Metro applies for federal funding for Regional Connector project

Metro CEO Art Leahy informed Metro staff and Board today that the agency has officially sent in its application for federal New Starts funding for the Regional Connector project to the Federal Transit Administration.

It’s a first step in the process of obtaining a federal contribution for the 1.9-mile underground light rail project to connect the Blue, Gold and Expo Lines in downtown L.A. The full funding grant application for the Purple Line Extension project is planned next.

Here’s the update from CEO Leahy:

Correspondence to FTA – Regional Connector Full Funding Grant Agreement

This morning, I transmitted our Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) application for the Regional Connector to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers.  Over the coming months, the FFGA for the Regional Connector will be fully reviewed and considered by the FTA and the relevant congressional committees.  The FFGA for the Regional Connector includes a federal New Starts commitment of $670 million.  I would like to personally express my appreciation to FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and his professional staff in Washington, DC and at the FTA’s regional office in San Francisco and local office in Los Angeles for their exceptional efforts in working with our agency’s staff on this planned transit project.  For your review, please find my letter to FTA Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers.

Next Purple Line Extension advisory group meeting scheduled for October 29

Metro advisory meeting for Purple Line Extension Project

Metro advisory group meeting for Purple Line Extension Project.

Metro will be holding its next advisory group meeting for the first segment of the Metro Purple Line Extension Project on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.  Members of the public are invited to observe the advisory group meeting as local stakeholders discuss construction-related issues for the first nearly four-mile subway segment between Wilshire/Western and La Cienega.  Construction is expected to begin next year.

During the meeting, the Metro project team will provide updates on the project’s status, activities and anticipated construction schedule.

Meeting details are as follows:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd – 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90036

This location is served by Metro lines 20, 720, 217, 780.  Validated parking is available in the structure behind the museum.  Motorists should enter the parking structure from Fairfax and bring their parking ticket with them.

The advisory group consists of individuals representing the residents, businesses, property owners and key institutions around the La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega stations. City staff are also been invited to attend the meeting, listen to the discussion and answer questions.

Measure R committee OKs recommendation to advance TIFIA loan financing for Regional Connector Project

Measure R Oversight CommitteeThe Measure R Independent Oversight Committee this morning approved Metro’s financing plan aimed at securing $160 million in federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (TIFIA) loans for the Regional Connector project.

The committee, which is charged with reviewing the cost-effectiveness of financing Measure R projects, determined this type of federal loan by leveraging Measure R funds would provide a very low interest rate and flexible repayment terms. The TIFIA loan would help supplement needed funding to build the approximately two-mile, $1.399 billion underground light rail project that would connect the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo Lines and streamline rail travel through downtown Los Angeles.

Metro’s treasurer reported that the agency seeks to lock in a low interest rate under the current market environment. Actual loan draws may be deferred for up to five years after the loan is executed, with interest accruing only as proceeds are used and with no change in the original interest rate.

A similar TIFIA loan financing recommendation for the Purple Line Extension project is expected to come before the committee next spring.

The America Fast Forward provision in the most recent multi-year federal transportation bill enhanced the TIFIA program last year, making it possible for Metro to take advantage of low-cost financing with greater flexibility than is available in the public credit markets. Metro plans to seek up to $3.5 billion in these type of loans to build road and transit projects. Read earlier Source post on the TIFIA prgram here.

The committee’s finding will now be considered by the full Metro Board at its Oct. 24 meeting. See committee item here.

City of Westlake Village holds groundbreaking for Lindero Canyon Bridge Widening Project

Metro Highway Program's Lan Saadatnejadi speaks at the Lindero Canyon/101 bridge project groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Metro Highway Program Executive Officer Lan Saadatnejadi speaks at the Lindero Canyon/101 bridge project groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

The City of Westlake Village held a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the Lindero Canyon/101 Freeway bridge project. When the project is completed, the Lindero Canyon Road/101 bridge will feature an additional travel lane in each direction of traffic and a series of unique aesthetic improvements. Funding for this project is provided by Measure R.

“Westlake Village has been a strong partner with Metro to quickly and effectively move forward congestion relief projects like the Lindero Canyon Bridge Widening Project using the Measure R funds collected in Los Angeles County,” said Metro’s Executive Director of Highway Project Delivery Doug Failing. “We want all of our local partners to be this effective in providing congestion relief for their residents.”

To get the latest info on the project, visit the city’s website.

Lindero Canyon Road/101 freeway bridge reconstruction to begin Sept 16

The City of Westlake Village is about to begin construction on the Lindero Canyon/101 Freeway bridge project. The highway operations improvement project is funded by Measure R.

Here’s the full press release from the City of Westlake Village with more details:

The City of Westlake Village is about to begin construction on the Lindero Canyon/101 Freeway bridge project. The project is scheduled to commence on September 16. In addition to sending notification letters to local residents and businesses, the City will be placing electronic message board signs near the construction area prior to work commencing. This transportation improvement project is being funded by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Measure R Program for highway operations improvements.

It is envisioned that construction will be performed in three different phases. All construction work will take place behind temporary concrete barriers for the safety of both the public and construction workers. It is anticipated that two lanes of travel in each direction will remain open throughout most of the construction. However, there will be short periods of time when only one travel lane will be open. A safe pedestrian route will also be available on one side of the bridge, and pedestrians should look for signage as a guide during each of the three construction phases.

When this project is completed, the Lindero Canyon Road/101 bridge will feature an additional travel lane in each direction of traffic and a series of unique aesthetic improvements. Residents are encouraged to contact City Engineer, John Knipe at 818-706-1613 for further information or to submit questions to the City via CityCare on the City website www.wlv.org. In addition, residents may sign-up to receive up-to-date information on the project. Updates will include progress reports, achievement of major milestones, and traffic information, and will be sent out via e-mail or text message. To sign-up for this free service, visit http://www.wlv.org and click on the Lindero Canyon/101 Freeway Bridge Project icon on the left side of the homepage.

Metro Responds to BHUSD Consultant Memo on Century City Station Location

Today Metro  released its review of a Beverly Hills Unified School District consultant memo that challenged the agency’s geotechnical rationale  for choosing the Constellation site for the Purple Line Extension ‘s Century City station.

The review, sent to Metro’s Board of Directors today, essentially says that nothing in the consultant memo changes the agency’s recommendations.

July 9 Update: Metro has revised its review with additional details.  The updated version of this Board report is below with additions in bold.

Read the report below.

Metro Response to BHUSD Consultant Memo (update)

Metro releases latest Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor map

13-2009_map_Project_CrenshawLAX_May13.inddThe Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project team today released the latest project map of the 8.5-mile rail line, which includes official names of the eight new stations: Expo/Crenshaw, Crenshaw/Martin Luther King, Crenshaw/Vernon (Leimert Park), Crenshaw/Slauson, Florence/West, Florence/La Brea, Florence/Hindry and Aviation/Century.  The Crenshaw/LAX line will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester and the LAX area. It will offer an alternative transportation option to congested roadways and provide significant environmental benefits, economic development and employment opportunities. The Crenshaw/LAX project is one of 12 transit projects funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The map is available at metro.net.

Metro, Caltrans to Hold Public Meetings on High Desert Corridor (HDC) Project

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Here’s the press release from Metro:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Caltrans is holding a series of four public meetings to provide information and seek comment on a proposed new transportation corridor linking Palmdale and Victorville.

The project, called High Desert Corridor (HDC), is a 63-mile-long proposal that may include a highway, energy production and/or transmission facilities for green energy, a bikeway and a high speed rail feeder service line connecting State Route 14 in Los AngelesCounty and State Route 18 in San BernardinoCounty.

“The High Desert Corridor project aims to improve mobility and access for people and goods in the rapidly growing Antelope, Victor and Apple Valleys,” said Doug Failing, Metro’s executive director of highway project delivery. “The focus of the meetings is to provide a project update, share highlights of key findings from the Rail Alternative Analysis, review the refined Purpose and Need statement for the project and discuss next steps in the process,” he added.

Schedule of meetings:

Monday, July 15, 2013 6-8 p.m. at the LakeLos AngelesElementary School, 16310 E. Avenue Q, Palmdale, Calif., 93591

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 6-8 p.m. at the Stater Bros. Stadium, Mavericks Conference Room, 12000 Stadium Way, Adelanto, Calif., 92301.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 6-8 p.m. at the EndeavourSchool of Exploration, 12403 Ridgecrest Rd., Victorville, Calif., 92395.

Monday, July 22, 2013 6-8 p.m. at the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center, Joshua Room, 38350 Sierra Hwy., Palmdale, Calif., 93350.

The meetings on July 17 and July 22 will be webcast live at ustream.tv/channel/metro-high-desert-corridor.

Special accommodations and information in alternative formats are available to the public. All requests for reasonable accommodations must be made three working days (72) hours in advance of the scheduled meeting date. Contact the project hotline at 888.252.7433 or call the California Relay Service at 711. Para información en español llame al 888.252.7433.

Reminder: why Election Day matters in Los Angeles if you care about transportation

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Click above to find your polling place.

As you may have heard, there’s a runoff Tuesday in Los Angeles to elect the next mayor of the second-largest city in the nation — a city with about 3.8 million inhabitants and some well-known transportation challenges.

I ran the following post on March 4, the day before the primary election in Los Angeles. I’m running it again today as a reminder to vote in tomorrow’s mayoral election between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel because whichever succeeds Antonio Villaraigosa will likely have a hand in many important transportation decisions, including project acceleration, the future of congestion pricing projects, the construction of five rail projects and possible changes in Metro’s fare structure in the future.

Look up your polling place here.

Metro is a county agency and is overseen by a 13 member Board of Directors who serve as the deciders on most significant issues. The Mayor of Los Angeles gets a seat on that board and gets to fill three other seats with his appointees.

A majority of the Metro Board — i.e. seven votes — is required to approve most items. Four of those seven votes are controlled by the Los Angeles mayor. That means that the mayor controls more than half the votes needed to approve items that have impacts across Los Angeles County and the region.

Here are some items that are likely to confront the Metro Board in the next four or so years, meaning they’re items likely to confront the lucky soul (if luck is the right word) who becomes the next mayor of the City of Angels and/or Parking Lots:

•There is the not-so-tiny issue of whether to accelerate the building of Measure R projects and, if so, how best to pay for it and which transit and road projects are included. The next mayor may also choose to use their bully pulpit to persuade Congress to adopt the full America Fast Forward program, which would greatly expand funding for transportation projects.

•Although Metro CEO Art Leahy has already said there will be no changes to Metro’s fares in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, he also said it’s an issue that will likely have to be revisited sooner rather than later in order to help Metro keep up with its expenses.

Continue reading

City of Agoura Hills breaks ground on Canwood Street Improvements Project

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From left to right: Greg Ramirez, City Manager; Lan Saadatnejadi, Metro Highway Program Executive Officer; Ben Jong, Metro Project Manager; Illece Buckley-Weber, Councilwoman; Bill Koehler, Mayor Pro Tem; Ramiro Adeva, Public Works Director.

Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro

This morning, the City of Agoura Hills and Metro broke ground on the Canwood Street Improvements Project. The project, scheduled to begin on April 29, will receive full funding of $1.1 million for construction from Measure R.

“We are deeply appreciative of Metro’s support for this much needed project,” said William Koehler, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Agoura Hills. “Without Metro and the help of Metro staff, we would have had a difficult time moving the project forward.”

The improvements to Canwood Street will maintain continued mobility and operational safety, both pedestrian and vehicular, along this corridor. The Canwood Street Improvements Project is Phase I of a larger project, the Agoura Road Widening Project, which is anticipated to start construction in 2014. All phases of this project are funded in full by Measure R. Both Agoura Road and Canwood Street serve as emergency by-pass routes for the 101 Freeway and their operational safety and capacity are imperative for the freeway in emergency events.

To see the project area and get more information, check out the Canwood Street Improvements notice or visit the city’s news site.