With Metro eyeing Sepulveda Pass connection, Long Beach-to-Westside dreams continue

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project is a massive undertaking by Metro Los Angeles: Connecting the Valley above the 101 to the Westside where the 405 meets the 10, it will provide a much-needed alternative to the 405 for commuters.

The project—estimated to cost somewhere between $10.6 and $13.5 billion—is a stark response to Metro’s failed expansion of the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass in 2010: Taking six years and costing $1.6 billion, it has worsened traffic. And, despite their upcoming expansion of the 605, the project seems to be focused on strengthening the region’s mass transit system rather than expanding options of single-occupancy vehicles.

That is, if you live in the Westside or in the Valley—and please, don’t get me wrong: this project is an absolute must for Angelenos throughout the county.

For those who work in Downtown Los Angeles and live in Long Beach, the Blue Line and now the 860 Express Shuttle have become blessings in terms of commute, allowing workers to easily traverse bumper-to-bumper morning and afternoon traffic.

But for those working in Santa Monica and living in Long Beach, the 405 remains the sole source of transportation that won’t cost you more than two hours. (Well, depending on traffic: Some commuters as of late have reported nearly 2.5-hour commute times from Santa Monica to East Long Beach when traffic is particularly bad.)

Even more, we also have a ton of workers from Irvine who call Long Beach their home.

In fact, one of my neighbors is a double-income household, where one partner works in Irvine and another in Santa Monica; they live in Long Beach because it is “the middle point.” Then there are those who work in Irvine and live in Long Beach because, well, it takes a special someone to live in the Stepford Wives of cities which, in varying degrees, controls everything on your home from the color of paint to landscaping and roofing.

So the fact that the Orange County Transit Authority, instead of creating some type of connection between Irvine and Long Beach via train or a bus-only lane, decided to spend a few billion on expanding the 405 is doubly insulting.

These are the citizens who are often left out of the Metro and OCTA discussions and, when seeing Urba-nerds like me scream about transit, lift their hands up in frustration with the question: “What other choice do I have?”

While we are getting plenty of freeway expansions throughout our nearby corridors—the disastrous 710 expansion that violates the health of West Long Beach, the 405 expansion in Orange County which will have massive effects on our east side arterials, and the aforementioned 605 expansion—we don’t get much love in terms of new, smart mass transit.

In Metro’s eyes, Long Beach used to be the Southernly Valley, quickly dismissed by Angelenos and now, in terms of mass transit, we are the New Valley, where it seems we’ll be receiving messages of “We’ll get to you later.” And in OCTA’s eyes, Long Beach is what you pass through before you get to Santa Monica.

It’s a pathetic, dismissive view of a city which is home to half a million people.

Don’t get me wrong: The so-called New Blue Line-soon-to-be-A-Line is a huge investment from Metro—but it was a needed one; one that because so many use and depend on the Blue Line that upgrades had to be built or the system’s most-ridden line would go defunct.

So, while I genuinely jump up for joy about the better connection through the Sepulveda Pass, we should really start thinking about extending that all the way to Downtown Long Beach.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.