Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 13

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Date set for 405 carpool lane opening (ZevWeb)

The new 10-mile northbound HOV lane on the 405 freeway between the 10 and 101 freeways will open on Friday, May 23, reports Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky’s website. The lane, bridge and ramp improvements are the centerpiece of a five-year project to improve the 405. The new HOV lane means that both sides of the 405 will have HOV lanes from the northern San Fernando Valley to the Orange County line.

L.A. looking to spend billions improving traffic to and from the Valley (L.A. Register)

The article offers a very good synopsis of several projects that are either nearing completion (the northbound 405 HOV lane over the Sepulveda Pass) or others that are in the planning stages. The list includes the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, which is contemplating a tolled road tunnel and rail tunnel under the Santa Monica Mountains and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor, which is looking at a rail line or bus rapid transit along parts of Van Nuys Boulevard. Another interesting option under study is an express bus line that would travel over the Sepulveda Pass using the HOV lanes on the 405. A topic near and dear to many readers here — conversion of the Orange Line to a light rail line — is given appropriately short treatment in the article given that it’s unfunded and not a project listed in Metro’s long-range plan.

L.A. Bike Week: is biking getting any safer? (KPCC Take Two)

Los Angeles Councilman and Metro Board Member Mike Bonin is interviewed to talk about the city’s bike plan and how motorists and cyclists can better get along.

In related news, L.A. Councilman Joe Buscaino made the video below which explores the issue of whether driving on Westmont Drive in San Pedro takes longer that the city has added bike lanes and traffic lanes have been reduced from four to two. The answer is ‘yes’ it does take about three minutes longer to drive between Gaffey and Western Avenue, but Buscaino says that he believes it’s a much safer environment for cyclists and that he’s looking into ways to keep traffic moving.

Does new mass transit always have to mean rising rents (The Atlantic Cities)

The nut graphs:

Anxiety over new transit projects in established neighborhoods is nothing new, although historically it was more often felt in wealthy areas, where people worried about rising crime and falling property values. Today gentrification is the more likely scenario, with dense urban living becoming desirable again. A 2010 study out of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University looked at demographic shifts in neighborhoods across the country after new light rail or subway stations opened. Compared to the rest of their metro areas, 60 percent of the neighborhoods saw an increase in the proportion of households making more than $100,000, and 74 percent saw rents rising faster. Ironically, as incomes rose in these transit-centric neighborhoods, car ownership also became more common.

The researchers traced the same pattern in cities as different as Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Houston, and it will likely be replicated along many of the 737 miles of transit currently under construction across the United States and Canada. In Somerville, the trend could affect thousands of low- and moderate-income residents, forcing those who need transit the most to relocate to car-dependent suburbs. That worries not just renters, but anyone who cares about sustaining a diverse city and building efficient mobility networks.

“Opposing new transit is like cutting off your nose to spite your face,” says Danny LeBlanc, chief executive of the Somerville Community Corporation, known as the SCC, a nonprofit that is leading the effort to find solutions to the looming housing crisis. “But the fear among longtime residents is that they and their kids just won’t be able to afford to enjoy it.”

Very good article. As reporter Amy Crawford points out, denying transit to an area is one kind of injustice. On the other hand, the fear that people will be squeezed out if transit expands into their neighborhoods is not unfounded and represents something that isn’t quite an injustice but impacts many people in a very real way.

And solutions? As the story points out, several transit agencies have taken to buying some parcels near future transit stations to ensure that at least some affordable housing is built. Metro is not mentioned although Metro has also sold development rights on properties acquired to build transit stations — and affordable housing will be part the mix at developments along the Red Line and Eastside Gold Line.