In short, the story reported — correctly — that according to the study, the subway would barely reduce traffic in Los Angeles County or on the Westside. Thus the reason for the above poll.
My two cents: I thought the story was fair. When four billion dollars are about to head out government’s door for a big transit project, the local media is going to kick the proverbial steel wheels hard.
That said, I also thought the story was completely obvious. As numerous comments left on the Times’ website and Metro’s Facebook pages pointed out, other cities with big transit systems still have big-time traffic. I suspect most people know this. Problem is, officials sometimes slip into sound-bite mode and suggest traffic can be fixed. In doing so, they give the media a reason to pounce.
Click above to see a larger image.
Of course, there are also very real reasons to build mass transit that can be touted:
•Transit can be a great alternative to sitting in traffic. How bad is Westside traffic? See this post on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website that explains the Westside is the most congested part of the region.
•Trains and buses can save commuters time and money.
•Trains and buses usually are less polluting than private vehicles because of the number of people they can carry.
•A good transit system can keep traffic from getting worse and possibly take the edge off existing traffic.
•Transit is good for creating more walkable, livable neighborhoods — unless you’re idea of a great neighborhood is one filled with parking lots and garages.
Click above to see a larger image.
As for the Times’ story, the information largely came from the three charts on this page. The first two charts are from the first part of chapter three of the draft study — click here to download. (After the jump you’ll find the two pages with the chart and the accompanying text.) The third chart is from the first part of chapter four — click here to download.
It is important to note that alternatives one and two are the two subway routes that have a funding commitment; alternative one is the route largely down Wilshire Boulevard to Westwood/UCLA. Alternative two extends that route to the VA Hospital, just west of the 405 freeway.
The first chart projects traffic speeds and vehicle miles driven in 2035 both by the enormous six-county region and the much smaller 38-square-mile study area on the Westside. In the region, the impact of the subway on traffic is very small — it’s a huge region. There is more of an impact, as expected, in the Westside study area where the project will be built.
The second chart projects that the subway’s alternate routes have the potential to pull at least some vehicles off county roads during peak rush hours. It’s not a huge number when considering how many vehicles are on the road across the county. But it’s something.
The third chart projects how commuter trips will be taken in 2035. The conclusion is that the subway will mostly pick up its riders from those who were previously taking the bus or driving. Continue reading →
As part of the El Monte Station reconstruction project, all bus service will be moved from the existing bus terminal to a new temporary terminal beginning Sunday, September 12. The new temporary terminal includes 20 bus bays and is located near the intersection of Santa Anita and Ramona.
The temporary terminal will be used for the duration of the construction process, which is estimated to last approximately 20 months. All bus service currently serving the El Monte Station will continue to operate using the new temporary terminal.
Customers should also be aware that beginning at 11 p.m. on Friday, September 10, the El Monte Station parking structure at the rear of the property, and the adjacent parking lot, will be closed throughout construction. Parking will be available to the north and south of the temporary bus terminal, including a recently added parking lot.
The $45 million El Monte Station construction project is part of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program know as ExpressLanes and is funded by a $210 million federal grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Continue reading →
From far left, L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Matthew Toledo, Los Angeles County Business Federation CEO Tracy Rafter, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, Assemblyman Mike Feuer and L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.
The nonprofit group Calpirg held a small rally this morning at the Wilshire/Western subway and bus stop to support Metro’s 30/10 Initiative. Members of the group also produced a list of 320 local businesses that support 30/10.
A map of the 30/10 projects. Click above for a larger image.
Attentive Source readers can say it in their sleep: the 30/10 plan seeks to use federal loans and other financing build a dozen Measure R transit projects in 10 years instead of dragging it out over 30 years.
All the familiar 30/10 themes were hit upon: building the transit projects will create tens of thousands of jobs and help give people an alternative to sitting in traffic now instead of (much) later. A few quotes from those who spoke:
•L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti said that he’s brought up 30/10 with President Obama twice when they’ve had the occasion to meet and that Obama is impressed that L.A. County is staying on message with the initiative and is “excited” about it. On that point, it should be noted that Obama on Monday announced he wants to spend $50 billion on road, rail and runway improvements, including boosting federal spending on urban transit projects. Continue reading →
I was in San Francisco recently wandering around the Duboce Triangle neighborhood west of downtown. One of the Muni’s light rail lines runs through the area and I couldn’t help but notice that within a two-block stretch it hit what would likely be the perfect trifecta of controversy here in the L.A. area, as shown by the following photos:
Here the train runs down the middle of a residential street…
And then it passes within a few feet of a children’s playground in Duboce Park, albeit separated by a fence but with an adjacent pedestrian crossing with no gates….
The government relations staff at Metro just sent the following update to the agency’s management and Board of Directors:
This afternoon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, President Obama announced a multi-billion dollar initiative to boost infrastructure spending in America. Specifically, the White House plan would direct funding to rebuild 150,000 miles of roadways, invest heavily in the New Starts program to build new transit systems and invest in new airport technologies and runways. In addition, the President outlined his support for the creation of a national infrastructure bank that could be used to leverage private, state and local funds to build new infrastructure projects, including highways and transit projects. Our agency and our federal advocates are in direct contact with officials in Washington, DC regarding this announcement and will continue to work to ensure that our Board approved plan to accelerate Los Angeles County highway and transit projects is integrated into the infrastructure initiative the White House presents to Congress. President Obama made his remarks at the MILWAUKEE LABORFEST in Wisconsin, which was also attended by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl; Congresswoman Gwen Moore; U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka.
Here is the press release from the White House. The release says that $50 billion is aimed at rebuilding 150,000 miles of roadways, maintaining or constructing 4,000 miles of rail and rehabilitating 150 miles of runways. It also appears that Congressional approval for much of this will be needed.
It’s worth noting that a national infrastructure bank, expanded New Starts funding for large transit projects and money for road projects mirror some of the same things that Metro is seeking as part of its 30/10 Initiative to use federal loans and financing to speed the construction Measure R projects. As is always the case in transportation funding, the devil is in the details — which we’ll provide as soon as we know more.
The current subway in Los Angeles when it was under construction.
Let’s start with this fun fact: When the Westside Subway Extension is built, it will take 25 minutes to travel from Los Angeles Union Station to the Westwood/UCLA station — 13 minutes on the existing Purple Line to Wilshire and Western and a little more than 12 minutes on the new extension. The fastest the trip can currently be done on mass transit is about 54 minutes, according to Google Transit.
This fact and hundreds of others are part of the draft environmental impact statement/report (DEIS/R) for the Westside Subway Extension that is being released Friday by Metro. The voluminous report details different routes and stations contemplated for the project while also detailing the need for it and the impacts of building it.
Century City would be one of the major stops along the Westside Extension.
Big, long, wonky reports do not change the world. But the release of the report is a significant milestone for the Westside Extension. The DEIS/R is a necessary precursor for the project to receive federal funding and the release is a signal that Metro is hoping — after unsuccessfully trying last year — to secure federal dollars in next year’s budget.
I will hazard a guess and bet that the question most readers have is this: When can I ride it?
The answer: it depends. Under the long-range plan adopted by the Board of Directors of Metro last year, the subway would reach Fairfax by 2019, Century City by 2026 and Westwood by 2036 using a combination of Measure R sales tax money and federal funds. Why so long? Because the subway to Westwood is expected to cost about $4 billion and sales tax money flows into local coffers over time — not all at once. Measure R funds also have to fund a plethora of other projects promised to county voters.
However, there is a plan to speed up construction of the subway. The 30/10 Initiative being pursued by Metro — and backed by many other politicians, environmental, business and labor groups — would use federal loans and other financing to try to build 12 Measure R transit projects in the next 10 years. So there’s hope. Continue reading →
The Regional Connector Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report officially goes public Friday. While it may not be quite as sexy a project as the Westside Subway Extension that follows a similar Measure R project timeline, it does something the subway project does not: it connects four light rail corridors covering over 80 miles across Los Angeles County through the center of downtown Los Angeles. As a result, light rail commuters should save 10 to 20 minutes per trip.
If you’re keeping score on these two projects, here are some stats: The Regional Connector is less than two miles; the Westside Subway is almost nine miles to Westwood. The proposed technologies are also different. The Regional Connector is envisioned as a light rail system, and the Westside Subway is being planned as an extension of the heavy-rail subway system. Both projects are candidates for partial funding through the federal New Starts Program and both receive Measure R sales tax money. Metro staff planning the Regional Connector have also recommended a route for further study and design. The Westside Subway Project has not yet reached that point, but will following its public hearings.
The Regional Connector proposes to build a nearly two-mile transit link connecting the 7th Street/Metro Center Station – the terminus point for the Metro Blue Line and future Expo Line – with the Gold Line in Little Tokyo. It would fix the missing link in the light rail network through downtown and provide a one seat, one ride trip between Long Beach and future Gold Line extension to Azusa, and from East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley to the future Expo Line to Santa Monica. See the above map.
Included in the study are evaluations of several transit alternatives for completing the two-mile gap in Metro light rail services. This includes a no-build alternative that acts as a baseline to compare other alternatives. Another alternative consists only of transportation system improvements such as adding two new express shuttle bus lines in downtown.
The draft report also looks at three light rail alternatives for the connector. The At-Grade Emphasis line is a combination of underground and at-grade segments with nearly half of the route underground. The Underground Emphasis line would run entirely underground except for a single at-grade crossing at 1st and Alameda Streets. The Fully Underground line would be the same configuration as the Underground Emphasis line, except it would provide for four new stations instead of three and travel under the 1st and Alameda intersection. Cost estimates of the project range from $899 million for the At-Grade Emphasis line to $1.24 billion in 2009 dollars for the Fully Underground line. Costs go up depending on the year the project is built.
The Regional Connector Project team has designated the Fully Underground light rail transit alternative as its Locally Preferred Alternative — the version of the project proposed for further study and design. The recommendation is based on technical analysis and community input and support. The fully underground alternative was added to the project because the Little Tokyo / Arts District Community opposed having the regional connector cross 1st and Alameda at street level. This version — to again emphasize the point — would go under that intersection. In addition, a new underground Little Tokyo station would be built at the site of the current Office Depot to replace the current Gold Line station along Alameda after construction.
According to the draft’s chapter on cost and performance considerations, Federal New Starts funding is proposed to pay 50 percent of the cost of the project. Besides a host of other funding sources, including $160 million from Measure R, additional money will ultimately be needed to fund the project. The Fully Underground LRT Alternative, for example, would require an additional $173.4 million. It’s important to note that this number is conceptual at this stage, and that the project team will refine project costs to bring them inline with requirements in future project phases.
The current LPA includes a station a station at 5th and Flower. However, to reduce project costs for this alternative, the possibility of eliminating this station from the staff recommended LPA is being explored as an option. The Metro Board will have to make that call when it considers the project LPA in October. The 5th and Flower Station was identified mainly due to its close proximity to the existing 7th and Metro Station. Obviously, some concessions will have to be made on this alternative to keep it within Metro’s board-mandated budget.
A rendering of the Foothill Extension's Monrovia station.
Plans to extend the Gold Line from its current northern terminus at Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border took a step forward on Monday, when firms were asked to submit their bids to construct the project.
Earlier in the year, the Foothill Extension Construction Authority — the independent agency building the line — awarded a contract for a rail bridge over the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway. That work should begin in the next few months. The request for bids on Monday is for the $450-million contract to actually build the entire rail line, including the tracks and stations.
The entire press release from the Construction Authority is after the jump. The big thing to keep an eye on here is that the Construction Authority is asking firms submitting bids to loan them the money to help build it quicker. The winning firm will be paid back over time as Measure R funds are transferred from Metro (which will eventually operate the line) to the Construction Authority. The goal is a 2014 opening.
Seems smart. There aren’t a lot of $450-million construction contracts up for bids these days thanks to the ongoing recession. So it will be interesting to see what kind of deal the Construction Authority can secure — and, if so, whether it’s something that other projects can do.
Metro’s community-based transit service sector governance councils will hold their monthly public meetings in September to discuss various transportation issues and proposed service changes in their service sectors. The proposed service changes if approved will be implemented in December.
For the month of September only the Westside/Central Sector Governance Council has rescheduled their meeting from September 8 to September 14 (see dates and locations below). In addition, the location of the San Gabriel Valley Governance Council meeting has been changed to El Monte City Hall due to anticipated construction activity at the El Monte Station.
Residents within the service sectors including the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, the South Bay, Gateway Cities and the Westside/Central area interested in helping to improve Metro Bus service in their communities are encouraged to attend the monthly meetings.
Governance councils work closely with Metro in studying and planning service improvements and efficiencies of Metro Bus operations in their respective service sectors. After the jump is a list of Metro governance council meetings for the month of September. Continue reading →