Transportation headlines, Monday, November 10

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The rush hour crowd captured by @wudlm #MetroBlueLine #MetroExpoLine #MetroRail #GoMetro #commuterlife

A photo posted by Metro Los Angeles (@metrolosangeles) on

L.A. begins the subway to the sea (L.A. Times) 

An editorial that ran Friday on the groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the Purple Line Extension. Excerpt:

Looking ahead, L.A. leaders should continue to push for funding for the Purple Line, and should be willing to defend the project against lawsuits that may pop up along the way. And they should press for other transformational projects — a transit line over the Sepulveda Pass, connecting the San Fernando Valley with the Westside, and extending the Gold Line deeper into the San Gabriel Valley. Within the next 10 years, the transportation landscape in Los Angeles will look dramatically different, with lines crossing the region from Chatsworth to Long Beach and from Azusa to Santa Monica. This is what can happen when politicians actually deliver on their boldest promises.

The first phase of the Purple Line Extension from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega is currently forecast to open in 2023. Metro is seeking a federal grant and loan for the second phase to Century City that is forecast to open in 2025. The third phase to Westwood still has its original Measure R opening date of 2036. Measure R also supplies the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor with about $1 billion in funds (the project hasn’t been defined yet) and pushed the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border.

The ‘X ‘factor in all this is whether the Metro Board of Directors decides to go forward with a ballot measure in 2016 to extend the Measure R (due to expire in mid-2039) half-cent sales tax hike or perhaps with a ballot measure to raise additional funds. The money could be used to accelerate existing Measure R projects or perhaps on new transit projects — we’ll have a better idea what Metro and the Board is considering next year.

Here is the Times’ news coverage of the groundbreaking, which looks at the cost and impact on traffic. I think that most Source readers understand that transit projects do not cure traffic — but they can provide a good alternative to it.

To see more photos, maps, video and more on the Purple Line Extension groundbreaking, please see this Source post.

More headlines after the jump!

Why L.A. looks the way it does, with no steward of the built environment (The Planning Report) 

Sam Hall Kaplan comes out swinging, opining that many of the big, new projects in L.A. may do some good for the architects but don’t do much for energizing the street or making L.A. similar to other walkable, transit-friendly cities. He takes aim at a lot of buildings, including the new One Santa Fe in the Arts District and even Disney Hall. Excerpt:

Instead, architects and developers blatantly pursue the self-interest of careers—the desire to somehow get a piece of the action and get on the infamous “A lists” of LA, dominated by the entertainment industry. Perhaps they feel it is a way to indeed make architecture more entertaining, as Frank Gehry and his mimics have attempted with success.

Several buildings of architectural note crafted by world-renown architects have risen and are rising Downtown, such as the striking Disney Concert Hall that often serves as a set piece for advertising the city or select products parked on its vacant staircase. It is a singular sculpture, but how it works as architecture is another matter.

Beyond serving as a photo op and a backdrop for the selfies of straggling tourists, the grand Grand Avenue array of institutional icons do little to energize their settings. No welcoming, open lobbies taking advantage of the city’s benign climate, no sidewalk café, no shaded sitting areas, no real places to congregate, creating a rare and needed sense of place. (A possible exception might be the Broad Museum with it’s adjacent park plaza.)

The opinion piece goes on to blast other members of the establishment, ranging from City Hall to local media. It’s hard to argue that L.A. has stringent architectural guidelines or standards for new buildings — because the city doesn’t. Everything gets reviewed or approved on a case-by-case basis. As for street level issues, see: Caltrans building, which on 3.5 sides provides pedestrians with a big wall to look at.

UPDATE: An astute Source reader emailed asking that I opine whether having “a handful of “design police” would make L.A better, same, same but different, or worse?”

I’ll vote for better as I think too much development in our area (not just the city of L.A.) looks cheap and/or that it won’t look too nice in another 20 or 30 years.

Real-time transit screen opportunity (Seattle.gov)

The city wants to install television monitors that show real-time nearby transit and other mobility options in different buildings around downtown. Check out the pics. Interesting idea — basically bring the transit info to the people instead of making people go find the transit info. The information tower in Union Station’s East Portal is sort of similar although, of course, it’s in a train station.

Republicans are only sometimes the party of Uber (New York Times) 

Interesting “Week in Review” piece on how partisan lines and philosophies on helping business are sometimes blurred at the local level. In this case, the NYT looks at Uber — which some local officials in the U.S. have embraced while others have tried to protect the local taxi industry.

 

11 replies

    • It’s a funding issue. Only so much money is available at any given time to build the subway and other projects — the reason that the Measure R projects had to be staggered over 30 years.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • I agree. Since transit funding is not a national priority these public transportation projects will take forever and a day to plan and complete.

    • Because Metro doesn’t make any money, much like any other US transit agency. If Metro made their own profits, just like the Asian transit companies do, then their project timelines won’t be restricted to amount of tax dollars available and instead will be based on pure capital gains.

  1. Didn’t realize that Century City that is forecast to open in 2025.. Only 10 years away. Anyway they can speed up the project to open it in 7 years?

    • Hi Warren;

      I think a lot of things would have to happen for that date to be advanced — massive infusion of funding for one and the political willpower to accelerate the project. If anything comes up, trust me — we’ll let you know about it!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Hmm. It’s always seemed to me that the most pedestrian-friendly, transit-friendly cities I’ve ever visited are the most architecturally chaotic, and I doubt if that’s a coincidence. San Francisco, for example. And Chicago. And Boston. And Philadelphia. And of course (although I’ve only been there once, so far), New York City.

    And as to Disney Hall, it works extremely well as a concert venue. Unlike, say, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, it actually has acoustics. And an inviting lobby, with places to sit down and eat, both indoors and outdoors. And a 360-degree facade (I’ve always likened it to loose pages of a score, blown off the music desk by the wind) that piques people’s curiosity, and proudly declares, “Classical music is NOT boring!”