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.

 

Deadline extended for public input on potential bike share locations

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Last month Metro’s Bike Share Implementation Plan team announced it was taking public suggestions for possible Bike share locations in Downtown L.A., Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica as part of a first phase pilot program. See original post here.

To summarize, Metro is developing a regional bikeshare plan where bikes can be borrowed for shot periods of time or short distances.

The original deadline for public input was September 8, but that deadline has now been extended to September 15 so Metro can respond to increasing interest to provide comments.

So, if you haven’t already, visit Metro’s interactive map to make your station suggestions.  You officially have another week!

 

New Section of L.A. River Bikeway in the west San Fernando Valley opens

Photo Credit: City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works

Marking another noteworthy achievement for Metro’s Call for Projects Program, transportation officials from the city and county of Los Angeles this morning announced the grand opening of a brand new section of L.A. River Bikeway in the western San Fernando Valley.

Located between Winnetka and Vanowen Streets in the neighborhood of Winnetka, the newly completed half-mile segment of bikeway has an impressive list of amenities, including newly striped dedicated pedestrian/bike path, signage, bridge underpasses, landscaping, drinking fountains, benches, exercise equipment and solar LED lighting.

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End of an era: Metro to retire its last high-floor buses on August 30

This type of high-floor bus, used by the transit industry for more than 100 years, required bus patrons to negotiate several steps before boarding.

This type of high-floor bus, used by the transit industry for more than 100 years, required bus patrons to negotiate steps before boarding.

Today’s Metro buses feature low-floor designs for faster, easier boardings and alightings.

Today’s Metro buses feature low-floor designs for faster, easier boardings and alightings.

Adios bus stairs, here comes the “Low Rider.”

Bus riders in Los Angeles County will no longer have to climb stairs to board a Metro Bus on any of Metro’s 170 bus lines beginning August 30. That’s the date when Metro will be officially retiring its very last high-floor transit buses and replacing them with “low-floor” buses.

That’s a notable milestone in the history of local transit. High-floor buses were employed by transit operators since the inception of motorized transit buses and Metro, as well as its predecessor agencies, have operated high-floor buses for decades. Climbing steps to board a bus has been the common experience of multiple generations of bus riders.

“Los Angeles, as well as most of the world, has had high floor buses for well over 100 years,” said Richard Famighetti, maintenance operations manager for Metro Divisions 6 and 7. “We are marking the end of a significant era that helped characterize public transportation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Retiring these buses is a truly a historic change for Metro.”

(Video after the jump!)

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City of Beverly Hills approves MOA with Metro for Purple Line Extension utility work permits

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The Beverly Hills City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a Memorandum of Agreement and authorized its staff to issue permits to Metro to relocate utilities for the Purple Line Extension’s future station at Wilshire/La Cienega. This clears the way for Metro to move forward with its planned pre-construction work within the city’s borders.

Metro will now be able to relocate water, power, sewer and other utility lines once a contractor for the Wilshire/La Cienega station advanced utility work is selected.   Relocating the utilities now will ensure that area residents and business will be able to continue to receive service once actual construction begins for the Wilshire/La Cienega station.

The Memorandum of Agreement clearly defines how the two parties will work together during utility relocation. The MOA is similar to established agreements Metro already has with other cities throughout Los Angeles County.

The unanimous 5 to 0 vote is the result of months of close coordination between Metro and Beverly Hills. The City Council put the agency’s requested permits as well as its MOA through close scrutiny and public debate over the last eight months. City Council members expressed concerns regarding night-time work, noise, parking and local business impacts, among others.

During the vote, the Beverly Hills Council publicly thanked Metro and its construction relations team for working closely with the city. Council Members reported that Metro came to the table, listened to their concerns and worked cooperatively through their issues.

The approvals are welcome news to Metro and will help keep planned pre-construction work on track. Advanced utility relocation work for the other planned stations in the City of Los Angeles has been going on for the last year-and-a-half.

In July, Metro selected a design-builder for the first section of the Purple Line Extension.  The agency is now in a 45-day protest review period. Following the contract award, major construction would likely start next year.

The first phase of the Purple Line Extension will extend tracks for 3.9 miles from the current terminus at Wilshire and Western to Wilshire and La Cienega. New stations will be built at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The second phase of the project will extend the Purple Line to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City while the third phase will include two stations in Westwood — one at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, the other at Wilshire and the VA Hospital.

The Purple Line Extension is being funded in part with Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008.