NoHo Ped Tunnel Construction Underway, To Connect Orange and Red Lines

Diagram of North Hollywood Station Underpass project. The new tunnel connect the NoHo Red Line subway station with the Orange Line BRT station across the street. Image via Metro
Diagram of North Hollywood Station Underpass project. The new tunnel will connect the NoHo Red Line subway station with the Orange Line BRT station across the street. Image via Metro Fact Sheet [PDF]
Construction is underway for a new tunnel that will make it easier for riders to transfer between Metro’s Orange and Red Lines. Per Metro’s fact sheet [PDF], the new tunnel, officially the North Hollywood Station Underpass project, is expected to be completed in Spring 2016. Riders are already detouring around the pedestrian-unfriendly construction site barriers.

The North Hollywood Station Underpass is a $22 million capital project, funded in part by a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation Bus Facility Fund grant. According to a Board report [PDF], Metro estimates that the project will save riders approximately 44 seconds as they transfer between the Red Line subway and the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

According to the Metro project page, once the tunnel opens, “pedestrian traffic will be deterred from crossing Lankershim.” I hope this doesn’t mean that the surface crosswalk at Chandler Boulevard North will be removed. If this is the case, so much for the 44-second savings, as bus-to-bus connecting passengers will have to walk further to get to another surface crosswalk, or go down into the station and then come back up to the surface to catch the Orange Line.

Eliminating the existing crosswalk would also be inconvenient and possibly dangerous for cyclists heading west from the Burbank-Chandler bikeway onto the Orange Line bikeway. Like too many Southern California livability projects, instead of creating the kind of redundancy that is found in local car transportation systems, it sounds like one walkway will open and another will be closed. 

(Updated 4:45pm – Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero requested that SBLA note that the crosswalk across Lankershim at Chandler North will “remain permanently to facilitate pedestrian/bicyclist crossings.”)

Diagram of the xxxxxxx
Diagram of the North Hollywood Station Underpass. In the foreground are the existing escalators, stairs, and tri-color arched shade structures at the NoHo Red Line Station. Diagonally through the middle are the Red Line tracks running below Lankershim Boulevard. In the upper right are the existing Orange Line station (not pictured) and new tunnel, escalators, stairs, and elevator. Image from Metro

The tunnel will connect to the mezzanine level of the North Hollywood Red Line Station, next to the existing elevator that connects the mezzanine with the train platform. 

Oublic art xxxx
Tunnel construction will re-locate this existing public art. Photo via Metro

Tunnel construction will punch through the existing west wall of the mezzanine, next to the west elevator. Today, this wall features a tile mural artwork. The mural is mounted on a “knock-out panel.” The project will remove the knock-out panel to make way for the tunnel entrance.

Earlier this year, the construction contract was awarded to Skanska. The contractor recently installed construction fencing at the site. According to Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero, Skanska will be drilling and installing soldier piles this month, and excavation will happen for the next couple of months.

I visited the North Hollywood construction site last week.

View of the North Hollywood Underpass construction site last week. This and subsequent photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
View of the North Hollywood Underpass construction site last week, photo taken looking south over construction fence. Lankershim Boulevard is on the left; the Orange Line is just behind the fence on the right. This and subsequent photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Though it is a balancing act to temporarily make space for construction, and all of us need to sacrifice some convenience during construction now for an improved facility later, it appears that the priority during construction is maintaining car traffic on Lankershim Boulevard at the expense of pedestrian convenience and safety. Unfortunately, this is not news. It is an ingrained Southern California car-centric construction practice.

Construction fence at
Construction fence last week at North Hollywood Orange Line Station. View is looking south from Chandler Boulevard North; Lankershim Boulevard is on the left.

The walk path between the Orange and Red Lines is possibly the most heavily trafficked pedestrian crossing in the San Fernando Valley. It is unfortunate that construction detours do not appear to respect this.

Westbound pedestrians transferring from the Red Line to the Orange Line do so via a crosswalk in more or less the same location as in the past. The crosswalk was on the south side of Chandler Boulevard North; it has been moved to the north side of the same intersection.

Eastbound pedestrians transferring from the Orange Line to the Red Line are expected to detour south and cross Lankershim at the signal at Chandler Boulevard South.

According to Sotero, “For patrons getting off the Orange Line and walking to the Red Line Station… there is no additional walk for the disembarking passengers. It’s about the same difference, just a different direction.”

When I walked it last week, I got to the Red Line portal about 30 seconds before passengers who followed Metro’s detour.

It’s not the end of the world to walk 30 seconds out of the way, but, like drivers and cyclists, pedestrians will flow along the path of least resistance. I observed that around a quarter of pedestrians were ignoring the signs and the barriers and instead walking through the Orange Line busway turnaround area. 

Pedestrians walking the desire line through the bus turn-around area.
Theoretically, all these pedestrians are supposed to keep to the right, but significant numbers walk through the bus turnaround area. (The detour signage is visible in the middle right, at the far end of the orange barrier.)

In absurdist engineer design, a detour sign has been placed well past the point where pedestrians would have already chosen which way to walk.

Passengers getting off the Orange Line walking to the Red Line are directed to right via this signage. Many ignore the sign and continue to the left as before.
Orange Line passengers walking to the Red Line are directed to the right via this signage. Many ignore the sign and continue to the left as before.

Prior to construction, significant numbers of pedestrians were already using this cut-through, as it is a more direct route than using the (now closed-for-construction) sidewalk around the turnaround area.

If it were up to me, Metro could have just okayed the busway pedestrian cut-through practice to keep foot traffic flowing pretty much the way it always has. It is a bus-only right-of-way, with only trained Metro operators driving one bus through there every four minutes at peak times. It is probably a safer place to walk than most Los Angeles intersections.

But, no, Metro is aware of the cut-through and has plans to curtail it. According to Sotero:

[Metro has] requested law enforcement to be there to help ensure pedestrians follow the signs. We will also put additional handrails along the pathway adjacent to the circular Orange Line right-of-way to help prevent illegal or unsafe encroachments. [This week, Metro] will place some netting with stands to show the right-of-way is closed to pedestrians. By the end of this month, we should have the handrails installed, which will remain through the duration of construction.

In addition, construction has closed the sidewalk on the west side of Lankershim between Chandler North and Chandler South. This sidewalk probably isn’t all that trafficked, as it doesn’t get people going from station to station, but I observed one pedestrian walking in the street to get around this closure.

With the sidewalk closed, this pedestrian chose to walk in the street rather than cross to the other side of Lankershim.
With the sidewalk closed, this pedestrian chose to walk in the street rather than cross to the other side of Lankershim.

There are wide car lanes and a painted median on Lankershim; these could be temporarily narrowed to maintain a walkway. But that would mean valuing pedestrian safety and convenience above motorist speed and convenience.

Car traffic gets this painted median while sidewalks are closed.
Car traffic gets this painted median while sidewalks are closed.

All in all, I am looking forward to a more direct and faster connection between these stations, even if it means I have to put up with inconvenient detours during construction.

LADOT and Metro are also working together to synchronize signals to improve Orange Line travel speeds. More on that story later this week.

  • MaxUtil

    I can see Metro not wanting to even tacitly approve of peds walking in a bus lane for liability reasons. But there never ending ability to not even consider pedestrian implications when they do construction is “impressive” for lack of a better word. Bad enough during road construction, but this is specifically construction to improve a bad pedestrian design and they still expect peds to just go way out of their way for 1 1/2 years because it would be inconceivable to give any roadway space to anything except cars.

  • Innajunglestylee

    As a neighborhood resident I can tell you we used that sidewalk that’s closed to walk to the Farmer’s Market and to area restaurants on the west side of Lankershim quite a bit; having it shut down for two years is really a headache.

  • Pumper Nickel

    22 million here and what about the ped bridge at Universal studios? METRO loves to waste our money in the name of car drivers saving seconds and Tom LaBonge is the biggest f*cking dipshit of them all allowing this to happen.

  • Jeff Jacobberger

    In the Call for Projects, the City of LA is proposing a cycletrack between Vineland and where the Orange Line veers northwest off Chandler. Presumably, that would include elements to improve the transition for bicyclists.

    This is different from the ped bridge at the Universal City station. Today, people transferring between the Red and Orange Lines have to wait (sometimes a long time) to cross Lankershim. I often see a bunch of people waiting to cross Lankershim, only to see a mostly-empty Orange Line bus pull away from the station.

  • Pumper Nickel

    would be pretty cheap to make the ped signal change more frequently, and sinc up the orangeline bus better with the redline. Seen that happen a lot actually where a bus pulls away as the crosswalk goes green.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I have on several occasions seen pedestrians from the subway station side dart in front of moving motor vehicles on Lankershim Blvd in order to get to the Orange Line bus at the pickup station platform before it departed. Just seeing the Orange Line bus across the street at the pickup station seemed to trigger this behavior.

    This type of behavior also seems to occur on Van Nuys Blvd where it intersects the Orange Line station. There is a automatic announcement on the Orange Line buses at this station telling people not to run across the street.

    The North Hollywood subway station is less than 2-miles north of where I live. Its astounding that the sidewalk was closed on the west side of Lankershim Blvd and no temporary walkway was built.

    The newly restored train depot can be seen to the right in the picture of the underpass construction site. Metro staff that handle bicycling are trying to include indoor bike parking there. This will not happen until after the pedestrian underpass connection is completed.

    It will be astoundingly stupid to put a museum, coffee shop or restaurant in this building instead of bicycle parking. This would ignore the great need for additional bicycle parking at this transit hub. I have little doubt that the mid-North Hollywood neighborhood council will push for anything but bicycle parking to be located there as they did everything they could to prevent bike lane installations on Lankershim Blvd.

    Metro’s the Source article about this train depot restoration:

  • Joe Linton

    Yes – that cycletrack project sounds awesome! – but it would have to funded, then built when funding becomes available (I think it would be 2018 or 2019 – need to check)

  • Joe Linton

    The Universal ped bridge is also moving forward. I think construction either started or is about to.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The Universal Station got temporary fencing around the northwest entrance side about the same time as the North Hollywood Orange Line station got fencing.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Chandler Blvd has excess capacity. This project should not need council member approval to remove road space from motor vehicles. The 85 percentile average speed of motor vehicles on this street is 45 mph–which is far too fast to be a low-stress bikeway. A cycletrack would lower the average speed of motor vehicles.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The date for the availability of the funds is 2020 if I recall correctly from the last City Council Transportation Committee meeting.

  • And to think that LADOT was reluctant to even install the crosswalk this tunnel wil replace, back when the Orange Line opened. They wanted connecting passengers to cross at Big Chandler and Lankersham.

  • Joe, the correct name of this station is “North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky”. Will you please update the Streetsblog LA style book to ensure that the correct and full names of all Metro Stations are used in these posts in the future?

  • M

    It has started.

    The land has been fenced off and cleared and construction is going on in 3/4 different sites. The bus stops that were in front of Universal have been removed. The project is supposed to be finished in 2016 I believe.

    The crossing situation isn’t as ridiculous as the NoHo station, but because some of the corners pedestrians must use are mostly blocked by fences, pedestrians are relatively far from the corner when waiting during busy times and I wouldn’t be surprised if the fences block the driver’s views of pedestrians.

  • M

    I’m somewhat confused how so many of these projects, especially when around metro stations, so poorly address pedestrian/bicyclist experiences and this has been going on for many years. In less than 30 minutes of observation during busy times, one can get a pretty good picture of how people actually use things vs. how they are intended to be used as well as major potential sources of safety issues because the environment isn’t being designed correctly. Whether that’s due to location of crosswalks, crossing signal button/sensor locations, crossing signal behaviors, ramps/curbs, pedestrians being obscured, mismatch of speeds, and countless other issues, for some reason these more subtle (or not) points are pretty consistently ignored. Of course people don’t want to miss their connections. Of course people don’t want to walk an extra 5 or even 1 minute to cross the street – those people are actually subject to the hot/cold/rain directly and carry belongings and children and don’t want to miss the aforementioned connections. Of course people aren’t going to pay attention to a sign that’s poorly placed. Why is it that the pedestrian has to take the hit in terms of convenience over cars, even adjacent to metro stations/major hubs? Doesn’t that imply that the pedestrians are second thoughts vs. the main focus? The numbers clearly show most people that use metro trains are using methods other than driving to get there. I’m frustrated that bike lanes are still installed in a half-assed manner, completely ignoring the bicyclist experience vs. some oddly incomplete list of requirements on where and when a bike lane can be installed and what sorts of safety requirements/infrastructure are needed to label something as a bike lane/path. Do they even have someone from their own department BIKE on the path (not just inspect) after it’s installed to make sure there are no glaringly obvious safety issues (my own experiences point to “NO”.) I’m frustrated that these are the types of things I experience and the people I interact with experience and seeing how determined/left with no other option people often have to be in order to actually suck it up and use these poorly thought out resources. In what world does it make sense to paint a bike lane on a street in horrible condition that is seriously dangerous for a bicyclist (giant potholes, long thin cracks parallel to bike tires)? In what world do we tell bicyclists they must follow the same rules as cars, yet they can’t trip sensors like cars and the lights are barely long enough for a fairly experienced/ready to go bicyclist to cross the street? Why are sidewalks missing around elementary schools?

    I suppose I’m suffering from frustration due to how the city handles these things and how often the same mistakes are made. It’s like we’re still sitting with our head in the sand and pretending that we can ignore/slowly drag our feet when it comes to the pedestrian/bicyclist experience despite that there’s clear proof that the need is here TODAY, that these projects seem to take an enormous amount of time even when they have funding and there’s not really any better, feasible solution that I’ve seen offered to deal with the lack of space for cars in a city like LA or a place that has weather like LA.

  • Joe Linton


  • Joe Linton

    Well… Even with Metro’s comment that the crosswalk on the North side of Chandler North will remain, it would still be an all-too-typical LADO incomplete T-intersection. Peds going to/from the Orange Line will be expected to cross Lankershim and cross Chandler North. Bogus.

  • LAifer

    This is so sad to see. Metro of all government entities should be keenly aware of pedestrian and bicyclist traffic and figure out a way to work with LADOT to make sure these persons get as much right of way (if not more so at a place so heavily pedestrianized as this one) as persons in cars. It’s Culver City/Venice Blvd all over again, and we already had a kid killed there.

  • What a typical SoCal Construction Management clusterfuck! The detour sign is posted at an angle? Are you kidding me Skanska? And Dave Sotero, what will all this Law Enforcement presence achieve apart from annoying people Metro obviously didn’t think to give a shit about in the first place?

  • Alex Brideau III

    To clarify, by “should not need council member approval” do you mean you doubt council approval will be needed, or are you opining that the council should not have to give its approval for such a project?

  • Alex Brideau III

    Funny. But I have a question about the naming drama for anyone who’s in the know:

    We all know about the ongoing Metro station naming fiasco (since apparently Metro does not know how to simply “dedicate” a station, but I digress) and we have observed that only the “standard” station names were printed on signage and maps. However, with the most recent Go Metro map update, it appears that Willowbrook station now appears as “Willowbrook/Rosa Parks” station. Despite our opinions on the issue, does anyone know why this station is being treated differently than the other person-named stations? Just wondering.

  • Alex Brideau III


    I, for one, think that pedestrian beg buttons should never ever be located adjacent to Metro stations. Use a motion sensor if you want, but don’t require a pedestrian to actively ask to cross a neighboring street. A Metro station is a central location for pedestrians and cyclists, not cars. At the very least, in these small areas, pedestrian convenience should always take precedence over car convenience.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The Chandler Blvd cycletrack call-for-project is listed as only under council member Krekorian’s district 2. The request may have even originated from his office.

    If a street has excess capacity the LADOT can do a road diet without going through the procedure of seeking approval from the council member.

    The DOT will seek a council member’s approval for almost all of the streets that could potentially receive bike lanes from here on out as these projects could bring the level of service for the movement of motor vehicles to a D or F condition. That means the number of bike lane miles installed per year will drop off considerably as the resistance to doing them increases.

  • calwatch

    To be fair, Yaroslavsky Station has not officially been approved, and neither has Molina Station. The MTA Board still needs to ratify it at the next meeting, and at least in the case of Molina there will be some pressure not to appear to take sides in her race against Jose Huizar.

    As far as Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, the South Bay Service Council unanimously passed a motion requesting Metro to continue to use “Rosa Parks” in the station name. “It is widely known that Ms. Rosa Parks, by refusing to go to the back of the bus, was a catalyst that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. Her actions on a public transit bus have inspired people throughout the United States and the world to never settle for second class citizenship.” Although it took over a year from when the motion was passed, it seems that enough political pressure was placed such that Rosa Parks was readded. No such constituency was found for Julian Dixon, Tom Bradley, Kenny Hahn, or anyone else Metro stations have been named after.

  • calwatch

    Here’s the bad news…. Because the San Fernando Valley Governance Council insisted on another escalator, it is likely that construction will last for longer than previously scheduled.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Thanks for the info. IMHO, if there is one person who deserves to have a transit facility visibly named after her as “an exception to the rule”, Rosa Parks is at the top of my list.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I actually think an extra escalator is worth some extra construction time as it allows those who find it difficult or uncomfortable to ascend/descend staircases to avoid having to wait for an elevator.

    Just remember, everyone: Stand on the right; walk on the left! :-)

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I wish they would paint symbols on the escalators – paired feet on every other step on the right, and alternating right foot/left foot on each step on the left.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I believe Metro tweeted yesterday a reminder that transit station escalator users should stand on the right and walk on the left. This is the first time I’ve seen them publicly make that suggestion.

  • die first

    why in the heck would they name stations after Molina and Zarislavskin? These people aint dead yet! This is ridiculous.

  • DayWalker

    But what about the poor squirrels’ conversation? For those in a hurry, let them take the stairs!

  • theNightSkate

    GFL with that. People in LA don’t seem to understand escalators at all.

    Also, to you cyclists that say your can’t get your damn bike to one side and allow people to pass: (1) if me and my giant 29″ touring bike with 4 panniers can make enough room for people to pass, your scrawny little butt and that cheap-ass fixie you push around sure as heck can and (2) if you can’t manage that, remember that bikes are forbidden on Metro’s escalators, and if you guys keep acting like jackasses on the escalators it’s only a matter of time before the sheriffs start writing tickets to all of us.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Squirrels (and humans) can converse on adjacent steps. Standing to the right is not an LA practice. It’s a transit practice.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Actually, during rush hour, Angelenos have been doing a halfway decent job of “getting it”. There are still a good number of left-standers, but far fewer now than a few years ago.

    That said, outside of rush hours and when tourists are involved, all bets are off (though I’ve observed this to be the case in other cities I’ve visited as well).

  • andrelot

    You are fretting too much. Pedestrian crossing push/touch buttons are common in many European cities known for their high-quality rail transit systems and high patronage.

    It is not the end of the World.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Well, now that the #MetroRef has gotten involved, things might be looking up!

  • Al in SoCal

    Now – when will Metro go to the TAP system they envisioned before it was deployed:

    1. You load $$ onto TAP
    2. You board 1 way – it subtracts fee
    3. You board another – it subtracts fee
    4. *** You board one more – maybe going home – it SUBTRACTS small amount to make a day pass ***

    I know they are (thankfully) redesigning their website – so hopefully this is on the way as well.


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