City of Santa Clarita holds ribbon cutting for McBean Bridge Widening and Bike Path Project

The city of Santa Clarita held a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning to celebrate the completion of the McBean Bridge Widening and Bike Path Project. The project was funded with $3.775 million through Metro’s 2009 Call for Projects. The city contributed $3.088 million.

The McBean Bridge Widening and Bike Path Project includes the widening of the McBean Parkway Bridge to eight lanes to improve traffic flow, the addition of a raised landscaped median and asphalt improvements.

The project also added a dedicated bike path and protected sidewalk on the bridge to connect the Santa Clara River Trail and the South River Trail. An additional trail connection beneath the north side of the bridge to connect the east and west portions of the Santa Clara River Trail was also built, providing improved connectivity for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Zocalo Public Square event Monday: are trains the future of L.A.?

Our friends at Zocalo Public Square have been all over transportation issues this year. That trend continues Monday night at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles (317 S. Broadway). Here’s the description from Zocalo:

For a century, the hearts of Angelenos have belonged to cars and to flying machines, not trains–even though we never would have become a city without the railroad, and couldn’t survive as a global trade center without the rail links to our seaports. But today, in a potentially historic shift, Southern California governments are betting billions that trains can win us over. Five rail lines are under construction right now in L.A., part of a 30-year wave of projects that could give Southern California the most highly developed rail system in the country, save New York. But will we go along for the ride? Only a small percentage of us use the Metro rail regularly, and California’s high-speed rail project is unpopular in L.A. Will we change our ways and depend on trains daily–and embrace development around rail networks? What is it about rail that captures people’s hearts–and why has L.A. remained immune to this almost universally beloved mode of transport? Journalist and Chapman University English scholar Tom Zoellner, author of Train, and UCLA and UC Berkeley legal, business, and environmental scholar Ethan Elkind, author of Railtown, visit Zócalo to discuss the past and future of trains here, and whether Los Angeles will finally fall for rail.

 

Sounds intriguing. BTW, I’ll be recording a podcast with Ethan Elkind that we’ll have on the Source soon talking about transit past, present and future in our region.

More info on registering to attend the event at the Zocalo website. Grand Central Market is a short walk from the Red/Purple Line’s Pershing Square Station and numerous Metro Bus lines, as shown on the map below. All Metro maps and timetables are here.

Click above to see larger.

Click above to see larger.

City of La Cañada Flintridge held sound wall dedication ceremony

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The City of La Cañada Flintridge held a sound wall dedication ceremony yesterday to celebrate the completion of three sound wall segments in the Arroyo Verdugo subregion along the I-210 freeway. The project cost $4.813 million and 95 percent of the funding was provided by Measure R. The sound walls will provide noise mitigation to nearby residents along the I-210.

The three sound wall segments are located:

  • South of I-210 – Foothill Boulevard eastbound on-ramp to Berkshire Place eastbound off-ramp
  • North of I-210 — Berkshire Place westbound on-ramp to Foothill Boulevard westbound off-ramp
  • Between Indiana Avenue and Union Street along the south side of Curran Street

New study ranks L.A. metro area 3rd in U.S. in connecting people to jobs via transit

MinnesotaStudyMap

The darker the shade of orange and red, the more jobs that can be reached within 30 minutes using transit. Click above to see larger. Source: University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.

Los Angeles

Earlier this month, the University of Minnesota released a study that found that the Los Angeles metro area ranks third behind New York and San Francisco when it comes to the number of jobs reachable by transit within an hour’s time. The study looked at 46 of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States and Metro scored better than some older cities with established transit systems — places such as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

Here’s the top 10 according to the study through January 2014:

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Washington
  5. Chicago
  6. Boston
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Seattle
  9. Denver
  10. San Jose

I wasn’t surprised that the Los Angeles area was in the top 10. After all, we live in the nation’s second-largest metropolis and our region — despite is reputation for traffic — boasts a considerable amount of transit. Metro, for example, runs the nation’s second-largest bus system in terms of ridership behind only New York. That said, I was mildly surprised to see that our metro area ranked third.

I asked study co-author Andrew Owen, the director of the Accessibility Observatory for the University of Minnesota, if the results surprised him. The answer: not really. His main points were:

•The Los Angeles region has a ton of jobs — vastly more than many other metro areas in the U.S.

•Because of geography — i.e., mountains and oceans — we’re actually more densely populated across the metro area than (for example) a place such as Chicago, which
doesn’t have anything to constrain its sprawl.

•The Los Angeles region actually has a lot of transit (particularly buses) although that is often overlooked because of the region’s reputation for traffic. On that note, I’ll add this: Metro is just one of many bus providers in our region and Metro’s bus ridership alone is the second highest in the nation behind only New York City.

“Los Angeles has a lot of stuff — a lot of jobs and a lot of people,” Owen said. “Of course, it would be possible to have a city and a lot of people and none of them could get anywhere by transit. But look at downtown Los Angeles and the areas south and west. There are huge amounts of jobs that people can reach by transit because transit is run there. If transit wasn’t there or it wasn’t run frequently and didn’t connect people to jobs, this ranking would be far lower than it is.”

Owen also pointed to another interesting thing captured by the numbers: while our region ranked second in the number of jobs, it ranked third in terms of transit accessibility to them. That suggests that the L.A. area has some catching up to do in terms of reaching more jobs via transit. Still, Owen said, we’re already better off than a place such as the Atlanta region that ranked ninth in the total number of jobs and 30th in terms of accessibility.

I also asked Owen if about the map at the top of this post. It’s important to understand what it shows: the areas that are darker shades of orange and red are the ones that are closest to the most jobs via a 30-minute transit ride or less (it doesn’t matter whether it’s train or bus). That’s why the areas around downtown Los Angeles and the Westside — the number one and two jobs areas in our region — are so dark. They’re near a lot of jobs and there’s enough transit to reach those jobs.

The map also suggests that the Measure R-funded transit projects that Metro is building or plans to build are serving a real purpose — better connecting our region to jobs. Look at the “Under Construction” map after the jump.

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Other actions taken Thursday by the Metro Board of Directors

It was a mostly quiet agenda, but these three items may be of interest:

•Item 20. The Board approved a motion by Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas to provide $2.8 million in funding to continue environmental studies and planning work for a walking and bike path on the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way that Metro owns. The path would run between the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Florence/West Station and the Los Angeles River. The project is not funded at this time. Several Board Members said that they hoped to attract funding by further refining plans for such a project. Here’s more information from a Source post earlier this year.

•Item 7. The Metro Board adopted a Complete Streets policy. Metro doesn’t manage or maintain streets in our area — that’s up to local cities and the county in unincorporated areas. But there are some types of project in which Metro can influence what gets done to roadways and this policy is designed to ensure that safety, pedestrian, cycling and environmental improvements are considered by the agency in conjunction with those projects. Metro staff report

•Item 40. The Board approved a contract amendment with New Flyer to add two video monitors on the final 128 buses on order from the firm. The monitors can show images captured by cameras on board the buses — the idea is to remind Metro bus riders that security cameras are installed on the buses and criminal acts will likely be caught on video at multiple angles. Metro staff report

 

Metro Board awards contract for Business Solution Center for Crenshaw/LAX Line

Here is the Metro staff report and below is the news release from Metro:

In another unprecedented step today the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors awarded a two-year contract for $646,462 to Del Richardson & Associates, Inc. (DRA) to operate Metro’s pilot Business Solution Center (BSC) to help small businesses impacted by Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project construction. The contract includes two one-year options for $349,682 for total of $996,144.

“We’re finally making desperately needed investments to our public transportation system in South Los Angeles, but construction simply cannot come at the expense of our businesses,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “This Business Solution Center will ensure that businesses along the Crenshaw Line will be able to thrive despite any temporary inconveniences to customers and employees.”

“Rail construction is always challenging and it’s particularly difficult for nearby businesses, that’s why we are committed to standing with these merchants during the whole construction process,” said Metro Board 1st Vice Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This Business Solution Center – while not solving all problems – is an important first step toward helping the local business community survive and thrive during the difficult days. We are happy that we could make this happen.”

The Business Solution Center is expected to open in November, 2014 and will be located at the Los Angeles Urban League, 3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

The Metro pilot Business Solution Center (BSC) will provide hands-on case management services for small businesses along the Crenshaw corridor between 48th and 60th streets.
Services will include marketing help, business plan development, financial planning, small business operations advice and legal assistance counseling. In addition, BSC will help small businesses apply for capital via existing loan programs. It also will help them gain certification as small, disadvantaged, disabled, veteran-owned, minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses.

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Metro Board of Directors meets Thursday — here’s the agenda

UPDATE: Good morning! The meeting began at 9:15 a.m. and the Metro Board just voted to approve the items on the consent calendar.

The Metro Board of Directors gathers Thursday at 9 a.m. for its regular monthly meeting. The agenda is above.

The meeting, as always, is open to the public and will be held on the third floor of Metro Headquarters adjacent to Union Station. You can also listen to the meeting online by clicking here.

Or, you can listen over the telephone by calling 213-922-6045.