Here’s the new video from the Regional Connector team that provides a timeline of how construction will proceed along Flower Street. The Connector, of course, will tie in with the Blue Line and Expo Line just north of the existing 7th/Metro Center Station.
Here’s a new video from UCLA that school officials say is specifically aimed at new employees to familiarize them with alternative transportation options available at UCLA before their first day of work. The video will be incorporated into the new employee orientation process campus-wide.
Of course, at some future juncture, the video will need a big update when the Westside/Purple Line Extension’s Wilshire/Westwood Station opens. The station will be a short walk into the heart of Westwood Village and/or a nice walk, bike or short bus ride into the heart of UCLA’s campus.
The news release is after the jump.
I’d like to take a few minutes for an update on the SR-710 North Study, Metro’s effort to improve transportation in the area around the 710 freeway in the San Gabriel Valley. The video above is new from the project team and describes the project.
Original state plans called for completing the 710 from Long Beach to Pasadena. That never happened. As a result, the 710 runs between Long Beach and Alhambra and there’s a very short segment of what was intended to the 710 that extends south of the 210 freeway in Pasadena.
As I’m very sure you’re aware, this is a very contentious issue . While I completely understand and appreciate there are a variety of opinions on what, if anything, needs to be done to improve traffic in the western San Gabriel Valley and beyond, I also believe and hope there are certain facts about Metro’s ongoing study that can be agreed upon:
•A project alternative to widen Avenue 64 was dropped from the study last August, largely because it wouldn’t have improved traffic much according to Metro’s analysis and because of the environmental impacts it would cause to surrounding communities. Reinstating it to the ongoing study would be legally difficult at this stage and, besides, I’m unaware of anyone on Planet Earth who wants it reinstated.
Why was it studied in the first place? Because Metro wanted to review every possible option in order to determine the very best ones for further study. Let’s be honest here. On the one hand, studying a wide spectrum of alternatives gives credibility to Metro’s studies — it’s a way of ensuring the best alternatives are truly the best. On the other hand, it’s also fair to say that Metro’s credibility among some community members took a hit for proposing an alternative that was so unpopular.
Above is the good word from the Expo Line Construction Authority. The final station for the second phase of the Expo Line will be at Colorado & 4th, making the train convenient to the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place, the Santa Monica Pier, the beach and beach bike path and easy bus and biking connections south to the businesses and eateries along Main Street, as well as Rose and Abbott Kinney in Venice. Woot woot!
The project that broke ground this morning will widen the 5 freeway for 1.2 miles between Shoemaker and Silverbow avenues by adding a general purpose lane and HOV lane in both directions. The project will also widen three bridges over the freeway — at Shoemaker, Rosecrans and Bloomfield. Metro is contributing $42 million of the $214 million cost of the project, with Metro’s money coming from Prop C (1990) and Measure R (2008) sales tax increases approved by county voters.
This is one of six projects that will add a general purpose lane and a carpool lane to the 5 freeway for seven miles in both directions from the 605 freeway junction to the border between L.A. and Orange counties. That border is a well-known bottleneck — Orange County has widened the 5 and added a carpool lane whereas the 5 remains three or four lanes north of the county line. The completion date for all of the projects is 2016.
Below is the program from today’s ceremony and a project map. The news release from Caltrans is posted after the jump.
And here’s a project map:
Serious work on the bridge over Santa Anita Avenue will begin in April — and already there is a lot of work up and down the 11.5-mile alignment for the Gold Line extension between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border. The bridge over Santa Anita means that the Gold Line will be able to travel between the existing Del Mar station in Old Pasadena and the new Arcadia station entirely grade-separated with no street crossings. It should be a quick ride.
Here’s the latest update from the project from Habib Balian, the CEO of the Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the line that Metro will operate once it’s built:
The Construction Authority and Foothill Transit Contractors briefed Arcadia Mayor Bob Harbicht last Friday on the construction activities taking place at the Colorado Bridge, and other upcoming activities in the city. The Colorado Bridge is one of more than twenty bridges being constructed as part of the overall project, and the first of three to be built in the city of Arcadia. As part of the briefing, we discussed the residential and business community outreach effort being conducted around these activities, which will require long-term street and lane closures. Important to our efforts is promotion of local businesses affected by construction.
The Pasadena Star News published a story about the briefing and the upcoming work in Arcadia and how it will impact businesses on Santa Anita Avenue. The article (below) highlights the new grade-separated crossing to be built over Santa Anita Avenue; construction will begin following completion of the Colorado Boulevard bridge in April. FTC has been actively working with the local businesses for the last year to prepare for the Santa Anita lane closures, including finding the best way to maintain access to their businesses.
In addition, work continues to start in many areas of the corridor. Yesterday, the first of two dozen at-grade crossings went into construction. Highland Avenue, in Duarte, closed for four weeks to build the crossing. Crews began demolition, and will begin installing underground utilities and equipment next.
As construction impacts streets throughout the corridor, the Construction Authority is emailing notices to those that have signed up to receive them. If you have not done so already, we encourage you to sign up at www.foothillextension.org.
One note from yours truly, who earlier today consumed a Double-Double for lunch: for those quoted in the story concerned they won’t be able to access the In-N-Out on Santa Anita, there are a couple other In-N-Outs nearby: the one at Walnut and Craig in Pasadena and another at Huntington and Atlantic in Alhambra, which is also conveniently near stops for several Metro bus lines — the 78, 79, 176, 260, 378, 485 and 762. As the Star News story notes, the In-N-Out on Santa Anita will be open during construction although traffic will que up on Colorado instead of Santa Anita.
In its most recent edition, the Beverly Hills Courier published incorrect information about construction impacts of building the Westside/Purple Line Extension:
The Metro tunnels are not an issue for Beverly High only. Just this past week, neighbors of the proposed La Cienega and Wilshire station – touted by Mayor Willie Brien as being “without controversy” – are now learning that their very existence is threatened by the massive excavation planned by Metro at that location. According to Metro, an open trench nearly 2,000 feet or more long and nearly 100 feet wide will take all of Wilshire for up to seven years. Plus, the big dirt haulers 24/7 in and out. How will our signature “Restaurant Row” fare? How will the adjacent medical buildings fare? How will the historic Fox Wilshire – now the Saban Theater – survive? Metro told these people there would be no open ditch, no damage to foundations – that it will all be just fine. That is not true, as they are now learning.
The correct information:
•Station boxes and excavations for the Subway Extension will each be about 1,000 feet long by 70 feet wide, not 2,000 feet long and nearly 100 feet wide as wrongly reported by the Courier.
•There is certainly a lot of dirt that will have to be hauled from the stations but there is no plan to haul dirt from the station excavations 24/7, as the Courier wrongly reported.
•The stations for the existing Red and Purple Lines were not built with trenches that were open for the duration of construction and there is no plan to build stations for the new line with permanently open trenches, as the Courier also wrongly reported.
•There will be temporary street closures for the current subway project during initial station excavation. The excavated area will then be covered by concrete decking that will allow traffic to flow on the streets above the station, while construction work continues below ground. When the decking is removed at the end of construction, there will again be temporary street closures.
•Street closures, truck haul routes and times, work hours and the like are subject to the approval of the city where there work is located. Construction mitigations will be guided by the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan that was adopted as a part of the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report.
•And here is previously published construction information from a Metro FAQ that elaborates on some of this:
23. Will traffic on Wilshire Boulevard and other major streets be disrupted?
There is no way to build the subway without some impact to traffic. Traffic impacts will mostly be concentrated at station areas and occur primarily at the beginning and end of station construction. In these areas, detours and temporary lane closures will be required for initial station excavation and to install the temporary street decking. These same measures will be required toward the end of station construction to remove the decking and reconstruct the street. In the approximately five years in between, while the station is being constructed under the decking, impact to surface street traffic will largely be limited to trucks hauling construction materials and excavated soil on designated haul routes. Between stations, tunneling will have little if any impact to surface traffic. Please see our Construction Fact Sheet for more information.
Below is the entire fact sheet, complete with drawings that show how station construction work will be done.
Marking a new milestone for the I-405 Improvements Project, contractors on Sunday opened a brand new I-405 onramp south of Skirball Drive in the Sepulveda Pass.
The new onramp, accessible on Sepulveda Boulevard for drivers heading southbound on the I-405, is now 2,000 feet south of the Skirball Bridge, and is one of the key roadway improvements in this billion dollar freeway widening project.
Over the weekend, work crews completed traffic reconfiguration to open the new ramp, and at the same time permanently closed the existing freeway onramp on Skirball Center Drive Bridge. That ramp will later be torn down. The new southbound off-ramp is still under construction and expected to be complete later this year.
There were two main reasons the ramp was moved further south on Sepulveda. First, the project team sought to eliminate a traffic choke point on Skirball Center Drive bridge resulting from the previous placement of two traffic signals within very close proximity of each other. Second, they wanted to help keep north/south traffic moving along Sepulveda Boulevard.
Anyone who has driven in this area of the pass knows that navigating both traffic signals could be quite lengthy, adding to congestion and delays.
Under the new configuration, cars will be able to travel more quickly and efficiently on Skirball Drive and Sepulveda, also due to improved signal timing at the intersection.
Here are a few other benefits of the relocated southbound on-and off-ramps near Skirball:
- Greater ramp storage capacity for vehicles entering and exiting the I-405 freeway.
- Dedicated turn-lanes on Sepulveda Boulevard for cars entering and exiting the freeway.
- New bike routes on Sepulveda Boulevard between Skirball Center Drive and the new southbound on- and off-ramps.
- Simpler design of the Sepulveda Boulevard/Skirball Center Drive intersection, resulting in a safer intersection.
Meanwhile, contractor work to reconstruct the entire Skirball Center Drive Bridge continues. This bridge, along with the Mulholland and Sunset Bridges, have had to be demolished and rebuilt as part of freeway lane widening to accommodate an extra lane of traffic for high-occupancy vehicles on the northbound 405. The Skirball bridge’s new columns have now been built, and crews are currently building the bridge’s abutments. The entire bridge should be finished in 2013.
Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.
Fixes on tap for TAP at Metro (ZevWeb)
A very good summary of work underway on TAP by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky who is, of course, also a member of the Metro Board of Directors that makes the final call on issues related to TAP. Among the news, some of which we’ve reported here in drips and drabs:
•In the last 11 months of 2012, more than 65,000 tickets were issued for fare evasion on the Metro system. That, of course, doesn’t mean that there were only 65K cases of fare evasion — those just represent the people caught and cited.
•Gate latching on the Red/Purple Line will begin this summer and eventually spread to the Green Line and parts of the Blue and Gold lines.
•Metro is working on revising the on-screen instructions at ticket machines for those buying and loading fares on TAP cards. Validators will also be moved to more convenient locations.
•Paper TAP cards with electronic chips embedded in them are being tested for Metrolink passengers so they will have a way to get through the latched gates.
Will a smooth Blue Line ride finally come to Long Beach? (L.A. Streetsblog)
After all these many years, the city of Long Beach still hasn’t given signal priority to the Blue Line. Why? It’s costly and it requires a tech upgrade are two of the big issues. The Long Beach City Council recently voted to ask Metro for funding and that could be a start. But let’s be honest here: signal priority is a rarity for mass transit in the region and the city of Los Angeles — as riders of the Expo Line, Eastside Gold Line and Orange Line likely know.
Villaraigosa says he’ll stay for the rest of his term (LA Observed)
Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Member Antonio Villaraigosa released a statement late Friday saying he plans to stay on the job until his second term ends on June 30. There had been a lot of buzz and rumors in the media about him being nominated to replace the retiring Ray LaHood as the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Whether he was offered the job or not is anybody’s guess — the media hasn’t verified it one way or the other.
AEG giving seed money to Pershing Square effort (Los Angeles Downtown News)
Very short story but AEG is providing $700,000 for an effort to re-imagine the downtown park. There’s no money yet to actually revamp the park. If so, my big idea: open it up to the surrounding streets instead of walling it off. It would also help if the parking lot on the north side of the park is finally developed, as has been proposed.
Here’s the thing: there’s already significant public spaces at the first three Red/Purple Line stations: Olvera Street and the L.A. Plaza Park across from Union Station, Grand Park at the Civic Center Station and Pershing Square at Pershing Square. But Union Station doesn’t feel very connected to the L.A. Plaza Park, nor does the subway station at 5th and Hill feel very park adjacent, thanks to the steps across the street leading up to the park.
CO2 emissions down in 2010 in California, continuing a trend (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
New data just released shows that carbon dioxide emissions in California dropped again in 2010 — both overall and in the transportation sector. CO2 is a heat trapping gas that is primarily responsible for climate change — i.e. global warming. That’s good, but the Golden State still belches more CO2 into the air as a result of transportation than any other state.
Texas, however, is the overall CO2 emitter, thanks to being an amazing energy hog (see bottom chart). I’m guessing a more temperate climate near the California coasts help keep our usage down. In the entire United States, transportation is responsible for 33.3 percent of CO2 emissions behind the leading cause, electric power generation at 39.8 percent.
It’s really a shame that it takes more than two years to collect and process the data from the states. Some type of real-time — or close to that — data might provide a greater incentive for the public to try to reduce its footprint.
As we’ve mentioned before, a great way to reduce your carbon footprint is to take transit instead of driving alone, particularly in vehicles that aren’t very fuel efficient. The top document shows California’s yearly numbers and the bottom one is a state-by-state comparison of the 2010 numbers. Click on the red type to see larger.
Photo by Pedro Szekely, via Flickr creative commons
One of the more exciting things going on is Metro’s purchase of Union Station in April 2011. With this purchase, Metro kicked off an effort to develop a Master Plan to make it a 21st century transit station.
Metro is giving you the chance to chime in on this effort through an online survey available now through February 4th. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY!!!
A few fun facts for you to consider:
•Union Station opened in 1939.
•About 6,000 people used the station on a daily basis during its rookie year.
•Roughly 60,000 people pass through Union Station each day in 2013.
•In 2020, that’s projected to rise to 100,000 people a day with the completion of the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa, the Expo Line to Santa Moncia and the Regional Connector that will tie together the Gold, Blue and Expo lines. There remains the possibility that high-speed rail one day might arrive at Union Station.
What should be done to ensure that Union Station has an appropriate mix of options onsite while also providing an excellent transit experience? It only takes a minute or two to fill out the survey to include your “vision” for the West’s classiest train station!
If you’re around Union Station, you may also see people with paper surveys available.