Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Jan. 18

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Age of U.S. Cars Hits Record High 10.8 Years  (Marketplace — American Public Media)

Photo by Joel Epstein

In either a sign of the times or an indication that more of us are biking, walking and riding public transit, the average age of the U.S. car has hit a record 10.8 years. While Detroit and Tokyo are probably not welcoming the news, it might also be argued that the statistic speaks to improved performance in the quality assurance department.  Without a doubt, the auto industry is making a more reliable product, less prone to obsolescence, than it has in the past. And perhaps cars are lasting longer because people don’t use them quite as much and instead seeking alternative transportation. Read the article and listen to the podcast at Marketplace.

Gov. Brown’s tricky balancing act (L.A. Times)

At the same time that Gov. Brown is trying to balance the state’s budget — meaning cuts must be made — he will also use his State of the State speech today to advocate for big and costly projects, such as high-speed rail. Aides say it’s a smart approach and needed to build the infrastructure that California will need in the 21st century.

Mass Transit Brings Freedom (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Transportation is more than a dollars-and-cents proposition. It’s more than a statistic on a graph. It is mobility — this fifth freedom — a social concept for which the benefits cannot be measured with numbers. They must be personally evaluated, by people.” That is the opinion of former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, writing in Tuesday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Massell trotted out the language he first used back in 1971 as mayor to express his support for a transportation tax referendum that will be on the July ballot in Atlanta.

Among the important projects the penny sales tax would benefit is the Clifton Corridor Transit Project (MARTA rail service between Buckhead’s Lindbergh Station and Emory University/the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), at a total funding commitment of $700 million. Rail transportation between these two destinations is predicted to reach 2.6 million within a couple of years.  Read Massell’s piece for more on the benefits of Atlanta’s version of L.A’s Measure R.

Laws That Shaped L.A.: Why is the Los Angeles Skyline So Bland? (KCET)

KCET’s Jeremy Rosenberg brings us this interesting piece on why the global creative capitol of Los Angeles has “such a flat, drab and stunted skyline.”  Blame it on the fire marshall, and a well-intentioned 1974 change to the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

Sec. 57.118.12 of the Code entitled, “Emergency Helicopter Landing Facility” states that “Each building shall have a rooftop emergency helicopter landing facility in a location approved by the [Fire] Chief.”  The results of this provision are evident in the LA skyline, though this may change under the proposed Hollywood Community Plan, which permits the construction of skyscrapers along the route taken by the Metro Red Line. Whether the proposed change will be in the final version of the Community Plan remains to be seen.  At least some transit-oriented development enthusiasts are hoping it will.

Tracking the Old Trains — Remembering the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’s Role in Downtown (L.A. Downtown News)

La Grande Station. Loyola Marymount University Library / Werner von Boltenstern Postcard Collection

Before Union Station opened in 1939, there were separate terminals for each of the rail lines that served Los Angeles. According to amateur historian Greg Fischer, the County’s first rail line, the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad, ran down Alameda Street to a terminal where the freeway now passes. The Southern Pacific Railroad boasted several stations but mostly used Alameda Street for arrivals and departures. Fourth and San Pedro Streets in downtown L.A. was the terminal for the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad while the Union Pacific Railroad, née the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad had its terminal on Mission Road, south of the First Street Bridge on the east side of the river.

To learn more about L.A. early rail lines, including the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, read Fischer’s fun piece in the L.A. Downtown News.

2 replies

  1. Tokyo is not the car manufacturing capital of Japan, it’s more like the mass transit capital of Japan.

    If Detroit, Michigan is the car manufacturing capital of the US, its Japanese counterpart would be the city of Toyoda in Aichi Prefecture. And be as it might, Detroit and Toyoda are sister cities because they both share the same industry.

  2. What a beautiful postcard of the Santa Fe station! ….and I don’t consider the L.A. skyline to be “bland and stunted.” The layout of the towers on Bunker Hill is tastefully done. Contrast it to what happens with no urban planning – you get the mess at the foot of Manhattan, with no opportunity for a worthwhile interplay between solid and void, no space for the presence of any one building to be felt.