The Santa Clarita Valley and other Southern California communities can expect an economic jolt of 1.3 million jobs and an increase to the gross regional product of almost $684 billion through 2050 as the result of Metrolink’s $10 billion rail expansion program, according to a new Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, or LAEDC, study.
Set to break ground this year, Metrolink’s Southern California Optimized Rail Expansion program, or SCORE, is a 10-year capital improvement program to upgrade regional rail infrastructure. It’s designed to better and more safely serve Southern Calfornia residents in the near future while improving commute times and air quality ahead of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The ambitious program’s goal is to increase service on most of its lines to 15- and 30-minute frequencies.
Improvements include track additions and enhancements to stations, signals and grade crossings that will bolster safety and enable more frequent, bi-directional service throughout the day.
SCORE also accelerates progress toward Metrolink’s zero-emissions future and provides safety upgrades that will allow some cities to apply for Quiet Zones — designated stretches of track where safety enhancements have been made to grade crossings so that the routine sounding of train horns is not required.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, served by Metrolink’s 76.6-mile Antelope Valley Line from Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles to Lancaster, planned SCORE improvements include extending double-tracking and upgrading the Santa Clarita train station platform in Saugus, and building a maintenance facility at a location yet to be determined.
Initially, Phase 1 calls for an environmental impact report, design and property acquisition for the facility. Actual construction would take place in Phase 2, at an undetermined future date.
Maintenance facilities are also slated for Lancaster, Moorpark, East Ventura and South Perris, with the same Phase 1 and Phase 2 plans.
Meanwhile, the California High-Speed Rail line will run 38 miles from the Palmdale Transportation Center Station south to the Hollywood Burbank Airport Station. It will use the state-preferred route alternative adopted in 2018 that roughly follows Highway 14 through the SCV, but will be completely underground within the Santa Clarita city limits, according to the new LAEDC study. Draft EIR/EIS documents were expected in late 2019, and final EIR/EIS documents are expected by 2021.
The state of California was the first funding partner for the SCORE program and Metrolink has secured $1.8 billion in funding to deliver preliminary designs and environmental studies for critical projects.
The LAEDC study predicts that SCORE will create more than 1.3 million jobs through 2050, while the nine-year construction period alone will account for at least 110,000 jobs, paying an average of nearly $64,000 annually.
The study also forecasted that SCORE will increase wages by $185 billion over three decades and boost the region’s economic output by more than $1 trillion.
“Investments from SCORE will not only make the region increasingly attractive for the millions of people expected to arrive in Southern California for the 2028 Games, but the expansion will also be an engine for regional prosperity in the decades to come,” said Tyler Laferriere, LAEDC economist and study co-author.
Metrolink commissioned the LAEDC study to determine the impact of construction investment for SCORE and associated effects from projected changes in travel, regional labor accessibility and reduced transportation costs from saved time.
“SCORE boosts the regional economy by providing immediate benefits through high-paying construction jobs. The efficient transportation system of the future, enabled by SCORE, will provide future mobility advantages as well as continued economic stimulus and job creation,” said Metrolink Board Chair Brian Humphrey.
The LAEDC study indicates that SCORE benefits disadvantaged communities by connecting residents to the rail network, capable of quickly moving them through the five-county region enabling service at least every 30 minutes on all lines throughout the day when demand and funding exist.
SCORE’s environmental benefits include a reduction of 3.4 billion vehicle miles traveled between 2023 and 2078 and elimination of 515.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the same period. Additionally, the LAEDC projects SCORE will add 2.3 million pedestrian trips and 1.3 million bicycle trips each year.
“SCORE’s impact on our region’s health will be positive and long-lasting,” said Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires people choosing to leave their cars at home, and SCORE improvements will make Metrolink an even more attractive alternative to using a car to commute.”
Read more about the expected economic and environmental impacts here.
Metrolink will break ground on the SCORE program this year.
Read the complete LAEDC study here.
Visit metrolinktrains.com/SCORE for more information.
Metrolink is Southern California’s commuter rail service enabling people to connect to their jobs and explore all that the region has to offer. Metrolink has nearly 12 million boardings annually from people who ditch their cars to avoid gridlock, removing an estimated 9.3 million vehicles from the roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 130,000 metric tons. Metrolink is the largest commuter rail agency in California based on route miles and the third-largest in the United States, operating 171 daily trains on seven lines along a 538-mile network that travels across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, and carries an estimated 38,000 passengers. Metrolink is governed by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, or SCRRA, a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of the aforementioned counties. Visit metrolinktrains.com.