Transportation headlines, Monday, September 29

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No, Carmageddon is not inevitable (Zocalo Public Square)

In advance of tonight’s panel discussion at the Petersen Automotive Museum on “How to Speed Up Traffic in L.A.?”, Zocalo Public Square asks several experts for their advice. Congestion pricing (i.e. tolling freeways and roads at peak hours to spread out demand), concentrating more housing and jobs near transit, charging non-residents more for parking than residents (encouraging more residents to shop locally perhaps) and making the ‘burbs more friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and transit are among the suggestions. In other words, a lot of ideas that have been widely discussed for many years — but never really fully implemented either because of local opposition, lack of political will, lack of money or a combination of all the above.

BTW, sounds like there are still a few spots open for anyone interested in attending tonight’s forum — Metro CEO Art Leahy is one of the panelists. Click here for more info. Metro’s 720 Rapid Bus and 20 Local Bus on Wilshire Boulevard stop at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax next to the museum. For those coming via Fairfax Avenue, the 780 Rapid Bus and the 217 Local Bus also stop at Wilshire/Fairfax.

No! Wrong way! U.S. carbon emissions rising again (KCET)

Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States rose about 2.7 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013. Experts blame the rise on last winter’s polar vortex that prompted many a Midwesterner and East Coaster to try to keep their homes warm — in those parts of the country, a significant portion of electricity is created by burning coal. One of the nice things about California is that our milder weather means less heating in the winter and the state is less dependent on coal than other regions. Of course, we find other ways to make up for it (in a bad way) — such as sprawling into the desert and sitting alone in idling cars in traffic. One easy solution there: try taking transit every so often, walking or biking or some combination of all three.

Guest post: planning to sprawl (The Last Word on Nothing)

Nice post by Erica Schoenberger on how to explain to students that while individual choices matter when it comes to things that impact the environment (such as traffic), it’s equally important to explain the collective decisions that influence the way individuals act.

Excerpt:

Here’s what I’m trying to help the kids understand.  We’ve been making messes for a very long while and we have known pretty much all along that we were doing so.  The histories of our mess-making really matter.  Getting at the details lets you see how a trajectory was constructed piece by piece, opening up some possibilities and forclosing others.  Further: We may have very good intentions as individuals, but the options we have available to choose among are structured by larger, impersonal forces.  Huge collective investments have supported and promoted all those unfortunate individual decisions and have made it hard for people to make good choices.  To me, this suggests that huge collective investments in support of good decisions are needed.  If a capitalist system must grow to survive, let’s grow toward, not away from, the world we want.   

This is why I hope everyone watches closely as plans evolve for various Metro projects and a potential ballot measure in 2016. These kind of big projects and/or plans will influence the decisions that people make transportation-wise for many decades to come, not to mention the scarce public funds that will be used on them. If you don’t like the choices facing you as an individual, please pay attention to these group decisions — one very much has to do with the other, as Erica writes.

Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct: king of the boondoggles (Streetsblog Network)

A less than optimistic view of the project that involves tearing down an elevated highway and putting it in a tunnel underground. Rising construction costs, a tunnel boring machine (named Bertha) that got stuck and falling toll projections are among the problems thus encountered. That said, the tunnel machine’s Twitter feed is entertaining/informative as these things go although Bertha’s taste in football teams is questionable at best.

8 replies

  1. Let Seattle’s Alaska Way “Boondoogle” be a warning to LA METRO that just because it may think it can get the money (ranging from $5-$30 Billion?) to build a Route 710 toll tunnel under Pasadena and South Pasadena it might not be a wise and healthy
    idea. As was stated at the San Gabriel Valley Governments’ meeting in October (I attended) the 710 toll tunnel is mainly about funding (temporary) construction jobs in the SGV and not letting the “West Side” grab “our” grants than it is about good traffic planning. This sounds all to much like LA World Airport’s mis-operation of Ontario Airport–it is a regional fight for dollars more than anything else.

  2. “such as sprawling into the desert and sitting alone in idling cars in traffic. One easy solution there: try taking transit every so often, walking or biking or some combination of all three.”

    As does pouring billions of dollars to freeway expansion projects, which nonetheless, Metro is a part of.

  3. I will say that the viaduct that Seattle is replacing with a tunnel is rather an eyesore. Particularly where it casts a shadow over the historic district.

    Speaking of mechanical moles, albeit a little closer to home, Mom Chung has been dismantled and extracted, and Big Alma is being dismantled and extracted, following their success in chewing the SF MUNI’s new Central Subway from SoMa to Chinatown.

    • Wash your mouth out! Please! I’m a Bengals fans and there’s no forgiving the 49ers for Super Bowls 16 and 23. Ever.

      Who dey!3-0 baby!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • I read recently that Cincinnati dug the tunnel but didn’t lay the tracks for its subway. Maybe those two Super Bowl losses were punishment from the transit gods.

        • Unrelated, I hope — the Reds certainly fared well despite the subway boondoggle. Turnovers in first half in SB 16 and dropped INT in the end zone in 23 were the big issues!

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  4. The Book says a man cannot serve two masters. METRO can’t serve both resource conserving public transit and resource wasting mega highway projects. Fate will eventually catch up with METRO, but the public will be left paying the bills.