The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled Thursday to open its application process for pre-development contracts with companies interested in designing and analyzing the planned Sepulveda Transit Corridor connecting LAX to the western San Fernando Valley.

Metro estimates the four proposed routes for the project through one of the Southland’s most notoriously congested transportation corridors would cost between $9.4 billion and $13.8 billion, well above initial estimates.

The project could take the form of either a subway or possibly a monorail.

Metro previously set aside $5.7 billion in funding for the project through the Measure M transportation sales tax.

According to the transportation agency, the cost increase is due primarily to an extension of the northernmost portion of the line in the San Fernando Valley, meaning the initial Valley-to-Westside phase of the project would run between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the Metro Expo Line.

Metro officials said reaching pre-development agreements with private companies “could help find ways to improve the project and lower costs.”

“The private sector partner would also supply a portion of financing as well as potentially operate and maintain the project,” according to Metro. “Metro could accept the offer, refuse it or pursue another concept for the project altogether.”

The pre-development agreement is intended to select contractors to help further the design of the routes.

Under the current timeline, a transit connection from San Fernando Valley to the Westside would be completed by 2033. An extension to Los Angeles International Airport is projected for 2057. The Valley-Westside connection could be accelerated to be completed by 2028, in time for the summer Olympics, according to Metro.

Metro is also studying the addition of a station along the line at or near Santa Monica Boulevard between the planned stations at the Purple Line and the Expo Line. Engineers are deciding whether the first segment of the Sepulveda Project between the Valley and Westside would end at the Expo Line’s Bundy or Sepulveda stations.

The second of four planned public meetings on the project will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Ave. in Culver City.

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