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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.
Crenshaw Boulevard comes to a crossroads (L.A. Times)
The latest in architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne's series on some of the region's most famous streets focuses on Crenshaw, which runs 23 miles from the edge of Hancock Park south to the top of the Rancho Palos Verdes peninsula. Hawthorne is particularly interested in the Crenshaw District and Leimert Park, the traditional heart of the African American community in South L.A. Exerpt:
Even in tough times, the Crenshaw district has maintained its status as a power base for black Los Angeles. Particularly in the residential neighborhoods in Baldwin Hills west of Crenshaw Boulevard — upscale streets with wide views of the L.A. Basin that journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson once called “the best advertisement for black achievement that you can find in America” — you get a strong sense that this is the part of Southern California where black culture and the American Dream have come most comfortably together.
But it doesn't take much to stir up old insecurities and resentments. These days there is no subject that does so more reliably than the planned Crenshaw Line, which will run partially above ground and partially below from Exposition Boulevard south to Florence Avenue before bending west toward LAX.
Many residents and merchants are encouraged that rail service will return to the boulevard for the first time since the streetcar line was torn out in the 1950s. And the Metro board, chaired by Mayor Villaraigosa, hasn't ruled out a station in Leimert Park, calling it “optional.”
But unless construction bids for the project come in lower than expected — or Metro can find outside funding for the station — the agency will build the Crenshaw Line without it.
Hawthorne quotes Metro officials saying that ridership projections for a Leimert Park station are low and that there will be a station about a half-mile from Leimert Park at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard — which will offer key bus connections. But Hawthorne also believes that transit has the power to be transformative and that a station at Leimert Park would ultimately help the community over the long haul. The problem is the expense of it. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is a $1.7-billion project that is almost half underground or aerial. That's made money tight for other things, such as additional stations.
L.A.'s transit revolution (Slate)
Well-written story with lots of good context. Excerpt:
In 1940, there were 1.5 million people in the city. Twenty years later, it was almost 2.5 million. By 1990 it was close to 3.5 million. Today it’s 3.8 million and still climbing. The larger metropolitan area has ballooned to 13 million residents, leaving Chicago in the dust as America’s second city. And even though the area is built in a sprawling sunbelt format, the geography of surrounding mountains, ocean, and national forests physically constrains L.A.’s growth. Because of that, the average population density throughout the urban area is actually the highest in America even though the core is much less dense than an Eastern city like New York or Boston. The result was legendary traffic jams, combined with a practical inability to widen the arterial freeways that form the backbone of the city’s transportation infrastructure.
The usual response to too much traffic in the United States is to strangle growth. New development would mean more cars would mean more traffic, so cities adopt rules to block new development.
That’s how San Mateo County between San Francisco and Silicon Valley managed to muster a measly 1.6 percent population growth in the past decade despite enviable access to two of the highest-wage labor markets in America. Over the past 20 years, however, L.A. has chosen the bolder path of investing in the kind of infrastructure that can support continued population growth, and shifting land use to encourage more housing and more people.
The article sees a lot more to be positive about: future transit projects funded by Measure R, a plan to make Figueroa between downtown and USC more pedestrian, bike and transit friendly, the new Hollywood community plan to encourage more housing near transit, etc.
A good rundown of last week's marathon meeting in which the commission approved the final environmental study for the proposed football stadium next to Staples Center. (If it took the commission 10 hours, someone better order multiple rounds of meals for the Council, which doesn't tend to be short-winded). Below is a video from AEG chief Tim Leiweke, touting the benefits of building the football stadium in the midst of the city instead of surrounded by acres and acres of parking lots.