Transportation headlines, Monday, September 24

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.

The 405 during Carmageddon I. Photo by Paul Lovine, via Flickr creative commons.

New fears in Los Angeles as highway closes again (New York Times)

Actually the story goes to great lengths to contradict the alarmist headline, arguing that officials are worried about traffic during this year’s Carmageddon because last year’s went too well — and perhaps not so many people will leave their cars parked. It doesn’t help that this year’s closure of the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, beginning this Friday night (in case you’ve just returned to Earth) is in September as opposed to July, when L.A. tends to operate in a “lower gear.” Officials again repeat that the chance of the road opening early this year is not very good due to work that has to be done demolishing the north side of the Mulholland Drive bridge. If you’re going to Wilco Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl, please consider taking public transit or one of the bowl shuttles, please.

The 710: spine of the L.A. freeway system and its missing link (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

A very long story takes a more comprehensive look at the 710 freeway and issues facing it, including two Metro studies underway to improve traffic on the southern end by adding truck lanes and a study in the north end that seeks to improve traffic in the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. One big issue: how to cope with freight from the ports? Another issue: not everyone agrees there is a gap, with those opposing a potential tunnel saying it would be a freeway “extension,” not a gap closure. Putting aside arguments over semantics and facts — it’s a fact there is gap in the northern 710 — the real issue being debated is this: can we ever improve freeway performance or is it all for naught because new roads tend to quickly fill up with traffic?

Four candidates for L.A. mayor debate in South L.A. (L.A. Times)

Not surprisingly, the issue of the Crenshaw/LAX Line came up at a debate in South L.A. Wendy Greuel and Kevin James indicated they would try to grade separate more of the line at the urging of community activists while Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry said they needed more information. It’s probably worth noting that about half of the $1.7-billion project will be grade separated and none of the candidates, as far as I know, had anything to say to Metro or the community when the environmental studies for the light rail line were approved last year. The project is now out to bid.

‘Another train coming’ warning signal installed in N.J. (CBS New York)

The new signal is at a pedestrian crossing at the Plauderville station. It uses both video screens and audio to warn people that a second train is about to pass through the crossing. The idea is to prevent people from scrambling across the crossing after one train passes by and then being hit by a second train — which tragically happened to a seventh-grader at the station in 2011.

 

5 replies

  1. If the 710 extension push is about freight traffic, how come there are no freight-only alternatives being considered? E.g. an expansion of freight rail or a 2-to-4-lane truck-only tunnel.

  2. Saying there is a “gap” at the north end of the 710 is like saying there is a gap anywhere else where the once-planned LA freeway system was not “completed.” There is a gap between the 2 and the 101, which was never completed. And in fact, a gap between the 2/101 and the 405, since that freeway was supposed to cut straight through Beverly Hills and junction with the 405. Now that would probably “ease congestion on [westside] surface streets,” which Metro is touting the 710 extension would do for west SGV surface streets. There’s also a gap between the 90 and the 110. How about we complete that by turning Slauson into a freeway, as once planned? That would also remove all those surface street cars on Slauson and put them in a freeway instead. Sounds great right? We’ll remove LOTS of surface street congestion!

    Oh, oops, you mean we’ll just take them from surface streets and put them on a freeway instead? And that even more cars would join in the fray? And lots of trucks too? Oh, and that the freeway will operate at Level F from day one, as Metro’s own studies show? Hmm… doesn’t sound so great after all…

    • Hi Yu-Han;

      This is undoubtedly a controversial project and the issue of the 710 in the northwestern San Gabriel Valley has been controversial for many decades. Everyone, of course, is entitled to their opinion about what, if anything, should be done about car traffic and congestion in the area. As you know, studies are underway to see what different alternatives may accomplish in terms of improving travel times (among other things) in the study area. It’s being studied because nearly 68 percent of voters in L.A. County approved the Measure R slate of transportation projects. I think it’s good that Metro is respecting the will of the voters and studying the issue. Decisions on what, if anything, will be built will come later and be made by the Metro Board of Directors, most of whom are elected to office.

      While opinions are one thing, facts are another. And the fact is that the original plans were to build the 710 from Long Beach to Pasadena. And the fact is that there is a gap in the 710 between Valley Boulevard and the short stub of the freeway built south of the 210/134 junction in Pasadena. This is something you can see clearly on maps and this is something you can see clearly in person. It’s somewhat of a different situation than the 2 freeway, which ends at Glendale Boulevard. There is no other part of the 2 freeway west of its western terminus.

      I do understand there’s a broader issue here — the issue of adding to the freeway system and what that might accomplish. Some people say it will bring further traffic, others say that done strategically it can help improve bottlenecks. That’s a public policy issue worthy of debate and you articulate some of the arguments against in your comment. But let’s debate the real issues and not divert to whether or not something actually exists.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source