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.
Another excellent dispatch in Christopher Hawthorne’s series on the past, present and future of significan streets in Southern California. In this, Hawthorne notes that the stretch of Lankershim that runs above the Red Line subway has become the most vital north-south connection in the San Fernando Valley and that the subway, in turn, has been the primary driver in reviving North Hollywood’s pedestrian-oriented Arts District.
Hawthorne also turns his attention to two projects involving Metro: a pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim to connect the Red Line’s NoHo station to the Orange Line terminus and a pedestrian bridge over the street at Universal City to connect the station entrance to Universal City proper. Hawthorne doesn’t like either project. Excerpt:
Putting pedestrians and drivers into separate silos of space, as the bridge-and-tunnel plan would do, isn’t just a remnant of modernist urban-planning theories that have been widely discredited. It would send drivers a clear message that they’re in control of the boulevard, free to drive even faster than they do now.
Simple and far cheaper solutions at both locations — widen the crosswalks, give people more time to get from one side to the other and ticket drivers who fail to yield — would have the benefit of smoothing the pedestrian flow and making the intersections safer at the same time.
Yet that approach has won little support from Metro, for one basic reason: What’s driving the proposals to remove pedestrians from the boulevard is not just a concern for their safety. It’s also a fear of traffic congestion along Lankershim, a worry that all those people on foot are proving an impediment to the free movement of cars.
I haven’t heard much from readers about the bridge at Universal City. I have, however, sensed there is considerable reader support for the Red Line-Orange Line tunnel because many people would rather avoid crossing a busy street. I do think there is a very real ongoing conflict in Los Angeles about how much officials are willing to disrupt car traffic for transit, bike and pedestrian projects.
At last month’s Board of Directors meeting, a motion was passed to consider public-private financing for the Sepulveda Pass transit project. The project is still undefined but among the alternatives considered to date are a bus rapid transit project or possibly a tunnel that could carry both toll lanes and a rail line. In the story, a Metro official says that private financing could speed up the project by years — under Measure R it’s scheduled to be complete by 2039 — and that tolls may be low because of the volume of cars that would use the tunnel.
My two cents: obviously the project has to pencil out before any private firm throws their money into it — they’ll need to know that tolls and/or fares will cover the cost of construction and then some. It will also take a long time to build a tunnel — the Sepulveda Pass project still needs to be defined, environmentally cleared, designed, financed and then built. It’s great that Metro is trying to beat the 2039 Measure R date, but I think we have to still be realistic and realize that such a project is likely not opening in the near term.
The post is simply a recap of Yonah Freemark’s excellent article at Transport Politic about LAX’s recent offer of land to Metro for a rail station near the airport (he favors a people mover with a station adjacent to the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station. The comments along with the post are interesting and give you a flavor of what a variety of people want from this project.
Ken Alpern poses the hypothetical question to each of the five supervisors (he didn’t literally ask them) and points out that a re-fashioned Measure J could be consistent with each of their stated goals. Specifics are short, but Alpern seems to be thinking along the lines of a measure that would have funding for new transit projects and fully fund others already on the Measure R list. I suspect a lot of water still must pass under the bridge before another measure to extend Measure R goes to voters.