be through the 10 mile Sepulveda Pass, but it would eventually be expanded from Sylmar, in the San Fernando Valley, all the way through to LAX. That would be a 28 mile system. Just a little further than the distance from LA to Catalina Island. It could be anywhere from 60 to 90 feet below the surface. Given the steep incline and decline in the pass distances would vary from one part to another since trains need to run on a flat surface. The diameter of a tunnel might be 60 to 70 feet depending on whether there is one or two. Unlike the tunneling done for the Red Line the burrowing equipment is much different and considerably improved than when our first subway was built. Burrowing so far underground would also limit, says Moliere, disruption to construction weary residents in the pass. Moliere also says this is a good area because there is no fault line to present quake problems. My interview with him covers all of that and more.

There are similar projects going on in Seattle and Florida right now. And, Moliere says, the tunneling system being used in Washington State is very similar to what we would use. We have VIMEO animation we can download and show from Washington State Department of Transportation. 

One of our FOX 11 Producers, Joe Babin, once said "if you want to know what the new NB 405 will be like with an added 10-mile car pool lane all you have to do is look at the SB side to see." The point is it's always been known that this new lane they've been building won't be the cure-all for the traffic problems on the west side. To Moliere, a tunnel or two would be a huge difference. It would be built far underground so unlike the current construction work would not be noisy and problematic to drivers and people who live in the pass.

Another very important point is that this system could connect with others to bring LAX passengers from our 5 counties to the airport. 

Says Moliere, "it is a very ambitious project" and very real. For those who might say, 'but we already pay taxes for roads!!!" Moliere says the 405 above the P3 will be free.

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