Here is a recap of today’s Metro Board of Directors meeting. The Board took action on the following items:
•The meeting began with an update on yesterday’s tanker truck explosion on the 60 Freeway at Paramount. The massive fire took out a portion of the eastbound overpass, which will need to be demolished and replaced. Estimated time to rebuild the eastbound overpass is 6 months. As a result of the fire there is a slight detour on Metro bus lines 84 and 176. Lesson: Leave your car at home and go Metrolink or carpool! Click here for more information from Metrolink and Caltrans.
• Moving on to the Chair’s Report, Mayor Villaraigosa said he believes Metro should take the FTA’s audit findings seriously. “We need a first class bus system,” said the Mayor, before expressing a commitment to maintain the current fare structure and the bus schedule for the year.
Regarding the master planning of Union Station, the Mayor said he looks forward to seeing the plans that are presented by the architectural firms.
Villaraigosa also expressed support for transit-oriented development (TOD) at stations. He expressed the opinion that as Metro expands the rail and bus system, the agency needs to build more transit-oriented development, planning TOD concurrent with Metro’s planning and construction of Crenshaw, Expo and the Foothill Extension.
•(Item 59.1) Motion By Mayor Villaraigosa regarding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
By far the liveliest part of the meeting was the Board’s discussion of the FTA compliance review. The Mayor initiated discussion with the introduction of a motion asking Metro to complete and submit a corrective action plan, with monthly status reports, that complies with all the FTA Title VI audit findings and requirements no later than April 2012.
Board Member and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas noted that he finds it embarrassing that FTA and its Civil Rights Division have arrived at these findings with regard to Metro compliance with Title VI. Ridley-Thomas expressed disappointment in the Metro staff in terms of the agency’s compliance plan. He went on to voice his support for the motion presented by the chair, urging that more review is warranted with regard to service cuts and the decision to eliminate various bus lines.
CEO Art Leahy reporting on the FTA Title VI audit noted that the FTA has been supportive so far with regard to the Civil Rights Corrective Action Plan. Metro will be taking corrective action on most of FTA’s concerns between now and June 2012. Some of the changes will take more time to implement. There was also some discussion about whether or not it was sufficient to just improve policies and procedures to comply with the compliance review.
At the end of the lengthy discussion, the Board passed the motion prompting the BRU as it left to disrupt the meeting with a loud chant, “Give us a million hours back.”
•(Item 25). With the Mayor conflicted out, the Board considered approving a recommended short list of candidates to compete for the Master Plan for Union Station. Metro purchased the landmark rail terminal earlier this year. It is customary in design competitions to provide a stipend to the participants in the vision boards. Paying participants a $10,000 stipend means that Metro can use all of the creative ideas and intellectual property presented by the applicants. Each of the entities will be required to enter into a stipend contract releasing their ownership interest in the ideas presented. With some objections Board adopted the motion.
•(Item 32) With regard to a motion concerning Metro executing an agreement with BNSF Railway Company to abandon its interest in the Crenshaw Segment of the Harbor Branch right-of-way. This will help Metro move forward with planning and construction of the Crenshaw line. Metro is to pay $4.5 million to BNSF for the release of the right-of-way. The Board approved the motion to move forward.
•(Item 35) The Board considered approving a motion by Board Member Don Knabe to add an at-grade Crenshaw/LAX Line station in Westchester. The motion calls for the station being built near the intersection of Florence Avenue and Hindry on the condition that the contractor with the winning project bid can build the station within the project’s budget of $1.7 billion. Board Member Ridley-Thomas shared his concern, and those of a South LA community group, that the Leimert Park station, be built in advance of a Westchester station. Ridley-Thomas also underscored his concern about the agency’s “vulgar inconsistency” with regard to the location of stations and provision of service to different parts of the city.
Knabe’s original motion proposed a pecking order for additional stations such that, if a contractor could only build one additional station, the Leimert Park station would be built first. With slight modification per Ridley-Thomas’ concern, the motion was unanimously approved.
•(Item 45) concerned the Board’s consideration of new service standards for bus and rail that dictate the level of service including frequency on different bus lines that will be provided on different lines. The BRU requested that the Board pull Item 45 and open it up to a community review process that incorporates the public’s input into the plan. Adopting new service standards for all transit modes addresses one of the deficiencies in Metro’s Title VI compliance audit.
•(Item 58) The Board considered going forward with audits, to be completed by March 2012, by Metro’s Inspector General of the Expo Line Construction Authority, the Foothill Extension Construction Authority and the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority. The audits will consider staffing at each agency and initiate a review of the contract with each agency’s CEO. Focus of the audit will include total salary, deferred salary, incentives, benefits and travel expenses. The motion to conduct the audits was presented by Board Members Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Ara Najarian. The motion was approved.
Categories: Transportation News