Construction notice: 17th Street to be closed at Colorado for Expo Line work

17thSTreet

 

The above is from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the agency building the second phase of the light rail line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica. There is more information about the project and photos on the Authority’s Facebook page.

Metro and Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructor opens Crenshaw/LAX Line airport field office

Metro and the contractor’s new office near the Aiport will oversee construction of the project over the next five years. More than 300 guests from the community visited the office on Saturday during an open house and were welcomed by Metro Project Director Charles Beauvoir and Joe Lee, WSCC Executive Project Director.

The $2.058-billion Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project is a new 8.5-mile light-rail line that will extend from the Exposition Line at Crenshaw/Exposition to the Metro Green Line at Aviation. It is now under construction and scheduled to open in 2019.

During the open house the public learned about plans for project, including design and engineering, safety preparation, construction status, the tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will be used for the underground sections beneath Crenshaw Boulevard, the construction sequence and outreach for the Project Labor Agreement (PLA).

Attending the event were Metro executives, California Assembly Member Steven Bradford, a representative of L. A. County Supervisor and Metro Board member Mark Ridley-Thomas and members of the Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council.

Video and new staff report on combating fare evasion on the Orange Line

Above is a brief and concise reminder from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to remember to tap your TAP card at the validator at Metro Rail and Orange Line stations. Even if a valid fare is loaded. If you don’t and you’re caught, you’ll likely receive a citation, usually for $75

Hey, let’s do the math on this!!!

Citation = $75

Fare = $1.50

$75 minus $1.50 = $73.50

Paying $73.50 more than you need to ride the bus…perhaps not the wisest investment you could make :)

UPDATE: A reader wisely suggested we include some information on why Metro requires riders to TAP. The reason: it prevents abuse of TAP cards, namely from people who load cash or passes on their cars but never actually use the cards — meaning they’re riding for free.

Below is the latest Metro staff report on the issue of increasing fare enforcement along the Orange Line, where two audits on two days this past December found fare evasion rates of 22 percent and 16 percent, respectively. A number of options are listed, including installation of gates, creating ‘virtual’ gates with arrays of TAP validators, more signage and even video surveillance.

Main entrance to Union Station closed for restoration work now through April 4

Union Station South Breezeway entrance. Photo: Metro Transportation Library and Archive Flickr

Union Station South Breezeway entrance. Photo: Metro Transportation Library and Archive Flickr

The main entrance to Union Station will be closed for painting and metal restoration work starting today through April 4. During this time, visitors should use the South Breezeway entrance, which is just around the corner to the right of the main entrance.

Once the work is complete, pedestrians will be able to enter through the very first set of completely restored doors and storefront since 1939.

Here’s the previous post about some of the other maintenance and restoration work that’s been taking place around Union Station recently.

Full southbound 405 closure between Santa Monica Boulevard and National Boulevard in West L.A. planned nights of March 17 – 22

Here is the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor plans to fully close the southbound I-405 between Santa Monica Boulevard and National Boulevard in West Los Angeles on the following dates and times to facilitate the installation of a full-span freeway overhead sign and to conduct other roadway construction activities at the freeway median:

  • From midnight to 5 a.m. on the nights of:
    • Monday, March 17, to Thursday, March 20
    • Sunday, March 23
    • From midnight to 6 a.m. on the nights of:
      • Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22

Other Closures:

  • Lanes will begin to close at 10 p.m.
  • Ramps will begin to close at 7 p.m.
  • Southbound Santa Monica on-ramp
  • Southbound Sunset on-ramps
  • Southbound Wilshire on-ramps
  • Southbound I-405 to eastbound I-10 connector
  • Southbound I-405 to westbound I-10 connector

Detour: From the southbound I-405, exit at Santa Monica Boulevard, turn left to eastbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn right to southbound Sepulveda Boulevard, turn right to westbound National Boulevard, and turn left on to the southbound I-405 on-ramp on National Boulevard.

What to expect:

A bird’s eye view of the exploratory shaft for the Purple Line Extension

Above are a collection of photos of the exploratory shaft near the intersection of Wilshire and Odgen that has been built for the Purple Line Extension project. All the photos were taken from a workbox hoisted by the crane being used to lift excavated soil from the shaft; the first photo was taken this morning, the remainder over the last several weeks.

The L.A. Times just posted an interesting story and video about the shaft and the fossils found in it while digging has been underway. And here’s our post from last week about the shaft.

Mayor Garcetti’s news release on $200 million in federal funding in next year’s budget for Metro projects

Here’s a news release from the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on the good news in President Obama’s recently-announced budget for the next fiscal year:

GARCETTI ANNOUNCES FEDERAL FUNDING IN PRESIDENT’S BUDGET; URGES CONGRESS TO PASS MULTI-YEAR FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION BILL

LOS ANGELES–Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today that President Obama’s FY 14-15 budget contains $200 million for critical Los Angeles transportation projects — $100 million each for the Regional Connector and the Westside Subway Extension. He also urged Congress to take immediate action to pass a multi-year Federal surface transportation bill.

“Especially in these tough economic times, you have to prove to Washington that you’re going to deliver real results,” Mayor Garcetti said. “This funding represents the White House’s recognition that our transit program will spend money wisely, create thousands of jobs, and make a real difference for L.A. commuters. Now, it’s time for Congress to act and pass a multi-year Federal surface transportation bill.”

The President’s proposed budget funding follows Los Angeles’ recent win of a $670 million Federal New Starts Full Funding Agreement Grant for the Downtown Regional Connector, which brings together the city’s various rail lines to make transfers convenient, dramatically improving the rider experience.

The Westside Subway Extension project will extend the subway from the current Wilshire and Western station terminus 3.9 miles to Wilshire and La Cienega. The subway project will create 25,000 jobs.

 

The funding in the budget is from the federal New Starts program, which helps local transit agencies pay for expensive transit projects. The deal for Regional Connector funding from New Starts was finalized last month and the agreement for the Purple Line Extension should be soon completed. New Starts money is awarded by the government over several years, thus the $100 million in next year’s budget for each of the projects.

Metro and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department begin effort to reduce loitering and improve safety at North Hollywood Red Line station

Here’s the news release from Metro:

NORTH HOLLYWOOD – Fulfilling a request from Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s (LASD) Transit Services Bureau, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) North Hollywood Division and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have joined in efforts to enhance safety at the North Hollywood station of the Metro Red Line by installing new security cameras and “No Loitering” signs.

Temporary video surveillance cameras have been in place around the ground level plaza while preparations are made for permanent installation of dedicated security monitoring. Metro maintains security cameras and monitoring within the North Hollywood station, at the platform and inside Metro Red Line trains. In addition, “No Loitering” signs have been installed to prevent persons without valid transportation business from remaining in the area for extended periods of time.

“The people of North Hollywood have a fantastic resource in the Metro Red Line subway and we want to make sure it remains safe and easy to use,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “Metro, the LASD and LAPD have done an excellent job keeping the neighborhood and the North Hollywood station safe and we are always looking for ways to enhance the experience of riders on the subway.”

Constituent feedback to the Council District 2 office has included complaints that there have been people loitering around the plaza and unauthorized vendors setting up shop. If left unaddressed by law enforcement, Metro and the Council office, these things could lead to litter, disruptive public behavior and crime.

Temporary video monitoring is conducted through five trailer-mounted cameras on a telescoping mast that provide high level views of the plaza and parking lot. The “No Loitering” signs comply with Metro’s Code of Customer Conduct prohibiting unnecessary lingering in Metro facilities or vehicles were it interferes with use.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 13

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Looming train shortage at Metro (ZevWeb) 

Metro is in a race against time. Literally. The big question tackled by this story on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website: will there be enough rail cars to operate enough train service on two projects under construction — Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension — and more than halfway complete?

Excerpt:

So, with a likely initial shortfall of about 50 train cars, the issue presents some tough decisions for Metro, all of which are likely to be unpopular with the traveling public. It could delay the new lines’ openings, operate them with shorter, more crowded trains, offer less frequent service, or redeploy cars from elsewhere in the system, thus spreading the pain more broadly.

The shortage is expected to be most severe in the first months of operation for the two new extensions, with steady improvements coming as new rail cars arrive throughout 2016. But even the prospect of a relatively short-lived disruption has been enough to strain the relationship between Metro, which will operate the lines, and the two construction authorities charged with successfully completing the projects.

Samantha Bricker, chief operating officer for the Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority, expects Expo Phase 2 to be ready for testing in the summer of 2015, which would make it possible for the line—running from Culver City to Santa Monica— to serve the public as early as December, 2015. But she’s worried that the train car shortage could impede that schedule and disappoint passengers looking forward to jumping aboard the westernmost phase of a light rail line that’s already attracting large numbers of riders.

“If these projects are done on time and there are no trains there, the public is going to go nuts,” Bricker predicted.

Metro’s Gold Line Foothill Extension, running from Pasadena to Azusa, is expected to open just two months later.  Habib Balian, chief executive officer of the Foothill Construction Authority, said he, too, is worried that his line’s opening will be delayed or marred by diminished service in the early months.

“It’s going to sit there and cobwebs are going to grow until Metro starts service, or they are going to put wimpy service on all the rail lines,” Balian said, referring to the possibility of importing rail cars from elsewhere in the system.

The problem dates back to November 2009 when negotiations between Metro and  rail car manufacturer AnsaldoBreda on a deal for new rail cars finally collapsed. Metro staff and some Metro Board members were never happy with the firm (including Yaroslavsky and Supervisor Mike Antonovich, perhaps most prominently) which had previously delivered flawed rail cars to Metro under an earlier contract. Despite this poor track record with Metro, the city of L.A. delegation of the Metro Board were hoping that the firm would build a manufacturing facility in downtown Los Angeles to provide much needed jobs during the Great Recession. That, of course, would have been a significant political victory.

The rail car contract then had to be re-bid and it wasn’t until April 2012 that the Metro Board — with great urging from Metro staff — finally approved a contract for 78 new rail cars with Kinkisharyo. That firm is presently building an assembly facility for the rail cars in Palmdale and company officials say that it will be very difficult to accelerate delivery of the vehicles.

In the meantime, Metro is sending a delegation to the company’s headquarters in Japan later this month to see if there is any way to get more vehicles quicker. Deliveries are currently scheduled to begin in September 2015 and continue through 2017. As for the Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Metro has been forecasting that both will open in early 2016. The projects together add 17 miles of track to the Metro system, meaning more trains are needed to cover that turf and maintain existing schedules.

Bottom line: this is really a story about politics and the awarding of big contracts.

UPDATE: Metro officials say they do not believe that the agency will be 50 rail cars short assuming the projects open on time — which, of course, remains to be seen. Officials also say they may be able to shift maintenance schedules around so that more rail cars will be available to operate at any given time.

Southern California Transit Advocates takes position on fare increases (SO.CA.TA website) 

The group isn’t large but they do pay close attention to transit in our region and, in particular, serve as watchdogs over Metro and other agencies. The group says it generally supports the fare increases proposed by Metro but would like to see some changes.

In particular, SO.CA.TA wants to see the free transfer period extended from 90 minutes to two hours and for TAP cards to be sold for single rides on buses for the same price as they’re sold from ticket machines at rail stations ($1). The group also declined to support the second option for fare increases that focuses on separate fares for peak and off-peak times. That, the group said, is a poor idea that would only make taking transit more confusing.

Fossils unearthed by Metro reveals L.A.’s watery past (KPCC)

A nice look at the reasons why that marine fossils are being found in the exploratory shaft for the Purple Line Extension project. The main reason: the beach wasn’t always located at its present location in L.A. :)

Becoming a biker in L.A.: buying a bike (KCRW)

A rookie cyclist dives into the world of bikes and bike gear to try to determine what she really needs. The gist of it: the proliferation of bike gear and fancy bikes has made things a lot more difficult than when Old Goats such as me bought bikes in decades past.

Community invited to open house for new Airport Integrated Project Management Office

012114JO026

Metro and Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) are inviting the community to an open house for the new Airport Integrated Project Management Office (IPMO).

Event Details
Saturday, March 15, 2014
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Airport IPMO
9323 Bellanca Avenue
Los Angeles, 90045

Community residents, property owners, business owners and merchants along the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project alignment are invited to learn how Metro and WSCC staff are collaborating, designing and beginning to build the 8.5-mile, $2.058 billion light-rail project that will extend from Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards to the Metro Green Line. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony, entertainment by the Crenshaw High School Jazz Band, refreshments and a raffle. Free parking will be available in an adjacent lot. For more information, crenshawcorridor@metro.net or call (213) 922-2736.