On Transportation: March 7 column

An amazingly bad photo I took of an Expo Line test train heading south at the junction while a Blue Line train in the background heads north. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

EXPO LINE JUNCTION: I spent some of last Thursday evening watching some Expo Line test trains run through the junction of the Expo and Blue line tracks at Washington and Flower in downtown L.A. This is an extremely important junction because the two lines merge there and then share two tracks to the current end of both lines at the 7th/Metro Center station.

The junction has to be able to handle trains running in both directions at very close intervals; the Blue Line already is running every six minutes during peak hours. Needless to say, that junction needs to work flawlessly for reasons of both efficiency and safety.

I know a lot of people are asking when the Expo Line will open. The short answer: No date has been set yet as testing of the line and the Automatic Train Protection system at the junction continues. To repeat: It can’t just work great. It has to work flawlessly.

EXPO LINE BIKE PATH: Speaking of the Expo Line, it’s nice to see some progress being made on the bike path running on the north side of the tracks in Culver City. The path should offer an easy way for areas residents and workers to reach both the Venice/Robertson and La Cienega stations.

It will also be interesting to see how cycling commuters get to the job rich Hayden Tract, which is south of National Boulevard and the train tracks. The challenge is that the bike path is on the north side of the tracks, which effectively seal the path off from the Hayden Tract.

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Map gets into the details of the High Desert Corridor project

Click on image to try out Metro's new High Desert Corridor Interactive Map.

Click on image to try out Metro's new High Desert Corridor Interactive Map.

Metro has just released the “High Desert Corridor Interactive Map,” a Google-based map that invites the communities and all interested to get into the details of the High Desert Corridor (HDC) Project. Once there, you get to share your comments and leave photos of specific areas of interest, such as the alternatives and variations and proposed on/off freeway ramps.

The HDC project proposes construction of a new east-west freeway/expressway linking State Route (SR)-14 in Los Angeles County with SR-18 in San Bernardino County. The project area extends 63 miles over two counties, five cities and several communities.

Check it out! Here’s how:

It's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

It's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

 

High-Speed Rail Authority moves forward on agreement with Southern California transportation agencies

The agreement could pump millions of dollars into projects in Los Angeles County, including the Regional Connector and speeding up Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line. Here’s the news release from the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board of Directors voted during their March 1 meeting to support the development of a Memorandum of Understanding with Southern California transportation agencies that outlines a shared commitment to progress the development of high-speed rail while providing funding for local early investment projects in Southern California that will improve rail service immediately.

 “With this MOU, it’s clear that we now have the opportunity to start construction on the HSR project in Southern California, in addition to the Central Valley,” said Dan Richard, Chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board. “These early investment opportunities in the south are very much in line with the blended approach outlined in our Business Plan and we see great potential in these efforts, as it will lead to immediate infrastructure improvements, while preparing for future build out using a phased approach. We look forward to developing similar agreements up and down the state, including Northern California.”

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Five things I'm thinking about transportation, Feb. 29 edition

The Vancouver skyline. Photo by hatdow, via Flickr creative commons.

WHAT IS A T.O.D? I thought the highlight of last week’s Move LA summit was the keynote speaker, former Vancouver council member Gordon Price. His main point is that cities should not think of a transit-oriented development as just a new apartment or condo building plopped down next to a transit stop.

Rather, Price said, cities should think of creating entire transit-oriented districts that cover several square miles. Within that district, there must be all the transportation amenities — wide sidewalks, bike lanes, roads for cars and taxis and transit operating so frequently that everyone knows they will catch the next bus or train within a few minutes.

The idea is that there is no dominant mode of transportation — but there’s a lot of choices because there’s a vast network of sidewalks, bike lanes, roads and transit. “You count the efficiency of a city by the number of meetings you can attend in a day,” he said, repeating an old maxim. “Once these grids are in place, once people have the freedom of frequency, the car begins to drop as the dominant mode.”

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Transit advocacy group discusses Measure R extension

The activist group Move LA held its “L.A. on the Verge’ event at Union Station on Friday, with a big focus on transportation funding.

The group is headed by former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane, who clearly let the hundreds in attendance know his position: the Measure R sales tax increase that expires in 2039 should be extended by voters.

Such an extension could accomplish two things, according to Zane: 1) It could help accelerate the building of the 12 Measure R transit projects if Congress doesn’t fully adopt the America Fast Forward plan (and they’re not likely to), and; 2) It may help finance additional transit and highway projects beyond the original Measure R package approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

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Recap of other Metro Board actions taken today

Here are some other actions taken by the Metro Board of Directors at this morning’s meeting:

•(Item 31) The Board approved a motion by Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to study and recommend a variety of improvements to Metro Rail and busway stations, including:

1. Find ways to upgrade access to Metro stations through better signage, crosswalks, sidewalks, bike signals, bike parking and more streetscape amenities.

2. Evaluate and suggest upgrades to security systems for park-and-ride lots used by Metro patrons.

3. Evaluate options for reducing noise at Green Line stations in the median of the 105 freeway.

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Five things I'm thinking about transportation, Feb. 22 edition

EXPO LINE UPDATE, SORT OF: I was along the Expo Line alignment early Saturday evening and it was exciting to see the number and frequency of trains running along the tracks between La Cienega and downtown L.A. at night.

As for an opening date….still no official word. But I can tell you that testing is going well. Some approvals are still needed by local safety officials and the state Public Utilities Commission before the line can be opened to the public (as is always the case). Hopefully there will be good news fairly soon.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: I think it’s positive news that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is working on agreements with commuter rail agencies in both Northern and Southern California.

The agreement, as has been reported by the media, would provide money for electrifying and speeding up Caltrain service between San Jose and San Francisco and upgrade Metrolink for faster trips between the Antelope Valley and Los Angeles. That’s a big upside in my view — because commuter rail is something that many people use most workdays and it helps alleviate traffic in metro areas.

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