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Echo Park
Apr 27, 2008, 2:56 AM
The toll is a meanspirited idea and its sad to see the city is going through with it. The working class already has it hard enough surviving in LA, this will just be an added burden by clearing the diamond lane of poor and middle class and allowing the rich to zoom by. Leave the diamond lanes as carpool and encourage people to share cars no matter their income.

And I'll be pissed if they decided to extend the 241. Stop ruining the last vestiges of open space in coastal southern california.

WesTheAngelino
Apr 28, 2008, 2:41 AM
^ I'm all for egalitarian transportation access, but I really fail to understand the argument that making diamond lanes into toll roads is such a grave offense to road equality. One, you're assuming that the poor carpool in greater numbers. Perhaps they do, but I'm not sure and you're not offering any stats otherwise, just mere assumptions. Also, I really doubt the prices for using the lanes will be exhorbitant to the point of keeping people from using them who really want to use them. You're negating the impact on traffic and the potential for benefits (not that I'm saying there WILL be tangible benefits from this change....that will remain to be seen in practice). For example, perhaps one of the "poor" people you're talking about will gladly take of advantage of paying to shorten their commute so that they can perhaps work one hour more and earn more money or have time to drive their child to school, or simply have more quality time with their children instead of sitting longer in traffic.

JDRCRASH
Apr 28, 2008, 3:41 PM
The toll is a meanspirited idea and its sad to see the city is going through with it. The working class already has it hard enough surviving in LA, this will just be an added burden by clearing the diamond lane of poor and middle class and allowing the rich to zoom by.

Dude, the MTA's resources are dry, we need something.

Vangelist
Apr 30, 2008, 2:42 PM
JESUS CHRIST

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2008/04/citizens_group.php#reader_comments

South LA Citizens Sue Metro
Tuesday, April 29, 2008, by Neal Broverman


Last week, Metro voted to add $54 million to the budget of the under-construction Expo Line—which will hopefully shuttle people between Culver City and Downtown by 2010—so overpasses can be built in Culver City. This infuriated the The Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Line, who is fighting for South LA underpasses, especially near Dorsey High School, because they claim an at-grade train will kill students. "They're spending more money in the 1 mile from La Cienega to Robertson than they are in the 4 miles from Vermont to La Brea," says Citizens' coordinator Damien Goodmon in a press release. Goodmon is also incensed that the transit line will go underground at lily-white USC, and the Citizens' Campaign has now retained powerhouse law firm Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal to take on Metro—pro bono.

CITIZENS' CAMPAIGN TO FIX THE EXPO RAIL LINE
Led by Save Leimert, Expo Communities United & Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Homeowners' Coalition
P.O. Box 8508 * Los Angeles, CA 90008 * Fax: 323.295.9467 * www.FixExpo.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2008

PRESS CONTACT
Damien Goodmon


SOUTH LA LEFT OUT ONCE AGAIN AS MTA INCREASES EXPO LINE BUDGET $54 MILLION
On the same day the MTA increased the Expo Line budget $54 million for an overpass in Culver City, a South LA community group announced they're going to court represented by Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal.

Los Angeles, CA – On Thursday April 24th, the MTA Board voted to increase the Expo Line budget by $54 million for a Culver City overpass, increasing the project budget to $862 million dollars for the 8.5-mile light rail line from Downtown LA to Culver City. $4 million of the $54 million came from the City of Culver City, while the remaining $50 million came from State Proposition 1B, the $19 billion transportation bond that was passed by voters in November of 2006. $218 million of the bond has gone towards the increase in the Expo Line budget, which was just $640 million six months ago.

"Prop 1B is the same resource we've been requesting MTA go after for grade separations in South LA since the day the bond was passed, yet they keep telling us there's no money," said Damien Goodmon, the Coordinator of the South LA community group the Citizens' Campaign to Fix the Expo Rail Line.

"They found the money for the Figueroa underpass at USC and they found the money for overpasses in Culver City," said Carol Tucker of the Baldwin Neighborhood Homeowners. "They find the money for everything and everywhere except South LA. Have they no shame?"

The vocal and growing Fix Expo Campaign is concerned about the safety and environmental impacts of the light rail line design as is passes through South LA primarily at street level. They claim that the street-level design is unsafe and as evidence point to the MTA's Blue Line which at 91 deaths and 802 accidents to date is the deadliest light rail line in the country.

The close proximity of several schools to the rail line, namely Dorsey High School and Foshay Learning Center, has prompted action from School Board Member Marguerite LaMotte, the LAUSD Board of Education, LAUSD Parent Collaborative and UTLA all requesting grade separation at all or some intersections.

"No child will have to walk across and no car will have to drive across the Expo Line tracks in Culver City. Yet South LA is being told we have to accept these safety risks," Goodmon said.

Child advocate and West Adams Neighborhood Council member Clint Simmons said, "Instead of insulting our intelligence by telling us they can't find the money to build underpasses in South LA, MTA should admit that killing black and brown kids, and ruining South LA school environments and communities is a part of doing business."

"They're spending more money in the 1 mile from La Cienega to Robertson than they are in the 4 miles from Vermont to La Brea," Goodmon said. The group claims that placing the bulk of the safety hazards and disproportionate environmental impacts in majority-minority South LA community is "textbook environmental racism and against the law."

"We're going to court," Goodmon exclaimed as he announced that the group has signed an agreement with the international law firm of Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal, LLP. The group's legal strategy will be headed by firm partners Ivor Samson, a recipient of the prestigious 2007 California Lawyer of the Year award, and Christopher Prince, who when he was at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was instrumental in the landmark environmental justice case Labor/Community Strategy Center vs. MTA, which resulted in a 10-year consent decree.

"This firm is huge, these guys are winners, and they know how the MTA operates," said Tucker. "It speaks to the level of injustice that they've agreed to represent us pro bono."

Vangelist
Apr 30, 2008, 2:43 PM
I'm so sick of shrill cries of "racism" to fuel NIMBY fears

Echo Park
Apr 30, 2008, 3:13 PM
^Yeah when will those blacks ever shut up and just put up with discrimination. i want my shiny new rail line now! :rolleyes:


Glad they're suing.

sopas ej
Apr 30, 2008, 3:44 PM
^Yeah when will those blacks ever shut up and just put up with discrimination. i want my shiny new rail line now! :rolleyes:


Glad they're suing.

Do you honestly think it's racism?

Myself living in South Pasadena, there was a big stink among some South Pas residents when the Gold Line went through. They wanted the Gold Line through the Monterey Rd./Pasadena Ave. intersection to go below grade, arguing that the reconfiguration of the intersection would be too confusing and pedestrians, particularly the little kids going to Arroyo Vista Elementary, would be at risk. But the Gold Line went through that intersection at grade, and no one complains about it, it's a non-issue now. Drivers actually know how to get through the reconfigured intersection, and whoa, kids are not getting hit by trains! Plus, many homes in South Pas are very close to the Gold Line (Highland Park homes are also very close to the Gold Line). Another observation I noticed, hmm... it's only through the bad neighborhoods where car drivers are trying to beat trains and get hit.

So, I see what's going on with the Expo Line as a cost-saving measure vs. what's better for traffic (the Gold Line goes underground through Old Town Pasadena). It's the case where some people are crying "racism" when it's convenient to.

Vangelist
Apr 30, 2008, 3:54 PM
>>Yeah when will those blacks ever shut up and just put up with discrimination. i want my shiny new rail line now!


Glad they're suing.<<

Yeah are you serious? As sopas says, "racism" is such an obnoxious canard in this case. Curbed notes the irony by describing USC as "lily-white," in sarcasm. If you're really "glad they're suing," then you should never complain/whine about "LA urbanzing after we all die" around here again... as one of the commentators on this post noted, this lawsuit has the sad ability to derail the entire Expo Line plans and make it into another "Orange Line" busway

I really admire Damien and have had his site bookmarked, as well as his maps downloaded on my desktop for a long time now. He is extremely passionate, intelligent and motivated - and particularly for someone under 30, he's precocious in regards to community leadership...

But I think this particular battle might be misguided, and am still unconvinced that the plans are dangerous to the community. I wonder how much weight those allegations have on Curbed that he's being pressured from NIMBY's in the area, and that the law suit is not his own idea.

sopas ej
Apr 30, 2008, 5:50 PM
^ I'm all for egalitarian transportation access, but I really fail to understand the argument that making diamond lanes into toll roads is such a grave offense to road equality. One, you're assuming that the poor carpool in greater numbers. Perhaps they do, but I'm not sure and you're not offering any stats otherwise, just mere assumptions. Also, I really doubt the prices for using the lanes will be exhorbitant to the point of keeping people from using them who really want to use them. You're negating the impact on traffic and the potential for benefits (not that I'm saying there WILL be tangible benefits from this change....that will remain to be seen in practice). For example, perhaps one of the "poor" people you're talking about will gladly take of advantage of paying to shorten their commute so that they can perhaps work one hour more and earn more money or have time to drive their child to school, or simply have more quality time with their children instead of sitting longer in traffic.

My issue is, I don't like the idea of having to pay for the use of a lane that has already been paid for, with our tax money. It'd be different if new toll lanes were added and constructed by private firms and to use them you'd have to pay, but turning car pool lanes into toll lanes takes away a lane that carpoolers would otherwise be able to use for free. It would just congest the regular lanes more.

People argue that congestion pricing works in London, but London has way more transit options than the Los Angeles area does, that should be a no-brainer. If toll lanes are created for freeways in the LA metro area, than an equal amount of money should be spent on providing even better public transportation for the region, but we all know that that isn't gonna happen.

BrighamYen
Apr 30, 2008, 6:55 PM
Wait a minute, so does this mean that the court will put an injunction on the Expo Line to discontinue construction as this legal mess is churned out?

LosAngelesSportsFan
Apr 30, 2008, 10:13 PM
^Yeah when will those blacks ever shut up and just put up with discrimination. i want my shiny new rail line now! :rolleyes:


Glad they're suing.

right. that makes sense.

What a stupid thing to say. The lawsuit is bullshit. as i said on curbed, if someone is dumb enough to get run over by a train, its not sad, its darwinism.

Wright Concept
May 1, 2008, 5:17 AM
Wait a minute, so does this mean that the court will put an injunction on the Expo Line to discontinue construction as this legal mess is churned out?

I don't think so, because of the CPUC hearing that is going on concurrently whatever the CPUC rules, it won't stop construction. But I'm not 100% sure.

Vangelist
May 1, 2008, 10:20 PM
Even better news:

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2008/05/when_planners_m.php#more

another law suit

- A resident (and planner from a metro-area municipality) from the Rancho Park neighborhood in West LA informed us that several neighbors in the neighborhood were organizing and had hired "Century City attorneys" to sue the MTA over the proposed at-grade crossings of the Expo Line (Phase 2) going through their community. It's getting ugly!

Quixote
May 2, 2008, 1:34 AM
Parking Fee Hike Urged to Fund Rail (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-briefs30apr30,1,3891918.story)

Councilman Bill Rosendahl called Tuesday for a $2 hike in fees at public parking lots near Los Angeles International Airport to help fund an extension of the Metro Green Line.

Rosendahl, whose district includes Westchester and LAX, introduced a motion asking city officials to develop a plan to extend the light-rail line to Parking Lot C, just north of the airport. Under the proposal, the city would issue bonds to pay for the light-rail extension, then pay back the debt using proceeds from the higher parking fees.

The Metro Green Line now comes within a mile of the airport, then heads south to Redondo Beach.

Rosendahl's plan must be reviewed by the council's Budget and Finance Committee, along with its Transportation Committee, before coming up for a full council vote.

-- David Zahniser

DowntownCharlieBrown
May 2, 2008, 4:32 AM
^Wow! If a $2.00 hike in LA Airport parking fees is enough to fund this project, that's great. Is that $2.00 a day? That's nothing. Most of it is paid by businesses that reimburse their employees for parking during business trips anyway(of course the rest of us have our families drop us of for recreational trips, right?)

sopas ej
May 2, 2008, 4:35 PM
(of course the rest of us have our families drop us of for recreational trips, right?)

Or take cabs.

sopas ej
May 2, 2008, 4:45 PM
Even better news:

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2008/05/when_planners_m.php#more

another law suit

- A resident (and planner from a metro-area municipality) from the Rancho Park neighborhood in West LA informed us that several neighbors in the neighborhood were organizing and had hired "Century City attorneys" to sue the MTA over the proposed at-grade crossings of the Expo Line (Phase 2) going through their community. It's getting ugly!

Very lame. Again, I live in South Pasadena and the Gold Line goes through a number of entirely single-family home/residential areas, with at-grade crossings. Initially there were complaints about the noise of the crossing bells, but the volume was turned down and they made it so that once the crossing arms are completely down, the bells stop ringing (but the lights continue flashing). It's no longer an issue.

These LA Westsiders need to get a clue.

JDRCRASH
May 2, 2008, 5:38 PM
^Yeah when will those blacks ever shut up and just put up with discrimination. i want my shiny new rail line now! :rolleyes:


Glad they're suing.
I'm hispanic, but that was totally out of line and childish.



Anyways....Quite honestly, that old "children could be in danger of being hit" lawsuit excuse is pretty pathetic. I mean, come on....is a kid really :dunce: enough to walk on the tracks when they can hear and see the train come?:koko:

StethJeff
May 2, 2008, 6:09 PM
I'm hispanic, but that was totally out of line and childish.



Anyways....Quite honestly, that old "children could be in danger of being hit" lawsuit excuse is pretty pathetic. I mean, come on....is a kid really :dunce: enough to walk on the tracks when they can hear and see the train come?:koko:

yes, yes they are. many adults are too.

JDRCRASH
May 2, 2008, 6:20 PM
yes, yes they are. many adults are too.

I could understand in cases where someone is blind, or even deaf; but otherwise, really now, how could someone not tell when a train is coming?:sly:

sopas ej
May 2, 2008, 6:28 PM
I could understand in cases where someone is blind, or even deaf; but otherwise, really now, how could someone not tell when a train is coming?:sly:

It's called "stupidity."

Seriously, though, on my way to work the other day, I had to brake really hard because a 20-something in my neighborhood just started crossing the street without even looking, and then he glances at me after I slowed down for him and he gives ME the dirty look... I noticed he had his i-Pod in his ears... technology has really made people less connected and aware of their surroundings. I could easily walk up to someone from behind who's talking on their cell phone and totally kick them in the back/push them to the ground and knock them out/mug them and they wouldn't know who hit them. But of course I wouldn't do that. People talking on their cell phones while walking are just as annoying and clueless as people who drive while talking on their cell phones.

JDRCRASH
May 2, 2008, 6:31 PM
It's called "stupidity."

Seriously, though, on my way to work the other day, I had to brake really hard because a 20-something in my neighborhood just started crossing the street without even looking, and then he glances at me after I slowed down for him and he gives ME the dirty look... I noticed he had his i-Pod in his ears... technology has really made people less connected and aware of their surroundings. I could easily walk up to someone from behind who's talking on their cell phone and totally kick them in the back/push them to the ground and knock them out/mug them and they wouldn't know who hit them. But of course I wouldn't do that. People talking on their cell phones while walking are just as annoying and clueless as people who drive while talking on their cell phones.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe the idiot did it on purpose? That happens to me as well.

But i'm not sure if I support that Sacramento bill that would ban people from talking on their Cell Phones AT ALL, regardless if it was attached to a small ear-based device, or even if I was 18+, which I am.

StethJeff
May 2, 2008, 7:30 PM
adding to what sopas was saying:

ipods
cellphones
intoxication/drug use
curiosity (children)

if you ever need to be reminded about how stupid some people in this world are, i suggest visiting your local hospital emergency room.

Wright Concept
May 5, 2008, 9:55 PM
LA Daily News

Westside-Eastside subway could cost $6.5 billion
Agency building support for line linking Westside
By Sue Doyle, Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 05/05/2008 06:49:08 AM PDT


Plans to send a subway rumbling below Westside streets to link the traffic-choked region to Eastside rail lines have been narrowed to four possible routes estimated to cost up to $6.5 billion.

And even with no available funding source, Metro is forging ahead and preparing what it hopes will eventually be an attractive package to federal officials who have not offered any financial support for a subway beyond repealing a 1985 ban last year on federal money for construction under Wilshire Boulevard.

"There is a long way to go before the subway extension can become a reality," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a Metro board member. "But building support for, and selecting, a preferred route is the prerequisite to the next difficult step - finding a way to pay its $450 million-per-mile cost."

Metro started with 17 proposals in February and narrowed them to four after nearly 800 residents attended a series of community meetings to voice their preferences. A fifth option of building a busway is also on the table. After the next two weeks of meetings, Metro will further narrow plans for a Westside extension and should present its findings to its board by the fall.

The 12-14-mile line would link with existing transit routes to bring commuters underground from downtown to Santa Monica. For San Fernando Valley commuters, a trip from the existing North Hollywood subway station to Century City would take about 28 minutes.

* One proposal would put a subway almost entirely under Wilshire Boulevard from the Purple Line at Wilshire and Western Avenue to the Pacific Ocean. It would swing around Century City, where thousands of daily passenger boardings could rival Union Station, said Jody Litvak, Metro's regional community-relations manager.

* Another plan also would pick up from the Purple Line and travel under Wilshire Boulevard. But then it would head north on Fairfax Avenue and west Beverly Drive to serve the Grove, Beverly Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. After leaving the hospital, it would return to Wilshire Boulevard, hit Century City and head to the coast.

* Two more subway plans include variations of the Wilshire Boulevard routes but also would involve a second train coming from the Red Line at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue and zipping below Santa Monica Boulevard to serve West Hollywood. The lines would converge on Wilshire Boulevard and head to the sea.

Although the largest portion of Metro's $3 billion budget - about $1.8 billion - comes from a one-cent sales tax, that money cannot be contributed toward tunneling for any subway because of a 1998 ban that was passed by 70 percent of voters. Even if that prohibition were repealed, money from the sales tax is already committed to other projects on Metro's long-range transit plans through 2030, Litvak said.

LosAngelesSportsFan
May 5, 2008, 11:00 PM
i still dispute the 6.5 billion dollar figure. it doesnt add up. why can everywhere else do it for 200 million a mile and were at 475?

obviously the last option is the best. Why cant bill gates donate 6 billion to the MTA?

BrighamYen
May 5, 2008, 11:39 PM
^ Eli Broad should put his money where is mouth is. If he really wants LA to become "a world class city" then he should understand how important it is to link LA by rail. He should put up at least 2 miles worth of money (about a billion) and have the station named after him.

dragonsky
May 6, 2008, 5:59 AM
San Gabriel Valley needs to speed things up
The average commuting times there and in the Inland Empire are some of the longest in Southern California, which helps makes sense of the carpool toll plan for the 10 and 210 freeways.
May 5, 2008
By Steve Hymon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Take a look at the map on this page and it might help explain why local officials want to convert the carpool lanes on parts of the 10 and 210 freeways in the San Gabriel Valley to toll lanes.

The map was built using data from the 2000 Census, and it shows the average commuting time for nearly all Southland cities. Notice any patterns?

Nearly all the cities in the valley and the Inland Empire are colored yellow or red, meaning residents there have the longest commutes. I've also built a Google maps version online that allows you to see data for individual cities and zoom in and out on different areas.

With that in mind, let's take a deeper look at the new "congestion pricing" plan . . .

What do the 10 and 210 have to do with all this?

Not coincidentally, Caltrans data show that in the last decade Inland Empire traffic on many freeways has grown considerably -- about 5% in some places -- as bedroom communities have spread.

That's why Caltrans district director Doug Failing has said that some of the most intractable congestion problems in Los Angeles County are on the three east-west routes serving the Inland Empire, the 10, 210 and 60.

If Failing had his way, he'd like to put a toll lane on the 60, too. In the meantime, it's his great hope that even single toll lanes on the 10 and 210 can improve traffic on all the other lanes.

Huh?

"We need to have capacity to sell," Failing told me recently. "The capacity will be created by having enough people on express bus service that it opens up space."

To recap, part of the toll lane deal is that the federal government has agreed to give local transit agencies about 60 high-capacity buses that would use the toll lanes for express service. Some federal funds would also go toward improving Metrolink service in the San Gabriel Valley.

Officials believe that improved mass transit in the Inland Empire may remove some cars from the freeway. That would translate to a quicker commute for those who keep driving -- perhaps beyond where the toll lanes end.

How much time can a toll lane save for motorists?

Officials say it's hard to forecast. This much is known: Caltrans data shows that carpool lanes typically move faster than regular lanes but also suffer from congestion during rush hour.

Of course, you don't need a spreadsheet to tell you that. One recent Thursday, I drove in the 210's regular lanes from Pasadena to Upland between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. At times, I was going faster than vehicles in the carpool lane, where traffic by my count was averaging about 30 mph before speeding up east of the 57 junction.

This is where the toll comes into play. Officials say the fees (which are yet to be set) would discourage some people from using the carpool lane during rush hour and thus improve speeds to at least an average of 45 mph.

If it works, that would be an improvement from some stretches of the 210. For example, bumping average speeds from 30 mph to 45 mph could translate to a savings of about eight minutes in the 11 miles slated to become toll lanes on the 10 and 210.

That's not counting any time savings that might result if areas beyond the toll lanes are improved. Still, some readers are skeptical.

"I don't see how with this short of a distance they'll prove this is a valid concept," said Kent Clark, 43, of La Crescenta, a 210 regular. "Maybe if it went all the way to the 15 [freeway]. That would be a bold idea. This seems like a half-baked new idea."

It is interesting to note that the distance of toll lanes is about the same in other metro areas where they've been tried, including in Minneapolis, Denver and San Diego. However, in all three cases, there is more than one lane in each direction -- so there's more room to sell.

Something else to chew on: There is plenty of bus service already on the carpool lanes of the 110 Freeway south of downtown. But traffic has kept increasing. At the Florence Avenue overpass, there were about 100,000 more cars using that freeway in 2006 than a decade earlier.

What are the politics behind this?

Congestion pricing has received support from across the political spectrum.

On the left, the idea has gotten traction because it forces people to pay for driving solo (which is inefficient), and money raised by tolls is sometimes pumped back into mass transit, which they say helps low-income commuters.

The right likes it because tolling is using market forces to sell a valuable resource -- road space. As for the picking-on-the-poor argument against toll lanes, advocates on the right say it's up to motorists to prioritize how to spend their money.

Opponents, however, argue that toll lanes are a sop to the rich.

"For most people in America it's not a choice" between toll lanes and the free lanes, said Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-Oregon), who has tried to derail tolling programs. "You have to be at work at a certain time. Many people have to live pretty distant from their work because of the economics of housing prices. For many of those people, there is no transit alternative."

In DeFazio's view, the Bush administration is starving mass transit funding and instead moving to privatize roads, which benefits firms in the tolling business

It is also worth noting that U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters -- whose agency is pushing congestion pricing -- previously worked for a major engineering firm, HDR, based in Omaha.

And what are some of the projects that HDR builds?

Toll roads.

Any last thoughts?

I recently interviewed Mark Burris, a civil engineering professor at Texas A&M University. He closely tracks congestion-pricing projects and has a list of them on his website. He offered the best explanation for why so many people are pushing toll roads.

"We're spending an amazing amount trying to widen these freeways when they're wide enough for about 20 hours a day," he said. "We have four congested hours we need to worry about, and one way to relieve that peak of the peak is through appropriate pricing."

Burris also said the point is to increase the national average of 1.1 people per car on freeways. If that number can reach 1.3 or 1.4 through carpooling and mass transit, he said, a lot of the worst freeway congestion would disappear.

"It's not that big a difference you have to make, but making that difference is extremely difficult," he said. "People enjoy having their own car and traveling where and when they want, but they're making a trade-off between that and better travel times."

JDRCRASH
May 6, 2008, 6:08 PM
^
Thats nothing new. There has been talk of widening the 10 to allow that high-speed maglev to go through. And the 10/605 Interchange is clogged all the time and is in need of realignment and widening.


adding to what sopas was saying:

ipods
cellphones
intoxication/drug use
curiosity (children)

if you ever need to be reminded about how stupid some people in this world are, i suggest visiting your local hospital emergency room.

Or go to Downtown.(no offense to anybody)

Also, I would go to the County Hospital, not local if you live in the suburbs.

SantaCruzGuy
May 7, 2008, 4:54 AM
In Long Beach, the blue line passes less than 100 feet from the main entrance of Renaissance High School in DTLB. There are no gates that cover the rails from the street. I can walk out of the school gate, step out into the street, simply cross one lane of traffic, and I am standing in the middle of the tracks... I have been a substitute for the school many times, and I have lived in DTLB for more than a year, and there has not been an accident with a train and a high school student...

Wright Concept
May 7, 2008, 5:06 AM
^ Eli Broad should put his money where is mouth is. If he really wants LA to become "a world class city" then he should understand how important it is to link LA by rail. He should put up at least 2 miles worth of money (about a billion) and have the station named after him.

That was one of the main reasons when he started talking on the Grand Avenue project I shook my head and wonder. Here's a man who made his billions off of Single Family Home development contributing to the sprawl in Los Angeles and elsewhere talking about making LA a world class city yet is not offering a dime to help, unless we make the station an Museum space. :jester:

Quixote
May 8, 2008, 4:38 AM
Regional Connector Down to Two Alternatives (http://www.blogdowntown.com/2008/05/3297-regional-connector-down-to-two-alternatives)

By Eric Richardson
May 07, 2008

Planning for the Regional Connector is down to two preferred alternatives, one above ground and one below. Costs for the two differ by only $150 million.

At a meeting of the Bringing Back Broadway Streetcar Committee this afternoon, Metro staff presented the Connector project, intended to link the Blue and Expo light rail lines with the two parts of the Gold Line. At peak times, 48 trains per hour will use the Connector.

The cost difference between the two was much narrower than many had expected. The above-ground Connector estimates came in at $650 million, with a subway alternative at $800 million.

Eight alternatives were presented at meetings in February (http://blogdowntown.com/2008/02/3149-metro-says-welcome-to-the-new-second-street), but only two will move forward in the Alternatives Analysis process.

The above-ground alternative -- Alternative 3B in Metro's original presentations -- would begin below-grade on Flower, connected to the existing tail tracks at the 7th / Metro station. It would come above ground at 4th, where it would have a surface station. It would cross 3rd street at-grade below cutting into the 2nd street tunnel and turning east. The Connector would turn north off of 2nd, using Main and Los Angeles streets in a paired-couplet configuration before turning right at Temple and connecting to the Gold Line above the Little Tokyo / Arts District station.

2nd street would be removed from normal auto service, and only a single access lane would be provided along the portion travelled by the Connector.

The below-ground alternative -- Alternative 5 from the original eight -- would run as a complete subway, heading north on Flower and turning east under 2nd. It would surface in the lot currently occupied by the Office Depot in Little Tokyo, and would cross Alameda at-grade. Stations would be located roughly at 5th & Flower, 2nd & Hope and 2nd & Spring / Main.

Metro hopes to complete its Alternatives Analysis within a year, and start the process of going after Federal New Start funds. Staff today said that the Connector project should score as one of the most competitive projects in the country.

Initial operation plans would have trains running north-south and east-west, with one line running Long Beach to Pasadena and the other from Culver City to East L.A.

JDRCRASH
May 8, 2008, 5:18 PM
^

I choose the One Below! :cheers:

danparker276
May 8, 2008, 6:17 PM
I made a youtube video of that Subway Speed racer advertisment on the Red line from Hollywood and Highland to Unviersal city

http://youtube.com/watch?v=uiFTiz3oe7o

DowntownCharlieBrown
May 8, 2008, 7:19 PM
^That would scare the sh*t out of me if I was on the subway and didn't know that was coming.

Very creative and very clever.

I have been wanting to see that. Dan, thanks for the post.

dragonsky
May 9, 2008, 2:10 AM
Think Southern California's freeways are jammed? You should see the calendars of upcoming road work
Tom Bogard, Orange County's highway director, will be coordinating with his counterparts in neighboring counties to ease commuters' inconvenience.
By David Reyes, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2008

Inside Tom W. Bogard's office, maps are everywhere. They help the highway director for the Orange County Transportation Authority see the future -- or at least where the next caution signs for construction will be posted.

Over the next five years, Bogard and his counterparts in neighboring counties will act as railroad yardmasters, coordinating projects to relieve congestion so they are spaced apart and done mostly at night, so commuters can avoid delays.

"Work is underway for $2 billion in projects in Orange County," Bogard said. For freeway engineers, planning analysts and environmental firms, that's the equivalent of the gun going off in an Oklahoma land rush.

San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties, in partnership with the California Department of Transportation, have such busy calendars for freeway work, including interchanges and widenings, that experts say the boom is enough to bump up the sluggish construction economy.

Because of its size, Los Angeles County hopes to spend $150 billion over the next two decades on an ambitious agenda that includes dozens of highway and transit projects, including rail extensions such as the Gold Line into San Gabriel Valley. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority relies on two tax measures and is studying whether to have voters approve a third sales tax. Despite the ambitious agenda, more than a dozen projects are not funded, said MTA spokesman Marc Littman.

In Orange County, the last time the drawing board for freeways was so crowded was in the late 1980s. This year's schedule has five projects, including revamped interchanges and widening, on the 5 and 22 freeways.

Orange County transit authorities want to tap into the funds expected to flow from a renewed sales tax, saving money on escalating construction and materials costs.

That's set off a planning binge, begun after OCTA sold up to $400 million in commercial paper to kick-start projects. San Diego and Riverside have taken similar steps, prompting OCTA to pay for a study to determine whether construction and engineering firms here can handle the extra load and whether enough are available for projects.

Bogard's maps show that over the next three years, widening and interchange work will begin on the congested 91 and 57 freeways in northern Orange County and I-5 in the south, where new interchanges at Avenida Pico and Ortega Highway are being planned.

In another month, environmental work will begin on the 405 Freeway, which will be widened by two lanes in each direction along a 13-mile stretch from Costa Mesa to Long Beach.

Riverside County, which anticipates $2 billion in public works improvements over the next 10 years, sold $130 million in commercial paper with the intent to improve the 91 Freeway. San Diego, which wants to unclog congested corridors in North County, borrowed $500 million against future tax revenue.

"Construction costs were rising 2% to 3% a year, but in the last several years, we were getting into the double digits," said Jack Boda, mobility director for the San Diego Assn. of Governments.

The strategy to borrow against future tax revenue is sound, Boda said, because it helps road-building agencies take advantage of current planning and building costs, essentially discounting future work.

San Diego County's proposals include improvements to I-5, I-15 and a major widening of I-805, Boda said.

In Orange County, the first $25 million from the bond sale arrived last month, leading to the study to determine whether there are enough firms to handle the workload.

Wallace Walrod, vice president of research for the Orange County Business Council, which is doing the OCTA assessment, said there appeared to be enough design and construction firms to handle the business. "Part of the optimism is the downturn in the economy has freed up capacity.

"If the economy had been roaring strong, there might have been larger hurdles," he said.

In addition to freeways, OCTA has received state funds to start renovating eight railroad crossings, complete traffic signal synchronization and aid cities with road improvements.

All those projects are welcome news for design, construction and consultant firms large and small.

"We're stretched thin, but on the other hand it's a good time to grow, and Southern California has a lot of work expected," said Maureen "Mo" Hayes, vice president of business development for Parsons Corp., an international engineering and construction firm.

H. Tony Rahimian, who owns RMC Inc., a transportation planning and design firm in Irvine, was on his own until nearly a year ago. Now the firm has 10 employees and has clients in Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties.

"When you look at the tax measures for the immediate five or six counties, excluding L.A., they total about $50 billion over the next 30 years, and that dollar amount isn't going to go away," Rahimian said.

"I believe this has been identified by most of us in the industry as a significant challenge. . . . The question is, can we sustain this growth," he said.

http://www.latimes.com/media/graphic/2008-05/38621147.gif

JDRCRASH
May 9, 2008, 3:13 PM
I saw this in the LA Times.....complete stupidity if you ask me.

Echo Park
May 9, 2008, 7:04 PM
Rising fuel prices are a driving force for change - away from autos
http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2008-05/38572898.jpg
People are walking more and using alternative forms of transportation to save money, including the Gold Line.

Some L.A. residents are relying more on bicycles, trains, buses, scooters and carpooling - or just walking.
By Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 9, 2008

When food and gasoline prices started climbing, Thomas Franklin started putting one foot in front of the other and -- the horror -- often walked where he needed to go.

"My friends ask me what's wrong with me," said the 29-year-old talent agency scout, who recently sold his Ford Escape and bought a Vespa scooter. Franklin relies on the scooter, public transit and his own two feet to get around town and estimates that he is saving about $70 a week by not driving to work in Los Angeles from his home in Van Nuys.

But people are cutting back in a million little ways, and even in the Los Angeles area they're cutting back on driving. Interest in cycling is growing, gasoline consumption is down and bus and light-rail ridership is up.

After declining at the end of 2007, L.A. rail and bus ridership started rising in January. From January to March, average weekday boardings were up 16% on the Red Line rail system, 13% on the Blue Line and 17% on the Gold Line, which set a record for highest average weekday boardings in March with 22,231. Bus ridership grew 8% from January to March.

The explanation is in the math. It costs $1.25 to take the train from the North Hollywood Metro station to the stop at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, while driving a car would cost $6.05, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (The agency uses the AAA formula, which sets the cost of driving at 56.2 cents a mile when gasoline and vehicle wear and tear are taken into account.)

MTA statistics show that carpooling has become more popular too. An average of 50 new van pools have been created each month since the authority's program was started last year.

Steven Schoeffler, executive director of eRideShare.com, a national site where people find others with whom to carpool, said these days there were more than 100 new listings every 24 hours on the site. Before March, there were about 30 to 40 new listings a day -- about 30% from California. Web traffic to the site has doubled since February.

"Gas prices are up at the same time as food prices, and that's hurting a lot of people," he said.

That includes Eric Berg, a movie production artist who has started carpooling to work with his brother. They have two Subarus, but one sits in the garage of their apartment in Hollywood while one sibling drives the other to work in West Hollywood. Berg has also started walking to the Hollywood Farmers Market for fruit and vegetables and to a nearby Fresh & Easy market for groceries.

On a recent weekday morning, he walked from his office to Target to buy a prop, although his employers "would want me to drive" because it's faster, he said.

Besides shoe leather, bicycle tires are also seeing more pavement these days. Aurisha Smolarski, outreach coordinator for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said more people were biking to work. The group's membership has been rising in 2008, she said, and more people have been coming into the community center to get information about routes and to have their bikes repaired.

Michael Giardina, a Miracle Mile resident starting his own business, uses his bicycle for daily errands. "I'm cutting back on everything, including driving," he said, though he doesn't have a bike lock yet, limiting his flexibility.

Not everyone who switches to biking, walking or carpooling will stick with it, MTA spokesman Dave Sotero said.

The MTA usually sees a temporary increase in riders when gas prices reach certain thresholds, like $3, $3.50 and $4 a gallon, he said. Then ridership goes down once people become accustomed to the higher cost.

"What we hope every time," he said, "is that as more people become introduced to using rail as an alternative, we can retain more of those discretionary riders over time."

What is more likely, said Brian Taylor, director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, is that people will begin buying more fuel-efficient vehicles. In April, in fact, sales of passenger cars were up 5.2% nationally while light-truck and sport utility vehicle sales were down 17.4%.

Franklin, the talent scout, said his experience as a walker in Southern California had convinced him that the car culture was unlikely to change.

"When people see you walking, they think something's wrong with you," he said. "People driving by turn their heads away like you're going to ask them for money."

alana.semuels@latimes.com

JDRCRASH
May 9, 2008, 7:49 PM
From Get L.A. Moving:

http://glam.fminus.com/images/splashmap2.gif


Financing Construction

Substantial cost savings can be found by completing the G.L.A.M. plan with an aggressive construction schedule, using design standardization and working from a master plan. With continuous construction, the cost of building up and breaking down bureaucracies is eliminated. Materials can be purchased in huge bulk, a kit of parts could be available for each of the projects, and future station junctions can be designed and built keeping in mind future lines that will serve the station.


Based on past and current rail projects in Los Angeles and abroad we estimate the cost of designing and building the additional 390 miles of track in 13 years using economy of scale is between $31-38 billion dollars.

There are a plethora of ways to use our tax dollars to pay for this improvement to our transit system that will connect our region, free us of the expensive cost of personal automobiles and provide an alternative to stress and gridlock. But the most effective way is for the county to issue a $20 billion dollar bond, which is about the same amount of bonds we've invested in the LAUSD school construction project ($19.2 billion).


The bond allows us to build now and pay later. Repayment on the bond would be spread out over 30 years and with interest it would likely be about $1.3 billion per year. The first year of full bond repayment for this vital improvement to our region would consume only 5% of the county budget and it would descend from that peak annually. By year 13, bond repayment would likely be just 3% of the county budget.

The remaining capital cost of the project can be found by using the bond to leverage state and federal matches. Our substantial local down payment would be a major advantage when competing for funding in Sacramento and D.C. with other projects in other regions that lack a similar local commitment. Additionally, because the need and rewards of some of the line extensions are so obvious, several of the projects would instantly become the #1 passenger rail priority according to state and federal transportation analysis.

Most importantly, Los Angeles County deserves its fair share. In the case of the federal government, only 79 cents out of every dollar we send to D.C. comes back to California. With our rock star local leaders, and our powerful Congressional leaders who now run Capitol Hill we should expect and get a more equitable return from our federal government with its nearly $3 trillion dollar annual budget.

Auditors/inspector generals with impeccable credentials and credibility and a citizen advisory board would monitor each Joint Powers Authority to ensure that our tax dollars are being appropriately spent. Public transparency and competitive bidding would be a must.

dragonsky
May 14, 2008, 2:01 AM
O.C. agency approves $12 million to study transit ideas
A monorail in Anaheim and trolley system in Santa Ana are being considered to lighten traffic load.
By David Reyes, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 13, 2008
In Anaheim, planners are mulling a monorail to move passengers from the city's train station to its resort district.

In Santa Ana, the idea is a bit more old school -- trolleys.

In an effort to get such wide-ranging projects off the ground, Orange County transportation leaders Monday approved spending $12 million to complete environmental studies for inner-city public transportation projects.

As part of Anaheim's plan to transform the area near Angel Stadium into a vibrant residential and retail community, the city wanted an inviting, if not entertaining, way of moving people from the train station to their destination, said Mayor Curt Pringle.

"With the expansion of the Disneyland area, we need to keep cars off the streets" to keep traffic down, Pringle said.

Critics note that monorails are expensive compared with other forms of transportation.

But supporters say the 2.5-mile Disneyland monorail has achieved iconic status, something the city hopes to share, Pringle said.

The monorail opened at a cost of $1 million in 1959.

By contrast, it will cost $6 million alone for environmental and preliminary engineering studies just to determine whether the idea is feasible, said Orange County Transportation Authority planners.

Santa Ana, working with Garden Grove, also received nearly $6 million to study moving Metrolink riders five miles from the Santa Ana train station to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove.

City planners envision using a trolley or bus system that would run along the old Pacific Electric Railway right of way.

Metrolink service in Orange County is scheduled to expand, and planners have pushed cities to explore ways to get riders from train stations to area employers, malls and hotels.

By 2010, the goal is to have commuter trains running every 30 minutes, from 5 a.m. to midnight, weekdays between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel. Seven locomotives and 59 passenger cars have been ordered, new track has been laid and parking lot improvements are scheduled or underway at stations in Fullerton, Orange, Tustin, Irvine and Laguna Niguel.

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach and other board members expressed concern about using the right of way in Santa Ana and Garden Grove and the veracity of ridership numbers submitted by Anaheim and Santa Ana.

Anaheim estimated at least 2.4 million riders annually by 2030. Santa Ana projected 4.2 million a year by 2030.

Art Leahy, OCTA's chief executive, assured the agency's board that its action Monday was meant to determine whether the projects were feasible. He said cities and OCTA would conduct separate analyses on ridership.

OCTA board member and Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante wants cities to verify their ridership projections.

"I have no assurance that these numbers have been scrubbed," Amante said. "I want to know that at the end of $6 million, we will know how many riders they're going to have."

dragonsky
May 15, 2008, 1:54 AM
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
What should be done to ease traffic between O.C. and L.A.?
Transit planners seek input on solutions at forum Thursday in Cypress.
By ELLYN PAK
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

What types of improvements could ease traffic congestion between Orange and Los Angeles counties?

Residents from both counties are encouraged to provide feedback at a forum from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cypress Community Center, 5700 Orange Ave., Cypress.

Transportation planners have put together proposals under the OC/LA Intercounty Transportation Study, which analyzes bus, rail and vehicle traffic in the region and develops strategies for improvements.

Improvements could include increased bus service, traffic signal coordination, street and freeway widening, freeway interchange improvements and public-private partnerships.

For more information, visit www.octa.net/oc-lastudy.

BrighamYen
May 15, 2008, 8:28 AM
^ When gasoline prices hit $6 a gallon, that will be the most effective way of "easing traffic" between LA and "the OC." Jerry Amante, the director over at the OCTA, is a complete idiot that is a testament to how provincial the political leaders are in Orange County when it comes to looking a bit further ahead. Just a year ago, Amante was saying (paraphrased a bit): "Down in Orange County, we're proud to build more lanes and not trains. Sorry LA, we look to 'real' solutions instead of pie-in-the-sky ideas about getting people out of their cars. We're proud of our automobile-centric society!"

Well, Mr. Amante, I wrote you an email (I know you read it because I received a read-receipt back) that said oil would get really expensive because of peak oil. Now your residents are going to suffer when they look around and see there is NO WAY you can get around "the OC" except by way of car.

LongBeachUrbanist
May 15, 2008, 6:36 PM
How to ease L.A.-O.C. traffic? Two words: "405 Metrolink".

To me, this is a no-brainer. Yes, I know it would cost a fortune, and remove some traffic lanes. But where else do you have a diagonal path through Orange County's most dense areas, and some of the worst traffic in Southern California? It could be tied into the Blue Line and Green Line. It could serve UCI, UCLA, and the SF Valley as well.

Quixote
May 16, 2008, 12:32 AM
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/16/22307111_92af15363d.jpg

Hail-a-Taxi Gets a Go, Downtown to Be Test Subject (http://www.angelenic.com/hail-a-taxi-gets-a-go-downtown-to-be-test-subject/)

By Stephen Friday
May 15, 2008

Car-free Downtowners and confused tourists can breathe a sigh of relief today, and maybe a whistle tomorrow.

The highly-lauded Hail-a-Taxi initiative took a huge leap forward this morning at City Hall after the Taxicab Commission unanimously approved the measure, giving cab drivers the right to pick up passengers anywhere on the streets of our city.

The process now moves on to hearings by the Transportation Committee and City Council, leading to a July 1 launch date of the six-month pilot program in Downtown. According to Councilwoman Jan Perry’s press deputy Eva Kandarpa, the item should be agendized quickly for the remaining approvals.

If successful in Downtown, Hail-a-Taxi will be expanded through out Los Angeles.

Though pedestrians can technically hail a cab without the measure, drivers are subject to fines if they pick up fares anywhere other than loading zones, and designated taxi areas - making it nearly impossible to enjoy the conveniences of instant auto transportation.

The local law which prohibits the passenger pickup, established as a means traffic congestion prevention, has been viewed as a hindrance in the evolution of a 24-hour urban core. Seeing that local support for the initiative remains strong among business owners, residents and government officials, full approval is expected soon.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user So Cal Metro (http://www.flickr.com/photos/southerncalifornian/).

luckyeight
May 18, 2008, 11:07 PM
THE LOS ANGELES STREETCAR WORKSHOP
Thursday May 22, 2008
Orpheum Theatre 842 S. Broadway, Downtown L.A.
7:30am - 5:30pm

Panel workshops will be held throughout the day on May 22 at the
OrpheumTheatre, on topics such as Streetcar 101, economic development
related to streetcars in western cities, models for public / private
partnerships and federal funding, design and implementation among other
topics.

Registration is only $25 for Los Angeles residents, business &
property owners, and includes all conference sessions, breakfast and
lunch. Please attend and participate!

PLEASE REGISTER ASAP (we must get a headcount - breakfast & lunch is
provided, so please do register if you plan to attend) To register go
to www.theseasideinstitute.org <http://www.theseasideinstitute.org/>
or call
(850) 231-2421.

WHY:
The tremendous success of the Portland streetcar has revolutionized
the way cities think about transit and economic development,
stimulating $3.5 billion in investment in a hugely popular new
downtown neighborhood called the Pearl. Streetcars are uniquely suited
to serve all the high-density development underway in downtowns across
the U.S.

PURPOSE:
The workshop is intended to help Los Angelenos find out how streetcar
systems are revitalizing cities, and what a streetcar could do for
downtowns in Southern California - by providing sustainable
transportation, walkable neighborhoods and greener lifestyles, and by
providing traffic circulation which would complement and provide
linkages between other important transportation efforts, such as light
rail, bus, etc.

WORKSHOP SPONSORS:
Hosted by Reconnecting America and the Seaside Institute. Sponsors
include the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles City Councilmembers
JoséHuizar and Jan Perry, Historic Downtown BID, South Park BID,
Bringing Back Broadway Initiative, CRA/LA, Los Angeles Dept. Of
Transportation, Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council, Central City
Association, American Public Transportation Association, Los Angeles
Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, LA Fashion Business Improvement District,
Standard Hotel, Williams and Dame Development, the IBI Group and
others.

See you Thursday May 22!

7:30am Registration ⋅ Coffee and Continental Breakfast

8:00am WELCOME & OPENING REMARKS
* José Huizar, Los Angeles Councilmember, 14th District
* Jan Perry, Los Angeles Councilmember, 9th District
* Glenn Wasserman, Chief Operating Officer, Community Redevelopment
Agency /
Los Angeles
8:30am WHY MODERN STREETCARS AND WHY NOW?
* Gloria Ohland, Reconnecting America; author of award-winning "Street
Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the
21st Century"

8:45am – 10:45am PANEL DISCUSSION #1
STREETCARS 101
A 2-hour discussion about how streetcar systems shape development,
stimulate economic development, increase transit ridership and
connectivity, and leverage private investment in high-quality public
space. Stories and lessons learned from Seattle & Portland about the
affect of streetcar systems on urban development and sustainable
living. Overview of political and funding strategies and the outlook
for federal funding for streetcars through the FTA's
Small Starts program. Questions will be taken from the audience as
time allows at the end of the panel discussion.
MODERATORS:
José Huizar, Los Angeles City Councilmember, 14th District
Jessica Wethington McLean, Planning & Economic Development Director,
Office
of Councilmember José Huizar

PANELISTS:
Vicky Diede: Streetcar Project Manager, Portland Streetcar, City of
Portland Michael Powell: Business Owner, Powell's Books, Portland
Ken Johnsen: Principal, Shiels Obletz Johnsen; Project Director, South
Lake Union Streetcar Jared Smith: Senior Vice President, Parsons
Brinckerhoff, Seattle Charlie Hales: Sr. Vice President &Transit
Planning Principal, HDR Portland; Former Portland Transportation
Commissioner Jeff Boothe: Partner, Holland & Knight; Chair, New Starts
Working Group; Executive Director, Community Streetcar Coalition GB
Arrington: Principal Practice Leader, Parsons Brinckerhoff PB
Placemaking


10:45am – 11:30am PANEL DISCUSSION #2
FROM THE RED CAR TROLLEY OF YESTERYEAR TO THE MODERN STREETCAR OF
TOMORROW
The City of Los Angeles is about to embark on the second phase of a
feasibility study for a downtown L.A. streetcar, which has the support
of downtown's major public and private stakeholders. L.A. once had the
largest electric trolley system in the U.S., with 6,000 trains running
on 144 routes in four counties. A new streetcar system would be
modern, efficient, and environmentally friendly – a departure from
the
tourist trolley, or vintage streetcar of decades past. Hear about the
genesis of the current interest in a modern streetcar transportation
system for downtown, what's been done thus far, what the next steps
will be and how you can be involved. Questions will be taken from the
audience as time allows at the end of the panel discussion.

MODERATOR:
Curt Gibbs, Community Redevelopment Agency, Los Angeles
PANELISTS:
Steve Schiboula, Director, IBI Group
Homer Williams, Chairman, Williams & Dame Development
Steve Brye, Project Manager, METRO, Los Angeles


11:30am – 12:15pm PANEL DISCUSSION #3
"OK, BUT WHAT ABOUT…?" Questions of the morning panelists posed by
city & downtown leaders City and downtown leaders ask the advice of
the national experts about issues relevant to Los Angeles: Topics may
include: How will a streetcar system link to other transit options
downtown? Why a modern streetcar, instead of a vintage trolley? Why
rails, not rubber wheels? Who will ride a streetcar? How would a
downtown L.A. streetcar system really get funded? What does that mean
for property owners? How can we leverage private investment in
affordable housing and high-quality parks and public space? What
options exist for federal funding? And more!
MODERATOR: Tim Baldwin, Transportation Planner / Senior Associate, URS
Corporation

QUESTIONS FROM:
Carol Schatz, President & CEO, Central City Association / Downtown
Center Business Improvement District Emily Gabel-Luddy, Principal City
Planner, Urban Design Studio, Cityof Los Angeles Department of
Planning Russell Brown, Executive Director, Historic Downtown L.A.
Improvement District; President, Downtown L.A.
Neighborhood Council Diego Cardoso, Executive Officer, Transportation
Development and Implementation, METRO, Los Angeles
Jay Kim, Senior Transportation Engineer, City of Los Angeles
Department of Transportation

12:15pm – 1:15pm CASUAL / BOX LUNCH PROVIDED FOR ALL ATTENDEES IN THE
LOBBY


1:15pm – 2:15pm PANEL DISCUSSION #4
STREETCARS 202: DESIGN, FUNDING AND IMPLEMENTATION
How are streetcars different from light rail? What does a starter
system look like and how much does it cost?
Choosing the right system, boundaries and alignment. Storage &
maintenance requirements. Limiting costs and
designing to budget and addressing other infrastructure needs.
Questions will be taken from the audience as time allows at the end of
the panel discussion.

PANELISTS:
Tom Hickey, National Transit Planning Manager, Gannett Fleming,
Philadelphia Mark Dorn, Senior Project Manager, URS Corporation,
Portland John Schumann, Senior Transportation Consultant, LTK
Engineering Services David Taylor, Director of Sustainable
Transportation Solutions, HDR James Graebner, Chair, American Public
Transit Association (APTA) Streetcar
and Heritage Trolley and Streetcar
Subcommittee, Denver
2:15pm – 3:15pm PANEL DISCUSSION #5
LOCAL CASE STUDIES
Brief case studies will be presented on projects in Pasadena, Santa
Ana, San Pedro and Irvine, with a discussion about some outstanding
issues with each project.Questions will be taken from the audience as
time allows at the end of thepanel discussion.

MODERATOR: Rich Weaver, Director of Planning & Programs American Public
Transit Association (APTA)
PANELISTS:
Fred Dock, Director of Transportation, City of Pasadena
Toni Bates, Senior Planning Manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Bob Henry, Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission / San Pedro Streetcar
Jolene Hayes, Supervising Transportation Analyst, City of Irvine,

3:15pm CLOSING REMARKS


:banana: :banana: :banana: :banana: :banana:

LongBeachUrbanist
May 19, 2008, 9:50 PM
^ If only I could. Can't take a whole day off from work.

BrighamYen
May 20, 2008, 5:22 AM
^ I think one of the most important areas to install a streetcar system is in Pasadena. From Old Town to Paseo Colorado to the Playhouse to South Lake Avenue to Caltech, a streetcar would tie together all the wonderful districts of Pasadena into one coherent urban area that would be as wonderful as Portland.

This streetcar would essentially go down Green Street and if you're familiar with Pasadena, you'll realize just how much it would make sense to put a streetcar line down this street (parallel to busy Colorado).

Wright Concept
May 24, 2008, 3:36 AM
LA Downtown News
Transit Project Inches Forward
Downtown Regional Connector Down to Two Options
by Anna Scott


The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has narrowed down plans for its proposed Downtown Regional Connector to two options - a mostly street-level light rail line, or a subway.

Both alternatives would fill the approximately two-mile public transportation gap between the Financial District and Little Tokyo on the east side of Downtown, and link four light-rail lines that will eventually traverse the community to create more direct routes throughout L.A.

The street-level option is estimated at approximately $650 million, while the subway could cost $800 million or more.

While the project could take a decade to come to fruition, plans are slowly moving forward. Metro in recent weeks presented details on the options to community groups, including the Little Tokyo Community Council last Tuesday.

Officials said they chose the two preferred routes based on public input and an analysis of ridership potential within Downtown Los Angeles.
"The idea was to locate the stations where we can maximize service to potential riders, where people are concentrated and where we have proposals" for new development, said Diego Cardoso, an executive officer with Metro (and a City Planning commissioner).

The Missing Link

The Downtown Regional Connector would link the Gold Line, which connects Pasadena to Union Station; the upcoming Gold Line Eastside Extension, which will continue the route through East L.A., with completion expected next year; the Blue Line, which runs between Long Beach and a station at Seventh and Flower streets; and the future Expo Line, which will also feature a stop at Seventh and Flower before stretching west to Culver City.

Metro officials began studying various alignments, station locations and transit options for the Downtown Connector last year. After a series of meetings, they narrowed it down to the light-rail and subway lines.
Both options would start at the existing terminus of the Blue Line, the Seventh Street/Metro Center station, then continue north along Flower Street, cutting east at Second Street to meet the Gold Line in Little Tokyo.

The street-level option would emerge at Flower and Fourth streets, dip back underground after crossing Third Street and, after heading east, re-emerge at Second Street and Grand Avenue and continue into what is now the Second Street tunnel. The tracks would veer north on Main Street to Temple Street, then continue east to Little Tokyo. A southbound route along Los Angeles Street would also link Temple and Second streets.
Metro planning manager Peter Voorhees said the Connector would require turning the Second Street tunnel into a one-lane, one-way crossing.

The subway option would travel underground up Flower Street and below Second, continuing into Little Tokyo.

Both options would include a street-level, diagonal crossing at First and Alameda streets. Renderings of potential designs for that crossing include an underpass for traffic on Alameda Street. Metro planners say they have also considered elevated sidewalks there for pedestrians.

Up or Down

The Alameda and First crossing would traverse a key intersection, surrounded by the Japanese American National Museum, the Savoy apartment complex and the site of a proposed mixed-use development.
If Metro chooses the underground option, the agency would have to purchase a block at First and Alameda that currently houses an Office Depot to accommodate a subway portal. The agency might open up the rest of the parcel to mixed-use development, said Voorhees.

Robert Volk, who owns the north end of that block, which houses eateries the Weiland Brewery and Senor Fish, said he prefers the at-grade option in order to keep his own property intact and for its lower cost.
Downtown resident Jerard Wright, a construction manager and architect-designer who does not own a car, favors the underground option. "It simplifies things for the Metro system and our regular light-rail network," he said, and would more easily connect to Metro's proposed Subway to the Sea if that project comes to fruition.
Downtown resident Eric Richardson, who has written extensively about the Downtown Connector on his blogdowntown.com, prefers the subway based on how it would affect the neighborhood on a street level. "The impact on overall circulation that you would have by running a train on the surface through the Historic Core and the Civic Center would be a long-term detriment for Downtown," he said.

Metro officials plan to finalize their report on preferred routing options for the Downtown Connector this summer, and will seek approval from the Metro board to move forward with the project in September.
If Metro approves continuing the study, officials can begin analyzing environmental impacts, which could take two to three years. They would also start looking for funding at that point.
Completion is likely seven to 10 years away.

Contact Anna Scott at anna@downtownnews.com.
page 10, 5/26/2008

Quixote
May 24, 2008, 4:48 AM
Metro Gold Line Almost Completed (http://laist.com/2008/05/23/metro_gold_line_1.php)

May 23, 2008

Today, Metro announced that the Gold Line East Extension is 80% completed. But don't think that means you'll be riding into Little Tokyo and out to East LA by the end of this summer. Metro has always conceded that project will by done by the end of 2009, yet construction is now almost six months ahead of time. That means it could open in the summer of '09 if all goes well with the remaining 20%. Keep your fingers crossed.

Also, Metro is happy to report something unprecedented in construction safety: after more than 3 million work-hours, there have been no accidents causing construction to stop for a single day or more.

The Gold Line is a six-mile extension from Union Station to East LA with eight stations, two of which are underground. Currently, the Gold Line goes from downtown to Pasadena. Metro shared some sneak peak photos of what things are looking like:

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/71MGL-EE-Underground-Pictur.jpg
Tunnel between Mariachi Plaza station and Soto Station, under First Street.

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/81MGL-EE-Underground-Pictur.jpg
Mariachi Plaza Station (platform in construction)

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/80MGL-EE-Underground-Pictur.jpg
Same location from the tracks floor

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/91MGL-EE-Underground-Pictur.jpg
Same location: taken from the mezzanine level toward the platform

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/20-goldline041508JO020.jpg
Atlantic station @ Atlantic and Pomona boulevards, East Los Angeles

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/42-goldline.jpg
Maravilla station, at Third Street and Ford St.

http://laist.com/attachments/la_zach/7goldline.jpg
Left: Catenary system at Third Street, between 710 Freeway and Mednick, East Los Angeles | Right: Maravilla station, at Third Street and Ford St.

sopas ej
May 29, 2008, 4:00 AM
I'm really excited about this extension, then I can take the train straight to Little Tokyo!

I'm also really looking forward to the 1st Street Bridge widening and restoration:

http://eng.lacity.org/projects/fwp/images/bridge_image.JPG
From lacity.org

BrighamYen
May 29, 2008, 6:28 AM
^ That should be one of the safer bridges to be on in a moderate sized earthquake. I'm assuming the bridge will be retrofitted accordingly since half of it will be (if not already) sliced off and rebuilt to match the historic side.

Without trying to sound selfish, I am glad this Gold Line is being extended because then there will be NO WAIT at the Union Station Gold Line stop. One of my main gripes about the Gold Line right now is how long riders have to wait at Union Station before it departs. It's kind of standard procedure for metros across the US I believe to have to wait for a little bit at each terminus. However, once the Gold Line is extended, Union Station will be just another stop along the way, and there will be no wait! You either catch the train or you don't, and I prefer that to sitting impatiently inside the train waiting for it to leave if you caught it early on.

And yes, it'll be quite nice to take the train directly to Little Tokyo from Pasadena or even from Monterey Park!

BrighamYen
May 29, 2008, 6:46 AM
I don't think this was posted. I'm curious as to when this "bus-only lane" would be implemented on Wilshire. That would actually be really nice to have a lane dedicated to buses to separate public transit from private vehicles on the busiest street in Southern California.



12 Miles Of Wilshire Bouleverd Will Have Bus-Only Lane

POSTED: 11:11 am PST March 7, 2008
UPDATED: 11:46 am PST March 7, 2008

LOS ANGELES -- Twelve miles of one lane of Wilshire Boulevard between Los Angeles and Santa Monica will be made into a bus-only lane with funding from the state, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday.

In all, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive $171 million from the state for a range of transit improvement projects around Los Angeles, Schwarzenegger said.

The money will also be used to expand the Mid City/Exposition light-rail line, purchase 95 natural gas buses and rehabilitate older buses, according to the governor's office.

The Orange County Transportation Authority was awarded $25.2 million to build natural gas fueling infrastructure in Garden Grove, Anaheim and Irvine and to purchase paratransit vehicles for persons with disabilities.

The money will come from funds generated by Proposition 1B, a $20 billion infrastructure bond approved by voters in 2006.

About $394 million in Proposition 1B money was awarded today to 106 projects statewide, according to Schwarzenegger's office.

"Up and down the state, our transit money will expand rail lines, buy vehicles for persons with disabilities and help systems upgrade to cleaner, more efficient buses," Schwarzenegger said.

It is the first of two rounds of funding from the bond's $3.6 billion Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement and Service Enhancement account, according to Schwarzenegger.


http://my-photo-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/Wilshire.jpg

JDRCRASH
May 29, 2008, 5:29 PM
God, those are nice pics underground Westsidelife!!:tup:

LAsam
May 29, 2008, 8:32 PM
I'm really excited about this extension, then I can take the train straight to Little Tokyo!

I'm also really looking forward to the 1st Street Bridge widening and restoration:

http://eng.lacity.org/projects/fwp/images/bridge_image.JPG
From lacity.org

See, look at the impact on traffic the Gold Line has! :D Glad to hear some of that $171M is going toward Expo Line phase 2. That's a big big project for the Westside.

DowntownCharlieBrown
May 29, 2008, 10:47 PM
originally posted by: LosAngelesBeauty;
Without trying to sound selfish, I am glad this Gold Line is being extended because then there will be NO WAIT at the Union Station Gold Line stop. One of my main gripes about the Gold Line right now is how long riders have to wait at Union Station before it departs. It's kind of standard procedure for metros across the US I believe to have to wait for a little bit at each terminus. However, once the Gold Line is extended, Union Station will be just another stop along the way, and there will be no wait!



Now I get it. It just clicked. The two times I caught the Blue Line at 7th/Fig, I sat in the train thinking "Get moving, already". But since that was the terminus, it has to wait. And it will be that way until the downtown connector is complete. So really, the more lines that are built, the more convenient the system becomes in so many ways.

sopas ej
May 29, 2008, 11:41 PM
Without trying to sound selfish, I am glad this Gold Line is being extended because then there will be NO WAIT at the Union Station Gold Line stop. One of my main gripes about the Gold Line right now is how long riders have to wait at Union Station before it departs. It's kind of standard procedure for metros across the US I believe to have to wait for a little bit at each terminus. However, once the Gold Line is extended, Union Station will be just another stop along the way, and there will be no wait! You either catch the train or you don't, and I prefer that to sitting impatiently inside the train waiting for it to leave if you caught it early on.

And yes, it'll be quite nice to take the train directly to Little Tokyo from Pasadena or even from Monterey Park!

I totally feel the same way, once the Eastside extension is open then there won't be anymore waiting at Union Station.

The SFO BART station is also a terminus station and thus when I took it last weekend into SF it felt like it sat there forever. Probably 10 minutes or so.

StethJeff
May 30, 2008, 2:24 AM
disclaimer: i work at the lac+usc medical center

nevertheless, it kills me that the eastside extension manages to bypass one of the city (and county's) most important resources. the gold line loops around with 3 or 4 stations about a mile or so away from the hospital. very few spots in LA attract such a high volume of people from every part of the region on a daily basis - this includes employees, students, patients, etc.

wouldn't it make sense to plant a station right next to one of the busiest medical centers in the country? i'm sorry, but that shitty busway to union station doesn't cut it.

sopas ej
May 30, 2008, 3:34 AM
disclaimer: i work at the lac+usc medical center

nevertheless, it kills me that the eastside extension manages to bypass one of the city (and county's) most important resources. the gold line loops around with 3 or 4 stations about a mile or so away from the hospital. very few spots in LA attract such a high volume of people from every part of the region on a daily basis - this includes employees, students, patients, etc.

wouldn't it make sense to plant a station right next to one of the busiest medical centers in the country? i'm sorry, but that shitty busway to union station doesn't cut it.

A friend of mine used to work at White Memorial Hospital in Boyle Heights, and he would take the bus from Union Station, I believe it went down Cesar Chavez. He said the walk from the bus stop wasn't so bad and the buses ran often, but I guess County/USC is further up from White Memorial.

The Gold Line kinda doesn't make sense anyway; example, in Pasadena, it would have made more sense to put a station at Hill to better serve PCC and CalTech students instead of putting the station at Allen. HELL, instead of following the freeway it should have gone down Colorado or an adjacent east-west street, but we all know that it was about saving money and following an already-owned MTA right-of-way.

dragonsky
May 30, 2008, 1:20 PM
Is first street bridge closed?

sopas ej
May 30, 2008, 3:30 PM
Is first street bridge closed?

The bridge was closed for a bit a few months ago when they were laying down the tracks, but now it's open, with 2-way traffic using the south side of the bridge, one lane in either direction. The widening project should start soon, and it'll even involve demolishing part of an old brick building.

It's not the brick building you see in this pic that they're demolishing, but another one on the north side of the bridge.

http://www.metro.net/news_info/press/images/printSize/mgleeBridge.jpg
From the MTA website

LongBeachUrbanist
May 30, 2008, 10:12 PM
They were supposed to start widening that bridge a long time ago. I wonder what's the hold up?

dragonsky
Jun 6, 2008, 5:33 AM
Proposed L.A.-to-S.F. bullet train hits a snag
Union Pacific railroad is declining to share its right-of-way, saying it has safety and operational concerns about a bullet train running close to freight trains.
By Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
8:43 PM PDT, June 4, 2008

SACRAMENTO -- -- At a time of skyrocketing gas costs, soaring airline fares and global-warming fears, the timing would seem perfect for a statewide vote on a 200-mph bullet train.

But five months before voters decide whether to approve bonds for the high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the $30-billion project has hit a new obstacle.

An old-guard railroad is declining to share its right-of-way.

Officials at Union Pacific railroad recently told the California High Speed Rail Authority that they have safety and operational concerns about running a bullet train close to lumbering freight trains.

"Just look at what happened in L.A. a few years ago," said Scott Moore, a Union Pacific vice president, citing the 2005 crash of a Metrolink passenger train that killed 11 and hampered rail operations.

"Those accidents happen."

High-speed rail promoters say the freight hauler's hard-line stand may simply be a bargaining ploy, and could be overcome in any case by buying adjacent land.

"Some are saying 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling,' but it is not," said Mehdi Morshed, executive director of the rail authority.

A prominent environmental group and several railroad advocacy organizations, however, contend that Union Pacific's refusal will prove a formidable challenge to the project at a key moment. California voters will be asked in November to approve nearly $10 billion in bonds to help finance construction.

Stuart Flashman, an attorney representing those groups, said a shift away from running the bullet train in Union Pacific's right of way would require a new environmental analysis for affected sections of the route -- a process that could add time and dollars.

"Just the fact there's a delay will shoot the prices up again," he said. "This makes infeasible major portions of the high-speed route."

The bullet train line is designed to run alongside Union Pacific tracks for many miles in Southern California, the Central Valley and the Bay Area. Flashman said the biggest problems could be on the leg from the Central Valley across the Pacheco Pass to San Jose, and on the route from Bakersfield through Palmdale into Los Angeles.

"It's hard to back up and simply say: 'You can't use that,' " said Flashman, who represents the Planning and Conservation League, the California Rail Foundation and the Transportation Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Flashman said the organizations he represents support the high-speed rail line but also want safety concerns more fully addressed. Freight-car derailments occur "fairly often," he said.

"You can imagine if you have a high-speed train zooming through there and it hits one of those freight cars. It's not a pretty picture."

Critics question why the California High Speed Rail Authority didn't negotiate a deal long ago with Union Pacific.

Until a meeting last month, high-speed rail officials had not held formal discussions with Union Pacific in "a couple of years," said Moore of Union Pacific. "There's been no circumstance where we've indicated we felt this might be workable."

Morshed of the high-speed rail authority, however, insisted the process of planning and constructing what would be among the biggest public works projects in California history -- and the first high-speed rail line in the U.S. -- could overcome the obstacles.

He said miles of the high-speed route in some urban areas have already been purchased by the state to accommodate existing commuter trains. Along swaths under Union Pacific control, adjacent land held by private property owners could be purchased for tracks, he said.

But it isn't so easy, said Dan McNamara of the California Rail Foundation. In some areas, scores of houses would have to be uprooted, and the train would zoom past existing neighborhoods, he said. "I think they're remiss to say this isn't a problem that needs to be addressed."

McNamara said he believes the bond vote, already canceled by the Legislature on two previous occasions, should be delayed once again, and the planning should be put under the aegis of the Department of Transportation, "where there's some checks and balances."

"This is not ready for prime time," he said. "It needs to be done right."

Morshed, however, said the project was ready to go. A bigger worry, he said, could be the rising cost of raw materials such as steel and concrete. Aside from miles of new steel rails, the project would feature 650 steel and concrete highway bridges, which account for up to 40% of the entire project cost, Morshed said.

If voters approve the November ballot measure, project backers hope to get another $10 billion in financing from the federal government and an equal amount from private investors. Construction then could start in two to three years, and the first high-speed trains might be rolling within a decade, Morshed said.

In areas where the bullet train would run near freight trains, a stout barrier would separate the two sets of tracks, he said, adding that during decades of high-speed rail operations in France and Japan there have been no fatalities.

"We don't want to sacrifice the safety of our passengers any more than the railroad wants to sacrifice its freight," Morshed said. "We have much more valuable cargo."

dragonsky
Jun 7, 2008, 4:21 AM
Megabus.com may end service from Los Angeles
The bus company, which touted $1 fares, will stop taking bookings on several routes and expects to decide by Friday whether to pull out of the city.
By Jane Engle, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 13, 2008

Talk about a cheap fling that didn't last: Apparently even $1 fares to San Francisco and Las Vegas aren't enough to lure Angelenos out of their cars.

Megabus.com, a subsidiary of Coach USA that began bargain bus service in August from Los Angeles, has stopped taking bookings on several routes for trips after June 8. Megabus stopped serving San Diego and Phoenix from L.A. earlier this year and may end all service from the city.

Dale Moser, president of Megabus.com, said Monday that the Paramus, N.J., company, which operates a thriving network in the Midwest and elsewhere, expects to decide by Friday whether to pull out of Los Angeles.

"Quite frankly, the ridership hasn't been as robust as we'd like," Moser said. "We might just have to discontinue" the service.

Although the company's 56-seat buses sometimes pull out of Los Angeles 75% or 80% full, they sometimes carry as few as 12 riders, he said. "We're not seeing increasing trends. The graph has leveled off."

That's in sharp contrast to the Midwest, where Megabus.com serves 17 cities and has seen its business increase 137% during the last year, Moser said.

The company, which began service in April 2006, recently expanded to eight East Coast cities.

Moser said he didn't know why more Californians hadn't warmed up to Megabus.

Given high gasoline prices, congested roads, growing environmental consciousness and marquee destinations such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas, "we all truly believed that this would be an outstanding market," he said.

"Maybe, truth be told, we were unable to get them out of their cars," he said.

As of Monday, Megabus.com had stopped taking bookings from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, San Jose and Millbrae, Calif., for trips after June 8, and from Los Angeles to San Francisco and Oakland after June 22, Moser said.

He said those actions were precautions, pending a final decision.

"We will honor the tickets that have been sold," Moser said.

"We're not going to leave passengers stranded."

WesTheAngelino
Jun 9, 2008, 9:34 PM
^^^ Sounds like BAD marketing, not a BAD market. I had no idea these guys even existed!!!

Vangelist
Jun 10, 2008, 10:00 AM
This Citybeat article is, um, skewed - where to begin?

It entirely paints Damien in negative, anti-transit terms, and doesn't even mention his "Map."

Derailment Dreams
Foes of Expo Line drive up the costs of a crucial project
http://www.lacitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/derailment_dreams/7082/
By Alan Mittelstaedt

With gas prices shooting over $4 a gallon and ridership on Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains and subways way up, you might think everybody in town would be cheering the Expo Line, now under construction from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City.

But that’s not the story of transportation projects in L.A. Most projects in the past 20 years have been hounded by foes who threaten to delay them and needlessly send the costs higher and higher.

And so it is with the Expo Line, which signed on a battery of lawyers who say they will not be satisfied until the Expo Line Construction Authority is forced to place the tracks underground at the Dorsey High School crossing, at Farmdale Avenue and

Exposition Boulevard. If successful, the move could tack millions onto the project and delay the opening of the L.A.-Culver City line by years. Similar concerns are being raised by the group about the train crossing near Foshay Learning Center at Harvard Boulevard.

Damien Goodmon, a longtime foe of the project, has joined forces with other community groups opposed to the light-rail line – which, if it opens in 2009 or 2010, would ease congestion on the Santa Monica Freeway and other major east-west arteries like Pico and Olympic boulevards. Goodman wants the entire stretch from Figueroa to La Brea to be placed underground, a radical idea that most project proponents see as a sign that he’s really out to kill the line.

The opponents signed up the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, which is handling the case for free. The Sonnenschein legal team is led by Ivor Samson and Christopher Prince, who worked on the civil rights lawsuit that produced the now-expired 10-year consent decree that forced Metro to buy more buses. “We are trying to get the crossings built in a safe manner, which means putting the crossings in a trench or underground,” said Samson.

The Expo Line Authority is prepared for the long haul on this project. Already, costs on the $850 million project have gone up by at least $1 million to cover legal, design and other costs brought on by the challenge.

To address safety issues, the Expo’s governing board hired an independent consultant for $250,000 to review two possible alternatives – closing off the street to all traffic and building a pedestrian bridge, and keeping the street open and building a train bridge. A train bridge could cost $25 million, far shy of the $100 million that burying the line would cost; in fact, a court decision that the line be placed underground would kill the project.

The Public Utilities Commission is reviewing the matter and will hold hearings this summer before making a decision, most likely in November. Odds are the commission will either let the Expo authority proceed with the street-level crossing or order one of the less costly alternatives, which could set up a legal challenge. PUC decisions can only be challenged at the California state Supreme Court level. “If they do not decide in our favor, we will take it from there,” Samson said.

The Expo board is pushing for its original plan of a street-level crossing at Dorsey, which calls for a double set of crossing gates and, as an added precaution, a crossing guard to monitor traffic during school hours. Trains would slow to about 20 miles per hour.

Who knows, by the time this train rolls down the track, gas prices could be near $6 a gallon and Goodman and other foes will have to answer to a new cry from the community: Why’d the project take so long?

Vangelist
Jun 10, 2008, 10:05 AM
Finally some honesty:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2008/06/a-fight-over--1.html#more

"I think for one thing a lot of people against it fought it 20 or 30 years ago, and they see it as an intrusion in a bucolic neighborhood," Leonard said. "Also they’re worried about the school and about property values. They’re just afraid. I think some people are afraid of other parts of the city coming on down [here]. One fellow stood up in the meeting and said something about his daughters being at home in the daytime. They’ve invoked the fear of crime."

LongBeachUrbanist
Jun 10, 2008, 6:17 PM
This Citybeat article is, um, skewed - where to begin?

It entirely paints Damien in negative, anti-transit terms, and doesn't even mention his "Map."

Yes that article is skewed, and I agree with it.

Damien has declared that light rail should never be built at-grade in Los Angeles. He is in league with the same people in Cheviot Hills that have spent more than a decade fighting the Expo Line by using the argument that it will bring the wrong element into their neighborhoods.

The conditions he puts on building rail lines makes them so expensive that they will never been built. Therefore, his "map" is nothing more than an exercise in fantasy.

We all would prefer our rail system to be totally grade-separated. But we don't have the money to do that. Damien's conditions will halt all light-rail construction. Those of us who take transit every day can't afford that.

dragonsky
Jun 11, 2008, 4:25 AM
New life for fast train
Grant revs up talk of high-speed rail from here to Southern California
Tue, Jun 10, 2008 (2:05 a.m.), Las Vegas Sun

President Bush signed legislation that is reviving talk of a high-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The transportation 「technical corrections bill」 includes $45 million to study environmental issues along the first leg of a route, proposed by a public-private partnership, from Las Vegas to Primm.

Wording in the 2005 highway bill contained errors that held up the money until Congress passed the corrections bill and Bush signed it Friday.

A second, private proposal to build a high-speed train was developed after 2005 and remains a contender in the push to whisk travelers to and from Las Vegas and cities near Los Angeles.

The federal money approved Friday will go to the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission and its private-sector partner, the American Magline Group.

This partnership is proposing a train using magnetic levitation technology. This 「MagLev」 plan gained traction 20 years ago and has received about $10 million in federal money.

A MagLev train would allow passengers to travel at an average speed of 180 mph on its 268-mile route ending in Anaheim, Calif., home of Disneyland. It would cost more than $12 billion.

The private proposal is from a company called DesertXpress Enterprises and is projected to cost about $3 billion. Though high-tech, the train would use more conventional rail technology and reach a top speed of 125 mph as it traversed the 190 miles between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif.

Both proposals anticipate ridership levels that would allow the project to more than pay for itself. A completed project would have the additional advantage of serving as a model for other congested areas of the country.

Federal transportation officials will ultimately decide which, if either, of these projects gets built. Rights of way over federal land have to be decided and the environmental impacts carefully reviewed.

Barring any significant environmental problems, our view is that a high-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California is becoming necessary for the economies of both regions.

DJM19
Jun 11, 2008, 5:08 AM
Necessary for So Cal's economy? Are LV resident's taking the money they haven' gambled away and spending it in california in large quantities? It certainly will only improve LV's revenue intake.

ocman
Jun 11, 2008, 7:04 AM
I really don't see any way it could improve CA's economy. LV is socal's weekend getaway, not the other way around. And if LV is driving into socal for the jobs, that still doesn't benefit us.

Vangelist
Jun 11, 2008, 8:34 AM
LBU:

<<Yes that article is skewed, and I agree with it.

Damien has declared that light rail should never be built at-grade in Los Angeles. He is in league with the same people in Cheviot Hills that have spent more than a decade fighting the Expo Line by using the argument that it will bring the wrong element into their neighborhoods.

The conditions he puts on building rail lines makes them so expensive that they will never been built. Therefore, his "map" is nothing more than an exercise in fantasy.>>


I agree with you and disagree with Damien entirely, but having observed his passion for transit in the form of extensive posts on these forums for years, I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and call him misguided.

I'd rather take the more nuanced view of differentiating him from Cheviot NIMBY's. Surely he isn't "in league," with them - racially or even in terms of class, would they ever say they're "in league" with him? Well, I'd like to assume he isn't. Yet as cynical as this sounds, perhaps its true - after all he is only 26 (right? or 27?) - and perhaps looking at this problem opportunistically:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2008/06/a-fight-over-th.html

This is a good example of a solution looking for a problem. Damien Goodmon a neighborhood activist that is looking for a cause to gain political recognition and is making a big deal out of nothing. He has cost us $250,000.00 to start.

After visiting the Farmdale crossing it does not take much to see that there is no reason for any kind of a grade separation. This intersection is only a 4 way stop street and does not even justify a traffic signal. There is not even a business at the corner.

The grade separations at USC, La Brea, LA Cienega and Culver City have many thousands of cars passing an hour with complicated intersections. If not separated there would be traffic delays even with only a 30 second period with the gates down as the cars passed. This is not the case at the Dorsey crossing. The grade separations were biased on the number of cars that would be affected by the line, not by an activist looking for a problem.

Is Damien trying to tell us that the students are not smart enough to stay out of the way of an approaching train even with gates blocking their way? Somehow the students have figured out how to stay out of the street when cars are coming which are a greater danger than the LRT trains. Theses are bright High School students, give them some credit and not use them as pawns to gain political power.

There are many other surface LRT lines that pass schools and somehow the line does not put at risk the students anymore than crossing a street. The new Gold East LA Line passes two high schools and a middle school. There will be no gates as the line passes the schools. There are about the same number of stations, spacing between stations, schools and grade separations in phase I as in phase II. The West LA support for the trench is their continued method to stop the line. The Sepulveda Venice detour was/is a NIMBY ploy to kill or keep the line away from them and should no more be considered than a grade separation at Farmdale.

The MTA, the construction authority and the PUC had it right the first time with allowing for a at grade line along Exposition Blvd. Even if the money were there a grade separation should not be built

Damien’s cause is not ligament and a separation at Dorsey is certainly not justified any more than the Sepulveda Venice detour brought about by the Rancho Park activist.

Posted by: Alan Fishel | June 04, 2008 at 11:27 AM

LongBeachUrbanist
Jun 11, 2008, 5:42 PM
"I'd rather take the more nuanced view of differentiating him from Cheviot NIMBY's. Surely he isn't "in league," with them..."

His group, FixExpo, is literally in cross-consultation with members of Neighbors For Smart Rail and other Cheviot NIMBYs, with the objective of defeating any rail line that crosses Cheviot Hills or South L.A. at-grade. They were having very friendly discussions at the meeting on Tuesday night. One of the lawyers working pro-bono on the Farmdale crossing issue spoke: he is a Cheviot Hills opponent of Expo.

LongBeachUrbanist
Jun 11, 2008, 6:06 PM
The following are the street-rail crossings along the ROW for Phase II, east of Olympic. Bold red means the MTA has approved a grade separation.

Olympic/ROW
Cloverfield near Olympic
26th near Olympic
Stewart near Olympic
Centinela/Exposition
Bundy/Exposition
Barrington/Exposition
Pico/Gateway/Exposition
Sawtelle/Exposition
Sepulveda/Exposition
Military/Exposition
Westwood/Exposition
Overland/ROW
Motor/ROW
National/Palms/Exposition
Bagley/Exposition
Venice/Robertson

It does appear that the stretch between the 405 and the 10 (which includes Cheviot Hills, BTW) got the shaft. Westwood and Overland have a lot of traffic. People at the meeting were not happy, and I can't say I totally blame them.

Wright Concept
Jun 11, 2008, 7:27 PM
A majority of the traffic issues at Westwood and Overland are the poorly laid out street lanes along those two streets, I lived in the Palms area for 6 years and would have to jog and traverse this area, and that is half of the battle. Eliminating the unneccessary left turns and adding signals helps make the traffic volume better distributed thus reducing the bulk of the issues that would have made them grade separated would be eliminated. They would need to determine that before suggesting a grade separation anyways. LADOT will need to work with Expo on that so that they can come to an agreement on that.

With Light Rail there are many flexible ways to mitigate crossings, either reconfiguring the street lanes and signals to improve the traffic volume, adding pedestrian crossings and improving the pedestrian paths so that would calm traffic which improves the local neighborhood because cars aren't whizzing by, even extending the length of the platforms so that fewer longer trains go through the rail crossings instead of more frequent shorter trains.

edluva
Jun 11, 2008, 10:59 PM
i agree with LBU regarding damien being a huge roadblock to transit progress. we could do without him. i can't help but think of a past debate i had with him on the merits of affirmative action - it was a firey one, and makes me question the ultimate motive behind his "transit advocacy". transit, or a really big ass chip on his shoulder? hmmm.

dragonsky
Jun 12, 2008, 1:47 AM
I really don't see any way it could improve CA's economy. LV is socal's weekend getaway, not the other way around. And if LV is driving into socal for the jobs, that still doesn't benefit us.

Vegas has more visitors than SoCal. If some of them can visit LA as well, then Socal will gain jobs.

Vangelist
Jun 12, 2008, 3:15 AM
> transit, or a really big ass chip on his shoulder? hmmm.

Right, I'm actually coming around to this point of view (I agree with edluva, the space-time continuum collapses!)....a huge chip he may be parlaying into a future political career, as suggested by the commented I posted above.

I almost feel conflicted myself though viewing him without ambivalence; I really admired his "Map." Apparently more than he genuinely did.

Vangelist
Jun 12, 2008, 3:17 AM
<<His group, FixExpo, is literally in cross-consultation with members of Neighbors For Smart Rail and other Cheviot NIMBYs, with the objective of defeating any rail line that crosses Cheviot Hills or South L.A. at-grade. They were having very friendly discussions at the meeting on Tuesday night. One of the lawyers working pro-bono on the Farmdale crossing issue spoke: he is a Cheviot Hills opponent of Expo.>>

I know this sounds entirely irrational - born of inchoate rage - but I hope these people ALL get run over by ugly magenta SUVs someday.

sopas ej
Jun 12, 2008, 6:05 AM
LV is socal's weekend getaway, not the other way around.

I find this hard to believe. Don't tell me that people who live in Vegas stay there as well; what would be THEIR weekend getaway, Laughlin? UGH.

Needless to say, I hate Vegas. I can't imagine having to endure more than an overnight stay there.

BrighamYen
Jun 12, 2008, 6:07 AM
^^ I agree with Vangelist. With really ugly rims.

ocman
Jun 12, 2008, 9:42 AM
I find this hard to believe. Don't tell me that people who live in Vegas stay there as well; what would be THEIR weekend getaway, Laughlin? UGH.

Needless to say, I hate Vegas. I can't imagine having to endure more than an overnight stay there.


These things are not equal. It's not that they never go to LA. It's that we go to Las Vegas obsessively.

ocman
Jun 12, 2008, 9:45 AM
Vegas has more visitors than SoCal. If some of them can visit LA as well, then Socal will gain jobs.

True. But that's a big "if." Las Vegas has enough to occupy visitors for their whole trip.

dragonsky
Jun 12, 2008, 1:04 PM
People from such as Europe or Asia don't really drive cars. If only just a train ticket, definitely they are willing to visit one more city.

bjornson
Jun 12, 2008, 10:23 PM
Vegas has more domestic tourists and travelers vs international.

ocman
Jun 13, 2008, 5:39 AM
Vegas has more domestic tourists and travelers vs international.

And 99% of those domestic tourists are Angelenos.

jlrobe
Jun 13, 2008, 6:32 AM
I really don't see any way it could improve CA's economy. LV is socal's weekend getaway, not the other way around. And if LV is driving into socal for the jobs, that still doesn't benefit us.

LA = 750 billion dollar economy
LV = 150 billion.

LV without LA = 100 billion
LA without LV = 780 billion

I talk to many of my friends who go to Vegas twice a year. They don't spend a dime on Melrose, or at our fancy bars, or at fancy restaurants. Then they go to Vegas and blow $400 all at once. If Vegas wasn't there, they would be forced to actually go to LA's prime spots and help bolster our own economy.

A train to Vegas will make LA 10 billion poorer, and Vegas 10 billion richer.

So, why are we doing this?


(people would spend their pressure money on our LOCAL economy instead of blowing all their cash in Vegas)

BrighamYen
Jun 13, 2008, 8:21 AM
Not to mention LV will be a ghost town in about 2 decades as Lake Mead (their only source of water) is drained and Bellagio's fountains dry up. Casinos have tons of money right? Try fighting for all the other water rights to the Colorado. Could the casinos finance a desalinization plant and funnel water to the thirsty desert "oasis?"

JDRCRASH
Jun 13, 2008, 4:49 PM
Jlrobe, 700+ Billion? That sounds like alot; are you referring to all of Southern California? Because I read that its around 400 Billion.

This rail line WILL, I repeat WILL help the L.A. economy; the questions to be asked is: How much?, and will it benefit us more than Las Vegas?

DowntownCharlieBrown
Jun 13, 2008, 6:37 PM
This rail line WILL, I repeat WILL help the L.A. economy; the questions to be asked is: How much?, and will it benefit us more than Las Vegas?


You can't say it will benefit LA, then repeat it, without telling us why you think so.

I think, like it was stated above, it is a benefit to Vegas and a drain to So Cal.

We want it, they need it. We want it for quick, hassle free trips to Vegas. They need it to keep their economy going. During the 70's oil embargo, Vegas came to a stand still when people couldn't easily drive to Vegas. With increasing oil prices, this train could benefit Vegas immensely as people start cutting down on their driving.

JDRCRASH
Jun 13, 2008, 7:00 PM
Charlie, one way I think it will benefit us is that it will encourage SoCal citizens to take mass transit more often; not just to Las Vegas, but anywhere, if possible.

DowntownCharlieBrown
Jun 13, 2008, 7:08 PM
^Ok, I'll buy that. Maybe if they got on a train to Vegas and had a good experience, they might think about jumping on Metrolink once in a while. But is it worth the cost and could same results be achieved for less funds?

And note: I'm not against this train. I really think cassino owners should build it.

JDRCRASH
Jun 13, 2008, 7:35 PM
I think the toll woud HAVE to be cheaper than driving for people to ride it when taking a vacation there.

LAsam
Jun 13, 2008, 8:01 PM
The casinos should DEFINATELY pay for this...

BrighamYen
Jun 15, 2008, 8:43 PM
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lazarus15-2008jun15,0,1465892.column?page=2&track=ntothtml
From the Los Angeles Times


A couple of easy fixes and we'll take the bus to work
David Lazarus
Consumer Confidential

June 15, 2008

With the price of gas creeping toward $5 a gallon, I spent last week riding various forms of public transportation to and from work. I embarked on this little science project expecting to find -- no surprises here -- that L.A.'s buses and subways are impractical, inconvenient and frequently uncomfortable.

Well, I can report today that L.A.'s buses and subways are impractical, inconvenient and frequently uncomfortable. But the system does work.

And it can be easily improved.

First of all, let's be honest: This isn't an easy town for the car-less. Without your own set of wheels, it can be a big challenge to run errands, attend events, handle the kids, enjoy outdoor activities and, not incidentally, earn a living.

So I'm not trying to make the case for leaving your car at home and switching entirely to public transportation. What I'm saying is that you may be surprised at how easy it is to do this one or two days a week.

And with gas prices at record levels, you can pocket some serious coin to help defray other costs, such as your equally alarming grocery bill.

According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, it costs, on average, 23 cents a mile to drive a car with gas at $4.50 a gallon (not including depreciation, insurance, taxes and other fixed costs).

Let's say your round-trip commute is 40 miles a day -- a conservative estimate for lots of people, I know. Factoring in the $1.25 one-way cost of many bus tickets, you'd save almost $350 a year by leaving your car at home one day a week.

If you could pull off two car-free days a week, that's about $700 in savings. And that doesn't include what you'd save on parking.

How doable is this? It depends on how flexible you're prepared to be.

I started my mass-transit odyssey with what I rightly assumed would be the ugliest option: local bus lines.

On the plus side, L.A.'s bright-orange local buses run relatively frequently. On the minus side, you'll spend a lot of time on the road.

Getting from my home on the Westside to The Times' downtown office took about an hour and a half. Returning home that evening took almost two hours.

That's 3 1/2 hours for a 32-mile round-trip commute that usually takes me about 45 minutes each way by car. And by the time I got home, I was exhausted.

Hector Barbosa, 41, whom I encountered twice during the week as he traveled to and from his home in Pacific Palisades and his job in Beverly Hills, said local bus lines take some getting used to.

"The problems are especially huge when it comes to the homeless and the mentally ill," he said. "Sometimes you see people getting violent, sometimes defecating."

Or in my case, there was the elderly gentleman who sang what sounded like pirate chanteys for about 15 minutes.

I was much happier with the Commuter Express bus I caught the next morning. The seats were softer, the ride was smoother. And after only a few stops around my neighborhood, the bus hit the freeway for a straight shot almost all the way downtown.

Renee Korn, 43, a deputy district attorney, was similarly pleased with the experience. High gas prices had prompted her to leave her 1997 Volvo station wagon at home. She had a Commuter Express schedule in her purse and had her whole trip planned out.

"If I can do this one time a week, I can save a lot of money," Korn said.

Is that what she'll be doing from now on?

"No," Korn replied. "But I'm considering it."

This is L.A., after all. Baby steps.

And there's a pretty significant drawback to the Commuter Express, at least for me. There are only two such buses in my area each morning, one at 7 and the other at 7:30. That's about an hour earlier than when I typically leave home by car.

At that hour, it took only about 40 minutes to get to work. But it took almost twice as long to get home after leaving the office around 5 p.m.

The next morning I rode a local bus to Wilshire Boulevard and transferred to one of the big, red Rapid buses that traverse the city.

You cover a lot of ground relatively quickly with the Rapid lines, although Wilshire's no picnic during rush hour, and some parts of the road are so bone-jarring you might want to stop off at a chiropractor.

At Wilshire and Western Avenue, I switched to the Purple Line and rode the subway the rest of the way. The commute took a little over an hour to get downtown and about an hour and a half to get home.

I love subways. Every time I ride L.A.'s pitifully truncated system, I get a taste of how great this city could have been if our elected officials hadn't consistently guessed wrong on transit over the years.

Now it's too late.

So how can we fix what we have? First, it needs to be easier to navigate the region's myriad bus systems. The L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the biggest fleet of buses as well as the subways, has an excellent trip-planning site at www.

But it doesn't include the region's second-biggest bus fleet, run by the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Nor does it include Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus network, nor Culver City's buses, nor any of the other services that cover the area.

What's needed is an online resource that combines all of the region's mass-transit systems so that a commuter can easily map out the best possible route to his or her destination, not just a single provider's options. The MTA's site links to the sites of other systems, but that's not good enough.

Google has a pretty nifty trip-planning feature ( www.google.com/transit). Perhaps the region's various public transportation providers can get on board with that.

Then there's the matter of convenience. As it stands, you have to buy a $5 day pass or a $17 weekly pass if you want to transfer smoothly from MTA's Rapid buses to the subway system. Otherwise you pay separately for each leg of your journey.

To encourage more people to ride public transportation, buses and subways should issue free transfers -- good for half a day -- so that riders can easily move between Rapid lines and subways.

The MTA charges $62 for monthly passes to its buses and subways. But the best deal is the EZ transit pass that costs $70 a month and is good for nearly all systems serving L.A. County.

Many employers (including mine) help subsidize monthly transit passes for workers. This is great, but it's not the most cost-effective choice for people who plan to ride the bus only once or twice a week.

Perhaps a cheaper pass could be issued that's good for, say, eight full days of public transportation each month, with a day's ridership being activated when a bus driver punches the card at the outset of a commute.

What we want is to give commuters the flexibility to ride buses or subways on days they choose, without paying for the days they drive their cars to work.

To make buses more attractive, time-wise, we need more express buses and routes that allow commuters to zip across town. Designated bus lanes during commute hours would help, but we could go even further.

As I've written before, one possibility would be to close Olympic Boulevard to private vehicles from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each weekday, giving right of way exclusively to Rapid and express buses. Think of it as an above-ground subway line.

L.A. doesn't have to be unlivable. Our political leaders merely need to focus on what can be done, as opposed to what can't.

Commuters, for their part, need to support such efforts by trying to ride the bus or subway as often as possible. For my part, I'll be hitting that 7:30 a.m. Commuter Express at least once a week.

Gas isn't getting any cheaper. Count me in for at least $350 a year that won't be going to OPEC.

Consumer Confidential runs Wednesdays and Sundays. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

BrighamYen
Jun 16, 2008, 4:25 PM
From Argonaut:


Monday, June 16, 2008 Last modified: Thursday, June 12, 2008 10:05 AM PDT

State budget constraints derail Green Line construction authority bill again in the Senate

BY GARY WALKER

For the second time in as many years, legislation to create a construction authority for a Westside light rail line has failed to gain the necessary support in the state Senate.

Senate Bill 1722 became a casualty of the ongoing budget crisis in Sacramento on May 31st after the Senate Appropriations Committee chose not to recommend it for passage. Senate Pro Tem Don Perata said that only the most urgent bills would be moved forward.

The fate of SB 1722 was forecasted by rail advocates when it was placed "on suspense" May 5th by the Senate Appropriations Committee. All bills that are deemed to cost at least $50,000 are held over for later consideration, sometimes until the state budget is passed.

The bill, which was sponsored by State Senator Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), whose district includes Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Venice, would have paved the way for the creation of a joint powers authority to oversee construction of the expansion of the light rail line to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Advocates of an extension of the current Metro Green Line, which travels from Norwalk to Redondo Beach with a stop near LAX, were dismayed to learn that the possibility for establishing such an entity had been tabled.

"I'm deeply disappointed in the profound indifference and poor planning on the part of the political leadership in Sacramento," said Ken Alpern, a Mar Vista resident who is the co-chair of Friends of the Green Line, a grassroots light rail advocacy group.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who also backed the Green Line legislation, realized that the Legislature is wary of spending money on new endeavors like a joint powers authority, but expressed optimism that the bill could be resurrected at some point again next year.

"This year, we have the largest deficit in the state's history," he pointed out. "But I'm convinced that we'll be able to fine-tune a bill that will garner the support that we need in the very near future."

Oropeza has also not given up on seeing a light rail extension to the airport, according to Ray Sotero, the senator's communications director.

"Sen. Oropeza has not decided on what strategy to pursue in 2009 regarding a light rail bill," said Sotero.

Last year, Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who represents Westchester, sponsored a similar bill, Assembly Bill 889, that suffered the same fate at the Senate committee level after sailing through various Assembly committees. It too became a victim of a budget crisis that extended into September, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers were locked in a partisan battle over how to close the budget gap. Like SB 1722, AB 889 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Proponents of the light rail extension to the airport were encouraged when Fourth District Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Marina del Rey, submitted a motion in April to the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board of directors requesting that the board change its earlier opposition to the creation of a joint powers authority for the Green Line extension. The motion was adopted despite the fact that county transit authorities had lobbied against the bill in Sacramento.

Although the proposed legislation had the backing of most local legislators, including Congresswoman Jane Harman (D- Venice), Metro officials had previously stated on numerous occasions that while stretching the rail line to LAX was under consideration, there are other projects that have a higher priority, such as the Mid-Cities Exposition Light Rail Line, which is slated to run from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica.

"The Green Line is a part of our strategic long-range plan, but currently there is no funding for a Green Line," Michael Turner of Metro's government relations department told The Argonaut. "Due to budget shortfalls on the state and federal levels, we are severely limited in our ability to fund new projects."

Like Alpern, Bart Reed, the executive director of The Transit Coalition, a nonprofit organization that is heavily involved in promoting responsible light rail projects, was disheartened that state legislators look to transportation when they are forced to make cuts in the budget.

"(Transportation) is the last of the low-hanging fruit," Reed asserted. "It's disturbing that every year they take money away from transportation."

Last year, in an effort to reduce the state deficit, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature took $1.3 billion in gasoline tax revenue that had been appropriated for transit-related projects. This year, nearly $800 million in gas tax funds will likely be used, again depriving counties and cities from beginning new rail projects that many lawmakers feel are crucial to reducing gridlock around Southern California.

"Ted Lieu and Jenny Oropeza really fought hard for this bill, as did Bill Rosendahl," said Alpern. Like Rosendahl, he is hopeful that an extension to LAX will get more support in Sacramento next year.

"Next year, I hope that the politicians in Sacramento can get this no-brainer of a project through (the Legislature), and transportation will no longer be the big piggy bank that everyone wants to crack open when there's an emergency," Alpern said.

AB 1722's supporters are counting on acquiring federal funding to help offset the costs of the extension, either from the revenue raised from bonds for the modernization of LAX or from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Any financial participation would be subject to (FAA) review and approval," said Nancy Castles, public relations director at LAX.

"For me, it's a matter of timing," said Rosendahl, whose council district includes Westchester. "With the planned modernization of the airport on the way, the time is now to get an extension of the Green Line to the airport.

"My job is going to be to convince the Metro board that this bill is the best way to plug in to LAX," Rosendahl continued. "From a strategic and architectural standpoint, the time to act is now."

Airport officials have indicated that they could back an expansion to LAX.

"As proposed by SB 1722, Los Angeles World Airports is willing to cooperate with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other governmental agencies to explore the possible extension of the Metro Green Line," Castles stated.

Advocates of the Green Line extension are hoping that a change in the Senate and the Assembly leaderships could play a large role in having their project greenlighted next year.

Quixote
Jun 18, 2008, 7:06 PM
Panning for Gold Line Funds in San Gabriel Valley (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-goldline18-2008jun18,0,3027308.story)

Local officials are hoping the MTA approves $80 million toward extending the rail service to Azusa and later to Montclair.

By Steve Hymon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 18, 2008

On the far eastern side of Pasadena, the Gold Line tracks run in the middle of the 210 Freeway and then, at Madre Street, they just stop.

The old rail right of way continues up the middle of the freeway and extends across the width of the Valley, roughly paralleling the 210. Hardly any freight trains use the corridor, and it's been decades since passengers rode those rails.

Public officials from across the San Gabriel Valley are hoping to change that soon. With an injection of $80 million from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, officials say, the Foothill Extension Construction Authority can seek state and federal funding and extend the Gold Line 11.4 miles to Azusa, a project estimated to cost more than $400 million.

Later, officials hope to add a second leg to Montclair and then a possible third leg to Ontario International Airport.

The quest for the money has reached a fever pitch. On June 26, the MTA board is set to vote on the agency's long-range plan. The Gold Line extension is in the "unfunded" section of the plan but needs to be moved to the funded portion to get the $80 million.

Habib Balian, the chief executive of the Foothill Extension Construction Authority, offers a long list of pluses about the Gold Line: It has widespread public support; there's almost no controversy surrounding it; and the line is fairly easy to build because the old freight right of way is still there.

Officials in several cities along the route have been preparing development plans around the new stations, the idea being to create new transit villages along the route and channel the valley's growth there. Thousands of new residences are being proposed.

"Don't look at it as what you see today," Balian said on a recent tour of the largely industrial right-of-way corridor. "Look at what it will be in 30 years."

But the Gold Line has proved to be a tough sell elsewhere in Los Angeles County, where it is considered a train that will have low ridership and could take money from more worthy projects.

The Westside Cities Council of Governments met last month with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to try to convince him that funding for Westside projects must come first.

Officials also aren't happy that some San Gabriel Valley officials have hinted they might fight the MTA and California Department of Transportation's congestion pricing plan for the 10 and 210 freeways and, in doing so, could cost the region $213 million in federal funds for new buses and improvements to Metrolink commuter rail service.

At the same time, San Gabriel Valley officials have hinted that if the Gold Line doesn't get money now, they may not support a prospective ballot measure in November that would raise the sales tax in Los Angeles County by half a cent on the dollar to pay for transit projects.

"The San Gabriel Valley is not without its political clout," said Monrovia Mayor Rob Hammond.

MTA board member David Fleming said that if the sales tax ended up on the ballot, it would be key to get political support from the entire Valley.

"We've talked to them about this sales tax and told them 'Look, you want our help, we have to have your help,' " Fleming said. "Part of the consideration for supporting them, they have to support the sales tax, which they agreed to do."

The man in the middle is Villaraigosa. He sits on the MTA board and has three appointees, giving him the largest voting bloc. His press office declined to say how he would vote on the Gold Line, although he's expressed support for the project in the past.

But he is also under pressure to provide mass transit for the Westside and probably needs the sales tax increase if the subway-to-the-sea is to become a reality. There are other concerns about money. Gold Line proponents have long argued that if they get $80 million now from the MTA, they can get the other $320-million-plus needed for the project's first phase from the state and federal government. Although the Federal Transit Administration can fund up to 80% of a project, it rarely does so, said Paul Griffo, an agency spokesman.

By some measures, the existing Gold Line from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena has been a disappointment. Of the MTA's four rail lines, it has the lowest ridership, although it has increased lately to about 23,000 a month.

The extension would initially travel east down the middle of the 210 Freeway and then cross to the south side of the freeway on a new bridge. It would stop near downtown Arcadia -- missing both Santa Anita racetrack and the busy Westfield mall -- and then stop a mile south of the gentrified downtown Monrovia.

Officials, however, point to the abundant amount of developable land near the tracks, saying that most of the growth in the San Gabriel Valley in coming decades could be put near mass transit -- not the usual way of doing things in Southern California, at least in the past.

"You have this opportunity today with these efforts being put toward the stations," said John Fasana, an MTA board member and a Duarte council member. "It sounds great, but if the transit never comes, then you have overdevelopment and you've induced gridlock."

DowntownCharlieBrown
Jun 25, 2008, 7:26 AM
The reporter on KNX radio today stated that if the election were held today, a majority of voters would vote for the 1/2 cent sales tax increase to pay for transportation improvements, which they mentioned includes subways.

BrighamYen
Jun 25, 2008, 8:15 AM
^ They had better not allow the Governor to siphon those monies away from transportation into the General Fund because of "an emergency" budget crisis. I would not vote for it otherwise.

BrighamYen
Jun 25, 2008, 8:27 AM
http://www.laavenue.com/aroundtown1/subway.jpg
From laavenue.com

Riders have Plan for Funding Subway to the Sea

Edited by Sara Epstein

LA’s transit riders are proposing a different subway route … both to the sea and to pay for getting there.

The Southern California Rail Riders Union, representing Los Angeles transit riders and advocates, has called on the Metro Board of Directors to double its proposed investment in subway and light rail construction by submitting to voters a full-cent sales tax in November, unless more funding is dedicated to subway and light rail construction.

This Thursday, Metro's Board of Directors will consider placing a half-cent sales tax on the November 4, 2008 ballot. The sales tax proposal would generate $30 billion over 30 years, costing the average taxpayer 7 cents a day, or $25 a year. However, under one version of the plan, as little as 30% goes to rail construction, which would not even fund a complete Subway to the Sea.

"When population and the cost of commuting rising exponentially, we need more than incremental investment in mass transit.," said RRU President Scott Olin Schmidt. "When the Subway to the Sea that ends somewhere near the 405, it is clear that Metro's current proposal does not go far enough."

By doubling the investment in transportation infrastructure, and committing all of the extra funding to subway and light rail projects, Metro could take a major step towards making rail transit a viable alternative for commuters in Los Angeles.

The extra $30 billion raised by doubling the sales tax proposal could fully fund a dual line Subway to the Sea which connects the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica through West Hollywood, extend the Red Line subway to Burbank Airport, the Green Line light rail to LAX, the Gold Line to LA Ontario Airport and more.

"With gas prices approaching five dollars a gallon, the time is now for bold action. Commuters will be willing to spend less than the cost of a tank of gas a year if you show them a network of rail transit that provides a viable alternative to sitting in traffic," Schmidt continued. "In his inauguration speech, Mayor Villaraigosa asked us to 'dream with' him. Today, we ask Mayor Villaraigosa and the Metro Board to 'dream with us,' and offer Los Angeles a future where we can get out of our cars and onto the rails." ◘

CityWatch
Vol 6 Issue 51
Pub: June 24, 2008

Echo Park
Jun 25, 2008, 3:50 PM
A dual Subway to the Sea line is the dream line right there.

LAsam
Jun 25, 2008, 4:05 PM
This 1/2 cent sales tax, or a full cent sales tax, seems like it could potentially be the saving grace for our city's transit network. I agree with LAB that it is imperative that the language of the tax prevents it from being diverted to any other uses. It's exciting to think about what could result from this passing! Could be a watershed moment for LA that people will talk about many years from now.