VOICES-This letter has been sent to Ms. Alice Tolar, the 405 Express Lanes Project Manager at Metro:
SOHA represents thousands of politically active families in a 76,000-person southeastern Valley community that is home to the Valley-side of the 405 Express Lanes project. The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association has been an active voice in the community since 1964. We represent about 2,400 Sherman Oaks families. SOHA submits the following questions and comments on the 405 Express Lanes project. We request Metro to respond with answers to each of our questions and comments – or provide us with their rationale for not responding.
- Why does Metro ask for comments when they have provided insufficient information for the public to make intelligent comments? Metro provided some information at their August public meetings and some further information in their Summer 2021 FAQs document, but it was insufficient information to establish a basis for serious detailed questions. We can find no detailed reports about the project on the Metro website. For example, there is no information on how and why Metro selected the four build alternatives for the project. If such information does exist, please advise us where to find it.
- What is the probability that any of four Express Lane build alternatives could impact the feasibility of constructing a monorail along the 405 freeway, including potential negative impacts of Express Lane signage supports? If Metro is serious about the LA SkyRail Express monorail concepts that Metro selected for environmental studies on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project, then Metro should commit to eliminate any Express Lane concept that has any possibility -- no matter how small -- of impacting the feasibility of construction a monorail along the 405, either in the median or any other location.
Please provide Metro’s commitment: SOHA - SHERMAN OAKS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION POST OFFICE BOX 5223 SHERMAN OAKS, CALIFORNIA 91413
Information: (818) 377-4590 www.shermanoaks914.com [email protected] 405 Express Lanes in Sherman Oaks SOHA Comments on Metro 405 Express Lanes – September 6, 2021, Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association (SOHA) 2 of 3.
- At their public meetings, Metro noted that certain of the Express Lane concept alternatives would require reducing some lane widths from 12 feet to 11 feet. Please provide further detailed information on potential lane width reductions for each specific concept. Please also provide information on how reduced lane widths impact traffic flow, traffic safety, and accident rates along the 405 freeway, including historical data collected before the 405 Widening project.
- In their public meetings, Metro showed that some of the concepts will or could require eminent domain but did not provide details on the type or location of this eminent domain and its impact on the freeway and local communities. Please provide details sufficient for the public to sufficiently understand all potential eminent domain possibilities for all concepts. Only then will the public be able to make sensible comments and ask sensible questions concerning eminent domain.
- Metro’s FAQ document notes that some of the build alternatives will require retaining walls and/or sound walls but provides no detail. Metro’s construction of sound walls on the 405 widening project increased sound levels at many residences far from the 405. Has Metro done preliminary calculations to determine if any of the four build alternatives could cause similar sound level increases? If so, please provide the preliminary sound levels. If not, please explain Metro’s rationale for waiting.
- From the Metro public meetings, it appears that some of the Express Lane concepts will have significant construction impacts, but these were not explained. Again, it is impossible for the public to ask sensible questions without further detail. Please provide additional details on the construction methods and impacts for each of the concepts.
- Metro provided an overall schedule at the public meetings showing that it would require seven years to complete the Express Lanes project. Some of the simpler concepts are certainly capable of being completed in less time. Please provide preliminary time-to-complete estimates for each of the concepts.
- Please explain why it will take seven years to see the benefits of these Express Lanes come to fruition. This seems like a long time for some of the concepts that might be completed with lane restriping. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to restripe a portion of the route quickly and cheaply as a test to understand Express Lane performance? Sometime a cheap quick test is worth years of analysis.
- Please provide the current estimated cost for each of the four concept build alternatives and compare these to Metro’s available budget (in same-year dollars). Based on their analysis to date, Metro must have estimated the costs. It is important for the public to understand if any of the concepts exceed the available budget and, if so, what Metro plans to do to secure the additional funds that will be required. Metro should not waste money with studies on build alternatives that have insufficient funding.
- Please provide the range of prices per mile for single-occupant, dual-occupant, and three-plus-occupant vehicles that Metro could employ for each of the build alternatives during various periods of the day (morning rush, afternoon rush, weekends, and other). Also provide the total cost of driving the entire route during the same periods. In addition, provide the information for vehicles with a Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decal. This information will give the public information it needs to understand the economic impacts of the Express Lanes.
- It is obvious that Express Lanes will have a bigger burden on low-income drivers, even to the point that such drivers can probably not afford to ever use the lanes. That’s why the expression “Lexus Lanes” has arisen. Metro’s FAQs document explains the qualifications for drivers to participate in the Low-Income Assistance Plan but does not explain the rate structure for low-income drivers. Please provide further detail that allows the public to fully understand how equity and fairness will be assured for low-income drivers.
- Metro’s storymap and FAQs document note that 289,000 vehicles travel through Pass each day. For the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project, this number was noted as 411,000 vehicles per day. Please explain which number is correct and why. SOHA Comments on Metro 405 Express Lanes – September 6, 2021, Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association (SOHA) 3 of 3.
- The public does not believe that Metro pays any attention to public comments. For this project, instead of simply dumping public comments into a log on their website and noting the log as something that Metro really cares about, why doesn’t Metro provide a proactive log with a response to each and every comment and question received, explaining Metro’s position, how the comment or question will be implemented or mitigated, and the positive and negative impacts of the comment or question on the project. If Metro is not willing to do this or something similar, it simply proves that Metro does not really care about public comments and questions.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your prompt responses to our requests for information, although we note that Metro has not yet responded to any of the more than 70 comments and questions that we submitted on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. We would be glad to discuss our comments.
Please contact Bob Anderson at (213) 364-7470 or at: [email protected].
Bob Anderson, MS, PE (NU 474) -- Chair, Transportation Committee, Board Member Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association
(Bob Anderson is a retired aerospace engineer, board member of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, chair of their Transportation Committee. Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.