You can see the first three films here.
Some interesting news on Monday from Los Angeles World Airports, the city of L.A. agency that oversees LAX: airport planners for the first time are proposing three possible sites for a light rail station at or near the airport. The above report to the Board of Airport Commissioners shows the possible station locations.
First, it helps to understand the background. Metro is in the midst of planning a transit project — called the Airport Metro Connector — that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals. Metro planners are studying a variety of alternatives, including bus rapid transit, a people mover and light rail.
The Crenshaw/LAX Line will have a station at Aviation and Century boulevards. It’s closer to the LAX terminals than the existing Green Line Aviation station — but Aviation/Century is still more than a mile to the beginning of the horseshoe-shaped road that serves the nine LAX terminals.
In the meantime, LAX planners have been working on the “LAX Master Plan Specific Plan Amendment” that will guide future renovations and development at the airport.
That plan amendment will likely include a people mover to connect the terminal to future LAX facilities, such as a consolidated rental car center. As part of that study, LAX planners are working with Metro to identify the best ways to tie the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals — perhaps with the people mover or a combination of people mover and light rail extension.
There’s still a lot of work to be done; here are stories in the Daily Breeze and the L.A. Times. One of the big issues — as with all transit projects — will be securing funding. Measure R allocates $200 million to the Airport Metro Connector project and LAWA is expected to contribute funds and/or resources, but that amount is not known.
But any type of light rail project — especially one involving rail tunnels or underground stations — will be very expensive and will cost north of $1 billion. Under Metro’s long-range plan, adopted in 2010, the Airport Metro Connector is scheduled to open in 2028. Both funding and Metro Board approval would be needed to accelerate the project.
Below is the news release from LAWA:
While out of town over the weekend, I missed the public debut of the new Gold Line Bridge over the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway in Arcadia. The 584-foot bridge will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border.
Here is the news release issed bout the event by the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the line:
Largest Single, Public Art/Transit Infrastructure Project in California Completed
Landmark Gold Line Bridge Features Distinctive Design by Award-winning Public Artist Andrew Leicester
MONROVIA, Calif.— The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) marked the completion of the landmark Gold Line Bridge by giving guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk across the largest, single public art/transit infrastructure project in California, the 584-linear foot sculpture that will serve as the Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley.
The Gold Line Bridge spans the eastbound lanes of the I-210 freeway northeast of Los Angeles and is the most visible element of the 11.5-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project the Construction Authority is building between Pasadena and Azusa.
53 intersections throughout L.A. will be upgraded with continental crosswalks (a.k.a. zebra crossings, see above pic) by March of 2013, which is fantastic news for the thousands that live and work in L.A. Continental crosswalks provide higher visibility to advise motorists that pedestrians may be present, making for a safer walking environment. There’s also a set-back limit line to help reduce vehicular encroachment into the crosswalk area.
Mayor Villaraigosa joined Los Angeles Walks and local business owners this morning to announce the new pedestrian safety intiative at the corner of 5th St. and Spring St., the first intersection to be upgraded. The conversion of the 53 crosswalks is funded through Measure R monies set aside for pedestrian improvements by the mayor and City Council.
Eventually, LADOT would like to make continental crosswalks the new standard for all development and transit projects.
This morning, Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Member Antonio Villaraigosa, Santa Monica Mayor and Metro Board Member Pam O’Connor, City Coucil Member Jose Huizar and Metro CEO Art Leahy joined other Metro officials and downtown business leaders to announce the start of utility relocation work to prepare for construction of the Regional Connector.
The full press release from Metro:
In the latest milestone toward the delivery of Measure R transit projects to county residents, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today officially began advance utility relocation work for the Regional Connector, a major light rail project in Downtown Los Angeles.
Utility crews have begun relocating existing underground telecommunication lines on Spring Street near the planned 2nd/Broadway rail station. Work will begin Friday, December 14, and will continue through April 2013. Work will take place on 2nd Street, between Hill and Main Street. Additional work will take place on Broadway between 1st and 3rd Streets; Spring Street between 1st and 3rd Streets; and Hill Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
The $1.367 billion Regional Connector project, partially funded with $160 million in Measure R sales tax money approved by voters in 2008, is considered one of the region’s most significant transit projects. The nearly two-mile project will enhance Metro Rail service by providing one continuous trip between Azusa and Long Beach, and between the Eastside and Santa Monica. This project essentially creates two major regional light rail transit lines for Los Angeles County: A north/south line from Azusa to Long Beach, and an east/west line from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica. In so doing, it minimizes the need for transfers, reducing one-way light rail trip times across the County by 10 to 20 minutes or more. Eleven intersections also will be improved, including at 1st/Alameda Streets, which will see improved performance and less congestion.
“Today’s advance utility work in Downtown Los Angeles marks the beginning of an improved, integrated transit system for the entire county,” said Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair. “The light rail connections made by this project will link the Gold Line, Blue Line and Expo Lines, catalyze the entire Metro Rail system, and better prepare Metro to meet the demands of its expanding transit system.”
Transit passengers will have access to three new stations in Downtown Los Angeles: 1st/Central, 2nd/Broadway, and 2nd/Hope. The new stations are estimated to provide access to 88,200 daily users, including approximately 17,700 new transit riders.
“The Regional Connector will connect transit riders from East LA to Santa Monica and from the San Gabriel Valley to Long Beach – without a single transfer,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “This vital project puts us one step closer to building the connected regional transportation system that Angelenos want and deserve.”
The Federal Transit Administration recently permitted the Regional Connector project to advance into its Final Design phase. Metro intends to seek a Full Funding Grant Agreement through FTA’s New Starts Program next year, which would constitute a federal matching contribution to the project. Metro estimates construction of the tunnel and new stations could begin in late 2013. The project, if fully funded, could open in 2019.
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation forecasts that the Regional Connector project will create 15,400 jobs (direct, indirect and induced), $890 million in labor income, and $2.38 billion in business revenue generated by the project in the Southern California region.
For more information about the Regional Connector project, visit metro.net/regionalconnector.
About Measure R
Measure R, approved by two-thirds of L.A. County voters in 2008, commits a projected $40 billion to traffic relief and transportation upgrades throughout the county over the next 30 years. This sales tax measure will help fund dozens of critical transit and highway projects, create more than 210,000 new construction jobs and infuse an estimated $32 billion back into the local economy, according to estimates by the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
Each weekday, there are about 1.5 million boardings on Metro buses and trains across Los Angeles County. It takes a lot of energy to move all those people; fuel is needed for buses while electricity powers trains and Metro’s many facilities across Los Angeles County.
In the past few years, however, Metro has made serious inroads into making sustainability and the environment among the agency’s top concerns. Metro has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, expand renewable energy it generates, assemble the largest clean fuel bus fleet in the nation and become the first transit agency in the U.S. to adopt a Green Construction Policy to reduce emissions from construction equipment.
It was for these reasons and others that received some welcome news in late November when a new report titled “Leaner and Greener” by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Assn. of State Highway and Transportation Officials singled out Metro as the prime example of a transportation agency putting sustainability at the forefront.
A 584-foot bridge over the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway — the first major piece of infrastructure for the Gold Line Foothill Extension — is now complete, on time and on budget. The media had their chance to see the bridge this morning and a public ceremony will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon at Newcastle Park in Arcadia (101 W. Colorado Boulevard).
The Foothill Extension will extend the Gold Line from its final station in Pasadena for 11.5 miles to the Azusa/Glendora border, near both Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University. The new $18.6-million bridge will take the two train tracks from the middle of the 210 freeway across the eastbound lanes to the south side of the freeway.
The project will have one set of tracks in each direction and is being built atop an old freight railroad right-of-way. An old bridge that spanned the 210 was demolished because of seismic concerns following the 1993 Northridge earthquake.
The concept and design for the new bridge was conceived by Andrew Leicester, who told the media that he wanted to build a structure that served as a gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. The San Gabriel Mountain foothills have long been an important travel corridor in Southern California, beginning with Native Americans and continuing to the advent of Route 66 and, later, the 210 freeway. Leicester said the 25-foot-tall baskets on the bridge commemorate the main tool Native Americans used in their travels.
Habib Balian, the CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, said that 92 percent of the materials used to construct the bridge were manufactured in Southern California.
Skanksa USA was the contractor that built the bridge; architecture and engineering was done by AECOM.
The Construction Authority is an independent agency building the line that will be operated by Metro. The project is funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
Here’s the agenda for the final Metro Board of Directors’ meeting of 2012. The public portion of the meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at Metro HQ adjacent to Union Station. Members of the public, as always, are welcome to attend; the meeting is in the Board Room on the 3rd floor. Those who can’t attend can also listen to the meeting over the phone by calling 213-922-6045.
I’m guessing it will be a loooong meeting. Among the items to be discussed are a contract with CBS Outdoors to sell advertising on Metro properties (the Board couldn’t muster the votes to approve it when it was discussed earlier in the fall), a presentation on Metro’s safety culture and a discussion over how to proceed on America Fast Forward now that Measure J has lost.
Perhaps the most notable part of the last federal transportation bill was a significant expansion of a federal loan program called TIFIA. In essence, the program uses the federal government’s credit to provide favorable loans for transportation projects in the United States.
If Measure J had passed, Metro was hoping to use TIFIA loans to accelerate projects and then pay back the loans with future Measure J revenues. But J lost very narrowly at the polls, so Metro is now pursuing a TIFIA loan to help pay for the first phase of the Westside Subway Extension to La Cienega Boulevard and the Regional Connector.
The TIFIA loans would not be used to accelerate either of those projects. The TIFIA loans, however, could prove to be better than other loans or bonds the agency was planning to use to help finance both projects.
One other thing worth noting: It was lobbying by Metro Board Members and then Metro Boar Chair Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that helped get the TIFIA program expanded as part of the America Fast Forward program. Metro will likely be seeking another expansion of that in the next transportation bill and putting TIFIA loans to good use now sends a clear message to Congress that these programs are important.
The numbers echoed gains made in Los Angeles County, where light rail (13.7 percent), heavy rail (.57 percent), commuter rail (5.56 percent) and bus ridership (.12 percent) have all seen increases in the ridership over the first three quarters of 2012 compared to the same time span in 2011. The big gains in light rail here are partly attributable to the first phase of the Expo Line, which debuted in late April and fully opened to Culver City in June.
Here’s the news release from APTA:
More Than 7.9 Billion Trips Taken On Public Transportation As Ridership Increased by 2.6% in First Three Quarters of 2012
Seven Consecutive Quarters of Ridership Increases Show Growing Demand
More than 7.9 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first three quarters of 2012 as ridership increased by 2.6 percent over the first three quarters of 2011, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This report shows that 201 million more trips were taken in the first nine months of 2012 than in the same time period in 2011.
“With seven consecutive quarters of ridership increases, it’s obvious that public demand for public transit is growing,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “As Congress works to resolve our country’s deficit problem, it also needs to work to resolve the transportation deficit. Otherwise public transit and highway funding will be facing an annual $15 billion shortfall in the next 10 years.”