Historic Lankershim Depot gets extreme makeover

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Metro today announced that it has completed a $3.6-million restoration of the historic Lankershim Depot near the Metro Orange and Red Lines in North Hollywood.

The train depot, originally built in 1896 and historically known as Toluca Southern Pacific Train Depot, has undergone a major transformation. About 70 percent of the original structure has been completely rehabilitated, with contractors completing a new building foundation and roof, electric and plumbing systems, platforms, signage and seismic upgrades. Metro contractors have also restored sidings, eaves, windows and doors.

Pacific Electric North Hollywood Station 1950-

The depot in 1950.

The three-room depot and outside platform area now has its original paint colors of mustard yellow and brown, and features a sign on the roof that reads “Southern Pacific-Pacific Electric Station” that harkens back to the early and mid 20th century when the depot primarily served as a passenger and freight rail stop.

The depot will remain unoccupied until Metro determines the best use for the property and finds a future tenant. The chosen tenant will then make its required renovations to the interior, as well as plant landscaping around the depot’s perimeter. Additional work upon occupancy will include the restoration of an adjacent park and rebuilding railroad tracks next to the station to provide the proper context for the building.

Initial concepts for the re-use of the property include a bike hub, museum, coffee shop, restaurant or combination of those elements that provide the greatest public benefit.

When the depot becomes available for occupancy is dependent upon the construction schedule for Metro’s North Hollywood Station Underpass Project that will provide a safe, convenient underground connection between Metro’s Red Line and Orange Line stations — eliminating the need for riders to cross busy Lankershim Boulevard. Construction activities are now underway and the project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

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Metro Board approves Union Station Master Plan, allowing near-term projects to go forward

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors today approved actions to officially move the Union Station Master Plan, an ambitious long-range roadmap for L.A.’s single largest public transit hub, from planning to implementation.

Metro can now pursue its initial implementation strategy for near-term projects, which includes a programmatic environmental review of the recommended transit improvements as well as the commercial development program. Metro can also seek immediate funding opportunities for improvements to the station’s perimeter, and will form partnerships with the city and county, real estate and investment communities to support related implementation efforts.

“Today is a milestone day in our goal to bring ‘America’s Last Great Train Station’ into the 21st century,” said Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair. “Metro is now on the move to make Los Angeles Union Station a world-class transit hub.”

Planned improvements to Union Station’s perimeter include a series of streetscape, open space and transit stop improvements that soften the edges of the station, improve the pedestrian and cyclist experience, strengthen connections to and from the station’s entrances and create a more welcoming environment to transit riders and visitors. Foremost among these improvements is the planned removal of the surface parking lot on the northern side of the forecourt and the creation of a public plaza. This and other improvements will directly link with the El Pueblo Historic Monument, where apprxoimately $1 million in local open space funds has been identified to support the design and implementation of these improvements.

Metro was recently awarded other grant opportunities to improve four bus stops along Cesar Chavez between Alameda and Vignes, which includes creating shelters, additional seating and information, and bike facilities.  Metro has also received a grant from the Congestion Reduction ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue Project and is providing matching funds to create a Metro Bike Hub on the west side of Union Station that will offer parking for about 300 bicycles, 24-7 secure access control, a space for bike retail and repair services, and a meeting/training space to conduct bike safety training workshops. This bike hub is expected to open in 2017.

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Metro becomes first transit agency in U.S. to apply flywheel technology for rail energy savings

Metro officials met with representatives from the Federal Transit Administration and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory last week to review promising results of the agency’s first-of-a-kind use of flywheel technology to recycle power generated from rail cars.

Officials met at the Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro Red/Purple Line Station to see firsthand how the Wayside Energy Storage Substation works. The pilot project started in August and is now saving Metro up to 18 percent of the energy normally used to power subway trains entering and leaving the station. That, in turn, helps lower Metro’s electricity bills.

The project is managed by Metro’s Project Engineering Department and uses a state-of-the-art flywheel system built by Vycon of Cerritos. The brain of the system, which assures the precise control of the flow of power, was developed by Turner Engineering of Venice. Metro performed its installation in-house, without external contractors.

The system was therefore entirely developed and implemented with resources local to the Los Angeles County. It is estimated that Metro will eventually save approximately $100,000 per year in electricity costs because of the project.

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New 2.75-mile section of San Fernando Road Bike Path opens

City and county officials this morning unveiled a brand new 2.75-mile section of San Fernando Road Bike Path between Wolfskill Street and Branford streets in Pacoima.

The new bike path segment includes safety fencing, lighting, landscaping and other amenities for local cyclists seeking to ride parallel to the Metro-owned railroad right-of-way now used by Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line and Union Pacific freight trains.

The new section is an addition to the existing bike path on San Fernando Road between Roxford Street and Wolfskill Street. The existing path is located both in the city of San Fernando and the city of Los Angeles.

Approximately 80 percent of the project cost was funded through Metro’s Call for Projects, a competitive grant process for different types of transportation projects in Los Angeles County. The Call for Projects also helped fund the original segment of the bike path and will also allow the city of L.A. and Burbank to continue building the bike path along San Fernando Road south to connect to the downtown Burbank Metrolink station.

Other project elements included the construction of a bridge over Pacoima Wash and major traffic and railroad signal modifications at Osborne Street, Pierce Street, Paxton Street and Van Nuys Boulevard completed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. The path also has bicyclist-activated pedestrian push buttons, paved bus stop waiting areas and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) required handicap ramps.

Metro seeks OK to move Union Station Master Plan from planning to implementation

The Metro Board this month will consider recommendations for finalizing and implementing the ambitious Union Station Master Plan. That process begins Wednesday at the Board’s Planning Committee meeting at 2:30 p.m., with the full Board scheduled to vote on the issue at its Oct. 2 meeting. Here is the latest Metro staff report.

(UPDATE: At the request of Board Member Diane DuBois, the Planning Committee on Wednesday decided to consider the item in next month’s Board meetings in order to have more time to digest the plan and understand some components of it.) 

The staff recommendations set a path for short- and long-term projects and future commercial development at the station. Metro purchased Union Station from a private firm in 2011 and wants to turn the facility into a world class transit hub that can better handle a growing number of transit riders, protect the historic core of the station and accommodate high-speed rail and some development in the future.

One of the Metro staff’s primary recommendations is to officially begin a program environmental impact report (a ‘program EIR’ considers a series of actions an agency wants to take) for some of the big ticket improvements in the Master Plan, such as building an expanded multi-modal concourse under the current tracks and relocating the Patsaouras Bus Plaza closer to a raised north-south plaza on the west side of the train tracks.

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New station canopy being built at Wilshire/Western Purple Line Station

Subway riders will no doubt notice a brand new subway portal canopy now being built over the Purple Line’s Wilshire/Western Station.

The new canopy will feature new components from Metro’s “kit of parts” station design concepts that’s seeking to keep Metro structures consistent in their appearance and easier and more affordable to maintain. More importantly, the canopy should shield Metro customers from the elements and help prevent weather-related damage to escalators and other station facilities.

Construction of the canopy is expected to be completed by October of this year and will give the Wilshire/Western station a look similar to that of future stations for the Metro Purple Line Extension Project now in pre-construction.

Officials celebrate completion of new freeway soundwalls in San Fernando Valley

New SR-134 Sound Wall in the City of Burbank

New SR-134 Soundwall in the City of Burbank.

This morning, representatives from Metro, Caltrans, California Highway Patrol, local elected officials and others celebrated the completion of four miles of new freeway soundwalls on the SR 134 in the City of Burbank and the I-405 in Granada Hills and North Hills.

The project, part of Metro’s Post 1989 retrofit Soundwall Program, also included widened freeway shoulders and the modification of existing bridges within the project limits.

Transportation Officials Celebrate Opening of New Sound Wall Projects in the San Fernando Valley

Transportation officials celebrate opening of new sound wall projects in the San Fernando Valley.

The total $25.5 million cost for both two-mile soundwall projects was funded by Metro’s Prop C 25% funds, and took about three years to build.  The project was designed by Caltrans, managed by Metro, and delivered on time and within budget.