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Jan 18, 2010, 5:52 PM
and building additional train turnback facilities to allow the trains to turn around more efficiently.

Why do the trains need to turn around? Don't they have drivers cabs at both ends?

Jan 20, 2010, 9:11 PM
The blog, Greater Greater Washington, has an interesting discussion about LA's Metro Rapid bus system and speculates about the system the DC region could have had if John Catoe didn't decide to retire last week.


Jan 20, 2010, 10:55 PM
interesting; not to sound like the same old same old, but it makes me wonder if Crenshaw and some other routes arent better off as bus.

Jan 26, 2010, 4:49 AM
Long Beach makes way for bicycles
The city is proactive in becoming more cyclist friendly, even creating 'sharrows' for bikes and cars to share lanes. And 20 miles of new bike lanes are coming soon.
By Tony Barboza
The Los Angeles Times
6:22 PM PST, January 25, 2010

A dozen notables mounted bikes outside the entrance to Long Beach City Hall late last year for the unveiling of a metallic bicycle sculpture with a lofty proclamation:

"Long Beach, the most bicycle friendly city in America," it reads in bold steel lettering under the likeness of an antique bicycle.

It was a little premature, leaders admit.

"But we're striving for that," said City Manager Pat West, a longtime cyclist.

While other cities spin their wheels, Long Beach is joining the ranks of places such as Portland, Ore., San Francisco and New York City that have made safe passage for bikes a priority, even at the expense of traffic lanes.

And as Los Angeles reviews comments to a draft of a bike plan that proposes 696 miles of new bikeways, Long Beach is taking action.

"Long beach is a built-out city and yet they're finding a way to make east-west and north-south corridors that are safer and more inviting," said Jennifer Klausner, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group. "There's no reason L.A. can't do the same thing. It doesn't have to be the slow-moving cog in the machine."

At a time when cities are cutting expenses across the board, Long Beach has raised $17 million in state and federal grants to improve its bike system through traffic improvements, education and bike share programs. In the next six months, the city will be resurfacing 20 miles of streets to include new bike lanes, part of a plan that includes painting and paving more than 100 miles of bike infrastructure.

In spring, the city hopes to install traffic circles on less-traveled streets parallel to thoroughfares and designate them "bike boulevards" -- preferred routes for cyclists.

Also in the works are plans to replace entire lanes of traffic with protected bikeways. And in what's bound to be a controversial move, the city is looking at taking away prime parallel parking spots -- the ones most convenient to shops and restaurants -- and putting "bike corrals" in their place.

"We can fit 15 customers where we used to fit one," said Charles Gandy, the city's bike mobility coordinator. "This is about differentiating Long Beach from L.A. and Orange County."

City planners have gone far and wide for input, bringing in experts to give advice, the mayor of Bogota, Colombia, and Copenhagen's traffic engineer among them.

And officials have enlisted a corps of volunteers -- from young fixed-gear-riding hipsters to paunchy, middle-aged road cyclists -- to help out with tasks such as bike counts, which will help determine where more bike lanes will be placed.

Street by street, cyclists and motorists are seeing changes, the most dramatic of which took place last summer when lanes of green paint appeared on one of the city's busiest stretches, providing an early test of how the city will balance car traffic with cyclists' rights to safe routes.

The green strip created a "sharrow" -- a 6-foot-wide space in the middle of the right lane of traffic on both sides of 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. It was intended to be a stark reminder that drivers must share the road with cyclists.

But when the green lane appeared last summer, it startled drivers and cyclists alike in the often traffic-choked retail district, drawing national attention for pitting the two against each other. "City puts bicycles directly in the path of motorists," USA Today wrote in a blog post.

"There was a lot of confusion from cyclists and motorists because there was green paint all over the place," said Dominic Dougherty, manager of the Bikestation, a business that provides bike rentals, parking and repair in downtown Long Beach. "And confusion breeds anger."

Gandy said the green strip "better articulates the existing law," which allows bikes to travel with vehicular traffic.

"We haven't given cyclists any more privileges than before the green stripe, we've just made it more obvious," he said.

But others say the green lanes have emboldened cyclists too much, with many weaving in and out of traffic, riding four-deep and making the already clogged street impassable.

"We just don't understand" the purpose, said driver Anne Long, an insurance agent who lives blocks from 2nd Street. "Are we supposed to pull over and go around them? I just stay behind them and go really slow until there's an opening in the other lane."

But others say that slowly, behavior is changing; cyclists are being more consistent about where they ride and drivers are being more attentive.

"When it first got put in we thought, 'Oh my God, everyone is going to get murdered,' " said Jean-Marie Garcia, a hair stylist who rides her baby-blue beach cruiser to work on Second Street every day. "But gradually over time, drivers have adjusted. They're slowing down."

Volunteers counted bikes before and after the green lanes appeared. According to a December report by the city, the number of cyclists on Second Street increased by 29% while the number of bikes on the narrow sidewalk waned by 22%.

And there have been only two incidents since they debuted: both involving cyclists running into cars.

Calling the green lanes an early success, the city is undertaking other bike-oriented enhancements. Last month, crews painted more green on two busy intersections where early morning road bikers congregate. The "bicycle boxes" give cyclists a designated place in front of cars to safely wait for the signal to change.

The city is also working with businesses and community groups to provide incentives such as 20% lunch discounts for cyclists -- to get people to ride to work, shops and restaurants.

The port-adjacent community also has some built-in features that may ease its quest for bike friendliness.

For one, it's flat and built on a grid -- easy to get around on a simple beach cruiser.

While it's a city by any measure, its digestible size makes bike transportation a more plausible alternative than in the sprawl of Los Angeles.

And the city already has continuous bike paths along three of its borders: the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers and the beach.

"We have such a huge advantage over other cities because we have these things," said City Manager West, who rides a road bike around town on the weekends.

"We're doing a lot of things outside of the box -- at least for Southern California," he said.

One example is the city's spin on a recent rise in bike thefts: It's a good thing, West and others joked, because after all, it indicates more people are out riding bikes.

And Long Beach is getting attention for its efforts. This week, the city is hosting delegations from some admirers: transit planners in Los Angeles, Glendale and other nearby cities who would like to draw inspiration from the Long Beach bike plan.

It's a shift for Long Beach, where, like in many other Southern California communities, the car still reigns supreme, said Andre'a White-Kjoss, president and chief executive of Bikestation, the Long Beach-based firm that has seven bike transit centers in California, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

"If we can do it here," she said, "you can do it anywhere."

Jan 26, 2010, 11:14 PM
This LA Times editorial gets it half right. What is needed is not to increase transit fares but to increase the gas tax, with the revenue from a higher gas tax used to fund the capital and operating costs of transit investments. Higher fuel prices will also encourage people to switch modes from auto to transit.

Managing mass transit

Los Angeles Times
January 26, 2010

Los Angeles' public transit agency is facing the biggest operating deficit in
its history -- roughly $250 million. The results won't only hurt bus riders. If
the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cuts back on service, it will drive
more people to drive, jamming Southern California's roads and polluting its air
even more than usual.

The economic downturn gets most of the blame. High joblessness means less
ridership, cutting receipts at the fare box. A drop in sales taxes hits the
agency particularly hard, and continual borrowing of transit funds by Sacramento worsens the pain. Yet none of these problems lies at the heart of what really ails the MTA: Voters tend to think they can have a decent transit system without paying for it, and politicians lack the courage to tell them otherwise.

Though the shortfall is worse this year than ever, the MTA has had a
structural budget deficit since the late 1990s. Usually, the politicians on the
agency's board make up the difference by digging into reserve funds or making other one-time fixes rather than addressing the underlying problems. That can't go on forever.

One cause of the shortfall is low fares. In most big U.S. cities, it costs at
least $2 to ride the bus, and big-city transit agencies typically make enough
from fares to cover about 40% of their operating expenses. In L.A. a one-way ride costs $1.25, and fares cover only about 26% of the MTA's expenses. The fare will jump to $1.50 in July, but that still won't be enough to make up for the budget shortfall. One solution would be to impose an annual schedule of hikes to put fares in line with other cities and allow them to keep up with inflation. Ridership would probably fall in the short term, but such fare-based plunges seldom last long; moreover, L.A. bus and rail riders are going to have to pay their fair share of the costs if they want to avoid deep cuts in service.

Transit subsidies at the state level are also problematic. Voter initiatives
have tied transit funding to the sales tax on gasoline, an unstable source that state lawmakers have found relatively easy to divert. Transit funds should more properly come from the excise tax on gasoline, a per-gallon charge that doesn't change regardless of prices at the pump -- and that tax, which hasn't been hiked since 1994, should be raised and indexed to inflation. You can't keep building new transit lines and raising operating costs while relying on a static revenue source.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has done a good job promoting the much-needed
"subway to the sea," but he seems to regard this as the only public transit
legacy worth pursuing. He could do more lasting good by having the courage to fight for genuine solutions to the MTA's structural deficit.

Jan 28, 2010, 12:26 AM
This is the "stuff the pockets" solution to mis-management. Raise the price of gas so you can raise the price of transit. It can't be defended as social policy to get people out of cars, since in that case MTA fares woud be held steady or cut. It's just a way to take more money.

As a peripheral note, LV and Phoenix had over 30 percent growth the last 8 years and LA about 4 percent net in spite of huge foreign immigration. And these are places where half the year the weather is basically intolerable. And it's not like these are tiny cities; between them they have 7M people so growth of this magnitude is amazing. So we shouldn't believe that people can't recognized when they are being screwed and head for the exits.

Feb 5, 2010, 3:15 PM

Officials approve plans for Expo Line route on Westside
Some neighborhoods disagree with proposal and want parts of the route underground.
By Ari Bloomekatz
The Los Angeles Times
February 5, 2010

Los Angeles transportation officials on Thursday took a major step in bringing commuter rail to the Westside, approving plans for a route linking downtown L.A. to Santa Monica.

Officials hope to begin work later this year on phase two of the Expo Line, a nearly seven-mile link from downtown Culver City to the corner of 4th Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica's main business district. Phase one of Expo Line is already under construction from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City.

Extending the line to Santa Monica would be an important milestone in Los Angeles' ambitious rail-building campaign. It would also mark the farthest west a rail line has reached in several decades, serving a section of the county that is notorious for traffic problems.

"Every other part of Los Angeles has been served by mass public transportation," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside. "This part of town, this part of the county has waited a long time for this."

Transportation planners believe they will have the $1.5 billion in local and state money to build it.

And although there is broad support for the extension, some neighborhood residents have concerns about portions of the plan.

Some homeowners say the plan for the route approved Thursday is unsafe and will create traffic problems, particularly a stretch near homes in Cheviot Hills as well as areas near Sepulveda Boulevard and Overland Avenue.

Those residents insist that at least one portion of the line should be built underground, saying that would make the route safer for motorists and pedestrians. They also argue that the underground route would improve traffic flow.

Robert P. Silverstein, an attorney representing a coalition of Westside homeowners' associations called Neighbors for Smart Rail, said his clients support extending the rail line but feel strongly it can be made better.

"I want to be clear that my client is not opposed to the project, but is opposed to it being built without below grade, grade separation between Overland and Sepulveda," he said at Thursday's public hearing of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority board. "Build it, but build it right."

The Expo Authority, which is building the line, said a subway along that stretch is unnecessary. Building a subway between Westwood Boulevard and Overland Avenue would add about $224 million to the project's cost.

Some speakers on Thursday agreed -- and urged the authority to approve the plans for the route as is.

Sarah Hays, co-chair of the group Light Rail for Cheviot, told the board that she was in favor of approving the plans for the route.

"I live . . . less than half a mile from the [rail] right of way, and I work within half a mile of the 4th Street Station in Santa Monica, so I would use this line," she said.

After the board approved the plans, she added: "It means we can move forward -- that we are one step closer to having an alternative to sitting in traffic."

The MTA has for decades wanted to build a subway along Wilshire Boulevard through Beverly Hills and into Santa Monica. But the high price -- several billion dollars -- has stalled the effort. And that leaves the Expo Line as the only viable plan right now for an east-west rail link from downtown to Santa Monica.

Opponents of the plans approved Thursday are threatening to file a lawsuit that could delay construction of the second phase, which officials hope to open in 2015.

The line is being mostly built on an abandoned Southern Pacific right of way and was originally touted by planners as a cost-effective and fast route for rail service to the Westside.

But the first 8.6-mile link from downtown Los Angeles to Venice and Robertson boulevards is already more than a year behind schedule and is more than $220 million over its original budget of $640 million.

Some delays are due to safety issues near schools. Activists have complained that the first phase's route poses a risk to students at Dorsey High School and Foshay Learning Center and have called for improvements, including running the line above or below street level.

That issue is still unresolved and the state Public Utilities Commission is deciding which safety improvements are needed near Dorsey High, and those improvements could be costly.

Furthermore, the Expo Authority and the contractor for the first phase of the project are at odds over some of the delays and are wrestling over who is to blame. That could further raise the project's phase one cost depending on how the dispute is resolved.

Rick Thorpe, chief executive of the Expo Authority, said that is why officials are using a different contracting process for the second phase.

Thorpe said that for the second phase, two contracts will be awarded for design, and then one of those same companies will also receive the contract for construction. That way the contractor is responsible for the plans and the follow-through, Thorpe said.

Officials said they hope to open the first part of phase one, from downtown Los Angeles to Crenshaw Boulevard, sometime this year and estimate that the second part of phase one will open about a year later.

Thorpe said the timeline of the first phase will not affect the second phase of the project because the sources of funding are different.

But fully funding the line is not a sealed deal because sales tax revenues are lower than expected, there is a state budget crisis and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has projected a historic $251.3-million operating deficit in the 2011 fiscal year.

Feb 7, 2010, 6:56 PM
sbX: Bus Rapid TransitsbX

Parsons Transportation Group Inc. of Ontario, California was awarded a $14.7 million contract for the E Street sbX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor Project, Development Phase. The project includes transit planning, public relations, architectural and engineering, environmental clearance, preliminary engineering and final design. The enhanced rapid transit service will travel on the E Street corridor in the cities of San Bernardino and Loma Linda.



Feb 17, 2010, 2:49 AM
Gold Line Expansion Project Coming in Summer?
Posted by: Scott Coppersmith / myFOXla.com

Los Angeles - An extension of light rail passenger train service along the Foothill (210) Freeway, once a mere dream for San Gabriel Valley communities, may see dirt moved and concrete poured starting this summer, it was reported today.

A June ground-breaking date appears to be on target for the Gold Line Foothill Extension, which will extend the northern branch of the Gold Line east from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora line.

Although the project may eventually see Gold Line passenger trains zipping from Los Angeles and Pasadena as far east as Ontario International Airport, funding is uncertain and the Foothill Extension Construction Authority and county Metropolitan Transportation Authority are still not exactly in accord, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

The MTA was viewed as a major obstacle to the Foothill extension. Ara Najarian, a Glendale councilman and chairman of the MTA's board, told the newspaper that the MTA's new boss --Art Leahy -- changed the attitudes of MTA officials toward the Gold Line.

"When we bought in our new CEO, I made it clear that we wanted a new attitude in the agency, where everybody isn't fighting each other for their own area's project," Najarian told the Tribune. "I think, under him, the agency has responded."

The construction authority will likely receive its full Measure R allotment of $851 million for the project over 11 years, Habib Balian, the construction authority's CEO, told the Tribune.

Officials hope to find a hungry construction company with enough cash reserves to build the tracks, with the authority paying back the money as its Measure R sales tax funds trickle in.

The first phase will include construction of a landmark bridge to take tracks from the center median of the 210 Freeway into Arcadia. From there, the light-rail tracks will follow old Santa Fe Railway right of way east through Monrovia and Azusa to Glendora.

Right of way exists to take the Gold Line through San Dimas, Laverne, Claremont and Pomona to the Ontario Airport, although funding is not assured for the eastern leg from San Bernardino County.

The Gold Line extends east from Los Angeles Union Station on two branches, and the June groundbreaking is scheduled for the northern branch. The southern branch currently ends in East Los Angeles, and officials hop to extend it either east along the Pomona (60) Freeway or southeast into Whittier.

Plans are also being drawn up to connect the two Gold Line branches across the Civic Center of Los Angeles via a "regional connector." That rail link would extend the Blue and Expo line tracks from the west side of downtown via a new tunnel under Figueroa Street and Bunker Hill.


Feb 17, 2010, 6:17 AM

Feb 18, 2010, 6:57 AM
Pasadena becomes latest city to debut bike plan
-- Tony Barboza
The Los Angeles Times
February 16, 2010 | 12:35 pm

While Los Angeles vigorously debates improvements to its bike infrastructure and Long Beach aims for the title of “the most bicycle friendly city in America,” Pasadena has released its own bike plan, which calls for nearly 20 miles of new bike lanes and paths.

The $1.8-million plan would rely on federal and state grants to build 6.3 miles of new bike lanes and 3.3 miles of new bike paths, and provide paint, pavement and sign upgrades for dozens of miles of other bikes lanes and routes.

The plan includes less conventional ideas, such as “emphasized bikeways,” or preferred routes that take cyclists away from busy streets, and shared bike-car lanes called “sharrows.” It also contains an idea bound to be controversial: Taking out lanes of traffic to erect diversion barriers to make more space for bicycles.

The Pasadena blueprint comes on the tail of efforts by cities such as Long Beach and Burbank to give cyclists safer passage through their cities.

Pasadena’s overtures to cyclists are being greeted with cautious optimism by cycling advocates, who say the city is moving in the right direction in guaranteeing cyclists’ safety but falling short in calling for enough protected bike lanes
“It’s very good, and there’s some connecting of gaps,” said Dorothy Le, planning and policy director for the nonprofit Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “But now that there's more cities trying to vie for more bike friendliness, Pasadena's got to be a little more aggressive."

The bike plan will be released to the public Feb. 23 during a meeting at Pasadena City Hall.


Feb 24, 2010, 8:01 AM


Express Lane project may be delayed
Posted by Steve Hymon on February 23, 2010 - 10:44 am

The conversion of carpool lanes to toll lanes on parts of the 10 and 110 freeways could be pushed back 19 months — to 2012 — under a plan to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors at their meeting on Thursday. It’s item No. 47 on the meeting agenda.

First, a little background.

In 2008, Metro and Caltrans received a $210.6-million federal grant to try a one year test-run of a so-called “congestion pricing” project in Los Angeles County. The idea is to sell extra space in the carpool lanes to single motorists who are willing to pay a fee to use the lanes to speed up their trips (carpoolers continue to use the lanes for free under existing rules). Metro is calling the new toll lanes “Express Lanes.”

The toll will vary depending on the time of day — the higher the demand, the higher the toll to discourage too many people from using the lane and to keep traffic moving at least at 45 mph; if speeds fall below that for 10 minutes, the tolling system is shut down. The tolls will vary between 25 cents a mile to a $1.40 a mile.

What’s to be gained by this, you ask?

The thinking is that adding the toll lanes — commonly called “HOT” lanes — may pull some traffic from the regular lanes, give people a chance to quicken their commutes, provide a chance to add more bus and vanpool service and also raise money for transportation improvements. The above map and fact sheet show the location of the toll lanes and some planned improvements in the areas impacted.

In academic circles, the idea of congestion pricing is very popular because it embraces a demand-and-supply approach to managing roads. How popular it is with taxpayers here who use the freeways, of course, remains to be seen although HOT lanes seem to work elsewhere (such as the 91 between the OC and Riverside counties). For you wonks out there, here’s an interesting 2007 paper written by three UCLA researchers that examines some of the politics of congestion pricing.

Back to the present: Under the original agreement with the feds, the toll lanes were supposed to be up and running by the end of 2010. But Metro staff said more time is needed and one big reason is the desire to make some freeway improvements so that the congestion pricing lanes will be more effective. The U.S. Department of Transportation has sent Metro a letter approving of the time extension and the agency has granted multiple extensions to congestion pricing projects in Miami, Minnesota and Seattle and also allowed a major change to San Francisco’s project.

Here’s a link to a report by Metro staff outlining why more time is needed to implement the project. One of the big fixes is adding a second HOT lane to the 10 freeway between the 605 and 710. Why is that a big deal? Besides the whole tolling issue, a criticism of the congestion pricing project involves the question of how much space there is to sell in the carpool lanes. The 110 section of the toll project already has two carpool lanes in each direction, but the 10 portion only has one. If that’s bumped up to two, there’s more room to sell.

In related news, there are two public meetings scheduled for March 9 and 10 to discuss the draft environmental impact report on the project. Here’s the link for the report on the 10 freeway part of the project and here’s the link for the report on the 110 freeway section.

And below is the information on the meetings, from an email sent to interested parties:

Caltrans is soliciting comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (Draft EIR/EA) for the proposal to convert existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV, or carpool) lanes on the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) and the Harbor Freeway (I-110) to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. Click here to visit the Caltrans website where the electronic document is available.

Written comments may be submitted through March 29, 2010 to: Ron Kosinski, Deputy District Director, California Department of Transportation, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 S Main St, MS 16A, Los Angeles, CA 90012. The Draft EIR/EA is also available for review and copying at the Caltrans District 7 Division of Environmental Planning, 100 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 weekdays from 8am to 4:30pm.

Draft EIR/EA Public Hearings

The hearings are scheduled as follows:

Interstate 110 (Harbor Freeway/Transitway) HOT Lanes Project
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Andrew Norman Hall
Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation
2400 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90007
6pm – 8pm

There will be an informal open house from 5pm – 6pm.
Served by: Metro Bus Lines 37, 38, 40, 45, 55, 81, 603, Metro Silver Line, and Metro Blue Line.

Interstate 10 (San Bernardino Freeway/Busway) HOT Lanes Project
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Metro San Gabriel Valley Service Sector
Council Chambers
3449 Santa Anita Av, 3rd Floor
El Monte, CA 91731
6pm – 8pm

There will be an informal open house from 5pm – 6pm.
Served by: Metro Bus Lines 70, 76, 190, 194, 267, 268, 577, Foothill Transit Lines 178, 269, 486, 492, Silver Streak, and Metro Silver Line.

Mar 11, 2010, 4:02 AM
Google Maps adds biking routes for the intrepid cyclist
March 10, 2010 | 10:12 am
The Los Angeles Times

After a long wait and more than 50,000 signatures on an online petition, cyclists will be happy to know that Google has finally added bicycle routes to Google Maps.

In Google Maps, users can now find "Bicycling" in the tool's "Get Directions" drop-down box. After choosing the option, bikers can input two addresses and find the bike route that will get them to their desired destination. Like Google Maps' other modes of transportation, the mapping tool provides turn-by-turn directions and an estimated travel time.

The new Google Maps bicycling feature is available in 150 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. The tool boasts over 12,000 bike trails. When users look for directions, the company's mapping algorithm weights trails more heavily than roads for safety reasons. If cities have bicycle lanes, those are also weighted more heavily than roads without them.

One of the neatest features built into the Google Maps bicycling tool is its power-exertion calculation. According to the company, biking directions "compute the effort [bicyclists] will require and the speed [they will] achieve while going uphill." Based on those calculations, the tool provides bicyclists with a route that eliminates areas that would require "an unreasonable degree of exertion."

Google said that its tool even keeps bicyclists away from busy intersections and areas where bicyclists would need to brake too often.

The new Google Maps bicycling tool is in beta, which means it might be a little buggy. Google plans to add more routes and trails to the service in the coming months.

-- Don Reisinger


Mar 16, 2010, 3:58 AM

Angels Flight rides again
Closed since 2001, the short railway reopens as downtown's bridge to the past, future.
By Cara Mia DiMassa and Hector Becerra
The Los Angeles Times
5:34 PM PDT, March 15, 2010

The orange and black funicular cars of Angels Flight still displayed their customary rattle and shake as they climbed the 298-foot tracks up Bunker Hill on Monday, maintaining the feel familiar to generations of Angelenos who have ridden "the smallest railway in the world."

"It's got the same kind of little grinding," said Craig Moreland, whose grandfather once owned Angels Flight. He was one of the first to step on board when the rail line reopened for business Monday morning. "All the noises are as I recall them."

Although Angels Flight has not changed, the city around it has.

When Angels Flight closed after a fatal accident in 2001, a new generation of urban dwellers was just settling into their lofts. In the intervening years, trendy restaurants, high-rise condos, luxury loft conversions and a full-fledged art district have reshaped the neighborhoods that spread east and south of the railroad's base.

The funicular has been out of commission for so long, said Bert Green, a downtown resident and gallery owner, that for many of the area's new denizens, "it's not just a restoration of a link that has been neglected. It's going to be something new."

That change is only the latest transformation in the short railroad's long history. For much of its life, beginning in 1901, Angels Flight connected the Victorian houses and wooden bungalows that once crowned Bunker Hill with the bustling commerce at the bottom of the hill. By the late 1960s, both ends of the slope were in transition. Bunker Hill's residential blocks had been razed to make way for high-rise office towers, and the downtown below was struggling after decades of decline.

Angles Flight closed in 1969 -- for what civic officials had said would be a matter of months -- and reopened in 1996. Then, on Feb. 1, 2001, one of the rail line's two cars, Sinai, broke loose and sped 200 feet backward, smashing into the other car, Olivet, at the bottom of the hill.

An 83-year-old New Jersey man was killed, and seven people were seriously injured.

Federal investigators eventually concluded that faulty mechanical and brake systems, combined with weak oversight, led to the crash.

On Monday, with its safety problems resolved, according to local and state officials, Angels Flight returned to a downtown Los Angeles that once again has a thriving residential neighborhood -- but this time at the bottom of the hill.

And atop Bunker Hill stand the Walt Disney Concert Hall and a growing collection of cultural attractions.

No one expects Angels Flight to suddenly become a vital transportation link -- walking up Bunker Hill is far from an ordeal.

But downtown boosters see the funicular as a cultural link, a piece of history reborn to help connect the new downtown.

"You are talking about bridging the past and the present in a way that is pretty rare in L.A.," Green said.

His gallery is in the Old Bank District, a few blocks from Angels Flight's terminus at the bottom of Bunker Hill.

He sees the reopening of the funicular as an opportunity for more cross-pollination between the arts scene in his area -- known for the monthly art walks that draw thousands to galleries -- and the more established art scene at the top of Bunker Hill, which is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Music Center.

Josh Rogosin, who works in public radio and moved downtown from New York last year, checked out Angels Flight on Monday morning and left impressed.

He probably would not use the rail line every day, he said, but it definitely makes the downtown living experience richer.

"I look forward to riding it not because I have to, but because I like the distinctiveness of it," he said. "This is why I like big cities."

A sense of history and urban atmosphere are part of what has drawn many new residents to downtown in the last few years.

For some, the attraction was highlighted by the movie "(500) Days of Summer," in which the main character's obsession with Bunker Hill and the Old Bank District made the settings around Angels Flight featured players, although the funicular was out of commission and did not appear.

"One of the things about Angels Flight is that for an object, it has personality," said John Welborne, president of Angels Flight Railway. "The fact is, it's an animated part of downtown."

Others see Angels Flight more pragmatically as help for getting around.

The revitalization of downtown has occurred in pockets.

There's Bunker Hill, the Old Bank District, the Arts District near Little Tokyo and South Park around Staples Center and L.A. Live.

Carol Schatz, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, said that figuring out ways to connect these areas by mass transit has been a top priority.

Officials are considering several big-ticket items -- including a trolley down Broadway and a rail connector running through downtown to Union Station.

Angels Flight, by contrast, is famously small, but Schatz believes it will make a difference.

When Angels Flight opened Dec. 31, 1901, at 3rd and Hill streets, its founder, Col. J.W. Eddy, touted the funicular as a way to spare Angelenos the walk up Bunker Hill -- for the price of 1 cent.

It reopened in 1996 at its current location about a block from the original site.

For historian Marc Wanamaker, Angels Flight is a symbol of sorts, of the loss of the Bunker Hill that thrived in the early part of the last century, when the hilltop was a centerpiece of the city, dotted by luxurious mansions, before Bunker Hill was shaved down and those mansions razed.

"It is a symbol of L.A. past," Wanamaker said, "of a quality of life, of an actual different topography and a different way of living."

Mar 16, 2010, 3:59 AM
Cyclists take on one of L.A.'s steepest hills
At a whopping 33% incline, Fargo Street is one of the sharpest grades in L.A. Many never made it to the top. One man climbed the peak 51 times in a day.
By Kate Linthicum
The Los Angeles Times
March 15, 2010

There are people who sprint with the bulls in Spain, and people who plunge into icy oceans on New Year's Day.

Then there are the several dozen men and women who gathered in Echo Park on Sunday morning at the bottom of a beastly hill and looked up. Before them stretched Fargo Street, one of the city's steepest roads.

The challenge: to climb it. On a bicycle. Without stopping.

Some tried and failed. Falls were so common that no one blinked when a woman tipped over halfway up the hill and tumbled violently into a bush on the side of the street.

But many triumphed. More than half of the 105 people who signed up made it to the top, where they were greeted with cheers and dazzling views of Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign.

Dan Wyman was one of them.

His chest was still heaving from the ascent when someone asked him, "Why do you do it?"

Wyman, 58, raised a hand in the air and said he needed a minute to cool down. "Sorry," he said. "Nausea is overtaking me."

A couple of deep breaths later, he explained: "It's not something you want to subject your body to. But the feeling when you conquer the hill is so special. You know you can do something no one else can do."

Wyman has participated in the Fargo Street Hill Climb almost every year since the inaugural event in 1974, when someone bet bicycle enthusiast Darryl LeVesque $100 that he couldn't make it up Fargo Street.

In front of a crowd of about 50 members of the Los Angeles Wheelmen bicycle club, LeVesque and his wife, Carol, got onto a tandem bicycle. As they were preparing for their climb, a man on a track bike made a sudden, unplanned run at the hill and cycled to the top.

LeVesque, 64, who came to watch Sunday's ride, said he still harbors resentment. "He was some young punk," he said. "He stole our thunder."

The LeVesques hold the record for first tandem duo to make it to the top, and Carol holds the record for the first woman to make the solo ascent. The record for number of climbs made in one day is 101.

Kent Karnes was this year's top finisher, with 51 climbs.

With a grade of 33%, the street is so steep that the Fire Department and car manufacturers are said to test equipment on it.

Many people make adjustments to their bicycles, putting cogs as big as pie plates on their back wheel, and tiny chain rings on the pedal cranks, LeVesque said. Riding techniques vary. Some go straight up, while others crisscross their way to the top.

"You've got to watch out for the zig-zaggers and for all the looky-loos on the side," cyclist Hazziz Ali told Andres Morales, a younger cyclist who was considering making a run at the hill. "The biggest obstacles are the other people.

"You can't pace yourself," Ali, 64, told Morales. "This is a sprint."

Morales, 32, couldn't decide whether he should try the climb. He plans to run in the Los Angeles Marathon next week, and he didn't want to injure himself before that. Besides, he said, looking up at the sharp incline, "it's intimidating."

"Man, people give too much respect to this hill," Ali told him. "The truth is, it's about 1% physical and 99% spiritual."

"Yeah," Morales said. "My old coach said it's not the size of the body but the size of the heart."

When Ali pedaled away to warm up for his second ride, Morales said he had decided to bow out. "I think I'm going to skip it," he said. "I'm going to ride to the beach."

At the bottom of the hill, Bruce Bates and his girlfriend sat on a guardrail, smoking cigarettes in the late-morning sun. Bates, whose bare chest was pink from sunburn, took swigs from a bottle of whiskey and loudly heckled the bicyclists.

He said he had tried to ride the year before. "Halfway up I said, 'Nope,' and fell over backward.' "

His girlfriend said she wasn't crazy enough to attempt the ride.

"It would take me about three hours to get up the hill," she said, "and there would be a lot of stopping."

Mar 17, 2010, 2:21 AM
A small step for Crenshaw line

The shovel, so to speak, hit the ground this morning as part of the planning process for the Crenshaw Line light rail project. Soil testing begun in order to determine what’s literally in the dirt, since a fair amount of it will be moved as part of the construction process.

A pair of Metro Board members — County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — also held a press conference to announce the beginning of testing. The Crenshaw Line is scheduled to open in 2018, with connections to the Expo Line, the Green Line and LAX.

-- Steve Hymon


Mar 17, 2010, 11:17 AM
It is good that California has Sen. Boxer in DC to advocate for this. Can you imagine Cary Fiorina or Chuck DeVore making the effort to seek this federal financing?

Villaraigosa in D.C. seeking support for faster subway, transit funding

LA Times


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was back in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday wearing a "30/10 for L.A." sticker as he made the rounds to build support for federal help to speed expansion of the region’s transit network, including the subway to Westwood.

The mayor already has picked up a key ally, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), in his effort to get Washington to provide the Los Angeles region with assistance -- perhaps federal help in paying interest on loans or using federal stimulus money -- so that projects now expected to take 30 years could be built in 10.

Boxer’s support is important because she chairs the Senate committee that will write the next big federal transportation bill. Her staff and officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation are looking at ways the federal government can help Los Angeles -- with or without legislation.

"What we’re saying is let us do over 10 years what we were going to do over 30 years, and bring the jobs faster," Boxer said at a Capitol news conference attended by Villaraigosa and a delegation of business and labor leaders from Los Angeles.

Villaraigosa, who appeared before Boxer’s committee last week to testify in support of federal-local partnerships to speed up transit projects, acknowledged that asking Washington for more money at a time of massive federal budget deficits is a "very difficult proposition."

He said the Los Angeles region isn’t coming to Washington with its hands out, but rather offering to put up billions of its own dollars from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters last year. The program is expected to raise $40 billion for mass transit projects, including extension of the subway to Westwood and extension of the light-rail Gold Line to the San Gabriel Valley. The mayor’s office estimates the projects would create 166,000 jobs, mostly during the construction phase.

When he was speaker of the state Assembly, Villaraigosa said in an interview, "Everybody would come with their hand out. I would always tell people, 'Hey, I’d get more excited about your program if you’re putting up your own money.' "

In an effort to win support for the initiative, Villaraigosa and Boxer said the 30/10 plan could serve as a national model.

"This is the template, not just for L.A., but for what every city, county and state ought to do in these times -- put up their own money, make the investments, create the jobs that we need right now and get the added value of cleaning the environment and reducing congestion," the mayor said.

The mayor may need to spend more time with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Caught by a reporter in the Senate subway, Feinstein said she wasn’t familiar with the mayor’s plan and suggested that the effort could run into resistance.

"The line is long for money from the federal government," she said. "And no one looks at the debt, and no one looks at the deficit."

-- Rich Simon from Washington

Mar 18, 2010, 5:08 AM
Wow...$40 Billion out of -$1 Trillion budget? What a difference it'll make in lowering the deficit...

Mar 19, 2010, 2:10 AM
Feinstein backs Villaraigosa plan to speed transportation projects
March 18, 2010 | 12:55 pm
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday gained another important ally in his push for federal aid to speed expansion of the region’s transit network: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Feinstein called the mayor’s "30/10 Plan" to complete 12 transit projects in 10 years instead of 30 "an innovative idea" that could help ease Los Angeles’ legendary traffic gridlock while creating jobs.

"As someone who believes that bold national infrastructure expansion programs are exactly what we need right now, I think the 30/10 Plan could become a national model for how to build up communities across the country," she said in a statement.

Feinstein earlier this week expressed concern about the long line of requests for federal aid, even as Villaraigosa was in Washington lobbying for federal support for his proposal. She noted in her statement Thursday that the mayor's proposal calls for paying back any federal loans from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase approved by county voters last year.

-- Richard Simon in Washington, D.C.


Mar 19, 2010, 2:12 AM
Trolley coming to downtown
Caruso Affiliated announces plans to bring the long awaited bus to Brand Blvd. next month
By Melanie Hicken
Published: Last Updated Thursday, March 18, 2010 10:25 AM PDT

CITY HALL — A long-anticipated public trolley down Brand Boulevard will start running next month, Caruso Affiliated officials announced this week.

The rubber wheel trolley will run from the Nestle headquarters on North Brand to the Americana at Brand from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Rick Lemmo, Caruso’s vice president of community relations, said Tuesday at a joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Agency.

“Everything we do, as all of the council members know, is promises made, promises kept,” Lemmo said.

The trolley will be “absolutely free” and have six stops as it makes its way down Brand so that all downtown retailers can benefit from its service, Lemmo added.

Local residents and merchants have for years pushed for a trolley or tram service in the downtown area to move people from parking lots and venues along the city’s main thoroughfare.

“Some idea of a circulator system in the downtown has always been part of the larger plan in the long term,” said Community Planning Director Hassan Haghani.

On Wednesday, Councilman John Drayman said he was thrilled the trolley, which he said had been in the works for some time, would soon be a reality. All necessary permits have been obtained, he said.

“Caruso Affiliated has taken the steps to increase our mobility, spin off sales in the downtown area, and they’ve done it with their own dollars,” he said. “How could I be anything but happy with that?”

While the trolley will only have limited operation, Drayman added that he hoped the city would build upon the service to fulfill the long talked about goal of creating a downtown circulator.

“Obviously, we have had financial constraints and other priorities that had to come first,” he said. “It will give the city an opportunity to see how the circulator is going to work without us having to spend the funds to do it.”

Elissa Glickman, secretary for the Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn., said the trolley service would be a great addition for the downtown area, and could help the business of merchants along the route.

“Los Angeles is not known for its being a great walking community,” she said. “So anything that gets people out of the high-rise buildings and experiencing new restaurants and dining locations and retail shops along the way can only be beneficial.”


Mar 19, 2010, 2:27 AM
very good news regarding the Brand Trolley. Its very necessary and will be heavily used. This is the first step to getting a permanent rail circulator in the area.

The best part is gonna be reading the comments section in the news press the next few days. i cant wait until the same regular nimby old fucks find a way to complain about a free trolley. should be fun.

Mar 21, 2010, 11:10 PM
An LRT from Downtown LA to Glendale via Brand would've made a lot more sense.

Mar 22, 2010, 4:47 AM

Dodger Bus to Return This Season
Los Angeles Downtown News
Published: Friday, March 19, 2010 4:00 PM PDT

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - After a hiatus last year, the Dodger bus will return for the 2010 season, giving fans who arrive at Union Station a free ride to and from the game.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich recently announced that thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Mobile Sources Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, the buses will run from the train station directly to Dodger Stadium every 10 minutes before the start of the game and about every 30 minutes during the game. Buses will run until 45 minutes after the game ends. The Dodger Stadium Trolley was popular with fans when it debuted in 2008, with several stops between the stadium and Union Station. It was canceled for the 2009 season due to lack of funds.

Mar 27, 2010, 2:58 AM

$690 million OKd for Gold Line extension to Azusa
The MTA board's approval of the funding means the project is on track to break ground in June and begin service in 2014.
By My-Thuan Tran
The Los Angeles Times
March 26, 2010

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Thursday approved $690 million in funding for the extension of the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley, marking a significant step forward for the project.

The money would go toward extending the light rail line 11.3 miles from its current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Avenue in Pasadena to Azusa. The board's approval means the project is on track to break ground in June and begin service in 2014.

The extension is one of several major rail projects being planned for L.A. County in the next few years, including an extension of the Expo Line into Santa Monica, a new line down Crenshaw Boulevard into the South Bay and an extension of the Eastside portion of the Gold Line.

There has been much debate about which projects should get funding, and county Supervisor Mike Antonovich said it's important that a line outside the city of Los Angeles received money.

"We need to have a regional transportation network and not one that just favors one city," he said. "Los Angeles has cannibalized the funds, and this is the first time we have been able to bring 'regional' to the front of the plate instead of the back of the bus."

Antonovich said the extension -- with stops in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa -- would move the area toward a "truly regional transit system."

Cities are looking at creating a high-tech corridor and building housing and multi-use commercial projects along the line, which parallels the 210 Freeway.

Planners would like to eventually extend the Gold Line all the way to LA/Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County.

With the Thursday vote, $690 million in revenue from Measure R will be transferred to the Gold Line Construction Authority. County voters approved the measure in 2008 to increase the sales tax by half a cent on the dollar for 30 years to raise $40 billion to construct specific mass transit projects.

The Gold Line funding effectively moves the scheduled opening of the Azusa extension to 2014 from 2017, Antonovich said, because it allows for the construction authority to seek bids for faster construction in a private-public partnership.

Building the extension would generate 6,900 jobs, a third of them construction-related, during the three-year project, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

The second phase of the project would add stations in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair and is estimated to cost about $600 million to $700 million.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in Washington earlier this month lobbying Congress to support the region's rail projects. He has made a priority of extending the subway to the Westside.

Mar 27, 2010, 3:40 PM
JDR: would you call the Glendale LRT the Toonerville Trolley?

For those who find this obscure, the Toonerville gang operates in parts of the south end of Glendale, which links to DT LA. They are a particularly violent street gang which has been in the area for 70 years and are called Toonerville after the trolley that ran through the area and a popular comic strip of the time.

Btw, the new Glendale Trolley, a link to DT LA and the Dodger Trolley would all run in proximity to each other so maybe there's something about that neighborhood. Due to the hills and arroyos traffic does tend to bottle-neck around there.

Apr 13, 2010, 3:31 AM

Board of Directors to consider Mayor Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative
Posted by Steve Hymon on April 9, 2010 - 11:32 am

As expected, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative to build a dozen Measure R transit projects in the next decade instead of the next three decades will be considered this month by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.

The 30/10 initiative will go before the Board of Directors beginning Wednesday in the planning committee and then later in the day in the finance and budget committee.

Here is a link to a prior post on the mayor’s plan. The 12 transit projects — listed in the graphic at the right — have major funding from Measure R and their sequencing was set in the long-range plan adopted by the agency’s Board of Directors last fall. The initiative hopes to secure federal support via interest rate subsidies, direct loans, creative financing terms or loan guarantees.

A vote by the Board that it supports 30/10 would demonstrate to the federal government that the plan has been embraced by officials across Los Angeles County. In the past, the feds have wanted to see widespread support for transit projects before they will consider funding them — the exact reason that last year’s Board vote on a long-range plan was significant.

Among the issues likely to be discussed by the Board of Directors are the projects included in the mayor’s plan and Metro’s ability to operate a dozen new or expanded transit lines if, in fact, they are built and open in the next decade. The Board of Directors are also likely to ask about the issue of accelerating highway projects.

The mayor’s 30/10 plan has received considerable attention in the press in the past couple of months and Villaraigosa recently traveled to Washington to lobby officials — as did officials from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the activist group Move LA and labor leaders. Both of California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have indicated support and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has also shown interest.

The first page of a fact sheet on the initiative that is being circulated by the mayor’s office is posted after the jump.


Apr 14, 2010, 3:40 AM
El Monte bus station work begins next week
Posted by Steve Hymon on April 13, 2010 - 1:21 pm

Here’s an interesting little factoid: Did you you know the El Monte bus station is the busiest bus station west of Chicago?

As part of the ExpressLanes project that will convert the carpool lanes on parts of the 10 and 110 freeways into toll lanes, the El Monte bus station is going to be rebuilt and expanded to double its current size — that’s a rendering of the new station above and at right. But first a temporary bus station must be built to replace the current one during construction.

That work begins next Tuesday and it also means some parking is going to be shifted around at the current site. All the details and another couple of renderings are in the press release after the jump.

Metro to Begin Construction on a Temporary Bus Terminal at El Monte Bus Station

Metro will begin constructing a temporary bus terminal on Tuesday, April 20 in preparation for the ultimate construction of a new El Monte Bus Station. The construction will take place in the parking lot of the station located to the right of the main entrance at Santa Anita Ave. and Ramona Blvd. in El Monte.

Parking at the El Monte Station during this construction period will be restricted and a chain link fence will be erected around the parking lot while construction of the temporary bus station proceeds. Completion of the temporary facility is expected in August 2010.

El Monte Station patrons can use an additional parking facility set up at the former Chevrolet dealership lot just off Santa Anita Avenue adjacent to the San Bernardino Freeway.

Metro will make every effort to minimize impacts to patrons during the construction period. Signs guiding both vehicles and pedestrians around the transit center will be posted and pedestrians will be redirected to safe areas outside the construction zone.

Following completion of the temporary bus terminal, the existing bus station will be closed for further construction work. All buses will be redirected to the temporary bus terminal.

The $45 million El Monte Station construction project will consist of a new two story building that will house a public bus and terminal station with limited retail space, a customer service center and surface parking. Final construction is anticipated to be completed in January 2012.

Currently, approximately 22,000 patrons use the facility daily. It is the largest bus station west of Chicago and is used by Metro, Foothill Transit, LAX FlyAway, Greyhound, El Monte Transit and Metrolink Shuttle.

Once completed, the facility will be twice its current size and include modern amenities including variable message signs, intercoms, closed circuit television, solar panels, wayfinding equipment and information displays, new elevators and escalators, a transit store, bike stations and lockers and public art.

The project is funded by a $210 million congestion reduction demonstration grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the ExpressLanes project.

Metro and Caltrans District 7, along with Foothill Transit, Gardena Transit, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, MetroLink and Torrance Transit are partnering in a one-year demonstration project during which existing carpool lanes on the I-10 El Monte Busway (between Alameda Street and I-605) and the I-110 Harbor Transitway (between Adams Blvd. and the Artesia Transit Center) will be converted to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes called ExpressLanes.

The upgrading of the El Monte Bus Station is an essential part of the success of the ExpressLane project in an effort to provide commuters, regardless of income level, with new and better travel options along two of LA County’s most congested corridors. ExpressLanes are scheduled to open in 2012.

For construction updates and information, the public can call Metro’s Community Relations Construction Impact Hotline at 213-922-7900 or visit metro.net/elmonte.



Apr 21, 2010, 3:01 AM
Green Line extension meetings on tap
-- Steve Hymon

An extension of the Green Line from its current terminus in Redondo Beach to the Torrance Transit Center is currently being studied by Metro. The project is in its draft environmental study phase and a new round of meetings begins soon to give the public a chance to catch up on the relevant issues.

The press release is after the jump — the meetings are between April 26 and May 5.

The draft environmental report is considering whether it’s best to upgrade traffic management systems in the area, extend the light rail line or not build anything (an alternative that the law requires to be studied). When the report is complete, Metro staff will make a recommendation which of the above is best and ultimately the agency’s Board of Directors will select what to do. A Green Line extension would be funded in part by the Measure R sales tax.

The Green Line extension, if built, would certainly help fill out Metro’s rail network. A passenger in Torrance could take the Green Line to the future Crenshaw Line, which will terminate at the Expo Line — meaning a trip originating in Torrance could end in Norwalk (with transfers to Metrolink), the LAX area, the Crenshaw business district or any of the places served by the Expo Line, including USC and Culver City. Metro to Hold Public Scoping Meetings for the South Bay Metro Green Line Extension Project

Metro will hold four public scoping meetings beginning Monday April 26 for the South Bay Metro Green Line Extension project. These scoping meetings are the first step in the environmental process and Metro is seeking public comments and input for extending rail service farther into the South Bay to improve mobility in southwest Los Angeles County.

Metro is currently preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (DEIS/DEIR) to identify transit improvements that would provide an alternative to the I-405 corridor by accessing the regional rail network through connections to the Metro Blue Line and the proposed Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, currently under environmental review.

As part of the Draft EIS/EIR, Metro will assess existing conditions in the study area, further refine the project alternatives, assess their potential impacts and identify possible and reasonable mitigation measures.

Two ‘build’ alternatives are being considered in the DEIS/DEIR. The Light Rail Alterative will evaluate extending the Metro Green Line from its current terminus at the Redondo Beach Station to the proposed Torrance Regional Transit Center (RTC).

The freight track alternative will evaluate operating rail transit vehicles on the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way using upgraded rail tracks from the El Segundo/LAX area to the proposed Torrance RTC. In addition the Draft EIS/EIR will evaluate the No Build and Transportation Systems Management alternatives.

The public is encouraged to attend the public scoping meetings and provide their input. The following is a list of upcoming meetings:

• Monday, April 26, 2010 (6-8 p.m.) Nakano Theater, 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance.

• Wednesday, April 28, 2010 (6-8 p.m.) North Redondo Senior Center, Perry Park, 2308 Rockefeller Lane, Redondo Beach.

• Saturday, May 1, 2010 (10 a.m. – 12n) Lawndale City Hall, 14717 Burin Avenue, Lawndale.

• Wednesday, May 5, 2010 (6-8 p.m.) Automobile Driving Museum, 610 Lairport Street, El Segundo.

The study area encompasses approximately 30 square miles and includes the cities of El Segundo, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance as well as the Del Aire and Lennox areas of unincorporated LA County.
The project is partially funded under Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by the voters in November 2008. Under Measure R, the project is provided $272 million in funding for the Metro Green Line Extension to the South Bay Corridor. This project is contained in the constrained element of the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).
For information on the project and the Draft EIS/EIR process the public can call



Apr 21, 2010, 9:27 PM

Posted by Steve Hymon on April 21, 2010 - 11:32 am

Busy agenda for Metro Board of Directors tomorrow
The monthly meeting of the agency’s Board of Directors will be held Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Union Station in Los Angeles. Meetings are open to the public. Here’s a quick look at some of the more interesting items on the meeting’s agenda:

•(Item 33) The Board of Directors will also consider whether to support the 30/10 initiative proposed by Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board of Director Antonio Villaraigosa into official Metro policy. Villaraigosa’s original plan called for obtaining federal money through a variety of ways to build 12 mass transit projects funded by Measure R in 10 years, not 30. Some Board members have said they wanted Measure R highway projects to be included in 30/10. So the discussion will likely be about what’s in 30/10 and the length of the list–keep in mind that the longer the list, the less money for each project, should any federal money be secured.

•(Item 55) The Board of Directors will also consider a recommendation by Metro staff to begin a new round of studies on how best to improve traffic flow created by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. One of those improvements could possibly be a tunnel. Staff also recommends that studies focus on the area — known as zone 3 — directly between the two ends of the 710. Here’s a link to a recent post on The Source about the proposed 710 studies.

Apr 25, 2010, 3:49 PM
A response from Chairman Najarian: There will be bicycle parking at Westlake/MacArthur Park development
Posted by Metro Staff on April 23, 2010 - 11:42 am

Ara Najarian, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Metro and the mayor of Glendale, wrote the following on the bike parking situation at the new transit-oriented development being built just west of downtown Los Angeles:

Last week’s groundbreaking of the Westlake/MacArthur Park joint development project was an important milestone. When completed a few years from now, it will provide much needed affordable housing for the neighborhood, connections to eight Metro Bus and two Metro Rail lines, business lease revenues that will help pay for transit operations, and new parking spaces for transit customers.

But no parking for bicyclists? How could this be? I asked the agency’s staff for a report on assertions that bicycle parking was not factored into Westlake/MacArthur Park development plans. Contrary to some blog reports, the fact is that bicycle parking will be included in this development and implemented in a manner that is most convenient and accessible to our bicycle customers.

I asked MTA staff to provide additional details on this development so the public has a clear understanding of what is and what is not planned as part of this development.

MTA staff reports that bicycle facilities for the public were always intended at the development. Bicycle parking for the public already exists on the portal. This project will be built in two phases, however. The first phase is planned one block east of the Westlake/MacArthur Park Red/Purple Line Station. The first phase of the project was not chosen as the preferred site for bicycle parking because it will be located one block away from the portal, which is not convenient for bicyclists who use the Metro system.

Phase 2 of the project is planned over the subway station itself. Bicycle parking was chosen to be designed into the second phase of the project, which provides bicyclists with the same convenient access to the Westlake/MacArthur Park subway portal and multiple bus lines serving the station. Both bicycle lockers and racks will be placed in a visible location.

MTA is, of course, a public agency, and as such, we want to have a constructive dialogue with the bicycle community on issues important to them. Help us decide where our focus should be for additional bike facilities.

I’m personally heartened that MTA has now established a quarterly series of Bicycle Roundtable meetings that provide the forum for public input on these and other bicycle-related issues within the agency’s purview. In fact, the next roundtable coming up May 12 will discuss bicycle parking issues.

I encourage everyone who cares about bicycling to attend these meetings. Working together, we can and will improve transit amenities for bicyclists throughout L.A. County.


May 13, 2010, 5:04 AM

May 15, 2010, 1:09 PM
Big Names Get Behind Streetcar Project
Sept. 30 Fundraiser to Include Eli Broad, Tim Leiweke and Rick Caruso
by Richard Guzman, City Editor
Los Angeles Downtown News
Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 10:44 AM PDT

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Some big names are getting behind the effort to bring back a streetcar to Downtown Los Angeles. They will all come together in the fall in a major L.A. Live fundraiser.

A cocktail reception has been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30, at the L.A. Live Target Terrace. It will be hosted by 14th District Councilman José Huizar, whose 2-year-old Bringing Back Broadway initiative has propelled the idea of a streetcar line. Also listed as co-hosts are philanthropist Eli Broad, developer Rick Caruso and Anschutz Entertainment Group President and CEO Tim Leiweke.

Sponsoring and ticket information has yet to be released. The event will benefit the nonprofit Los Angeles Streetcar Inc., which was formed in 2009 to handle the design, construction and eventual operation of the proposed Downtown streetcar.

The streetcar is a key component of Huizar’s 10-year plan to revitalize Broadway. The streetcar, which would connect L.A. Live to Bunker Hill, is estimated to cost $100 million. So far, a little more than $10.5 million has been secured for the project as Huizar continues to look at a mix of federal and private sources to raise the money. One likely possibility to secure a portion of the funds is an assessment district in which property owners along the proposed route would be taxed.

Huizar has pegged a 2014 deadline for opening the streetcar, but that rests on $25 million the group is seeking from the Federal Transit Administration’s Urban Circulators program. The application has been filed and an answer is expected in June.

Two principal route options are being considered for the streetcar. In either case, the main southbound spine would be on Broadway. The main northbound corridor would be on Hill or Olive streets.


May 22, 2010, 2:09 AM
10 essential bikes as transportation blogs
-- Fred Camino

As Bike Week comes to a close we present a list of 10 great blogs that cover bikes as the fantastic form of transportation that they are.

Sure bikes are fun and make for a great workout – but they also happen to be an easy and eco-friendly way to get from point A to point B. Kids know this, but adults seem to forget and think the only way to get around is in a gas-guzzling motor vehicle. This list of blogs proves that grown-ups can ride to work and play without shame, and maybe even with a little bit of style.

Note: a few local bike blogs (SoapBox LA, BikingInLA and LA County Bicycle Coalition Blog) have been left off this list because they already appear on our 10 essential Los Angeles transportation blogs list.

* EvoVelo – http://www.ecovelo.info/
A beautiful blog that sets out to show that a bike centered lifestyle is not only good for the environment, but brings joy to the soul. With multiple postings each day – featuring gorgeous photographs and well written articles on bike culture, lifestyle, technology and fashion – this blog is a must follow.
* Commute by Bike – http://commutebybike.com/
In our car-centered society getting to work by bicycle can be a bit revolutionary – and a bit intimidating for many folk. This blog offers tips, anecdotes and reviews of bikes and gear that make the whole bike commuting thing seem a little less crazy. Frequent posting makes Commute by Bike an essential bookmark.
* Bike Commuters – http://www.bikecommuters.com/
Another bike commuting blog, this one offers news, reviews and how-to’s on getting to work using pedal power. Check out their commuter tools that offer bike laws for every state, a gas savings calculator and and MPG calculator for those who combine a car commute with bike commute.
* Cyclelicious – http://www.cyclelicio.us/
In addition to having a pretty great name, Cyclelicious has a non-stop posting schedule on everything and anything to do with bike culture. The blog covers nationwide bike events and new stories relating to bikes as transport. One cool regular feature are posts that spotlight famous folk who use bikes to get around.
* Let’s Go Ride a Bike Blog – http://letsgorideabike.com/blog/
Like so many things, there’s a feeling in society the bikes are a guy thing. Well this blog is all about getting more people – especially women – on bikes. It’s a great looking and super readable blog with articles that will appeal to any bicyclist but there’s plenty of posts that shine that light on issues women might face when it comes to getting around on a bike (see: Wardrobe Malfunction: Stapling My Skirt).
* Bikeside LA – http://www.bikesidela.org/
Local and outspoken – Bikeside LA is a blog that tackles policy issues that affect the bikes as transportation lifestyle in Los Angeles. Posts cover local bike news, advocacy issues and local agencies and officials who may be standing in the way of L.A.’s bike culture.
* Gary Rides Bikes – http://garyridesbikes.blogspot.com/
Another local blog covering the progress and setbacks in L.A.’s journey to becoming a bicycle friendly place to live and ride. Posts are meaty and thought provoking – and often accompanied with great pictures. Opinion on local politics affecting bike culture represents the bulk of postings.
* Bike Portland – http://bikeportland.org/
Portland, Oregon is often praised for its bike friendly land use policies and booming bike culture. In fact, 8% of commuters bike to work – the largest percentage of bike commuters in the U.S. Bike Portland has daily postings on what’s going on in that bike utopia to the north and can serve as a great inspiration as we try to up our paltry 1% bike commute mode share here in L.A.
* Copenhagenize – http://www.copenhagenize.com/
Portland may be pretty impressive with its 8% mode share of bike commuters – but it’s nothing compared to Copenhagen’s 55%! To truly be inspired, we have to look to Copenhagen and Copenhagenize lets us do just that. The blog’s daily postings show just how great things are in Copenhagen and progress being made around the globe.
* The Guardian Cycling – http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/cycling
The Guardian is one of London’s most read newspapers and its website is popular worldwide – and it has an entire section devoted to cycling. The site offers a great look into London’s bike scene and makes me wistful for similar coverage from the L.A. Times.


May 24, 2010, 4:39 AM
Interstate 710: A chance to close an L.A. freeway gap
A tunnel plan to close a long-missing link in L.A.'s freeway system is getting a hard new look.
Editorial, The Los Angeles Times
May 23, 2010

On Google Maps, it looks like a severed limb: Sticking out from the intersection of Highway 134 and Interstate 210 in Pasadena is the stump of a freeway heading south, coming to an abrupt end after about half a mile at Del Mar Boulevard. There's a matching stub 4 1/2 miles away, where the rest of Interstate 710 picks up at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and runs 23 miles to the port of Long Beach. Closing that gap has been the subject of furious debate since the 1960s, an on-again, off-again contest between homeowners and transportation planners that is suddenly very much on again.

On Thursday, the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is to consider whether to approve a study that would examine different project alternatives and their environmental impacts. Los Angeles County voters set the process in motion in 2008 when they approved Measure R, which raised local sales taxes to pay for a variety of transportation projects ¡X including $780 million for a tunnel that would close the 710 gap. Building the tunnel would actually cost quite a bit more than that, but the local sales tax money provides an impetus to seek additional funds elsewhere.

The Long Beach Freeway was never completed on its original above-ground route because it was blocked by South Pasadena residents whose homes stood in its path. They had good reason to object. A surface route wouldn't just have destroyed hundreds of homes, many of them historic; it would have split neighborhoods and harmed the quality of life of thousands. Unable to win approval to go through South Pasadena, planners are instead focused on boring under it.

A 2006 study showed it was feasible from a geological standpoint to close the 710 gap via a tunnel. If the MTA board opts to proceed, the agency would study a wide range of alternatives including tunnels, improvement of surface streets or the originally planned surface freeway. The latter option is unfeasible both politically and legally. In 1999, a federal judge issued an injunction on freeway construction because planners hadn't adequately studied alternatives or environmental impacts, and in 2003, the Federal Highway Administration withdrew an earlier agreement to fund the project.

Even the tunnel idea is controversial. Public opinion seems evenly split, with residents of South Pasadena and many communities along the 210 Freeway generally against it while neighborhoods that bear the brunt of the traffic problems caused by the existing gap tend to favor it. The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments wants to see the project move forward, but powerful local politicians such as Ara Najarian, mayor of Glendale and chairman of the MTA board, oppose it.

The Times has long supported closing the 710 gap. Truckers and commuters have waited many, many years for it to happen, and all things being equal, we'd like to find a solution that turns the 710 from a freeway to nowhere into part of a functional traffic network. Before we sign on to a tunnel under South Pasadena, however, we'd like to see the results of the proposed study. Obviously, if there's some insurmountable problem with the tunnel plan, or a less disruptive alternative ¡X or if it becomes clear that the damage that would be done to the neighborhood far outweighs the benefits to freeway travelers ¡X we would have a hard time supporting the project.

Most of the objections we've heard so far are about traffic; residents fear that if the 710 is completed, it will create congestion on the 210, especially as a result of increased truck traffic from the port of Long Beach. But from a regional standpoint, this is not a terribly persuasive argument against the project. The notion that completing a freeway connection would increase traffic is a bit bizarre; what it would do is redistribute traffic, ending bottlenecks in some places and worsening them in others. But the overall effect should be reduced congestion and less pollution from idling vehicles. We understand the concerns on the part of local residents, but we are obliged to look at the effect on the broader community as well.

There are other, more serious concerns still to be addressed, such as how and where the exhaust from the underground tunnel would be vented to the surface and whether that would be harmful to the health of nearby residents. There's the question of whether the tunnel can be constructed and operated without causing vibrations so severe that they wreck the quality of life in the area. And then there's the very important issue of cost. The 2006 tunneling study estimated it at $2.3 billion to $3.6 billion, but that was just an educated guess. Is the public benefit from building the tunnel really worth the expense? And where would the money come from?

The first question will be easier to answer when the costs and benefits have been more closely studied. Transit planners are looking to the private sector to help answer the second. The tunnel probably would end up being a toll road, and a private operator might be willing to put up money to build the tunnel in exchange for future toll revenue. Alternatively, the tunnel might be financed using bond revenue on top of the $780 million in Measure R funds, with tolls used to pay off the bonds. Millions of taxpayer dollars already spent to pursue the project could also be recovered, but only if lawmakers act.

The state owns more than 500 houses along the original planned route of the 710, many of them seized under eminent domain. If a surface route is officially scotched, they will no longer be needed, but under current law the proceeds from selling them would go to the state's highway fund. Because those houses were bought in order to close the 710 gap, money generated from selling them should go toward the tunnel project ¡X or if building the tunnel proves politically impossible, it should go to another transportation project in the same area. Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) has introduced a bill that would so designate the funds, and the Legislature should approve it.

The 710 gap isn't the only hole in L.A.'s freeway network, but it's perhaps the most troublesome. Measure R presents an opportunity to fill it, if we can find a way to do so fairly, safely and efficiently.

May 26, 2010, 10:45 PM

State hearing on Expo’s proposed Farmdale station on June 1

Posted by Steve Hymon on May 26, 2010 - 1:30 pm

As the Expo Line is under construction between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, there remains one street-level crossing that needs state approval: at Farmdale Avenue, adjacent to Dorsey High School in South L.A.

The original plan for the line was to have the tracks cross Farmdale at street level without a station. To make a very long story short, both the Los Angeles Unified School District and some community members protested, saying that having the crossing next to a school would be unsafe.

After many months of negotiating, the Construction Authority and the LAUSD have negotiated a solution: a station at Dorsey High School that will require all trains to come to a complete stop before crossing Farmdale.

That's a creative solution.

May 29, 2010, 3:43 PM
Board of Directors vote to launch new round of 710 gap studies
Posted by Steve Hymon on May 27, 2010 - 4:03 pm
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

The agency’s Board of Directors voted Thursday to launch a new round of studies to consider how to improve traffic in the area around the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.

Here’s the link to the report on the issue by Metro staff.

The studies will initially begin with a scoping document that lays out the problem and examines a long list of potential solutions, which will most likely include surface street improvements, mass transit improvements and a tunnel, among other things. (Here’s a post from last month looking at the issue).

That will be narrowed down to a shorter list that will be studied in an alternatives analysis that will define what the project actually is. Then a draft environmental impact study will be launched on the project.

The Measure R sales tax increase approved by voters in L.A. County in 2008 included $780 million for a tunnel project — should the project ever be pursued and pass muster with a lengthy environmental review. The Measure R expenditure plan estimated the price of a tunnel at $3.7 billion, but it is important to note that was not based on a specific tunnel design.

If, of course, the project ends up being a tunnel. It may. It may not.

Several dozen public officials and members of the public spoke on the issue this morning before the meeting was interrupted by protests from the Bus Riders Union over unrelated fare increases. Opinions ran the gamut from those who said a tunnel was an expensive folly that won’t solve traffic woes to those who thought it was time to finally seek some type of traffic fix for the area.

There were also several amendments introduced — but no votes were taken as Metro staff gather more information on them. The most interesting, perhaps, was a motion by Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar who called for Metro to eliminate a surface route for the 710 from being considered. Huizar’s motion also asked that the negative impacts on El Sereno of a tunnel portal north of Valley Boulevard be considered.

The issue there is whether it’s legal to eliminate an option before it is considered in the environmental review process.

-- Steve Hymon


Jun 5, 2010, 3:41 PM
L.A. plans for more rail lines gets a boost in Washington
The Los Angeles Times
June 5, 2010 | 8:13 am

L.A. got some good news this week in its effort to fast track some major transportation projects.

On Friday, officials announced that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had expressed support for L.A.'s fast-track plans and saw them as a potential model for other transportation projects.

"I can assure you that the U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with you to explore this promising approach in the next transportation reauthorization bill," LaHood wrote in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Besides the proposed Westside subway, other projects Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hopes to speed up include a long-sought rail extension to Los Angeles International Airport, a Crenshaw Boulevard line, a Gold Line extension through the San Gabriel Valley and busways in the San Fernando Valley.

Villaraigosa said that any money Washington advanced to L.A. would be repaid from the $40 billion projected to be generated over the next 30 years from a half-cent sales tax approved by county voters last year -- a selling point that has resonated with lawmakers.

--Shelby Grad



Jul 9, 2010, 2:13 PM
Laguna Niguel's Amtrak mooning is Saturday



Participants during the 30th annual Amtrak mooning event near the landmark Mugs Away Saloon in Laguna Niguel line up and bare their bottoms this morning, Saturday July 11, 2009.

The annual "Mooning of the Amtrak" celebration held at the northern end of Camino Capistrano in Laguna Niguel that began some three decades ago might be a little more staid this Saturday.

In the past few years, the mooning event has taken on a life of its own and grown into a party scene that sparked a clash between the city and the community due to increasing crowds and rowdy party-goers.


The event that began as dare according to local lore with a handful of Mugs Away Saloon patrons dropping their undergarments to moon the passing trains has grown from a handful of people participating to reaching thousands in recent years.

"We have nothing to do with the mooning; we do not organize it or promote it," a Mugs Away Saloon employee said. "We have no idea if the mooner's are even going to show up this year considering the heavy police presence last year."

Problems escalated a couple years ago when police from several cities, including a helicopter had to break up the event due to the large crowd that showed up – blocking emergency vehicle access and exits.


Besides the traffic hazards, violations included those breaking the city's ordinance of prohibiting public drinking of alcoholic beverages, to urinating and defecating in public.

Orange County Sheriff Sgt. John Macpherson wants to remind those attending this year that law enforcement will make sure to cite those who break these laws and others.

"We will have police presence," Macpherson said. "Several officers including motorcycles and two main units and bicycle patrol will be there."

Other changes to this years event includes temporarily designating this area of Camino Capistrano as a No Parking zone and prohibiting overnighters from setting camp. Vehicles, however, will be free to drive in and out of this stretch of road.

"We won't stop the actual mooning," Macpherson said, adding that all they want is for everyone to have a safe day.

Jul 14, 2010, 7:02 PM
Happy 20th Birthday, Metro Rail!

Posted by Steve Hymon on July 14, 2010 - 9:08 am

In between 1963 and July 1990, there was no mass transit that traveled by rail in Los Angeles County. I do not think it’s a coincidence that it was during this time that L.A. County — and, by extension, the rest of Southern California — cemented its reputation as the car capital of the free world, a place that became synonymous with gridlock and smog and a paradise paved several times over.

Then, 20 years ago today, the Blue Line light rail opened between Los Angeles and Long Beach. I don’t mean to suggest that the old stereotypes vanished day — they didn’t and they shouldn’t yet. But I do think the tide began to turn that July 14 and I think the above video –made by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission — reflects that view (it’s also a little heavy on the propaganda).

But I think it’s worth repeating: the system is only 20 years old. That’s barely adulthood on a human scale and I think it’s fair to say there’s considerable room for growth and maturity on Metro’s rail lines.

Over the next 20 years, there will be extensions of current lines, new ones altogether and, in all likelihood, better transit, pedestrian and cycling connections between rail and surrounding neighborhoods. There almost certainly will be more development around the stations. And, yes, there probably still will be traffic — but there will a much better alternative to sitting in it.



:5: :fireworks: :5:

Jul 30, 2010, 2:16 AM
Regulators clear way for Expo Line completion
The Los Angeles Times
July 29, 2010 | 4:08 pm

Citing extensive safety improvements, state regulators on Thursday cleared the way for completion of the first leg of the Expo light rail project by approving a controversial street-level crossing next to Dorsey High School.

In its decision, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted recommendations made in June by one of the agency’s hearing officers, who supported a revised plan that called for two station platforms, speed restrictions for trains, motor vehicle gates and other safety improvements for a proposed rail crossing at Farmdale Avenue and Exposition Boulevard.

The plan to lay track at street level near Dorsey has been opposed for years by some neighborhood associations, students, teachers, Dorsey alumni and community activists who contend that elevated tracks are needed to eliminate an unacceptable accident risk for pedestrians and motorists.

After the commission rejected an initial design for the crossing in 2009, Expo officials added more safety measures as part of a settlement agreement between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Estimated to cost $900 million, the Expo Line’s first phase will run 8.6 miles from downtown L.A. to Culver City via Exposition Boulevard.

Construction is scheduled to be completed next year.

-- Dan Weikel


Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/07/regulators-clear-way-for-expo-line-completion-.html

Aug 18, 2010, 3:51 AM
Fall from bike spins LA mayor into cycle advocate
By DAISY NGUYEN (AP) – 2 days ago
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is the new champion of cyclists' rights in the nation's second-largest city, a conversion that came after a bone-breaking fall from his own bicycle.

The mayor, who said little on the topic during five years in office, is campaigning to make streets safer for cyclists after a parked cab abruptly pulled out across a bike lane, causing him to shatter an elbow. The ill-fated ride was his first on city streets since taking office.

Since the July 17 accident, Villaraigosa has utilized the Huffington Post and YouTube to say that it's time to recognize that bicycles also belong on LA's streets, which were largely designed for autos. In the YouTube video, he announced plans to convene a bicycle safety summit.

Cyclists who have tilted at LA's car-crazy culture for years were shocked that the mayor was even on a bike.

"You could have knocked over any cyclist with a feather when we heard that," joked Ted Rogers, author of the blog BikingInLA.

Others in the activist bicycle camp remained beyond skepticism, dismissing the summit Monday in advance as a failure because it's scheduled downtown during weekday work hours when they can't attend.

Compared to cities such as New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., that have added miles of bike lanes among other measures to promote bicycle commuting, Los Angeles has been stuck in the slow lane.

Good weather and a significant amount of flat terrain would seemingly make the city ideal for commuter and recreational bicycling. Its hilly areas are prized by competitive cyclists for challenging rides on canyon roads.

There is also a legacy dating back more than 100 years, when a wooden bikeway was built for commuting between Los Angeles and suburban Pasadena. The bikeway fell victim to the automobile and the route eventually became a freeway, but LA and its neighbors never fully gave up on cycling.

In recent decades a bike path along Santa Monica Bay beaches has grown to 22 miles and one of Villaraigosa's predecessors, Richard Riordan, spent two terms leading huge community bike rides.

Yet cyclists say riding in Los Angeles can be terrifying, as they jostle with cars and buses on tightly-packed roads.

"I've been spat at, cussed at, and knocked down in a road rage incident," said William Cruz, 21, who commutes by bike about 20 miles a day. "It makes you paranoid at times."

Cycling advocates believe more people would turn to pedal power if roads were safer. Frustrated by lack of progress, some have taken up guerrilla tactics by painting bike lanes and other cycling symbols on roads and street corners.

A group of cyclists once rode onto a major freeway interchange to zip through jammed traffic, and mass rides to demonstrate cyclists' rights have frustrated motorists.

Others came up with a "Backbone Bikeway Network" — their own version of a citywide bike map designed to get around town faster on major corridors.

As neighboring cities such as Santa Monica and Long Beach provide bike valets, bike lanes and other improvements to encourage cycling, Los Angeles is starting to do the same.

This summer, the transportation department began painting "sharrow" markings on several streets after two years of study and delays. The markings are used to remind motorists to share the road where there is not enough room for a separate bike lane.

The city is also updating its bicycle plan, which envisions 1,633 miles of bike lanes, paths and routes. Cyclists, however, remain dubious. The last plan called for 526 miles of bikeways, but so far only 354 miles exist — a fraction compared to the city's 7,200 miles of roads.

Villaraigosa says the city needs to invest in bicycling infrastructure and focus on traffic safety enforcement to make streets safer for cyclists.

"We also have to have a cultural paradigm shift," Villaraigosa said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We have to recognize that even in the car capital of America, drivers have to share the road."

He plans public service announcements and will ask broadcasters to run bike safety messages.

About $3.2 million will be set aside for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the 2011 fiscal year, he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has already begun cracking down on motorists who don't respect cyclists' rights.

Recently, the department changed policy by assigning traffic officers instead of beat officers to investigate clashes between bikes and cars. Cyclists had complained that police refused to take reports if no collisions occurred, even when a motorist made a careless maneuver that caused a cyclist to fall.

The relationship between police and some cyclists remains far from cozy. In May, a mass ride in protest of BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak led to a confrontation with officers and a YouTube video appeared to show an officer kick at a passing cyclist. An internal investigation is under way.

Bicycling proponents are also upset that Villaraigosa did not press charges against the cab driver after his fall.

"He needs to be clear on who pays for that," said activist Stephen Box.

Villaraigosa said he was not in a position to decide whether the cabbie committed a violation.

"It was an accident. The Police Department may end up citing him, it's not something I'm involved in," he said.

Villaraigosa said he rode in his 20s and has occasionally biked by the beach.

"I knew the hazards that come with cycling in LA but I hadn't been on the streets in a while," he said.

The injury — and the eight new screws in his right elbow — are likely to be permanent. The mayor said he does not expect to regain full extension of his arm, but he expects to eventually get back on a bicycle.

Read More: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i3qSLnGCN4rqKGZE1UmP1CxZCdsAD9HK1JAO2

Aug 30, 2010, 1:15 AM

Highway 91 project clears hurdle; Corona-Irvine tunnel nixed
The Press-Enterprise
10:46 PM PDT on Friday, August 27, 2010

The California Assembly unanimously passed legislation Friday to let the Riverside County Transportation Commission use design-build construction on its $1.3 billion project to expand Highway 91.

The vote came the same day officials pulled the plug on studies examining the possibility of digging a tunnel through the Cleveland National Forest as an alternative to the traffic-choked highway.

In Sacramento, lawmakers hailed the design-build bill as a way to ensure the project will get started. It's expected to create an estimated 18,000 jobs and will be the state's largest road project in a generation. The measure also prevents a legal fight between the transportation commission and the union that represents Caltrans engineers.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, where there does not seem to be any opposition to the measure.

State Sen. Bill Emmerson, whose district includes the highway, said Friday he plans to present the measure Monday or Tuesday, the last day of the two-year session.

"This project will bring much-needed relief to commuters who are sitting on the 91 freeway every day," said Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, the measure's author.

The expansion involves converting the car pool lanes between Interstate 15 and the Orange County line into two express toll lanes in each direction and adding a westbound and eastbound general-use lane.

The commission plans to sell bonds to pay for the work. Investors would be paid back with revenue from toll lanes, operated like those in Orange County.

Without design-build, county transportation officials said the project isn't affordable.

Highway projects in California almost always employ the design-bid-build method of construction. Caltrans engineers or contractors design the project, which is then put out to bid.

State law limits the use of design-build, which involves the same company designing the project and constructing it.

As part of a February 2009 budget deal with Republicans, the Democrat-controlled Legislature approved allowing up to 15 new design-build projects.

State transportation planners voted in April to include widening the 91 among those. But Professional Engineers in California Government, the engineers unions, challenged the project's eligibility and threatened a lawsuit.

The conflict hurt the measure's chances in the Legislature, where Democrats have close ties to public-sector unions.

But its prospects improved significantly last week after the union and the transportation commission agreed to changes that enshrine in state law the role of Caltrans inspectors and engineers in the Highway 91 project.

More than 50 lawmakers soon signed onto the bill, including Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles.

Tunnel Tanked

The improvements to Highway 91 are critical, because it remains the only major route from Riverside County to Orange County.

And freeway will remain the only east-west route for some time, officials said, especially after a joint Riverside County-Orange County committee shelved plans Friday for the Cleveland National Forest tunnel.

The Riverside Orange Corridor Authority board officially suspended all study of the proposed 11.2-mile tunnel and halted water testing in the forest. The tunnel's $8.6 billion cost, coupled with serious technical issues, led transportation planners in both counties to recommend shutting down the study.

Board members took the action reluctantly, said Riverside County Transportation Commission Deputy Director John Standiford. He said officials were "disappointed in the feasibility findings, but still understand the need for another corridor."

Tunnel talk started in the late 1990s as traffic worsened on Highway 91. Officials spent $9 million studying the idea, concluding that it is technically feasible but too expensive.

About $7.5 million in federal funds available to keep studying the tunnel will be shifted to other uses, officials said. One obvious place for the money to land is the Highway 91 project, said Cathy Bechtel, the transportation commission's project development director.

A draft environmental report on the project is expected to be released in November, said Michael Blomquist, toll program director for the commission. A final report will be ready in about a year, he said. Construction will take until 2016 based on current estimates.

Read More: http://www.pe.com/localnews/stories/PE_News_Local_D_webtunnel27.f46ffb.html

Sep 5, 2010, 5:55 AM
The Road to Transitville
Everyone Loves 30-10, but Building a Dozen Major Transportation Projects
In a Decade Requires a Long Stop in Washington
by Ryan Vaillancourt
LA Downtown News
Published: Friday, September 3, 2010 4:50 PM PDT

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 plan sounds simple: A county in dire need of economic stimulus uses $40 billion in guaranteed future tax revenue to secure federal financing for a dozen mass transit construction projects.

Riders win because the miles of new rail lines and rapid bus lanes open in 10 years rather than spreading construction over three decades; the county and the unions win because the plan creates 165,000 jobs when employment is most needed; the federal government and American taxpayers win since the county has a guaranteed revenue stream to pay back the debt; and Villaraigosa wins with a legacy project that jumpstarts traffic decongestion and improves air quality.

Of course, like any major civic effort, 30-10 is actually extremely complicated, and changing the local transit landscape requires going well beyond Los Angeles. In this case, bringing the vision to reality requires getting Congressional legislation passed in Washington, D.C.

“Nobody’s ever done this before,” said Richard Katz, a Metro and Metrolink board member who has taken the lead on 30/10 on behalf of Villaraigosa.

County voters in 2008 approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax expected to generate $40 billion for transportation projects over 30 years. The funds would pay for efforts including the subway to the sea and the Downtown Regional Connector. As the law works now, Metro will only be able to fund those endeavors as the tax revenue comes in.

Under 30/10, the county would access several federal funding sources — a loan, a grant and interest subsidies on transit bonds — in order to start work right away. Metro would then use the sales tax revenue to pay back Washington as money flows into public coffers.

Several key officials, including nine members of the Los Angeles Congressional delegation, have signed on in support of the effort. Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is leading the charge. Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood likes the idea too: He told Boxer in a June 3 letter that he believes 30/10 “has the potential to transform the way we invest in transportation projects across the nation.”

So what’s the hold-up?

Champions of the plan are hoping for federal approvals before Congress adjourns in the fall. That may be difficult, they say, because the newness of the idea makes it harder to insert into existing legislation, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are being especially careful during the election season.

But if 30/10 doesn’t get implemented this year, it’s more likely because the plan, while simple in concept, requires some complex lawmaking in Washington.

Three-Headed Funding Monster

Another benefit of 30/10 is price reduction. The 12 projects outlined in the legislation would cost $14 billion if built in the next decade, as opposed to $17.5 billion over 30 years, according to Villaraigosa’s office.

Metro expects the Measure R sales tax to bring in about $10 billion over the next 10 years, but only $6 billion will be set aside for the dozen transit projects. That leaves a roughly $8 billion gap to cover the $14 billion price tag.

That is where the federal government comes in. Although backers of 30/10 are eyeing several federal funding sources, the thrust of the proposal hinges on Congress approving a new bond program.

Under that plan, Metro would sell bonds to raise $6 billion, and pay the money back over 10 years using future tax revenue. But in order to afford the deal, the agency is asking the federal government to fund the full interest payments on the bonds, which would likely amount to about $2 billion, said Raffi Hamparian, Metro’s government relations manager for federal affairs.

On the one hand, it may seem like asking the federal government to cover 100% of the interest on the bonds is a bold proposal. Under an existing bonds program known as Build America, the feds generally fund only 35% of local government’s interest payments; a proposal now circulating in congress would lower that to 30%.

But Hamparian said the local initiative is likely to appeal to lawmakers because, while the federal government is accustomed to subsidizing only a portion of the interest on major bond-funded infrastructure programs, it normally covers large chunks of the principal costs as well. With 30/10, Metro is asking for a 100% interest subsidy, but it doesn’t need help with the principal.

In order to secure such a deal, however, lawmakers need to amend an existing transit bond program, or create a new one. Hamparian said he and other advocates, working closely with Boxer’s office, are looking for the best legislative vehicle to carry the new bond language.

If Metro gets the green light to sell the $6 billion in bonds, the agency would still be short about $2 billion for the Measure R projects. Currently, the game plan is to get a $2.5 billion loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA).

In order to access TIFIA dollars, however, Metro’s lobbying team and Congressional backers will need to tweak another law. TIFIA funds are only available for shovel-ready projects.

“We want to be able to take projects funded with TIFIA loans and, even though they’re not construction-ready today, be able to lock in today’s interest rate, which also saves us all money,” Katz said.

Regional Connection

The Measure R projects that would have the most significant impact on Downtown are the Regional Connector and the subway to the sea. Metro singled out the projects last year when the board prioritized them for funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. Metro’s application to the program is pending.

The $4.2 billion subway to the sea won’t involve shovels turning Downtown dirt, but when completed, it would extend the Purple Line from Koreatown to Westwood, connecting Downtown Los Angeles with several employment hubs along the Wilshire corridor, including Century City.

The Regional Connector is a proposed two-mile rail link that would unite the Gold Line with the Blue Line and the under-construction Expo Line, allowing riders to easily transition without the cumbersome transfers currently required between lines. Several alignment options are being studied, but Metro staff backs an all-underground route that would add up to four new Downtown subway stations, and cost $1.2 billion.

The Metro board is expected to select a route this fall, and that preferred alignment will be analyzed as part of a final review, which will take a year to complete. Final design and engineering would take another two years and project completion is tentatively pegged for 2018.

That timeline could hinge on another item on Metro’s Washington to-do list: The agency hopes the FTA approves an agreement for the connector and subway extension that would advance some of the New Starts funds for which the agency is applying (loan amounts have not been negotiated). In order for that to happen, the 30/10 team needs to get what is known as Early Systems Work Agreement funds included in the president’s 2012 budget, which is due to be finalized in October 2011.

While Boxer leads the 30/10 charge in the Senate, Rep. Jane Harmon is spearheading the effort in the House. As they and other lawmakers try to solve the federal funding puzzle, it may feel like a waiting game. But Metro has plenty of work to do, Katz said.

In order to qualify for the advance New Starts funds for the connector and subway projects, the agency needs to finish its environmental studies and preliminary engineering work as soon as possible.

“Given the money the MTA has now and the willingness in Washington to look at new ideas, we want to have our end as buttoned-up as possible so if we do have a bill, we’re ready to proceed,” Katz said. “The worst thing in the world would be Congress is ready to move and the projects are not ready to go.”

Read More: http://www.ladowntownnews.com/articles/2010/09/03/news/doc4c8188e2142ec016310033.txt

Sep 6, 2010, 4:11 AM
^If you support the 30/10 plan and want to see this investment in transit in Los Angeles Co., be absolutely sure to vote for Senator Boxer this November. She is in the fight of her life to retain her seat in the Senate. This is no joke. One poll released on Friday showed Carly Fiorina up by 2 percent: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2010/senate/ca/california_senate_boxer_vs_fiorina-1094.html . If Boxer isn't re-elected, there likely won't be a 30/10 plan with funding from Washington. Similarly, with Democratic control of the Senate likely to be exceedingly slim, if Boxer loses, we can perhaps forget about a long-term source of dedicated funding for high speed rail.

Sep 7, 2010, 4:11 AM
^ I really worried about that two, but....

I recall a week or two ago a story in the LA Times about Fiorina (according to a spokesman for her senate campaign) that she supports it.

I'll try and find the story tonight.

Sep 7, 2010, 11:03 AM
I recall a week or two ago a story in the LA Times about Fiorina (according to a spokesman for her senate campaign) that she supports it.

Fiorina might have said this but the GOP remains stridently opposed to any govt spending and the Democrats need to hold onto Boxer's seat to guarantee they maintain control of the Senate. I wouldn't be certain that if the Republican party hellbent on cutting spending on infrastructure controls the Senate, they would appropriate a couple of billion dollars for transit in LA. Fiorina might grudgingly support this but do you think Mitch McConnell or Jim DeMint cares one bit about improved transit in Los Angeles County?

Sep 8, 2010, 3:49 AM
At least LA County has plans to pay back these loans, while Washington doesn't.

Are people that clueless not to see this?

Sep 19, 2010, 11:51 PM
OCTA to give West County Connector updates Saturday
Published: Sept. 16, 2010

Construction on the West County Connectors Project on the 22 and 405 freeways has begun and is expected to last until 2014.

The segment that is under construction now is the Valley View Bridge on- and off-ramps. Closures will be during the night time. Freeway lanes could be closed during the night time for lane re-striping and concrete barrier placement between now and Sept. 20. The Valley View Bridge will be demolished during October.

The Orange County Transportation Authority will be hosting community meetings Saturday to share updates and information about the project with community members. A meeting is scheduled from 8 to 9 a.m. at the corner of Adams Street and Spencer Johnson Place in Garden Grove and a second meeting is scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Duncannon Avenue and Tulane Street in Westminster.

The project, which is expected to be completed in December, will construct two direct carpool connectors, add a second carpool lane in each direction on the 405 between the 22 and 605 freeways, reconstruct on-and off-ramps, build sound walls and retaining walls at various location and add landscaping at various locations.

Read More: http://www.ocregister.com/news/county-266777-project-expected.html

Sep 23, 2010, 6:40 PM
This is an article about Rick Cauruso and his intent on running for mayor after Villaraigosa. Toward the end of the article, he talks about the subway.:(

Daily News, Los Angeles
Billionaire developer Rick Caruso 'leaning towards' L.A. mayoral run
By Kevin Modesti, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/22/2010 04:25:31 PM PDT
Updated: 09/22/2010 05:39:14 PM PDT

Developer Rick Caruso, whose projects include the Commons at Calabasas and the Americana at Brand, says he's 'leaning towards' running for mayor of Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Caruso Affiliated) Rick Caruso said Wednesday he is "leaning towards" running for mayor, and the billionaire developer sounded like a candidate as he won applause from a San Fernando Valley business group with a speech that took his swipes at the subway, the school system and government regulation.
The builder of The Grove at Farmers Market, The Commons at Calabasas and Americana at Brand in Glendale resisted encouragement to run for mayor last year, citing commitments to his family and business.

But in response to a question from the audience of about 100 at a Valley Industry & Commerce Association luncheon, Caruso, 51, sounded more positive about entering politics in 2013.

"It is something I'm very interested in doing. It's something I'm giving a lot of thought to doing," Caruso said. "I can tell you honestly it's something I would like to do.

"I've got to convince myself that the mayor's office - me and the mayor's office - can actually make a meaningful difference. I'm leaning towards it, but I haven't made a final decision."

In an interview, Caruso said he has not set a timetable for deciding whether to campaign for mayor.

Caruso is a Republican who has endorsed Democrat Jerry Brown over Republican Meg Whitman for governor.

Asked if he would spend his own money on a campaign, as Whitman has done in record-setting sums, Caruso laughed and gave an emphatic no.

"I'm going to contribute (financially), there's no


question about it," Caruso said before his speech. "But I'm going to want to have a broad base of support, I'm going to want to have a broad base of donations. And from what I'm hearing, we're going to be able to achieve that.
"So I'm not going to self-finance. I don't think there's a reason to. I don't know why Meg is, quite frankly, because she should be able to raise a lot of money."

"You know, I think there's a tipping point where you look like you're buying an election, and you've got to be very careful."

In a 22-minute speech, the neatly groomed, deeply tanned Caruso said Los Angeles must promote an emphasis on neighborhoods.

"The Valley, I think, is very unique (because it) actually has many, many great neighborhoods and many, many great commercial centers," Caruso said. "The city should be supporting those businesses, the city should be supporting those areas, to help them thrive."

Caruso received his first round of applause by saying he'd like to see Los Angeles Unified broken up and schools controlled locally.

The former member of the city's Police and Department of Water and Power commissions called the L.A. transportation system "crazy," joking: "We're going to be underground for eternity. Let's spend our time when we're alive above ground."

Potential 2013 mayoral candidates include City Controller Wendy Greuel, City Councilman Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, State Sen. Alex Padilla and Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner.

When Caruso asked his audience to raise their hands if they thought he should run for mayor, the vast majority did.

"I'm very impressed with what I heard," said Chris Evans, 45, an Aflac insurance agent who lives in Sherman Oaks. "He's more candid and down to earth than I would have thought. Though I'm a registered Democrat, I actually agree with him on a lot of things. Not the subway, though. I support the subway."

Sep 24, 2010, 1:57 AM
Metro Breaks Ground on New State-of-the-Art Transit Facility at the El Monte Station: Upgrade and Expansion of El Monte Station Part of ExpressLanes Project
Wednesday September 22, 2010
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metro joined local elected officials today for a groundbreaking ceremony to officially mark the beginning of construction on a new state-of-the-art transit facility that will revamp and expand the current El Monte Station.

The upgrade to the current facility, which first opened in 1973, is part of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program known as ExpressLanes and is funded by a $210 million federal grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Metro and Caltrans District 7, along with Foothill Transit, Gardena Transit, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, MetroLink and Torrance Transit are partnering in a one-year demonstration project during which existing carpool lanes on the I-10 El Monte Busway (between Alameda Street and I-605) and the I-110 Harbor Transitway (between Adams Boulevard and the Artesia Transit Center) will be converted to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes called ExpressLanes.

The upgrading of the El Monte Bus Station is an essential part of the success of the ExpressLane project in an effort to provide commuters, regardless of income level, with new and better travel options along two of LA County’s most congested corridors. ExpressLanes are scheduled to open in 2012.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in the San Gabriel Valley as we expand the busiest transit center west of Chicago into a modern, state-of-the-art facility that will increase passenger capacity and increase the number of buses the station can accommodate that will enhance transit services for thousands of daily commuters,” said Metro Board Chair and LA County Supervisor Don Knabe.

The $45 million El Monte Station construction project will consist of a new two story building that will house a public bus and terminal station with limited retail space, a customer service center and surface parking. Final construction is anticipated to be completed in May 2012.

Currently, approximately 22,000 patrons use the facility daily. It is the largest bus station west of Chicago and is used by Metro, Foothill Transit, Greyhound, El Monte Transit and Metrolink Shuttle.

Once completed, the facility will be twice its current size and include modern amenities including variable message signs, intercoms, closed circuit television, solar panels, wayfinding equipment and information displays, new elevators and escalators, a transit store, bike stations and lockers. Public art by renowned artist Donald Lipski also will be incorporated in the station as part of Metro’s pubic art program.

Project highlights of the new facility include an increase in daily passenger capacity by 82 percent (from 22,000 to 40,000), increase in bus bays by 87 percent (from 16 to 30), installation of 30 bike lockers/storage units, better accommodations for both 40-foot and 60-foot buses and enhanced law enforcement presence. The station also will support additional bus service on the I-10 El Monte Busway to enhance the performance of the I-10 ExpressLanes Demonstration Project.

The new facility will use energy efficient and sustainable building methods and will be built to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEEDS) Gold standards. Construction of the new facility will generate more than 350 construction-related jobs.

The construction work at the El Monte Station is being done by KPRS Construction Services based in Brea under contact to Metro.

In August, Metro completed construction of a temporary bus station in an adjacent lot to accommodate passengers using the station during construction. Parking for El Monte Station patrons will be available to the north and south of the temporary bus terminal, including a recently added parking lot.

Metro will make every effort to minimize impacts to patrons during the construction period. Signs guiding both vehicles and pedestrians around the transit center will be posted and pedestrians will be redirected to safe areas outside the construction zone.

For construction updates and information, the public can call Metro’s Community Relations Construction Impact Hotline at 213-922-7900 or visit metro.net/elmonte.

Read More: http://www.metro.net/news/simple_pr/metro-breaks-ground-new-state-art-transit-facility/

Sep 26, 2010, 6:09 AM
The Rail World
Engineers and Stakeholders Examine How a $40 Billion High-Speed Train Would Impact Downtown
by Ryan Vaillancourt
LA Downtown News
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 4:25 PM PDT

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - With service not expected until 2020, the $40 billion plan to link San Francisco with Southern California via high-speed rail may seem too far off to consider seriously.

But don’t tell that to the more than 100 Downtown area stakeholders who last week packed a town hall meeting to praise and criticize the train’s three future approaches to Union Station.

The historic Downtown transit hub is primed to be a crucial node in a voter-approved system to get riders between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes, and between L.A. and San Diego in 80 minutes.

The meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at Metro’s Union Station-adjacent headquarters marked a continuation of an ongoing outreach effort by the California High Speed Rail Authority. The session was primarily intended to allow project engineers who are currently preparing draft environmental studies for the various route sections to get community feedback, said project spokeswoman Valerie Martinez.

Attendees of the session sponsored by state Assembly Speaker John Pérez (who canceled a scheduled appearance because of Sacramento budget discussions) were almost entirely supportive of the high-speed rail concept: With its promise to create 54,800 jobs by 2020 and greatly reduce travel times between key California cities, the project appeals to a wide demographic. But there remains a healthy dose of public skepticism when it comes to the authority’s specific alignment options for approaching and departing Union Station.

Downtown stands to be impacted by three sections of the high-speed rail system. The Los Angeles to Anaheim route, the portion most likely to be finished first, will approach Downtown from the south and probably along the L.A. River; the Palmdale to Los Angeles spur, which approaches Union Station from the north; and the Los Angeles to San Diego route, which will eventually connect the two cities via the Inland Empire in the system’s later phase two.

The Palmdale to Los Angeles route would largely parallel Metrolink tracks through the San Fernando Valley, passing through Burbank and several northeast L.A. communities before approaching Downtown. One alignment option for the Union Station approach would require cutting a temporary trench in Los Angeles State Historic Park. That alternative, which would require the temporary closure of the park, has already been met with sharp criticism from green space advocates.

Another alignment involves elevated tracks along North Spring Street. First District City Councilman Ed Reyes said that it is still too early to grasp the potential impacts posed by the various route alternatives.

“If we’re going to be favoring alignments, the concept is important, but just as significant is a level of analysis that speaks to which streets are we going to close, are we going to alter?” said Reyes, who strongly opposed the authority’s early proposal to study only one alignment out of Union Station to Palmdale; that segment would have traversed the eastern edge of the L.A. River.

“I’m very appreciative of the range of choices we have today,” Reyes said. “But to choose one line at this point is almost impossible.”

Reyes and a growing coalition of park and community groups are urging the authority to investigate a so-called “long tunnel” option that would bore under the Los Angeles State Historic and Rio de Los Angeles State parks. Martinez said the group is indeed considering such an alignment.

To Anaheim, but How?

The authority is also mulling several options for how to approach Union Station in the L.A. to Anaheim section. Alignment options include elevated viaduct platforms that would cut through or snake around a mostly industrial neighborhood near First Street and the L.A. River. The routes have variable angles in their approach to the station. Sharp angles are often built to lessen community impact, but the sharper the angle, the slower the train’s speed in that section of track, said Tyler Bonstead, project manager for the L.A. to Anaheim route.

Currently, the Los Angeles to Anaheim route is on the fastest completion track, said Martinez. The draft environmental study is scheduled for completion in January. The board would then be slated to select an alignment by September 2011, with shovels hitting dirt in early 2013. The Palmdale to Los Angeles route is about three months behind, she said. The Los Angeles to San Diego portion is part of phase two and requires much more environmental and route analysis.

Read More: http://www.ladowntownnews.com/articles/2010/09/25/news/doc4c9d2c30432ba094045067.txt

Sep 26, 2010, 6:12 AM
The $100 Million Ride
Everyone Wants a Broadway Streetcar. The Question Is, How Much Will the Public Have to Pay?
by Richard Guzmán
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010 4:19 PM PDT

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - This week, 14th District City Councilman José Huizar will find himself in well-heeled company when he hosts a cocktail fundraiser for the proposed $100 million Downtown L.A. Streetcar. His co-sponsors at the Sept. 30 L.A. Live event are billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, mall creator and possible 2013 mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, and Tim Leiweke, the powerful head of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company behind Staples Center and L.A. Live.

Officials with Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI) are not expecting to raise millions for the project at the fundraiser. In fact, if the streetcar, a key component of Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative, is ever to come to fruition, the councilman will have to go to people far removed from his three co-hosts: He’ll need to persuade Downtown Los Angeles property owners to dig into their pockets and pay for the bulk of the project.

In a sense, the VIPs in the house at the L.A. Live event may be the ones who own buildings along the proposed four-mile route. Huizar will hope to show them that such a method paid dividends in Portland and Seattle, two cities that have streetcars thanks in part to self-assessments.

“I think property owners will see that a small investment will give them a huge return,” Huizar said last week. “As you saw in Portland, there were businesses not doing well. When streetcars went in, these businesses were booming.”

In Portland, about 20% of a $100 million streetcar project was paid through an assessment district. In Seattle, about 60% of the money for a $55 million streetcar project came from property owners along the route.

In both Seattle and Portland, officials created what is known as a Special Benefit District to help pay for the construction and operation of the streetcar. LASI is studying the method and, while rates have not been determined, early projections are that 40-60% of the total cost will have to come from property owners. In Downtown Los Angeles that could amount to more than $50 million.

LASI is conducting an economic analysis to determine what an assessment district would look like and who would be taxed — whether it would be just property owners on the proposed route linking L.A. Live, Bunker Hill and Broadway, or also landlords in the surrounding area and other private-sector funding options.

“There are a lot of different variables, so we spent a lot of time coming up with those figures,” said Dennis Allen, executive director of LASI. “We’re getting there now. We’re in the very final stages. I would say in the first part of October we’re going to start having real conversations with the property owners about what the costs look like.”

Waiting for Numbers

St. Vincent’s Jewelry Center co-owner Peklar Pilavjian, who has about 300,000 square feet of space on Broadway, is one of the people waiting to find out what it would cost him to jump on board with the streetcar, which Huizar recently said would be pushed back from an anticipated 2014 debut to a later, still undefined date.

Pilavjian said the streetcar would benefit Downtown, but before deciding to take on an additional tax, he needs to know solid numbers.

“I would think it would be beneficial, but I can’t say yes or no yet. It’s all about the rates,” he said.

Streetcar proponents like Huizar and Allen said the plan involves convincing property owners that any expense for the streetcar is really a business investment.

“The increase in property value far outweighs any type of a cost,” Allen said. “Transit investment really drives property value.”

To make their case, Huizar and Allen are using facts and figures from the two northern, streetcar-boasting cities. According to Bringing Back Broadway, the Portland streetcar system is estimated to have generated $3.5 billion in economic development on and around the streetcar route since opening in 2001; 55% of it occurred within one block of the streetcar line.

Rick Gustafson, executive director of Portland Streetcar, who was also a consultant for the Seattle streetcar (which opened in 2007) and currently serves as a consultant for LASI, said he had to convince property owners in those cities that the investment would pay off. The toughest to persuade, he said, are people who own property but don’t see the benefit of growth in value.

Gustafson said that small retailers may not want to take on the added expense. He said he also gets opposition from absentee landlords.

A Lot of Questions

“Taxing” property owners for services beyond what government provides is not new in Downtown Los Angeles. The community’s wealth of business improvement districts all came about because landowners felt they needed more than the city offers, and they were willing to pay for it.

It is a situation Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the Central City Association, knows well. She spearheaded the creation of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, the area’s largest BID. She had to convince property owners to self-fund cleaning, safety and marketing campaigns.

Schatz, who sits on the LASI board of trustees, noted that when it comes to the streetcar, there are many unanswered questions about the assessment. She pointed out that people along the route have the economy in mind.

“It’s a big undertaking at a terrible time,” said Schatz. “It’ll depend on the situation of each property owner. Many understand the potential positive impact, but if you can’t afford an assessment before the benefits kick in, it’ll be difficult.”

Allen actually thinks time is on their side. He pointed out that if an assessment district is approved by the private sector, they would raise bond financing for it, which could take a couple years. The tax payment could be deferred into the future when the economy is better, he said.

Schatz said that having big names behind the project is important and can convince others that it’s a beneficial venture. She said she employed a similar tactic when setting up the BID — she secured the support of large property owners before reaching out to smaller ones.

Gustafson agrees with the tactic.

“This event on Sept. 30 will have its impact because it has major property owners jumping on board,” he said. “That’s what they need, the big names talking to their colleagues so they can convey that it would be a good investment for Downtown property owners.”

Long View

David Gray, who owns about 65,000 square feet of space on Broadway and sits on the LASI Board of Trustees, said that despite the tough economy, property owners need to have a long view. He called supporting a streetcar assessment tax a “no brainer.”

“This is a chance to participate. The government can’t do it, and it really will benefit everyone,” he said. “This will be the single biggest piece of infrastructure that will guarantee success and reinforce the whole Downtown area.”

Not all property owners see it that way.

Robert Clinton, the longtime owner of Clifton’s Cafeteria, cited the poor state of the economy. Although he sold his business last week, he still owns the building at 648 S. Broadway, and would be impacted in an assessment district.

“These trolleys are great in other cities. They’re a great way to move people around. But the time to do that would have been in the good years,” he said. “I want to see the government putting in at least as much as they’re asking of taxpayers, because if the government can’t afford to do it, why ask us? That’s not fair.”

Huizar and LASI officials are also looking at local and federal funding for the streetcar. They have raised about $10 million from the CRA, but were dealt a blow last month when their request for a $25 million federal grant for the streetcar was rejected. At the time, Jessica Wethington McClean, executive director of Bringing Back Broadway, said federal officials indicated they want the project to have a local matching funds program in place, and want the streetcar’s environmental process to be further along before money is allocated.

No matter what the future holds, Huizar has resolved to push forward on the effort. He thinks that people are ready for it.

“One way or another I’ve committed to find the funding,” Huizar said. “The time is right and we’re going to make it happen.”

Read More: http://www.ladowntownnews.com/articles/2010/09/25/news/doc4c9d30cea8322171652161.txt

Sep 29, 2010, 3:55 AM
10 Freeway projects cause delays for San Gabriel Valley commuters
By Maritza Velazquez, Staff Writer
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 09/26/2010 07:04:12 AM PDT

Two major construction projects are causing a snag in commutes on an already congested stretch of the 10 freeway, local motorists say.

The $165 million Freeway Restoration Project and the $175 million High Occupancy Vehicle Lane Project mean multiple longterm ramp closures from Baldwin Park to downtown Los Angeles.

The Restoration project aims to maintain the freeway, while the other will construct a 2.2-mile long carpool lane from the 605 freeway to Puente Avenue in both directions. It is the first of three projects to develop a continuous carpool lane from Los Angeles to the 15 Freeway, according to the Caltrans.

Both projects have affected the drive for 35-year-old Sergio Mendoza, who said it's increased the commute from his Baldwin Park home to his work in Industry by at least 10 minutes each way because of closed freeway ramps.

"It's a mess," he said. "I try to find a better route but (the closed ramps) are always changing."

The Renovation Project involves replacing damaged freeway slabs, widening shoulders, upgrading bridges and modernizing eight ramps in both directions of the freeway between the 605 and the 5 freeways.

The average annual volume of traffic on the 10 Freeway at Baldwin Park Boulevard was 224,000 vehicles, according to Caltrans' most recent data.

"There were eight longterm ramp closures, so that affects the way people commute," said Judy Gish, a California Department of Transportation spokeswoman. "If you're used to getting off at a particular ramp and it's closed, you have to revise your route."

This often happens to Bill Ta, a manager at the Chevron gas station located off Baldwin Park Boulevard.

"It's because of all the closed exits," he said. "They close some of the offramps and I have to go around and follow all the signs in order to get home."

The bridge over the freeway on Baldwin Park Boulevard is also under construction and some avoid it altogether. For the Chevron gas station, it has meant a decrease in business from Kaiser Permanente employees, who work just across the bridge, Ta said.

"They say it's really bad and we've lost some business," he said.

The project is about 45-percent complete and ramp closures are expected to last through the end of the year, Gish said. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2011.

"It will improve the drive," Gish said. "It will preserve the pavement, which is a major concern and it will reduce the need for maintenance of the pavement, which means ultimately that's fewer times traffic will be slowed because of maintenance vehicles. All in all, it's a very positive thing."

On the eastbound 10 Freeway, the San Gabriel Boulevard ramps are currently closed will be closed through mid-October, according to Caltrans. On the westbound side, Fremont Avenue and Temple City Boulevard ramps are scheduled to be closed through early October.

The construction of a portion of the carpool lane has also facilitated the closure of the westbound Baldwin Park Boulevard ramps. They will be inaccessible through late October, according to Caltrans estimates.

"You can't have a freeway construction project that has absolutely no impact whatsoever," Gish said. "Hopefully everyone will realize there will be a lot of longterm gain."

Read More: http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_16179435

Sep 29, 2010, 5:13 AM
The average annual volume of traffic on the 10 Freeway at Baldwin Park Boulevard was 224,000 vehicles, according to Caltrans' most recent data.

they must mean daily average? 224,000 per year is a pretty empty freeway.

im all for more carpool lanes. though it worries me that someday they'll be converted to toll lanes (like they're starting to do).

Sep 30, 2010, 3:19 AM
OCTA to give West County Connector updates Saturday
Published: Sept. 16, 2010

Construction on the West County Connectors Project on the 22 and 405 freeways has begun and is expected to last until 2014.

The segment that is under construction now is the Valley View Bridge on- and off-ramps. Closures will be during the night time. Freeway lanes could be closed during the night time for lane re-striping and concrete barrier placement between now and Sept. 20. The Valley View Bridge will be demolished during October.

The Orange County Transportation Authority will be hosting community meetings Saturday to share updates and information about the project with community members. A meeting is scheduled from 8 to 9 a.m. at the corner of Adams Street and Spencer Johnson Place in Garden Grove and a second meeting is scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Duncannon Avenue and Tulane Street in Westminster.

The project, which is expected to be completed in December, will construct two direct carpool connectors, add a second carpool lane in each direction on the 405 between the 22 and 605 freeways, reconstruct on-and off-ramps, build sound walls and retaining walls at various location and add landscaping at various locations.

Read More: http://www.ocregister.com/news/county-266777-project-expected.html

Sep 30, 2010, 3:26 AM
'Long time coming': I-5 widening project is done
Published: Sept. 28, 2010

BUENA PARK – Four years after construction began to widen I-5 in northernmost Orange County, all lanes have officially opened and the final project funded by the original 20-year Measure M is now complete.

The I-5 Gateway project began in 2006 and has added two lanes in each direction on the freeway for about two miles from the 91 to the county line.

The original Measure M is a half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements that was approved by voters in 1990. Renewed by voters in 2006, Measure M2 will be in effect in Orange County through 2041.

Buena Park resident Ted Miller has spent 55 years watching traffic along the Santa Ana Freeway.

“It’s a long time coming,” he said of the improvements. “I like it, all right.”

The $335-million project has added one car-pool lane and one general travel lane in each direction. Auxiliary lanes have also been added in each direction from the 91 to Beach Boulevard. State and federal funding for the project totaled $147 million while $188 million came from Measure M.

“Since 1993 we’ve been working on the 5 freeway starting down in the El Toro area and moving our way up north until today we reach this culmination…we remain committed as always for providing mobility for Southern California,” said Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante, at a dedication ceremony Tuesday. He’s also the chairman for the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Officials praised the half-cent sales tax for providing an efficient transportation system when compared to Los Angeles.

“We do a lot better job here in Orange County than some of our neighbors in moving traffic at half the price,” said Senator Lou Correa.

Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby of Fullerton said Orange County is setting an example to other counties with improvements like the I-5 widening.

“With all the improvements we’ve made here, this gateway going south is also a gateway going north to a freeway of the past - one that hasn’t changed in five and a half decades,” Norby said.

Officials said the added lanes will help ease congestion on the stretch of freeway traveled by an average of 172,000 vehicles a day. Traffic is expected to grow to more than 300,000 average daily vehicles by 2020.

Wayne King, manager of Ganahl Lumber in Buena Park, got a front seat view of the entire project. The lumber yard and hardware store sits at the freeway’s interchange with Beach Boulevard, which was completely reconstructed in the area.

“It’s good news,” he said of the improvements’ completion. “It’s going to help make us a little more visible to customers and help them get to us.”

And of course, location is everything.

“We did pick up some business just from the construction being done nearby,” King said. When contractors needed tools, they didn’t have to go far to find them.

Despite the fanfare at Tuesday’s event, not everyone has been happy with the project.

Buena Park Nissan has sued the Orange County Transportation Authority, Caltrans, and the contractors who made the freeway improvements. The lawsuit alleges work done to install a retaining wall along the freeway damaged a dealership building, and that the business got no compensation from any public agency. The lawsuit also says the dealership lost customers because of “dust, fumes, and vibrations” from the freeway work.

“Before we celebrate the success of the last four years, OCTA should attempt to fix what they have broken along the way,” Greg Brown of Buena Park Nissan wrote in an e-mail to the OCTA. “I don’t think congratulations are in order until the damage to the local businesses and individuals have been addressed.”

OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said he couldn’t discuss the lawsuit. However, he did say OCTA recognized the road work affected many people and businesses in the surrounding area.

“There’s been extensive outreach to the entire community. We understand with a $335 million construction project, there’s immense benefit to the residents, but there are going to be some inconveniences,” Zlotnik said. “We make every effort to be responsive to their concerns.”

Zlotnik said crews are still working on landscaping but said all major improvements were complete as of last Thursday when the new lanes opened.

“People come from near and far to visit Knott’s Berry Farm and other attractions here in Buena Park. It’s no secret if traffic is too jammed, those visitors will go elsewhere and will take their dollars with them,” said Buena Park Mayor Art Brown, who also servers on the OCTA board of directors. “Our city’s future depends on a large part of those who visit the city — whether for the theme park or to buy a car at our auto malls.”

Read More: http://www.ocregister.com/news/project-268471-lanes-added.html

Oct 2, 2010, 5:07 AM

Oct 2, 2010, 5:43 AM
Caltrans begins construction on I-5 corridor
Project to add carpool lanes will last through 2015
By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com
Glendale News-Press
September 27, 2010 | 6:03 p.m.

State and local officials on Monday broke ground on a $140.2-million project to add carpool lanes to a congested portion of the Golden State (5) Freeway.

Nearly 10 miles from the Interstate 5 Burbank Boulevard offramp and 13 from the Colorado Street exit in Glendale — both named in a recent report as freeway segments where traffic conditions worsened significantly last year — the project will build high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction between the Hollywood (170) Freeway and the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway.

Stretching a distance of 3.4 miles in each direction, the project will also widen under-crossings and reconstruct the carpool connector between the 170 and I-5 freeways, where officials say roughly 300,000 vehicles pass through each day.

"We cannot reduce traffic in our region," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who advocated for better use of mass transportation and the construction of carpool lanes as a way to combat the problem.

In addition to easing commute times, the new lanes and other improvements will make the section of freeway safer, officials said.

"This is important because we are tying systems together," said Doug Failing, executive director of highway programs for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "We are making a system within a system to increase safety and efficiency."

Most of the work on the project, to be paid through a mix of federal, state and county funding, will be done late at night, when there are fewer commuters on the road, said Kelly Markham, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.

No two consecutive off ramps will be closed at the same time, she added. Closures and construction delays will be announced in advance by signs along the freeway.

The project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2015.

Read More: http://www.glendalenewspress.com/news/tn-gnp-caltrans-20100927,0,5258764.story

Oct 3, 2010, 3:11 AM
Updated: Sept. 29, 2010 9:23 a.m.
$184 million rail, bus hub approved
Published: Sept. 28, 2010

ANAHEIM – Plans for a large transportation hub just east of Angel Stadium that will serve the region's rail, bus and taxi passengers won unanimous approval from the City Council on Tuesday night.

The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center – commonly called ARTIC – will be built on 16 acres southeast of the 57 freeway and Katella Avenue.

The $184 million-plus center will initially serve Metrolink and Amtrak rail passengers and OCTA bus riders and could eventually be a destination point for high-speed rail that runs between Anaheim and San Francisco and a mag-lev track from Anaheim to Las Vegas.

The 800-mile high-speed rail line is in the design stages and is estimated to cost $43 billion – only a fraction of that money has been secured so far.

ARTIC's futuristic design includes a large, covered archway that will rise above the passenger platforms 189 feet high. The design recalls the look of the aviation hangars at Tustin Marine Corp Air Station but will be constructed of a modern membrane similar to the "Water Cube" made famous at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.

"ARTIC has been a focus of this council for years and it is profound that we got to this point – especially during these tough economic times," Councilwoman Lorri Galloway said after the meeting.

"It will improve people's lives to have a central transportation hub in Anaheim and we feel that it is something that will grow and grow over time," she added.

The ARTIC site is co-owned by Anaheim and the Orange County Transportation Authority. Anaheim's contribution to the project is the land, estimated at $5 million.

The first phase is expected to cost $183.8 million. That funding will come from a combination of federal, state and local Measure M funds.

Measure M, the county's half-cent sales tax which was renewed in 2006, will provide the bulk of funding at $144 million.

Back in June, an Orange County grand jury released a report critical of how OCTA was allotting some of its funds, including spending so much on ARTIC at the same time that bus routes were being cut.

Will Kempton, OCTA's chief executive officer, defended the project at the time, saying that it will benefit the entire county by providing a hub for nearly every mode of transportation.

And, he said, the allocation formula for Measure M is set so that funds must be spent on such improvement projects.

ARTIC also is expected to connect tourists to Disneyland and other Anaheim Resort destinations by way of fixed guideway or monorail. That project, called Anaheim Rapid Connection, is still being designed.

On Tuesday, the council reviewed the environmental impact report that analyzes how building ARTIC could affect air quality, noise and traffic.

Three speakers addressed the council during the public hearing, all in favor. The city received 29 letters of support, authored by, among others, Disneyland Resort, the Honda Center and the Orange County Bicycle Coalition.

Supporters also said it will help create jobs during troubled economic times.

"If it's approved tonight," said Jim Adams, of the Building Trades Council, "can we start work tomorrow?"

Read More: http://www.ocregister.com/news/anaheim-268600-artic-county.html

Oct 6, 2010, 5:09 AM

Oct 6, 2010, 5:17 AM
Metro's new Division 13 facility will be located adjacent to Metro headquarters near Union Station and is planned to accommodate and provide service for up to 200 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and will include up to a 16,300 square- foot bus operations administration building and up to a 500,000 square-foot bus maintenance building. Renderings courtesy of Maintenance Design Group and RNL Design
The downtown facility has been designed to achieve Gold certification in accordance with the USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines and will provide a platform to perform modernization and upgrades to other aging bus maintenance facilities across Los Angeles County. Rendering courtesy of Maintenance Design Group and RNL Design

Metro awarded $47.75 million from FTA’s ‘State of Good Repair’ bus initiative
Posted by Gayle Anderson on October 4, 2010 - 3:44 pm
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today that as part of the State of Good Repair Bus Initiative, Metro has been awarded $47.75 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for the region and the funding provided will go a long way toward maintaining Metro’s transportation system,” said LA County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Don Knabe. “This funding is essential as we strive to both maintain and operate one of the largest transportation systems in the United States.”

Under the FTA’s State of Good Repair Bus Initiative, providing funding to maintain the nation’s bus and rail systems is an important element if public transportation systems are to provide safe and reliable service to millions of daily riders.

Metro plans to use the funding to construct a new three-story bus operations and maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles to meet the agency’s demand for bus service. The new Division 13 facility is located adjacent to Metro headquarters near Union Station and is planned to accommodate and provide service for up to 200 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and will include up to a 16,300 square- foot bus operations administration building and up to a 500,000 square-foot bus maintenance building.

The facility has been designed to achieve Gold certification in accordance with the USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines and will provide a platform to perform modernization and upgrades to other aging bus maintenance facilities across Los Angeles County. Design and entitlement work for the project have already been completed and the project is expected to go out to bid for contractors in January 2011. Construction could start as soon as June 2011 and the project will be completed in Spring 2013.

“Metro is appreciative of the FTA’s commitment in funding bus and rail maintenance programs under the State of Good Repair Bus Initiative,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “This funding will pay for a state-of-the-art bus operating and maintenance facility greatly needed to better serve our customers.”

This federal grant aids Metro’s 30/10 Initiative by freeing up funding resources. The grant money will relieve State of Good Repair needs that could not otherwise be deferred and that, in turn, enables Metro to focus on the accelerations of the Measure R program.

Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff as part of a $766 million allocation in ‘State of Good Repair’ dollars for the nation’s urban and rural bus systems.

-- Gayle Anderson

Here are the renderings of the Metro project that was awarded funding by the FTA’s “State of Good Repair” bus initiative yesterday. (See previous post)

Metro plans to use the funding to construct a new three-story bus operations and maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles to meet the agency’s demand for bus service.

A work-in-progress until killed by budget constraints, the funding opportunity resurrected the maintenance facility.

Design and entitlement work for the project have already been completed and the project is expected to go out to bid for contractors in January. Construction could start as soon as June and the project is scheduled to be complete in spring 2013.

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/10/04/metro-awarded-47-75-million-from-ftas-state-of-good-repair-bus-initiative/
Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/10/05/looking-good-renderings-of-planned-bus-division-for-downtown-los-angeles/

Oct 6, 2010, 2:43 PM
This looks like a beautiful facility but why use scarce land next to the subway, Amtrak, and evenutally high speed rail station for a bus maintenance facility? There is a limited amount of land within 1/4 to 1/2 mile of these subway stations and a bus maintenance facility doesn't need to be located in this walkable area.

Oct 10, 2010, 2:15 AM
Do you all think their should be a blue line extension to Huntington Beach in the distant future the line phase 1 could go east of downtown Long Beach on ocean blvd,then underground on 2nd st then phase 2 to pacific coast hwy then right on pch to Seal, Sunset, and Huntington Beaches.

Oct 11, 2010, 12:30 AM
^ I think a Metrolink branch to Huntington Beach should happen.

Oct 16, 2010, 2:10 AM
11 miles of carpool lanes on the 60 Freeway formally open Thursday
Los Angeles Times
October 14, 2010 | 7:56 am

Currently, District 7 has 492 HOV lane miles. When complete in 2025, the HOV system will have 900 lane miles.

Officials on Thursday will formally open 11 miles of carpool lanes added in a $100-million widening of the 60 Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley.

The new lanes run between the 605 and 57 freeways. The 60 Freeway is a key artery for truck traffic from the ports as well as for commuters into central Los Angeles.

According to Caltrans, more than 240,000 vehicles a day use that stretch of freeway.

The 60 Freeway, offically called the Pomona Freeway, has become the preferred route for trucks headed to Inland Empire warehouses and distribution centers, where goods are sorted before being sent all over the country.

Caltrans says completion of the project brings the total length of carpool lanes in the L.A. region to 500 miles, with more than 330,000 vehicles using them daily. Carpool lanes are now being added on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.

-- Shelby Grad

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/10/11-miles-of-carpool-lanes-on-60-freeway-unveiled-today.html

Oct 16, 2010, 2:16 AM
Federal loan to speed work on Crenshaw light-rail line
Los Angeles Times
October 15, 2010 | 2:48 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s effort to accelerate construction of local transit projects advanced Friday when the federal government announced that it would loan $546 million for a planned light-rail project that would run from the Crenshaw district to a station near Los Angeles International Airport.

The assistance is the first federal commitment to the mayor’s so-called 30/10 initiative, which calls for speeding up the completion dates of 12 transit projects planned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including the Westside subway extension.

"This is a substantial down payment," said Villaraigosa, who was in Washington, D.C., recently to lobby for federal assistance. "The money will help create about 5,000 jobs, free up funds for other projects and allow us to move ahead at an accelerated rate."

The loan will cover more than a third of the planning and construction costs of the Crenshaw light-rail project, which is now estimated to cost $1.4 billion.

The proposed line would run about 8 1/2 miles from Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards to the Green Line station at Aviation Boulevard near LAX.

-- Dan Weikel

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/10/villaraigosa-gains-546-million-federal-loan-to-speed-construction-of-crenshaw-light-rail.html

Oct 16, 2010, 9:13 PM
Federal loan advances light rail for Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor project
Posted by Gayle Anderson on October 15, 2010 - 4:11 pm
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

A $546-million federal loan that will enable Metro to more quickly build an 8.5-mile light rail line in the Crenshaw District was announced today by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

It is the first federal funding received for a Measure R transit project and will accelerate the schedule for completion of the Crenshaw/LAX line to the next five or six years; the Crenshaw Line was scheduled to open in 2018 under Metro’s long-range plan. The low-interest loan will be repaid with Measure R revenues.

The funding is a major step forward for the 30/10 Initiative, the Metro policy that seeks to build 12 Measure R transit projects in the next 10 years instead of the next 30 by using federal loans and other financing.

In a news release Senator Boxer said, “This is a great day. The federal government — in partnership with local agencies and the Mayor’s office [L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa] — is helping to leverage local funding to accelerate creation of thousands of jobs, to speed construction of transportation improvements and to bring those benefits to the people of L.A. sooner than would otherwise be possible.”

Senator Boxer announced the funding package in a conference call today with Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo and Metro CEO Art Leahy.

Mayor Villaraigosa was in Washington earlier this week to participate in a meeting with President Obama about upgrading the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

An official announcement will be made at a press conference to be held next Wednesday.

The $546 million loan from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program will help get construction underway for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor project, an 8.5-mile light rail line in the Crenshaw District which will connect to the Metro Green Line and the Expo Line, currently under construction, eventually providing direct train service to a planned LAX transit center.

Metro is currently preparing environmental documents and soon will begin preliminary engineering. Construction could start in late 2011.

The Crenshaw/LAX line represents the largest public works investment in South Los Angeles in history, said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“Not only will this project bring much needed economic development to an important region of the County, but these federal dollars will result in more than 7,800 much needed jobs for our community during the development of this project. I will make every effort to see that these jobs are allocated fairly to both local residents and those who live in ZIP codes that are most impacted by high unemployment,” said Ridley-Thomas.

“I am very grateful to Senator Boxer and the Obama Administration for this down payment on our 30/10 initiative to move forward with the Crenshaw line and create jobs we need now,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “Senator Boxer has been a tireless advocate for 30/10, and without her efforts this award would not have been possible.”

Here is a link to the news release issued by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. And here is a link to the news release issued by Mayor Villaraigosa.

-- Gayle Anderson

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/10/15/federal-loan-advances-light-rail-project-for-crenshawlax-transit-corridor/#more-13820

Oct 29, 2010, 2:08 AM
It’s official: Metro Board of Directors selects Wilshire route for Westside Subway Extension, moves project into final study phase
Posted by Steve Hymon in Policy & Funding, Projects on October 28, 2010 - 11:33 am
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

After literally decades of talk, false starts, community resistance and funding dead-ends, a route for an extension of the subway to the job-rich Westside was selected by the Metro Board of Directors on Thursday in a vote called historic by several Directors.

The Board of Directors voted 10 to 0 with one abstention (Supervisor Mike Antonovich) to select “alignment two” of the five routes studied over the past year-and-a-half in a draft environmental study of the Westside Subway Extension. The 9.5-mile route, as shown above, with seven new stations begins at the current Purple Line station at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue and runs mostly on Wilshire Boulevard to a station near the VA Hospital in Westwood, just west of the 405 freeway.

It would take about 25 minutes to ride the subway from Union Station to the VA Hospital station. A trip from the North Hollywood Red Line station to the VA Hospital station is estimated to take about 36 minutes plus the necessary transfer at Wilshire/Vermont. Journeys between those locations by bus and often by private vehicle are often twice as long. The area to be served by the subway extension has the second-most jobs in L.A. County outside of downtown Los Angeles.

The Westside subway would serve as an alternative to sitting in Westside traffic. This map shows the level of service at intersections on the Westside. Click above for a larger image.

The Westside Subway Extension is among a dozen transit projects to be funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in Nov. 2008. Without the $4.2 billion provided by Measure R, the subway extension would not be possible.

The Board also voted to launch a final environmental study and preliminary engineering of the project, which will take place over the next year. The target date for the beginning of construction is 2013. Metro hopes that selecting a route will help secure federal New Starts money to help build the project in next year’s federal budget. The estimated cost of the project in 2009 dollars is about $4.36 billion, but it will likely cost more depending on the year built and inflation.

The opening date of the project depends on different funding scenarios.

With a mix of Measure R funds and New Starts dollars, Metro plans to open the subway in three phases: to Fairfax Avenue in 2019, Century City in 2026 and Westwood in 2036.

If additional federal loans and other financing can be obtained — a plan called the 30/10 Initiative to speed the construction of Measure R projects — the entire subway would be built at once and would open to Westwood in 2022. It remains to be seen whether segments could be opened earlier.

Supervisor Don Knabe, the chairman of the Metro Board of Directors, said the vote was historic and that the vote would help the subway secure federal funding and “fulfill the promise of Measure R and the accelerated timeline of 30/10.”

“We’ve discussed the subway as I understand it for 50 years,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a member of the Board of Directors. “A lot has been said that this project will never happen. And now the only question is when.”

Three big issues remain to be resolved in the final study: the exact location of the station in Century City and the two stations in Westwood. (Here are the Metro staff recommendations looking at issues along the line).

In Century City, the choice of a location has been narrowed down to Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars or Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. There is an earthquake fault along Santa Monica Boulevard in that area and Constellation is closer to the center of Century City — but a station there would require tunneling under a few homes in Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills High School.

Both city officials from Beverly Hills and officials from the Beverly Hills Unified School District have threatened legal action if that route is selected by Metro, saying that subway tunneling could pose a danger to students and interfere with future plans to expand the high school with dollars from a school bond passed by city voters in 2008.

An official from Beverly Hills on Thursday said that even though there may be a slight chance of danger from the subway, it’s better to put that slight chance under a roadway — Santa Monica Boulevard. School district officials told the Board of Directors that the high school is the city’s only high school and served as the city’s emergency preparedness area.

The Board also approved a motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky — who represents the Beverly Hills area — asking for more study of the city’s safety concerns. On Thursday, Yaroslavsky amended the motion to include safety issues in Westwood, where the subway would also tunnel under homes.

Other speakers on Thursday spoke in favor of a Constellation station in Century City, saying it made sense to put the station nearer to the center of Century City and the most jobs.

Yaroslavsky said he believed that Constellation is the more appropriate for a station because it’s in the “center of the center” of Century City. But he said it was important to more fully understand the pros and cons of both station locations and that a station on Santa Monica Boulevard remained a possibility. “Obviously safety is the number one issue for us,” Yaroslavsky said. “We will not built a tunnel that is unsafe whether it’s under the high school, under Santa Monica Boulevard or anywhere else.”

In Westwood, the first station will be at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards or slightly west under UCLA Parking Lot 36. Metro staff wants more time to determine future development plans for Westwood and whether those projects would interfere with the tunnel alignments required to reach a station at the UCLA site.

Staff also wants to further study locations for the VA Hospital station — specifically whether to put it north or south of Wilshire Boulevard.

As part of the draft environmental study, Metro staff also studied a route that would take the subway all the way to downtown Santa Monica and another route that would run from the current Hollywood/Highland station through West Hollwyood and connect with the Wilshire line in Beverly Hills.

A station at Crenshaw and Wilshire was also studied as part of the alternative chosen by the Board. The Board also accepted the Metro staff recommendation it be deleted from the project because it was just one-half mile west of the existing station at Wilshire and Western and in a low-density, mostly residential neighborhood.

Both the Santa Monica and West Hollywood alignments would likely attract significant numbers of riders, according to Metro staff. The problem was threefold: 1) the Wilshire route performed the best; 2) there wasn’t enough Measure R or other funding available for the Santa Monica and West Hollywood lines, and; 3) neither of those alignments at this time meet the key “cost-effectiveness” threshold required to attract federal funding.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, in a committee meeting last week, requested that Metro staff report back later this year on what could be done to study a future transit project to serve the West Hollywood area.

Metro, with the city and county of Los Angeles, is also in the midst of planning a peak hour bus lane along 9.7 miles of Wilshire on the Westside. The lanes are expected to improve bus speeds and help subway passengers reach their destinations between rail stations.

In the early 1990s, Metro had finished the environmental studies and entered into a funding agreement with the federal government to extend the subway from Wilshire and Western to Pico and San Vicente. In the wake of construction problems and cost over-runs on building the subway to Hollywood, county voters in 1998 approved a ballot measure to suspend using local sales tax dollars for subway tunneling, effectively killing the project.

The subsequent segment of the subway from Hollywood to North Hollywood was built on time and on budget and opened in June 2000. The Red and Purple lines today average about 150,000 boardings on weekdays. Estimates are that the new line will attract 53,000 boardings just at the new stations but also increase ridership across the existing Metro bus and rail network because of improved transit access to the Westside.

-- Steve Hymon

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/10/28/its-official-metro-board-of-directors-selects-wilshire-route-for-westside-subway-extension-moves-project-into-final-study-phase/

Oct 29, 2010, 2:09 AM

Oct 29, 2010, 2:12 AM
Fully underground route for Regional Connector approved by Metro Board of Directors
Posted by Steve Hymon in Policy & Funding, Projects on October 28, 2010 - 1:06 pm
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

A project that has long been on the chalkboard but could never gain political or funding traction took a major step forward Thursday when the Metro Board of Directors selected a route for the Regional Connector.

Directors, as expected, voted 9 to 0 to select a 1.9-mile fully underground line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue Line and future Expo Line. The existing gap between the end of the Blue Line and the Gold Line requires transit riders on both lines to take a subway or the bus to reach destinations beyond the end of either line.

That results in longer trips — usually requiring an extra 10 to 15 minutes — and makes transit less competitive with private vehicles time-wise.

The Board of Directors also voted to launch a final environmental study for the project. Construction could begin in 2014 with an opening date of 2019 under the agency’s Measure R plan. There is the possibility that date could be advanced if the 30/10 Initiative to use federal loans and other financing to accelerate the construction of Measure R projects is approved by Congress.

Like the Westside Subway Extension, the Regional Connector was one of the transit projects approved by county voters in Nov. 2008 as part of the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase. Metro is seeking federal New Starts money to help build the subway and connector.

The Board of Directors also approved three stations for the Regional Connector: a new underground Little Tokyo station that will replace the current street-level Gold Line station; a station at 2nd/Broadway to serve the Civic Center area; and a station at 2nd/Hope near the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, MOCA and the western end of the Civic Center.

A station studied for 5th/Flower was eliminated by the Board of Directors to save $185 million on a project expected to cost $1.245 billion in 2009 dollars; the actual cost will be more due to inflation between now and when it’s built. Metro staff said that station was proposed for elimination because it was close to the existing 7th/Metro Center — the walking distance between 5th/Flower and 7th/Metro Center is about a quarter-mile.

Metro staff said that there are existing emergency exit portals for the 7th/Metro Center station that could be renovated into entrances for that station reaching as far north as 6th Street — and that would be a suitable way to mitigate for the loss of the 5th/Flower station. Metro staff said the loss of the station would result in faster trips through downtown and that projections show ridership loss would be negligible.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced a motion to continue studying the 5th/Flower station in the project’s final environmental study. However, that motion failed when it only received four yes votes — from Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor Don Knabe, Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Duarte Councilman John Fasana.

Several groups or members of the public testified in favor of keeping the 5th/Flower station, including Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry and the Central City Assn., which represents downtown businesses, and Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic (FAST).

However, a motion by Board Chairman Knabe and Ridley-Thomas was approved, directing Metro CEO Art Leahy to return to the Board later this year with a report on the feasibility of securing private funding to continue studying the 5th/Flower station.

Once the Regional Connector is built and the Expo Line is complete — it is scheduled to reach Santa Monica in 2015 – the plan is to run trains on a north-south and east-west axis. Trails would run all the way from Azusa (the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line is scheduled to reach Azusa in 2014) to Long Beach and trains between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles.

Such a plan, of course, would scramble the current color-coded Metro Rail map since the Expo, Blue and Gold lines would be sharing trains and tracks. Whether the trains should be color-coded, numbered or go by some other designation is an issue that Metro staff will soon be tackling.

In the 1990s, the original plans for the Gold Line called for the project to be connected to the Blue Line. But political indifference to the Gold Line — the state Legislature had to intervene to get it built — and lack of money prevented the connection from ever happening.

In the years since, the Connector was sometimes viewed as a luxury, since the subway bridged the gap between Union Station and 7th/Metro Center, although the transfer between light rail and subway costs riders extra minutes. Measure R and the launch of construction of the Expo Line and the Eastside Gold Line helped sway the Board of Directors to revisit the Connector because of the extra passengers the Connector would serve.

-- Steve Hymon

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/10/28/fully-underground-route-for-regional-connector-approved-by-metro-board-of-directors/

Oct 29, 2010, 2:17 AM

Oct 30, 2010, 2:34 AM
Wilshire route picked for L.A. subway extension
Precise path to the VA hospital from Western Avenue station must still be OKd. Estimated $5.15-billion project would start in 2013.
By Dan Weikel and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
October 29, 2010

Development of a long-awaited subway link from downtown Los Angeles to the traffic-tangled Westside took a giant step Thursday when county transportation officials approved a general route along job- and population-heavy Wilshire Boulevard.

The 10-0 decision by the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board was quickly hailed as "historic" by First Vice Chairman and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, perhaps the foremost advocate for building a so-called subway to the sea.

"We've been discussing the subway for 50 years, one way or the other," Villaraigosa said. "People said it wouldn't happen. Now, the only question is when."

The action sets the stage for the even trickier business of going block by block to establish the precise path from the existing Purple Line Wilshire-Western station to the veterans hospital in Westwood. Residents of Beverly Hills, in particular, showed up Thursday to underscore their concerns about having trains pass beneath their homes and businesses.

If all goes as planned, construction will begin in 2013 after an environmental impact review.

"This is a big moment," said Genevieve Giuliano, director of USC's METRANS Transportation Center. "A subway is the single biggest item on the transit construction list, and this is the single busiest corridor in the entire region. If there should be a subway anywhere, it should be there."

On another 10-0 vote, the MTA board approved a $1.37-billion regional connector that would run beneath downtown L.A. to unite existing light-rail lines. It would allow rail users to travel across the county without time-consuming transfers.

County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the board's second vice chairman, abstained from voting on the subway extension; and Supervisor Gloria Molina was absent, as was Lakewood City Councilwoman Diane DuBois. On the connector vote, the mayor, Molina and DuBois were absent.

The 1.9-mile connector would proceed underground via 2nd Street and beneath 1st and Alameda streets. It would include three stations, at 2nd and Hope streets, 2nd and Broadway, and 2nd and Central Avenue.

MTA officials have said both projects would provide an incentive for motorists to break their dependency on cars by offering more access to key destinations and faster travel times, especially during rush hour. The regional connector alone, officials said, could boost the number of subway and light-rail users from 5% to 18% depending on the line.

The project, estimated to cost $5.15 billion, will be paid for by a combination of federal funds and Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for transportation approved by voters in 2008 just before the global recession struck.

Leaders of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art think that attendance, currently about 850,000 a year, could get a significant boost once the subway line opens, thanks to the stop at LACMA's doorstep — the northeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax Avenue.

"We know the subway will be a game-changer for LACMA visitorship," said the museum's president, Melody Kanschat. Getting a nearby subway stop was enough of a priority that the museum contributed about $900,000 to the campaign for Measure R.

MTA staff members had recommended the 9.5-mile Westside route along Wilshire — past Hancock Park, Beverly Hills, Century City and UCLA to the Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Medical Center — because of higher ridership projections. Stations were approved at Wilshire and Fairfax, La Cienega, Century City, Westwood/UCLA and the veterans hospital campus.

The immediate losers Thursday were advocates of the four other subway options that had been under consideration. Those were: a nine-mile extension from the Wilshire-Western station to Westwood-UCLA; a 12-mile alignment to the beach in Santa Monica; a route to the veterans hospital campus plus a spur to West Hollywood; and a 12-mile link to Santa Monica plus the West Hollywood spur. The estimated costs of those projects ranged from $4.2 billion to $9 billion.

Experts said approval of the subway and connector projects has the potential to shape where people live and work as well as the duration of their commutes. The connector would make all parts of the system faster, and the Westside extension would fill a major gap.

Martin Wachs, a transportation expert at Rand Corp., the Santa Monica-based think tank, said the subway approval is significant in that it has been sought for years but held back by political concerns.

The rail has been a priority for a succession of mayors dating to Tom Bradley. And planners have envisioned a subway in the Wilshire corridor since 1980, according to experts.

But early plans for the Wilshire subway literally went up in flames with a 1985 methane explosion in the Fairfax district that led to concerns about tunneling through an oil-field zone with pockets of the explosive petroleum-related gas. Until several years ago, an underground subway was contrary to federal law because of a ban engineered by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles).

Another hurdle was a voter-approved initiative that cut off such projects from a key funding source. That effort was led by Westside Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. But safety studies, entreaties from Villaraigosa and others, and worsening traffic prompted Waxman to agree to a repeal of his ban; and Yaroslavsky, also an MTA board member, voted for the extension Thursday.

"It's an important turning point for public transportation in Los Angeles," Wachs said.

He added that even with the approval, the subway must go through a lengthy process of planning and obtaining permits, followed by congestion and detours during construction.

Transit systems exerted a huge influence on local transportation and development in the evolution from horse-and-buggy to trolley, but less so when modern transit systems have faced competition from cars, said Eric Morris, a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA and a transportation blogger for the New York Times.

"In our current world, the auto provides point-to-point, high-speed travel," Morris said. "It's flexible and it's convenient.

"But I can see a subway project in that corridor being competitive. The Wilshire corridor is so dense. There are a lot of jobs within walking distance. If any project has the ability to reshape travel patterns, it's this one."

In the months ahead, contention is likely to occur over exactly how the subway goes through communities such as Beverly Hills and Century City. Citing a huge sinkhole and methane gas problems associated with construction of the Red Line subway two decades ago, the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District expressed opposition Thursday to any subway route under homes and the city's high school.

Possible routes run along Santa Monica Boulevard or Constellation Avenue with a station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, a major commercial area and job center. Beverly Hills residents and officials support a route and station along Santa Monica, although it might have seismic problems because of an earthquake fault.

Ken Goldman, president of the South West Beverly Hills Homeowners Assn., told the MTA board: "We all say to you with one voice: 'Don't risk the high school to save riders one block.'"

On a motion from Yaroslavsky, the MTA board approved further study of the alignments, including the risk of tunneling through areas with gas and oil deposits.

"Lots of legitimate issues have been raised about the routing," Yaroslavsky said. "We need to know the pros and cons of both routes."

The MTA board also heard concerns from residents and businesspeople in Little Tokyo, who feared that construction effects of the connector would disrupt commerce and tourism in a culturally significant area of Los Angeles.

"Little Tokyo is not a big place. It's a gem of a place, a big part of the downtown scene," said Kenji Suzuki, a local businessman. "Many stores have been there a long time. The construction will devastate those stores, which are what Little Tokyo is all about."

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-la-subway-20101029,0,2029181.story

Nov 4, 2010, 1:53 AM
Villaraigosa says GOP control of House could cost L.A.
November 3, 2010 | 4:21 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lamented the loss of a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and said it may have negative consequences for the city.

He laid part of the blame for the huge GOP gains in other states at the feet of Democrats who regularly assail President Obama for not pushing aggressively enough on behalf of the progressive agenda, be it a single-payer healthcare plan or deeper tax cuts for the middle class.

"One of the lessons for Democrats is we helped to fuel the Republican wildfire because we didn't get behind, we didn't defend the course we'd taken," the mayor said. "You have too many Democrats criticizing President Obama for not going far enough.... They don't understand. The country's evenly divided."

In recent weeks, Villaraigosa has extolled the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress for its largesse with funding for L.A. mass transit projects. But Tuesday's results prompted a recollection of the days of the George W. Bush administration and a GOP-controlled Congress.

"When Republicans won the majority, we had Bush in the White House, and I knocked on their doors, I sometimes got an answer from them," Villaraigosa recalled. "I might get an extended hand. But I always walked away with my hand empty.... There was never anything that the Republican majority or the Bush White House helped us with. I tell you, what a difference a majority makes."

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/11/mayor-villaraigosa-says-gop-congressional-gains-could-cost-la.html

Nov 7, 2010, 1:20 AM
Will gridlock trap 30/10?
It's clear that 30/10's road to realization has become a lot rougher in the new Congress.
Tim Rutten
Los Angeles Times
November 6, 2010

The implications of the midterm Republican wave that may add as many as 65 new GOP members to the House have yet to be sorted out, but the fate of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's 30/10 transit plan is one that ought to be of vital concern not only to this city but to the country as a whole.

The mayor's proposal, which is supported by nearly every other elected official in Los Angeles County as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Obama administration, builds on Measure R, which was approved by two-thirds of the voters and assigns three decades of revenues from an incremental sales tax increase to fund a specified list of projects that would dramatically expand public transit. Rather than wait 30 years, Villaraigosa has proposed that Washington provide bridge financing secured by the guaranteed tax revenues so that all the projects can be completed in just 10 years, thereby accelerating the environmental and transit benefits, significantly reducing the total cost of the projects and creating more than 160,000 desperately needed construction jobs.

Sen. Barbara Boxer's victory over Carly Fiorina, and the Democrats' retention of their majority in that chamber, mean that 30/10's leading congressional advocate will continue to chair the vital Environment and Public Works Committee. In the House, however, 17-term congressman James L. Oberstar — a 30/10 backer — lost his seat representing Minnesota's Iron Range. His chairmanship of the equally crucial House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee now will pass to Florida Republican John L. Mica. Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio — another vocal 30/10 ally — will remain the committee's ranking minority member, but will lose his chairmanship of the surface transportation subcommittee. (Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, one of President Obama's Republican Cabinet secretaries, may resign in the wake of the GOP resurgence, and reports say Oberstar may be a candidate for his job.)

It's clear that 30/10's road to realization has become a lot rougher. Though he holds a nonpartisan office, Villaraigosa is an unapologetically partisan Democrat with deep roots in organized labor, which is the demon of choice to many congressional Republicans. When the presumptive leaders of the GOP's House majority announced their "Pledge to America," Villaraigosa gave it the back of his hand. "It's a plan," he said, "that does absolutely nothing to create jobs."

Even so, one knowledgeable person who has worked on transportation issues under both Republican and Democratic administrations — and who asked not to be identified — said there are reasons 30/10 may be attractive to the new Republican leadership. Though the new majority is opposed to earmarks, its leaders also want to lift the economy and create jobs, which usually means more transportation spending. At the same time, the House leadership is unalterably opposed to new federal gas taxes. That creates an opportunity for 30/10, which is why Los Angeles' lobbyists now are working to reposition the plan as a national program, reminding lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that both Obama and LaHood have called it "a template for the nation."

Rather than looking for legislation that would create a federal infrastructure bank to finance 30/10-style projects, Deputy Mayor Jaime de la Vega says that Los Angeles now is looking for Republican co-sponsors on a bill to allow the sale of private-sector bonds. Under that approach, Measure R revenues would repay the principal while Washington provided bridge financing in the form of interest rate subsidies. The emphasis on private financing is intended to soften Republican objections, and the proposal mirrors the federal approach to paying for school construction.

De la Vega said that when he and Villaraigosa transportation advisor Richard Katz recently were in Washington, they met with Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy, the presumptive GOP whip, who was "intrigued by and sympathetic to" 30/10. Mica, meanwhile, also expressed great interest in the concept of new public-private partnerships. In fact, in an interview with Bloomberg News this week, Mica called himself "a strong advocate" of such innovations and said they hold the potential for "explosive investment" in transportation infrastructure. "People are hungry for work," he said.

That's nowhere truer than in Los Angeles County, where unemployment among heavy-construction workers is running at more than 40%. None of this will matter, though, if bitter partisanship consumes the next Congress and spreads gridlock from Capitol Hill to Los Angeles.

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-1106-rutten-20101106,0,6800768.column

Nov 13, 2010, 4:12 AM

Staff issues recommendations for Wilshire bus lane project
Posted by Steve Hymon in Policy & Funding, Projects on November 12, 2010 - 11:15 am
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Metro’s planning staff have issued their recommendations for the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project, which proposes to install rush hour bus lanes in the curb lane of 8.7 miles of Wilshire Boulevard, mostly in the city of Los Angeles.

Here’s the staff report. This is a project being built by Metro, the city of L.A. and Los Angeles County.

It will be up to the Metro Board of Directors to approve the staff recommendation, which is part of the project’s final environmental impact report. The Directors are scheduled to consider the project at the Planning & Programming Committee next Wednesday and to vote on accepting the staff proposal at the full board meeting on Dec. 9. Both the Los Angeles City Council and County Board of Supervisors will also have to approve the project.

A few details on what Metro planning staff are proposing:

•The bus lanes would be mostly in the curb lane of Wilshire and be operating on weekdays between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m.

•The lanes would run between Wilshire & Centinela and Wilshire & South Park View, a distance of 8.7 miles. Private vehicles turning right can use the lanes. Conversely, buses will be allowed to use general purpose lanes to pass other buses.

•There would not be any bus lane in the portion of Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Metro staff says they didn’t have time to consult with the city before applying for federal funding for the project in 2007 but that the bus lane could be added there in the future.

•The parking lane and the curbside jut outs on Wilshire between Comstock and Malcolm in the Westwood area would be retained and not converted to a bus lane. This is being done because of neighborhood concerns over the loss of about 85 parking spaces on Wilshire and 40 trees that would have had to be removed. The furthest right of the general traffic lanes in this area — there are three in each direction — will be used for the bus lane.

•Although residents have requested that there be no bus lane between Selby Avenue and Comstock Avenue, Metro has decided the bus lane here is needed to reduce bus travel times and improve service reliability.

•The eastern end of the bus lane is at South Park View because east of there Wilshire narrows to two lanes in each direction with no median. Converting one of the lanes to a bus lane would only leave one general purpose lane — leaving no room for private vehicles to pass one another.

•Of the 74 intersections studied, the project would increase traffic delays at nine intersections near or along Wilshire, due in part to traffic signals being reworked to help move buses along Wilshire. Most of the delays are estimated at less than 15 seconds. The intersections impacted are Veteran & Sunset, Bundy & Wilshire, Veteran & Santa Monica, Westwood & Olympic, Westwood & Pico, Beverly Glen & Santa Monica, Fairfax & Wilshire, La Brea & Wilshire and Overland & Santa Monica.
•Staff estimates that 12 to 17 minutes will be shaved off the trip along the bus lanes and that up to 10 percent of motorists could shift to bus use in coming years. The bus lane, too, should help people using the future Westside Subway Extension reach destinations between rail stations more quickly. Wilshire is the busiest bus corridor in L.A. County.

•The project is estimated to cost an estimated $31 million with about $23 million coming from a “Very Small Starts” grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The project could be complete by mid-2012.

•The number of people using curb lanes in private vehicles at this time is at about 1,000 people an hour com compared 1,500 or so on Metro buses (although that includes the soon-to-be-eliminated 920 line). The bus lanes could increase that number to 1,800 an hour, according to Metro staff.

Here’s a previous post from June with more about the project.

-- Steve Hymon

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/11/12/staff-issues-recommendations-for-wilshire-bus-lane-project/

Nov 23, 2010, 2:48 AM

Gerald Desmond Bridge Readies For Replacement Project
by Daniel DeBoom, Long Beach Post
Monday, November 22, 2010

State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Mayor Bob Foster chat in the shadow of the Gerald Desmond Bridge earlier today.

3:40pm | Officials from the Port of Long Beach and local government held a ceremony today to celebrate the future Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement that has been approved and green-lighted.

The state California Transportation Commission approved final funding and building plans for the bridge earlier this month. Construction on the five-year project is expected to begin in 2012. It is expected to generate about 4,000 jobs per year.

“It’s a proud day for the City of Long Beach, the County and the State,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. “We acted — in time — to replace this aging bridge, and in so doing, we will build a landmark structure that will create jobs now and guarantee a stronger Port and smoother transportation network for the future.”

Port officials estimate that the bridge carries about 15% of the nation's container goods as they enter the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and are shipped out across the country. The bridge replacement will create wider lanes for normal traffic and an additional emergency lane. In recent years, concerns had grown as concrete pieces had deteriorated and a netting "diaper" had to be installed beneath the bridge.

“The new Gerald Desmond Bridge will reduce congestion, enhance safety and improve traffic flow,” said Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. “By undertaking bold projects like this one, we’re improving mobility and encouraging commerce across California.”

The bridge replacement is a $950 million project, funded by $500 million in state highway transportation funds and $300 million in Federal sources. The Port of Long Beach is pledging $114 million and Los Angeles County Metro is committing $28 million.

Read More: http://www.lbpost.com/news/deboom/10702

Dec 11, 2010, 4:19 AM
Exports at L.A. and Long Beach ports are at a near-record pace
Sales growth spurred by demand from a rising middle class in countries including China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia is helping lead the region's rebound, experts say. LAX is on track for an all-time high for outgoing cargo.
By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
3:27 PM PST, December 10, 2010

Southern California's twin ports are on track to post total exports for the year that approach the records set before the global recession, just as the region's preeminent air freight hub — Los Angeles International Airport — is on pace to set an all-time high for outgoing cargo.

Those are good signs for the local economy, despite a less robust showing by imports, which account for the bulk of cargo traffic through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Export-driven sales growth is helping to lead the region's rebound, experts say; overall, international trade provides work for more than 500,000 people in the Southland.

Nationally, the trade deficit narrowed more than anticipated in October, with exports jumping 3.2% and imports declining 0.5%, the Commerce Department said Friday. The trade gap fell to $38.7 billion from a revised $44.6 billion for September, well below analyst estimates for October of $43.6 billion, which suggests stronger U.S. economic growth. California exporters racked up their best October ever, according to Beacon Economics, shipping $12.91 billion in goods abroad during the month, up 16.5% from October 2009 and 1.1% better than the previous high for the month in October 2007.

Through October, the L.A. and Long Beach ports have moved 2.8 million export-carrying cargo containers, up 20% from the same period last year. If that pace continues through the end of the year, the two ports will handle about 3.4 million containers, which would rank second only to the 3.5 million moved in 2008. Imports are growing rapidly too, but both ports will fall well short of their 2007 best.

Air freight exports through LAX peaked at 457,899 U.S. tons in 2007, but the pace this year is running nearly 4% ahead of that, according to Jock O'Connell, international trade advisor for Beacon Economics.

Monetary value of exports was higher in 2007, but "the logistics industry makes money by moving weight and volume," O'Connell said. "They make more if the tonnages are going up."

Exporters are selling to new middle-class consumers in China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries, said Ferdinando Guerra, an associate economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. who focuses on international trade.

"The middle class in these countries have begun to thrive," Guerra said. "Their countries are not really in recovery because they did not suffer as much as we did in the recession and their consumers are in a much better position overall."

One company looking to peddle even more internationally is Diamond Head Global Corp. of Gardena, a five-employee firm that sells reinforced steel framing and related components as a safe, sturdy home-construction alternative to wood, concrete, adobe or brick.

Chief Executive Darrell M. Sabihon said his biggest sales area has been the Philippines, and now he hopes to include other parts of Asia and earthquake-torn Haiti, where poor construction methods contributed to the massive temblor damage. Sabihon said he was looking to exceed his best year of about $6 million in sales in 2008.

"We're hopeful," he said. "Our products are better and they save a lot of time in construction."

Exports that originate in California are mostly high-value items, O'Connell said. In September, the most recent month for which statistics are available, California exported more than $12.3 billion to foreign markets, an increase of 19% over the year before, through its harbors and airports.

According to a UC Center Sacramento analysis of international trade data from the U.S. Commerce Department, the state's top exports were electrical machinery; industrial machinery and computers; optical, photographic and medical equipment; and aircraft and spacecraft components.

"In terms of sheer tonnage, airborne shipments typically account for no more than 1% or 2% of international trade. So there is no question that seaports do the heavy lifting in international trade. It's just that the cool stuff goes by air," O'Connell said.

With the U.S. economy still sluggish and lingering high unemployment still depressing that buying urge among consumers, exports are expected to help drive the recovery among businesses in Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to a report released last week by the Institute for Economic and Environmental Studies at Cal State Fullerton.

Co-authors Mira Farka and Adrian R. Fleissig said locally based exports would help lead the economic recovery here as the "rock bottom" levels of 2009 have given way to "record growth rates in 2010." Exports, they said, will be up 17.1% in Orange County and by 16.4% in Los Angeles and Long Beach compared with last year.

Although the amount of cargo sent out of Southern California is rising, local exporters still have a long way to go to regain the dollar volume they had before the recession, Fleissig said. After six straight years of gains in regionally based exports, which reached a value of $60 billion in 2008, exports plummeted by nearly 24% to $45.7 billion in 2009.

"We're definitely seeing good growth this year, but it's going to take some time to get back to where we were," Fleissig said. "We should get there by 2012."

Sabihon at Diamond Head Global is counting on it.

"I've got bids out on $50 million of potential business," he said. "We're hoping to get lucky."

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-exports-20101211,0,2006125.story

Dec 11, 2010, 7:30 PM
i love the way this thread has become a copy and paste mind-dump for dragonsky.

Dec 15, 2010, 6:40 AM

Big disruptions ahead for key L.A.-Orange County freeway interchange
December 12, 2010 | 11:08 am

Motorists entering one of the busiest gateways between Los Angeles and Orange counties will be hit hard over the next three years by a $277-million freeway project that requires a series of road closures, including one of the main portals to a veterans' hospital and a major state university.

The work will be done in two segments, and lane and street closures are to be sequenced to minimize some of the traffic impacts.

When completed in 2014, the so-called West County Connector project built by the Orange County Transportation Authority will create a seamless link between carpool lanes and ease rush-hour bottlenecks on the 405, 22 and 605 freeways.

Until then, construction will disrupt traffic on surface streets and three highways where cars and trucks make more than 327,000 trips a day.

-- Dan Weikel

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/12/major-surgery-coming-for-key-la-orange-county-freeway-interchange.html

Dec 22, 2010, 7:11 AM

FTA gives Metro the green light to study transit alternatives for Van Nuys corridor
Posted by Dave Sotero in 30/10 Initiative, Projects, Transportation News on December 21, 2010 - 10:33 am
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

Metro announced today that it has been selected to receive $2 million in Federal Transit Administration funding to begin two new transportation projects: an alternatives analysis for a premium transit service on Van Nuys Boulevard and work to improve the agency’s transit forecasting model. See the FTA’s announcement.

And here are the project descriptions.

This latest funding notice from the FTA injects new momentum into the agency’s Measure R program and is a win for the San Fernando Valley.

The Van Nuys Corridor is a main element in the East San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways Project, which seeks to provide better transit service on key corridors in the Valley.

For the Van Nuys Corridor project, the goal is to greatly improve mobility on Van Nuys Boulevard for about 10 miles between Ventura and Foothill Boulevards. Anyone who has ridden a bus down Van Nuys Boulevard in this area knows this street is primed for some sort of premium service.

The Van Nuys corridor consistently ranks as one of the top ten busiest bus corridors in Los Angeles County. In the Valley it is the busiest corridor. Total weekday boardings on Metro buses serving this boulevard even beat the Metro Orange Line and Ventura Metro Rapid in terms of daily ridership. (Metro has approximately 27,000 weekday boardings for buses running on Van Nuys compared to the Orange Line’s 23,500 and Ventura Rapid’s 5,500 boardings).

So what are the possible transit alternatives the Alternatives Analysis will study? Besides the obligatory No-Build and Transportation Systems Management alternatives, Metro will be looking at the following options:

* Dedicated bus lanes
* Light rail
* Streetcars

Metro’s project planners say that any of the options short of doing nothing will impact parking along much of this portion of Van Nuys Boulevard. They also say that the study will have to evaluate ways in which the removal of parking to build the project can be mitigated, which could include — among others — off-site parking lots. The community input process should help vet these and other issues during the AA process.

The streetcar option is an intriguing prospect for Van Nuys Boulevard, creating a “Back to the Future” possibility. While not technically streetcars, the last Pacific Electric Red Car traveling on Van Nuys was taken out of service in 1952.

Metro has released its Request for Proposals to conduct the AA work and could be ready by early 2013 to recommend a project to the Metro Board of Directors.

The work to improve Metro’s transit forecasting model will help improve the way other Measure R projects like the Westside Subway Extension and Crenshaw-LAX projects model their own travel demand.

-- Dave Sotero

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2010/12/21/fta-gives-metro-the-green-light-to-study-transit-alternatives-for-van-nuys-corridor/#more-16725

Dec 23, 2010, 1:35 AM
i love the way this thread has become a copy and paste mind-dump for dragonsky.

yes, but i find it interesting so at least one person appreciates him sharing.

as i see it if one person benefits from him posting then its worth him posting, same goes for everyone. by sharing he is spreading news and knowledge, and that is never a bad thing.

keep it up dragonsky!

Dec 24, 2010, 4:13 AM
Hunting for a parking space? L.A. officials set to unveil an iPhone app to help you
December 22, 2010 | 7:30 am
Los Angeles Times

In one part of Los Angeles, hunting for a parking space might soon become less irritating.

City officials on Wednesday plan to unveil an iPhone application -- the first of its kind -- to help motorists find vacant parking places in Hollywood.

Drivers armed with the app should be able see which streets have a few open spots as well as blocks that are closest to them with the most vacant spaces. The application would deliver information about parking space time limits, pricing and whether meters take credit cards or coins. It also would direct drivers to the nearest city parking garage as an alternative to street parking.

Such a service, with real-time information, might even help reduce congestion caused by motorists hunting for parking places. Studies by UCLA students of a 15-block area of Westwood Village found that searches for curbside parking added 2,500 vehicle trips a day to the area. The average search took about 3.3 minutes, but in the late afternoon and evening the hunt took up to 12 minutes.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Eric Garcetti and city transportation officials are scheduled to launch the so-called Parker for iPhone application Wednesday at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

-- Dan Weikel

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/12/hunting-for-a-parking-space-la-officials-set-to-unveil-an-iphone-app-for-that.html

Jan 4, 2011, 8:14 PM
^Technology is delightful.

Jan 4, 2011, 9:51 PM
yes, but i find it interesting so at least one person appreciates him sharing.

as i see it if one person benefits from him posting then its worth him posting, same goes for everyone. by sharing he is spreading news and knowledge, and that is never a bad thing.

keep it up dragonsky!

I agree! Thanks dragonsky!

Jan 6, 2011, 3:36 PM
FTA gives go-ahead for Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector to move into preliminary engineering phase
Posted by Steve Hymon in Policy & Funding, Projects on January 5, 2011 - 1:06 pm
Metro - Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

The Federal Transit Administration has notified Metro that it has given formal approval for preliminary engineering work to begin on the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector, moving both projects a step closer to actual construction.

The notification by the FTA means that both the Subway Extension and the Regional Connector are likely to be accepted into the federal New Starts program, which helps local areas pay for large transit projects. Both the Subway Extension and the Connector are also to be funded in part by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The approval also means that the first installment of federal funds could be included in next year’s federal budget.

Furthermore, the FTA has again given strong indications that they support the subway being built quicker than originally planned. Under Metro’s long-range plan, the subway would reach Westwood in 2036. The FTA estimates that the subway could reach Westwood by 2024 under some funding scenarios. Metro is trying to accelerate the subway’s completion to 2022.

Both projects are currently in their final environmental study phase, which is expected to be finished in 2011. Preliminary engineering work is scheduled to be complete for the Subway Extension in late 2011 and the Regional Connector in early 2012.

Final design work is expected to take 14 to 18 months. Under the best-case scenario, utility relocation work for both projects could begin in mid- to late 2012 depending on when the FTA gives the go-ahead to begin building.

The Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile underground light rail line in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue Line and future Expo Line, making it easy for passengers to reach their destinations without having to transfer to a bus or another train. The Connector is scheduled to open in 2019 under Metro’s long-range plan.

The Westside Subway Extension will extend the Purple Line from its terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to the VA Hospital in Westwood. Under Metro’s long-range plan adopted in 2009, the subway would be built in three phases — to Fairfax Avenue by 2019, Century City by 2026 and Westwood by 2036.

The reason for the long timeline: The subway is a complicated construction project and Measure R funds don’t flow into county coffers all at once – both factors take time and the subway is one of many Measure R projects that must be funded.

Metro has been pursuing the 30/10 Initiative to speed up construction of all the Measure R transit projects. In the case of the Subway Extension, that will require Measure R money, federal New Starts funds and other federal funds and financing.

Legislation to secure that financing will likely be needed as part of the next multi-year federal transportation bill. Transit advocates are hopeful that Congress tackles the bill in 2011.

As part of the FTA approvals, the agency also conducted a “risk assessment” for both projects. This is a detailed analysis of the various costs and underlying assumptions that form the basis of a transit project’s cost estimates.

The results of the risk assessment show that FTA and Metro are in substantial agreement on estimating costs for guideway and track, stations, support facilities and other major technical elements of the projects. However, there are two areas that are more subjective where the two agencies differ.

The FTA believes the projects will take two years longer to complete than Metro’s schedule, and the FTA is estimating the annual growth of the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) at four percent while Metro has adopted a three percent rate based on low annual CPI increases in recent years and other economic forecasts for Los Angeles County.

Time is money — so if the schedule is extended, inflation will take its toll. FTA also recognizes that for any major public works project unforeseen risks could arise and has asked Metro to come up with contingency plans should costs go up. However, the last two New Starts transit projects Metro has overseen – the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension and the third phase of the Metro Red Line to North Hollywood — were built within budget and ahead of schedule.

Metro estimates that the subway extension to Westwood – through completion — will cost $5.34 billion if finished by 2022. It estimates the Regional Connector will cost $1.367 billion.

The FTA’s cost and time estimates could change as Metro goes into preliminary engineering and the final design of the subway. Metro officials say they believe their own cost and time estimates are valid with aggressive management of both projects.

Some readers may be curious about those above numbers. Metro planners and press releases have sometimes provided the cost of the projects in 2009 dollars while not making it entirely clear that Metro was planning the projects based on how much both would cost at the time they’re actually built.

Metro’s most recent project to receive New Starts funding was the Eastside Gold Line extension, which received $490.7 million of its $898.8-million cost from Washington. New Starts also helped pay for the existing Red and Purple lines. With transportation funding from states often in short supply, New Starts money is coveted by transit agencies around the country and the application process is competitive and thorough in nature.

-- Steve Hymon

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2011/01/05/fta-gives-go-ahead-for-westside-subway-extension-and-regional-connector-to-move-into-preliminary-engineering-phase/#more-17450

Jan 8, 2011, 3:27 PM
The buck starts here: Caltrans recruiting public input for plans to improve north corridor of scenic rail line to San Luis Obispo

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2011/01/07/the-buck-starts-here-caltrans-recruiting-public-input-for-plans-to-improve-north-corridor-of-scenic-rail-line-to-san-luis-obispo/

Jan 12, 2011, 4:26 AM
Scoping meetings to begin for second phase of Foothill Extension

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2011/01/11/scoping-meetings-to-begin-for-second-phase-of-foothill-extension/

Dr. Taco
Jan 13, 2011, 4:20 PM
is there a good forum where I can engage in some discussion with LA people on the general topic of relocation to LA? I just found out I'll be moving there for a year in less than a month, and I've never even been to California before...

Jan 21, 2011, 6:01 AM
Los Angeles transit projects pitched to new Congress by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
With the House now in Republican control, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's transit project ideas get a mixed reception.
By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times
January 21, 2011

On his first visit to the U.S. Capitol since Republicans took control of the House, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sought this week to extend support for his 30/10 proposal, which would tap federal resources to speed construction of local transportation projects. But the key officials he spoke with offered a mix of views.

The so-called 30/10 plan to build a dozen projects in a decade instead of three has generated enthusiasm from the Obama administration and Sen. Barbara Boxer, a fellow California Democrat who chairs the Senate environment and public works committee. Los Angeles officials are seeking federal interest subsidies for bonds and increased funding for a transportation loan program.

On Thursday, Villaraigosa — in Washington for a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors — met with Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

"The mayor and I shook hands on pledging to move projects forward in an expedited fashion,'' Mica said. But the chairman threw cold water on one L.A. proposal — getting Washington to pay the interest on transportation bonds. "That's not going to float," Mica said.

Mica said he was open to exploring other creative ways to finance projects, including one of L.A.'s other proposals — increasing funding for a federal transportation loan program. "We will look at what works, what's the best investment for the taxpayer,'' the chairman said.

A House Transportation Committee spokesman added that Mica remains "open to considering many options" that would be fiscally responsible.

Mica said he told the mayor he wants to see a fixed transit connection to Los Angeles International Airport. "I pledged to work with him on that," Mica said. "It's so long overdue."

On Wednesday, Villaraigosa met with John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.). As the new Republican chairman of the House Transportation highway and transit subcommittee, Duncan will be critical to the mayor's efforts to secure federal aid to accelerate projects, including the subway extension to the Westside.

"It was a very good meeting," Villaraigosa said afterward. He also met with Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the House Transportation Committee's top Democrat.

"I think they see the need for innovative financing mechanisms on a national basis to invest in infrastructure," the mayor said. "They like the idea of cities like ours putting up their own money'' to leverage additional funding.

Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), chairman of the House Rules Committee, also met with Villaraigosa on Wednesday. Dreier was still mulling over the specifics of the mayor's proposals but said in a hallway interview that he has worked with Villaraigosa and would "continue to work with him to make sure we meet our transportation needs in Southern California.''

"I want to get the Gold Line done," Dreier said.

The challenge of governing with a House now in GOP control was apparent as the mayor joined other officials in calling attention to the importance of the nearly $4-billion federal Community Development Block Grant program to their communities.

The 36-year-old Department of Housing and Urban Development program, which funds neighborhood programs such as graffiti removal, anti-gang efforts and job training, is expected to be among those targeted for cuts.

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/la-me-la-mayor-20110121,0,4829593.story

Jan 26, 2011, 12:41 AM
Latest community presentation for Westside Subway Extension now online

Bootstrap Bill
Feb 4, 2011, 6:04 AM
is there a good forum where I can engage in some discussion with LA people on the general topic of relocation to LA? I just found out I'll be moving there for a year in less than a month, and I've never even been to California before...


Feb 4, 2011, 7:09 AM
no, that isnt a good website.

Bootstrap Bill
Feb 4, 2011, 7:46 AM
no, that isnt a good website.

Can you recommend a better forum for LA issues?

Feb 9, 2011, 4:27 AM
An LA Streetcar is Desired to Help Create Jobs
In the 1920's LA's Red Car System was State of the Art for Mass Transport. Now a new Streetcar System for Downtown LA is Proposed Which Could Ease Traffic Congestion and Create Jobs
NBC Los Angeles
Updated 8:00 PM PST, Tue, Feb 8, 2011

In 1937 child actress Shirley Temple helped promote what was then the largest urban rail system in the world, the Pacific Electric Railway.

The railway was ripped out 50 years ago to make room for the automobile.

Now they want it back.

A street car system that would tie the civic center to Staples Center and LA Live would be a fiscal shot in the arm to the regional economy, according to a study released by the City of Los Angeles' Community Redevelopment Agency.

An LA Streetcar is Desired to Help Create Jobs

It would generate over a $1 billion in new business development, backers say, and over 9,000 new jobs.

"That's people who are coming downtown and wanting to develop properties along the streetcar route, to rehabilitate their properties that are along those lines, and that's a big deal. That translates into jobs, jobs, jobs," according to Dennis Allen, Executive Director, LA Streetcar Inc.

The project would be similar to systems in San Diego, San Francisco and most recently in Portland, Oregon.

It would cost an estimated $125 million, from private and public funding sources, through property assessments on downtown businesses.

"We're going to have to rely very heavily on private investment, because we don't know the future of our public investment opportunities," according to Councilwoman Jan Perry, LA City Council District 9.

The project is backed by trade unions and the Chamber of Commerce, which is hoping the streetcar would tie new hotel development to the convention center.

In a down economy the project has the appearance of a long shot, but supporters say a streetcar system is the next step in the not-so-gradual rebirth of downtown Los Angeles.

Read More: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/An-LA-Streetcar-is-Desired-to-Help-Create-Jobs-115615309.html

Feb 9, 2011, 5:38 AM
Can you recommend a better forum for LA issues?


Feb 16, 2011, 3:23 AM
U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Details of President’s Plan to Invest Record $3.2 Billion in Nation’s Transit Infrastructure

Several additional projects that might become ready for federal funding during FY 2012 were mentioned as possible candidates for $400 million that is included in the President's budget for capital transit projects. These include the Westside Subway Extension (Subway to the Sea) and the Regional Connector Transit Corridor in Los Angeles; the Columbia River Crossing in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington area; and the Charlotte Blue Line Extension in North Carolina.

Read More: http://www.fta.dot.gov/news/news_events_12380.html

Mar 6, 2011, 12:39 AM
L.A. City Council approves bicycle master plan
March 1, 2011 | 2:44 pm

The Los Angeles City Council approved a new blueprint Tuesday for the city's streets that shifts focus away from automobiles.

The bicycle master plan calls for an eventual network of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways, including more than 200 miles of new bicycle routes every five years. It also calls for a safety campaign to educate drivers about sharing the streets.

"It's a cultural shift toward different types of transportation," said Councilman Ed Reyes, one of the plan's major proponents. The challenge now, he and other lawmakers said, will be in implementing it.

The City Council agreed last year to put 10% of the city's share of money from Measure R, the 2008 sales tax to support transportation projects countywide, toward initiatives for cyclists and pedestrians.

City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said some of the Measure R money should be used to bring the bicycle plan to life. He stressed construction will not start until the council comes up with the required money and specific projects are approved.

"We are not changing any streets as of this moment," Rosendahl said. But, he continued, "what they have given us is a great map to work with."

The plan was designed by city planners and transportation experts with significant input from L.A.'s growing bicycle activist community.

In 2009, cyclists organized a campaign against the first draft of the plan, which they derided as a piecemeal network of bikeways that seemed chosen for the city's convenience, not cyclists'.

The revised plan includes many of their suggestions, including a call for a freeway-like system of upgraded streets known as the "backbone network."

Cycling advocates at the City Council meeting said they were pleased with the final draft, and it would help Los Angeles catch up with other cities.

"I think it's a better bike plan than they've got in Chicago," said longtime activist Alex Thompson.

Several speakers favored an amendment that would protect a current ban on mountain biking on equestrian and hiking trails in city parks.

City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose 4th Council District includes Griffith Park, introduced the motion, which was adopted. It requires any changes to the regulation of mountain bicycling on trails to first be analyzed by the Board of Recreation and Parks.

-- Kate Linthicum

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/03/los-angeles-bicycle-master-plan.html

Mar 6, 2011, 12:40 AM
Ground broken on new 5 Freeway carpool lanes
March 4, 2011 | 9:28 am

State and county transportation officials broke ground Thursday on a nearly $70-million project to add carpool lanes to the 5 Freeway.

The project adds carpool lanes on both directions of Interstate 5 in a 4.4-mile stretch between the 170 Freeway interchange and Buena Vista Street in Burbank.

Officials said the carpool lanes would help reduce traffic congestion along a portion of the freeway that sees nearly 200,000 vehicles each day.

"If you've sat in that traffic, you know what I'm talking about," said Mike Miles, director of California Department of Transportation District 7, during a ceremony in the parking lot of the Armenian Apostolic Church near the freeway.

Construction will take place at night, with up to two lanes closed at a time and ramp closures staggered, officials said. Motorists will be alerted to closures with signs.

-- Melanie Hicken, Glendale News-Press / Times Community News

Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/03/golden-state-freeway-to-get-new-carpool-lanes.html

Mar 19, 2011, 4:06 AM
Leftover Measure M money going to I-5, 57 work
2011-03-16 10:45:39

The 20-year sales tax measure that delivered nearly 200 miles worth of additional freeway capacity and implemented Metrolink service in the county is set to expire at the end of March.

Measure M, the half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements approved by voters in 1990, ends March 31.

When the measure was presented to voters, officials said it would raise $3.1 billion over the 20 years. To date, the latest Measure M revenue forecast is $4.07 billion.

The Orange County Transportation Authority board this week approved using the leftover freeway funds for improvements to the 57 and I-5 freeways. The board had previously taken action to allow using the remaining funds for upcoming road projects and for the Metrolink Service Expansion Project that is under way.

Improvements to the 57 include the addition of a new northbound lane from north of the 91 near Orangethorpe Avenue in Placentia to Lambert Road in Brea, as well as between Katella and Lincoln avenues in Anaheim.

Construction has already begun for the Orangethorpe to Lambert segment. The Katella and Lincoln segment is scheduled for construction this summer.

These improvements, estimated to cost $143 million and partly funded by M2, are designed to reduce congestion and increase traffic flow, officials said.

The remaining M1 freeway money will also go toward the design phase of the I-5 improvements between Avenida Pico and Pacific Coast Highway. The project's design phase is expected to be underway in August 2011.

Orange County Transportation Authority officials said the measure's sales tax revenues will be finalized in July.

Voters approved a renewed version of Measure M, also known as M2, in 2006 for 30 years.

So far, it's a different story for M2 as recent projections show revenues through 2041 at approximately $15 billion – down $9 billion from the original estimates in 2005.

The way Measure M is set up, 43 percent of tax revenue goes to freeway improvements, 32 percent funds local streets and roads, and 25 percent is used for mass transit such as Metrolink trains and buses.

OCTA officials anticipate an M1 balance of $38 million in the freeway program and $10 million for streets and roads projects. In the transit category, an additional $86 million is expected to be available for Metrolink service.

Read More: http://www.ocregister.com/news/measure-292394-improvements-freeway.html

Mar 19, 2011, 9:10 PM
Expo Line Phase 2 construction is a “go”
Posted by Carter Rubin in Measure R, Transportation News on March 18, 2011 - 7:33 pm
Metro - Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority - The Source

There’s exciting news this afternoon from the Expo Construction Authority. Construction of Expo Phase 2 from Culver City to Santa Monica can now proceed, following the approval of a funding agreement and the awarding of a design-build contract. Please see the press release below for the full details.

Board of Directors Approves Funding Agreement and Design-Build Contract

Moving forward to connect the Westside to the county’s existing rail network, the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors approved two major milestones today. The Funding Agreement and Design-Build contract approved by the Board clear the way for design and construction to begin on Phase 2 of the project, which extends the nearly complete light-rail line between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City to its terminus in Santa Monica.

The $1.5 billion Phase 2 Funding Agreement between the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) and the Exposition Construction Authority (Expo Authority) provides the guidelines by which Metro will fund the project through Measure R half-cent sales tax revenue as well as state and local funds. The $541.7 million design-build contract was awarded to Skanska/Rados to design and build Phase 2 of the Expo Line. The Board of Directors approved incorporation of a Project Labor Agreement into the contract, which includes local hiring provisions and will help ensure that the project will be delivered on time and on budget. With this contract in place, the Expo Authority will kick off the design-build process with a series of community meetings along the project corridor in early May.

The Board also gave direction to carry forward previously cleared design options for a grade separation and aerial station at Expo/Sepulveda and the no parking option at the Expo/Westwood station. The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion today which commits to funding the estimated $5.3 million cost differential to add the Sepulveda grade separation and aerial station to the project.

The Expo Line will bring more transportation options to Westside communities traditionally underserved by public transit and who experience some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. Phase 1 of the Expo Line, between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City, is 88% complete and expected to partially open later this year. Pre-construction work and utility relocation on Phase 2 is expected to begin later this year, with service to Santa Monica scheduled to start in 2015.

-- Carter Rubin

Read More: http://thesource.metro.net/2011/03/18/expo-line-phase-2-construction-is-a-go/