Metro committee to consider contract for Union Station Master Plan

Union Station’s main hall. Photo via Metro Transportation Library and Archive flickr photostream.

Here’s a quick update on an issue that we know a lot of Source readers are interested in: The Metro Board of Directors Planning & Programming Committee will consider authorizing a contract with L.A.–based design firm Gruen Associates to carry out the Union Station Master Plan. The meeting — details here — will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m at Metro headquarters.

The item will also be considered by the full Metro Board of Directors, which will make the final determination on awarding the contract.

As many readers know, Metro purchased Union Station last year from a private logistics firm and then invited a number of design firms to convince Metro that they were up to the task of developing a comprehensive vision for Union Station.

In short, the goal is to plan for Union Station’s maturation into a world class transit center. The plan will include consideration of how to improve transit connections at the region’s main transit hub; how to improve bike and pedestrian connections to the station; and how to develop the considerable station-area property that Metro now owns.

More information on the agenda item and background on the master planning process are below:

June 20, 2012 Planning and Programming Committee Meeting Agenda Item 5

Art for the Expo Line: Unknowable Origins by Tom LaDuke

Art panel installed in its new home on the station platform

Tom LaDuke’s artwork for Culver City Station expresses a dreamlike vision of Culver City and honors those who had an influence on its development. Panels above the seating areas center on icons from the city seal—a bear, a flower, a motion picture industry camera and the sun, while gateway arches present panoramic views of the city as seen from surrounding hillside viewpoints.

Abstracted face shapes of historic, political and entertainment industry notables that have influenced the city appear in each of the art panels. These include entertainers like Elizabeth Taylor and Lucille Ball, and the city founder, Harry Culver. Their placement is determined by the notes of a musical score, composed by the artist while riding the train.

(Here’s a link to more information about LaDuke’s work for Culver City Station.)

Two of the seating module art panels at the fabricator’s shop. The panel on the left shows a motion picture industry camera, and the panel on the right depicts the sun.

Art panels being loaded onto a crate, ready to be transported to Culver City Station.

Art panel hanging from a crane during installation.

Other Art for the Expo Line stories on the Source:

All in a Day by Michael Massenburg
Engraved in Memory by Daniel Gonzalez
LA Metro Lotería by Jose Lozano
Urban Dualities by Samuel Rodriguez
The Intimacy of Place by Christofer Dierdorff
Ephemeral Views by Ronald Llanos
On Saturdays by Robbert Flick
Neighborhood Reconstructed by Jessica Polzin McCoy
Willie Middlebrook’s Designs for Expo/Crenshaw Station

How to find information about Metro

Metro fields questions everyday about the agency. Many questions are routine and concern the operation of Metro’s bus and rail lines.

Others, however, aim to get a deeper understanding of how the agency works. In many cases, journalists, citizens, community groups and private businesses use the state Public Records Act seeking information about contracts, ridership data, employee salaries and correspondence dealing with policy decisions.

Like many other government agencies, Metro has in recent years put a lot of information online — more than many people may know about and perhaps not as much as others would like. Not all the information is easy to find and that’s something Metro is trying to improve upon.

In the meantime, here’s a guide to finding some of that information (Journalists should always check with Metro’s media relations department to ensure the information is the most current.):

Basic facts: The online “Facts At A Glance” provides a good overview about the size of the Metro fleet, ridership, budget and the like.

Salaries: The California State Controller actually has a website with salary information on hundreds of public entities throughout the State.  Here is where you can find Metro’s salary information: Metro’s website also includes a page showing the salaries of the agency’s top executives.

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Art for the Expo Line: All in a Day by Michael Massenburg

Los Angeles poet Nikki Blak is pictured in one of the artwork designs for Farmdale Station

Michael Massenburg’s artwork for Farmdale Station draws on the rich history of Dorsey High School and the surrounding community to illustrate the many people who have contributed to the area’s growth and cultural life. Massenburg uses mixed media techniques, applying paint in several layers and colors to create a dynamic, textured visual field.

(Here’s a link to more information about Massenburg’s work for Farmdale Station.)

Colored glass is separated into tiny mosaic pieces using a specialized hammer, then matched to the original artwork design.

More photos are after the jump!

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Ramp Jam Live Chat June 15. Send in advance questions

Wondering how you will survive the Wilshire ramps closure set to begin June 22 and last about a year? In advance of the planned 90-day closure for reconstruction of the first two Wilshire ramps at the I-405, Board of Supervisors Chairman and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky will hold an interactive Live Chat from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, June 15.

You can join the chat live at and/or you can send in advance questions to

Here’s your chance to ask Zev and members of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project team questions about the closures that are expected to create additional Westside congestion as all eight Wilshire ramps are consecutively demolished and rebuilt over the next year or more.

Here are a couple of charts that show how many cars are using the 405 in both directions at Wilshire — the exact reason Metro is trying to prepare everyone for traffic in the area.

New artist opportunities along the Expo Line

Metro Expo Line, Phase 2

Metro Expo Line: Phase 2 – Seven New Rail Stations

Artists are invited to submit qualifications for exciting art opportunities at seven future Metro Rail stations in Los Angeles County. One artist will be selected for each station. These are ideal opportunities for both emerging and established artists with a background in two-dimensional media and an interest in public art. Prior public art experience is not a requirement.

For more information, Download the Call to Artists.

Deadline:  Monday, July 2, 2012

Metro Expo Line: Phase 2 – Iconic Sculpture Opportunity

Artists are invited to submit qualifications for a major art opportunity at the forthcoming Metro Rail terminus station in Santa Monica. This is a prime opportunity for artists with significant experience in public art to create a sculptural artwork in a highly prominent station location.

For more information, Download the Call to Artists.

Deadline:  Monday, July 9, 2012

ZevWeb features odyssey of Metro's rail team

Supervisor Yaroslavsky's website features Metro's first all-female team of operators to compete in the APTA International Rail Rodeo. Image is a screen shot from Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's website:

Supervisor Yaroslavsky's website features Metro's first all-female team of operators to compete in the APTA International Rail Rodeo. Image is a screen shot from Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's website:

As seen in the latest edition of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s Weekly Web Flash: They were the first operators to board the new Expo Line for the testing runs. On opening day, Operator Carolyn Kelly was behind the controls in the cab of the inaugural train that broke through the banner at the Expo Park/USC Station. Operator Sheila Celestain was holding the banner, train right. A few days later, the top performers scored first and second at Metro’s Rail Rodeo, a local competition that showcases rail operating skills and also determines the team who will represent Metro at the International Rail Rodeo put on by the American Public Transportation Association. This weekend, the operator team, along with top-scoring maintenance technicians Charley Houck, Blue Line Fleet Services, and Jose Padilla and Alan Addie, both of Green Line Fleet Services, are in Dallas for the Internationals, taking on rail teams from across the nation and Canada. Go Metro!

Operator Carolyn Kelly is at the controls of the inaugural train at the opening of the Expo Line. Operator Sheila Celestain, at left, is holding the banner. Barely visible, holding banner at right, is the third original Expo Line operator, Narvolean Jackson.

Operator Carolyn Kelly is at the controls of the inaugural train at the opening of the Expo Line. Operator Sheila Celestain, at left, is holding the banner. Barely visible, holding banner at right, is the third original Expo Line operator, Narvolean Jackson.


Just installed! Chatsworth Station mosaic artwork

Even more artwork installations are happening on the Orange Line Extension, which is opening on June 30! A few photos of the 27-foot-long ellipse designed by Lisa Adams for the Chatsworth Station are below. More information about the artwork is available here.

See images from the installations at Sherman Way, Canoga and Nordhoff Stations.

Detail of twenty-seven foot long mosaic artwork installed at Chatsworth Station

Twenty-seven foot long mosaic artwork is installed at Chatsworth Station. Workers have just applied grout in between thousands of tiny hand-cut mosaic pieces.

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Photo update: Expo Phase 2 construction moves forward

With Expo Phase 1 up and running to La Cienega — and soon to Culver City — you can expect The Source to turn its attention a bit more to the second phase of the Expo Line construction. Beginning in late 2015 or 2016, the 6.6-mile extension will carry riders from Culver City to a short walk from the pier and beach at 4th and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica.

I took a photo tour of the line last year before major construction had started to document what remained of the original tracks. Until the 1950s, electric trains had run daily between the beach and downtown Los Angeles, and until the 1980s diesel freight trains made runs to lumber yards in West L.A.

So, what’s changed since we last checked in on Expo Phase 2? For starters, buildings that had operated on land leased from Metro — which has owned the right-of-way for two decades — were demolished and underground utilities have begun to be relocated. In the coming months, expect to see Expo contractor Skanska/Rados digging the foundations for the bridges that will carry trains over several streets, including Venice and Sepulveda boulevards.

In the mean-time here’s how things looked a couple of weekends ago:

The Expo right-of-way -- looking east between Military Ave. and Westwood Blvd. -- has been cleared of the old tracks and underbrush. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

A stack of old rail ties awaits its ultimate fate. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

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Vigil held for Metro bus operator Alan Thomas

A vigil was held Monday evening in West Hollywood for slain Metro bus operator Alan Thomas, who was shot and killed by a passenger on Sunday morning while driving the 105 line bus. Many dozens of Alan’s colleagues at Metro attended, as did several members of his family.

Alan, 51, enjoyed working different bus lines out of Metro’s Division 2 in downtown Los Angeles — Division 2 serves West Hollywood, West L.A., South L.A., Compton, Long Beach and other areas — and had worked for Metro for nearly five years. He was a graduate of Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, handily beat many of his colleagues at dominoes and in his spare time rebuilt cars — mostly recently restoring a 1972 Chevy.

He is survived by his wife Debbie and his four sons and one daughter, 10 grandchildren and his mother and stepfather.

Here is a nice segment on Alan and the vigil by KABC-TV reporter Leanne Suter:

And here is a report from Fox:

“A Computer Told Me To Shoot The Bus Driver”:

Members of Alan Thomas' family at last night's vigil. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.