The Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority — an independent agency from Metro — has said it will begin construction of the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment of the line this year. That segment is funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2008. The segment from Azusa to Montclair is listed in the first tier of “strategic unfunded” projects in Metro’s long-range plan. Continue reading
The Federal Transit Administration has notified Metro that it has given formal approval for preliminary engineering work to begin on the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector, moving both projects a step closer to actual construction.
The notification by the FTA means that both the Subway Extension and the Regional Connector are likely to be accepted into the federal New Starts program, which helps local areas pay for large transit projects. Both the Subway Extension and the Connector are also to be funded in part by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
The approval also means that the first installment of federal funds could be included in next year’s federal budget.
Furthermore, the FTA has again given strong indications that they support the subway being built quicker than originally planned. Under Metro’s long-range plan, the subway would reach Westwood in 2036. The FTA estimates that the subway could reach Westwood by 2024 under some funding scenarios. Metro is trying to accelerate the subway’s completion to 2022.
Both projects are currently in their final environmental study phase, which is expected to be finished in 2011. Preliminary engineering work is scheduled to be complete for the Subway Extension in late 2011 and the Regional Connector in early 2012.
Final design work is expected to take 14 to 18 months. Under the best-case scenario, utility relocation work for both projects could begin in mid- to late 2012 depending on when the FTA gives the go-ahead to begin building. Continue reading
With the holidays behind us and a temporary respite from the rain, geotechnical field testing for the Westside Subway Extension Project resumed today. Work this week is scheduled in Beverly Hills and consists of two types of seismic testing.
The photo above shows crews setting up a “Micro-Vib” box and sensors along Durant Drive near South Moreno Drive. The box vibrates the ground. The vibration waves are read by the sensors and recorded by seismograph equipment located in a nearby truck. The box is then moved about two feet and the test is repeated. A larger “Mini-Vib” truck will also be used to generate a different type of wave. Crews will also conduct similar tests later this week along South Moreno Drive near Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Metro contractors are testing soil along the entire alignment. In certain locations, Metro is also conducting seismic tests and noise and vibration tests.
Data gathered will be used to develop recommendations about how to construct the subway. As those following subway planning know, one of the remaining questions is the location of the Century City station (see previous Source post). The data gathered from these tests will also help develop recommendations about that station location and tunnel alignments in the area.
Here’s the latest update on planning and pre-construction efforts on the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, which will extend the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border adjacent to Citrus College. The Foothill Extension is a project funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
The update is from Habib Balian, the CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency that is building the line, which will be operated by Metro when completed:
Before the year comes to a close, I want to update you on progress made this month critical to our schedule.
First and foremost is the outstanding cooperation we have received from Caltrans. This month, the agency approved the Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa) Project Study Report/Project Report (PSR/PR) and Type Selection Study, essential documents for the progression of the Iconic Freeway Structure (IFS) and overall Phase 2A project. The PSR/PR, a detailed technical document required by Caltrans when working in their right-of-way, was approved for all elements of Phase 2A including construction of the IFS; upgrades to existing bridges, underpasses, and the I-210/I-605 Interchange; conduit laying; fence replacement and other key elements. Caltrans’ “Bridge Type Selection Committee” approved the Authority’s “Type Selection Study” after a substantive meeting in Sacramento with the Authority and the Skanska USA team to discuss the engineering, technical studies, and preliminary design submitted for the IFS. These approvals not only keep the IFS on schedule to begin construction in June, but also keep the entire Phase 2A alignment on schedule as we prepare to select a design-builder in the coming months. Continue reading
Metro announced today that it has been selected to receive $2 million in Federal Transit Administration funding to begin two new transportation projects: an alternatives analysis for a premium transit service on Van Nuys Boulevard and work to improve the agency’s transit forecasting model. See the FTA’s announcement.
This latest funding notice from the FTA injects new momentum into the agency’s Measure R program and is a win for the San Fernando Valley.
The Van Nuys Corridor is a main element in the East San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways Project, which seeks to provide better transit service on key corridors in the Valley.
For the Van Nuys Corridor project, the goal is to greatly improve mobility on Van Nuys Boulevard for about 10 miles between Ventura and Foothill Boulevards. Anyone who has ridden a bus down Van Nuys Boulevard in this area knows this street is primed for some sort of premium service.
The Van Nuys corridor consistently ranks as one of the top ten busiest bus corridors in Los Angeles County. In the Valley it is the busiest corridor. Total weekday boardings on Metro buses serving this boulevard even beat the Metro Orange Line and Ventura Metro Rapid in terms of daily ridership. (Metro has approximately 27,000 weekday boardings for buses running on Van Nuys compared to the Orange Line’s 23,500 and Ventura Rapid’s 5,500 boardings).
So what are the possible transit alternatives the Alternatives Analysis will study? Besides the obligatory No-Build and Transportation Systems Management alternatives, Metro will be looking at the following options:
- Dedicated bus lanes
- Light rail
- Streetcars Continue reading
Many big job centers (illustrated by the darker shades of blue in the map above) are served by transit. These job centers include Warner Center in Woodland Hills (Orange Line BRT); Pasadena (Gold Line); Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster (Metrolink); Long Beach (Blue Line); and downtown Los Angeles.
The Crenshaw/LAX Line will travel along Aviation Boulevard through the job-rich area surrounding LAX. The South Bay area is also a darker shade of blue; an extension of the Green Line to Torrance is currently under study. And the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line coincides with the darker blue area along the 210 freeway in the San Gabriel Valley.
Several areas of the Westside – Westwood, Century City, and Beverly Hills – are as jobs-rich as downtown Los Angeles. The Draft EIS/EIR for the Westside Subway Extension notes the jobs in those three areas are comparable to the number of jobs in the central business districts of cities such as Seattle, Denver and Atlanta.
The second map, however, vividly shows what is rather obvious: these three big job centers are not currently served by local or commuter rail. Under Measure R, that area is slated to be accessible by the Westside Subway Extension and the second phase of the Expo Line.
The next step for planning and engineering the Westside Subway Extension — including deciding the exact route the project will ultimately take through Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood — begins next week when Metro contractors begin conducting soil, seismic, noise and vibration tests as part of final environmental review and preliminary engineering for the project.
In October, the Metro Board of Directors approved two Century City station locations for final review, resulting in two alignment options between that location and Beverly Hills.
One route option has raised the ire of some in Beverly Hills because it would travel underneath historic Beverly Hills High School to reach a station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars. The other route option would stay largely under city streets to reach a station at Santa Monica Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. That route is not without its concerns as well – it would follow a known earthquake fault. For a summary of these and other options, read a previous Source post.
Geotechnical work will be conducted along the entire planned alignment from Western Avenue to the Westwood/VA Hospital but will begin in the Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood areas to help resolve this outstanding issue. Next week’s testing is scheduled for Westwood, where work permits have been secured. Continue reading
Los Angeles City Councilman and Metro Board Member Jose Huizar held a press event this morning to discuss the Eastside Access project, which aims to make streetscape improvements in Boyle Heights and the Eastside near the Gold Line and help a burgeoning arts district in the area.
Like many parts of L.A. County, this is an area that could use better sidewalks and street lighting, to name just a couple of fixes on the way.
Serious planning for the project — which is funded by Measure R — is now getting underway and a Community Advisory Committee was recently formed to help advise Metro and the city of Los Angeles on the improvements. Construction is expected to begin in a year.
Details are in the following press release from Councilman Huizar’s office:
First Measure R Eastside Project Kicks-Off
Boyle Heights Arts District enhancements key to Mariachi Plaza section of $30 million Eastside Access Project — streetscape improvements to increase pedestrian/bicycle access in communities surrounding the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 3, 2010)—Metro CEO Art Leahy and Councilmember José Huizar were joined Friday by First Street merchants and artists to announce the kick-off of a $12 million section of the voter-approved Eastside Access Project, a Measure R plan that will bring sidewalk, lighting and streetscape improvements along First Street in Boyle Heights.
Part of the larger $30 million Eastside Access Project, which will focus on multi-modal transit-related improvements at or near the Metro Eastside Gold Line Extension route, the Boyle Heights component will improve access along Boyle Heights’ four stations (Indiana, Soto, Mariachi Plaza and Pico Aliso) and is expected to enhance the burgeoning Boyle Heights Arts District along First Street, which features galleries, theaters and a local bookstore. Continue reading
That’s the question asked by the L.A. Times in a strong weekend story by reporters Richard Simon and Dan Weikel. Republicans won the majority in the House of Representatives in last week’s elections and are vowing to cut spending — which could impact 30/10′s prospects of becoming law.
The 30/10 Initiative proposes to use federal loans and other financing to build Measure R transit projects in 10 years instead of 30. The Times reports that although Measure R would be used to repay the federal government, there are still $2 billion in costs to the U.S. Treasury associated with 30/10 — paying interest on a new kind of transportation bond, for example — and that may be a tough sell with Republicans.
“With this year’s deficit at $1.3 trillion, and next year’s projected to be a trillion dollars or more, it’s going to be extremely difficult to convince Congress to increase spending for anything,” said Jim Specht, deputy chief of staff to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), who could return as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) said he is open to hearing Los Angeles officials make their case, but added: “We have got to reduce a lot of spending…. The people just voted, we believe, get this deficit and this debt under control.” Continue reading
After literally decades of talk, false starts, community resistance and funding dead-ends, a route for an extension of the subway to the job-rich Westside was selected by the Metro Board of Directors on Thursday in a vote called historic by several Directors.
The Board of Directors voted 10 to 0 with one abstention (Supervisor Mike Antonovich) to select “alignment two” of the five routes studied over the past year-and-a-half in a draft environmental study of the Westside Subway Extension. The 9.5-mile route, as shown above, with seven new stations begins at the current Purple Line station at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue and runs mostly on Wilshire Boulevard to a station near the VA Hospital in Westwood, just west of the 405 freeway.
It would take about 25 minutes to ride the subway from Union Station to the VA Hospital station. A trip from the North Hollywood Red Line station to the VA Hospital station is estimated to take about 36 minutes plus the necessary transfer at Wilshire/Vermont. Journeys between those locations by bus and often by private vehicle are often twice as long. The area to be served by the subway extension has the second-most jobs in L.A. County outside of downtown Los Angeles.
The Westside Subway Extension is among a dozen transit projects to be funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in Nov. 2008. Without the $4.2 billion provided by Measure R, the subway extension would not be possible.
The Board also voted to launch a final environmental study and preliminary engineering of the project, which will take place over the next year. The target date for the beginning of construction is 2013. Metro hopes that selecting a route will help secure federal New Starts money to help build the project in next year’s federal budget. The estimated cost of the project in 2009 dollars is about $4.36 billion, but it will likely cost more depending on the year built and inflation.
The opening date of the project depends on different funding scenarios.
With a mix of Measure R funds and New Starts dollars, Metro plans to open the subway in three phases: to Fairfax Avenue in 2019, Century City in 2026 and Westwood in 2036.
If additional federal loans and other financing can be obtained — a plan called the 30/10 Initiative to speed the construction of Measure R projects — the entire subway would be built at once and would open to Westwood in 2022. It remains to be seen whether segments could be opened earlier.
Supervisor Don Knabe, the chairman of the Metro Board of Directors, said the vote was historic and that the vote would help the subway secure federal funding and “fulfill the promise of Measure R and the accelerated timeline of 30/10.”
“We’ve discussed the subway as I understand it for 50 years,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a member of the Board of Directors. “A lot has been said that this project will never happen. And now the only question is when.”