President Obama plugs America Fast Forward-type bond program

Interesting legislative update from Metro CEO Art Leahy, on a nice shout-out from President Obama on the proposed America Fast Forward bond program:

President Obama Backs America Fast Forward Bonds in Address at Port of New Orleans

Earlier today, at an event held at the port of New Orleans, President Barack Obama outlined his plan to immediately invest $50 billion in America’s infrastructure through his “Fix it First” initiative.

The initiative, as outlined in a White House fact sheet, includes a modified version of our America Fast Forward Transportation Bond program. Specifically, the White House fact sheet shares that the “new America Fast Forward bonds program would build upon and expand a successful program created in the Recovery Act to attract private capital for infrastructure investments.”

The main difference between our agency’s America Fast Forward Transportation Bond program and the bond program being advanced by the President relates to the level of federal subsidy.

Our agency’s bond initiative envisions the federal government subsidizing nearly all interest costs associated with America Fast Forward Transportation Bonds, while the President’s plan includes a more modest rate of subsidy.

I look forward to continuing our work with White House officials, seniors officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Members of Congress and their staff to advance our Board-approved policy of seeking to have America Fast Forward Transportation Bonds enacted into federal law.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Congress gets on board with the bond program. They previously incorporated an expanded TIFIA loan program — also proposed by America Fast Forward — as part of the last multi-year transportation bill. TIFIA provides federally-backed low-interest loans.

The bond program is equally important as it could deliver the dollars Metro and other transportation agencies need to build big, pricey projects. And Metro has more than a few of those it is trying to build.

Major 405 project milestone: all Wilshire ramps now open

Great news today with the final Wilshire ramp to the 405 reopening to traffic. While there is some minor work remaining on the ramps, motorists can now fully see the two benefits: more capacity on the ramps and, equally important, the ramps on both sides of the freeway separate traffic that is exiting and entering the freeway. In the past, that has been a major source of slowdowns as motorists weaved their way onto and off the 405.

Here is the full news release from Metro:

Project Milestone: The Official End of Wilshire ‘Ramp Jam’

Metro, Caltrans, Kiewit Open Last Massive Flyover Ramp at Wilshire/I-405 Interchange

Los Angeles, Calif. – Attention motorists: All ramps are now open for business at the Wilshire/I-405 Interchange, bringing an official end to onerous, long-term ramp closures that have impacted traffic for more than a year at one of L.A.’s most heavily traveled street and freeway interchanges.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West today opened the massive eastbound Wilshire to northbound I-405 “flyover” ramp to the public, ending a 90-day closure approximately two weeks earlier than scheduled.

The new, seismically updated ramp has nearly three times more capacity than the original ramp built in the 1950s. The new ramp is 3,129 feet long compared with the former ramp at 824 feet. It will allow far more vehicles to queue on the ramp rather than Wilshire and Sepulveda Boulevards. The on-ramp typically accommodates 8,000 vehicles per day, according to Caltrans figures.

The final ramp opening ends so-called “Ramp Jam” at Wilshire, a series of weeks- and months-long ramp closures that were required to improve the Wilshire interchange as part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. While some intermittent night-time only closures may still remain, the reopening of all Wilshire ramps marks a major milestone for the ongoing delivery of the gigantic freeway improvements project that will finally complete the High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane network on the northbound I-405. When done, the bi-directional HOV lane will extend between Orange and Los Angeles Counties, making it the longest continuous HOV lane in the country.

“The reconstructed Wilshire interchange will produce some of the greatest traffic improvements for this entire 405 project,” said Diane Dubois, Metro Board Chair. “The added capacity of these ramps will meet expected vehicle demands in 2031 and will help reduce traffic backups on local streets. These new ramps will also make it safer for everyone who drives the 405.”

Flyover ramps constitute key safety improvements at the Wilshire interchange. The previous off-ramp/on-ramp configuration presented a dangerous weave situation at two vital intersections where drivers struggled with each another to reach a through freeway lane or change lanes to reach the off-ramp exit. The new flyover ramps now physically separate these vehicles in an exclusive lane, eliminating these conflicts.

“I want to thank our Westside residents, businesses and commuters for incredible patience throughout this project,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said. “Today, their perseverance has been rewarded with a set of freeway ramps that are far safer and more efficient, just one of the many improvements they will be able to enjoy when our 405 project is completed in less than a year.”

The flyover ramps are 30 feet above street level — much taller than common on- and off-ramps, effectively making the interchange’s visual profile striking as a directional reference point.

Overall, the Wilshire interchange’s eight freeway ramps had to be reconstructed in part to make room for an extra traffic lane created by the project. Combined, the rebuilt ramps add a whopping 75 percent additional capacity to the interchange. Below is a summary of key ramp capacity improvements:

  • · Southbound off-ramp to eastbound Wilshire is 134 percent longer.
  • · Northbound off-ramp to westbound Wilshire is 157 percent longer.
  • · Northbound off-ramp to eastbound Wilshire is 15 percent longer.
  • · Westbound Wilshire on-ramp to southbound I-405 is 59 percent longer.
  • · Westbound Wilshire on-ramp to northbound I-405 is 38 percent longer.
  • · Eastbound Wilshire onramp to southbound I-405 18 percent longer.
  • · Eastbound Wilshire on-ramp to northbound I-405 is 280 percent longer.

“Caltrans is very pleased to mark the opening of the Wilshire ramps and looks forward to the increasing benefits we will see as more segments complete,” said District 7 Acting Director Carrie Bowen. “This carpool lane is of the utmost significance to the state freeway system, creating a vital link for motorists between Los Angeles and cities in Orange County.”

Work crews worked day and night to demolish and rebuild the ramps. Kiewit was able to eliminate several planned extended duration closures from the schedule by developing alternate work plans and performing major work during night-time hours.The southbound ramps were modified without requiring complete rebuilding. Other anticipated ramp closures at Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevards also were successfully eliminated from the construction schedule.

Looking forward to its next immediate milestone, the project team anticipates opening the northbound I-405 off-ramp at Sunset Boulevard in the coming weeks. The new off-ramp will be 60 percent longer. The extra capacity will benefit drivers traveling to the busy Westwood/UCLA area.

Metro reports that the project is now officially 85 percent complete. The project team continues to open parts of the project as soon as they are safe for public use. By the end of this year, the project team is on track to complete three other significant deliverables that also will have tangible benefits for motorists traveling on the northbound I-405 and in neighboring communities. These include the opening of a higher capacity northbound freeway off-ramp at Sunset Boulevard, the Skirball Center Drive and Mulholland Drive freeway bridges.

For latest updates visit the project web site at or follow the project on twitter: and Facebook at For real-time traffic conditions, visit the Caltrans web site at

Full closure of California Avenue/Duarte Road intersection in Monrovia on Thursday for grade crossing work


From the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority:

WHO: Residents / Commuters in the City of Monrovia.

WHAT: This Thursday, the intersection of California Ave and Duarte Rd will be fully closed to thru-traffic to allow crews to reconfigure the traffic lanes and re-stripe the road for continuing grade crossing construction in the area.

WHEN: Thursday, November 7, 2013 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., weather permitting: Intersection of California Ave and Duarte Rd will be closed to thru-traffic .

WHERE: Intersection of California Ave and Duarte Rd in the City of Monrovia.


- During the closure of the intersection, detour routes will be in place and signage will be posted to direct motorists.

- Following the closure, Duarte Rd will re-open to one lane of traffic in each direction and California Ave will remain closed north of Duarte Rd.
- Motorists are advised to expect delays.

- Surrounding businesses will remain open and accessible during the closure.

Construction schedules are subject to change for various reasons, including, but not limited to, weather conditions and unforeseen delays.


- Visit

# # #

About the Construction Authority: The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment from Union Station to Pasadena and is underway on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Foothill Extension is a $1.7 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa segment is fully funded by Measure R and will be completed in September 2015, when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will determine when the line will open for passenger service. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $500 million, will be overseen by the Construction Authority to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment. The Azusa to Montclair segment is environmentally cleared and is proceeding to advanced conceptual engineering.

Great video of Purple Line Extension….in Moscow

Grab your Troika Card and check out this great video of construction work on the Purple Line Extension in Moscow — only thing missing is “Eye of the Tiger” from the soundtrack. Of course, Metro is gearing up for construction of the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension between the existing Wilshire/Western station and Wilshire/La Cienega in Beverly Hills.

With car traffic in Moscow having taken a turn for the much, much worse since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Moscow subway is undergoing a tremendous expansion this decade with additional mileage and stations being added to several lines.  Wikipedia (to be taken with an appropriate grain of salt) says there are 15 tunnel boring machines currently at work, which sounds plausible.

Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar project to host public meeting Monday, Nov. 4, at LAPD headquarters


Obviously the project has been in the news lately because of concerns over its budget. There is also — as far as I can tell — a lot of enthusiasm and interest in the project from the public.

So this is a good chance to hear about the ongoing planning and funding process. To learn more about the streetcar — a city of Los Angeles project — please visit the streetcar’s home page.

I-405 contractor pours concrete deck for Skirball Bridge

Photo credit: Ned Racine

Photo shows planned sidewalk next to barrier that will separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic on the Skirball Center Drive bridge.  The new bridge will have two sidewalks, one on each side for improved pedestrian and animal crossings. The old bridge only had one sidewalk.  Construction workers posted an American flag on the bridge as a sign of pride. The north half of the bridge was completed earlier.  Photo credit: Ned Racine, Metro

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Contractor reports that it conducted a successful operation last Saturday night/Sunday morning pouring the concrete deck for the south half of the new Skirball Center Drive Bridge in the Sepulveda Pass.

The operation required both the northbound and southbound I-405 to be closed at different times in the early a.m. hours Sunday morning.  The freeway reopened to traffic on schedule.

This photo, taken looking northwest toward Skirball Center, captures the newly poured south half of the bridge curing under plastic blankets. The plastic controls the rate at which the concrete cools, eliminating the chance of surface cracks. The deck will cure for approximately 10 days. After about 28 days the concrete will reach its design strength, although concrete continues to slowly cure for months.

Next, the contractor will build approach slabs, barrier, and expansion joints.

The Skirball Bridge is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year.

Purple Line Extension: searching for tiebacks under Wilshire Boulevard

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As part of the prep work for building the first phase of the Purple Line Extension, Metro contractors began exploratory work last week looking for tiebacks under Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Tiebacks are underground anchors that help support buildings and other structures. (Here’s the work notice).

The photo above was taken Sunday in Beverly Hills near Wilshire and Le Doux Road — one block west of La Cienega.

Utility relocation work is underway at the site of the future La Brea Station and is expected to begin in 2014 at the Fairfax station area.  You can find copies of work notices on the project web site (  Click on the “Field Work” tab.

The first phase of the subway project will extend the Purple Line for 3.9 miles from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega. It is forecast to open in 2023. Reminder: There is a Section I Advisory Group Meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Petersen Automotive Museum; project updates will be provided for area residents, business owners and anyone else who is interested! Details here.

More than 300 small business owners attended Crenshaw Summit today

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A huge transit project such as  the Crenshaw/LAX Line — with a $2-billion-plus budget — has the potential to bring economic opportunities along the train’s route, the reason Metro held a Business Opportunities Summit today to ensure local business owners know how they can work with Metro and take advantage of everything the project brings.

More than 300 small, minority- and women-owned businesses, as well as job seekers, attended the summit. They were able to meet with various Metro department heads as well as hear from Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metro Board Member Jackie Dupont-Walker, Metro CEO Art Leahy, the Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council and Danny Bakewell, the L.A. Sentinel Publisher.

Here’s the press release from Metro:

Metro hosted a Business Opportunity Summit today at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park. The goal was to share work and career opportunities with small businesses and individuals along the alignment so that they can take part in the economic benefits created by construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Business Opportunity Summit is a partnership between Metro and the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspapers, including the Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council (CLC).

“Thanks to Measure R, Metro is engaged in one of the nation’s largest public works building programs covering dozens of transit and highway projects,” said Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. “Learning how to do business with Metro will be a critical step for small, minority and women owned business to participate in the economic benefits these projects are creating.”

“Small business owners are the economic engines of our communities,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We must empower them and encourage entrepreneurship for all business owners especially minority and women owned businesses. We must harness the economic opportunity that the Crenshaw to LAX transit project will bring to our region. “

The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester and the LAX area with eight stations, a maintenance facility for rail vehicles and park and ride lots. Also included in the project will be construction of traction power substations and the acquisition of rail vehicles and maintenance equipment.

The new rail stations will be Expo/Crenshaw, Crenshaw/Martin Luther King, Crenshaw/Vernon, Crenshaw/Slauson, Florence/West, Florence/La Brea, Florence/Hindry and Aviation/Century.

“Metro is transforming the urban landscape of Los Angeles thanks to all the Measure R funded transit and highway projects,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “At the Economic Summit, Metro reached out to small, minority and women owned businesses and individuals to take full advantage of economic opportunities created by these projects today and beyond.”

The summit attracted more than 300 small, minority and women owned businesses, as well as job seekers who were provided information by Metro’s Diversity and Economic Opportunity Department (DEOD), Human Resources and the company that will build the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, Walsh/Shea Constructors

In addition, Metro’s Human Resources staff provided basic information, including how to file a job application and what positions are available, from bus operators to professionals. DEOD staff answered questions about certification and procurement for business owners.

Stay informed by following us on The Source and El Pasajero at,, and and

Art of Transit: Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors, contracted to build the Crenshaw/LAX Line, at the Crenshaw Business Opportunities Summit. Photo via Metro’s Instagram.

Full I-405 closure in Sepulveda Pass planned Saturday night, Oct. 26

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project will be pouring the concrete deck for the new Skirball Drive Bridge in the Sepulveda Pass, work that will require the full closure of both directions of the I-405 in the area beginning this Saturday night, October 26.

Southbound I-405:  Lane closures start on Saturday, October 26 at 10 p.m.  Closure will be from Valley Vista Boulevard to the southbound Skirball Center Dr on-ramp from 1 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Northbound I- 405:  Lane closures start on Saturday, October 26 at 10 p.m. Closure will be from Getty Center Dr to the northbound Skirball onramp from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday morning.

Skirball Bridge:  Skirball Bridge will be closed from northbound Skirball Center Dr off-ramp to Sepulveda Boulevard on Saturday, October 26 and Sunday, October 27, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.


  • I-405 southbound closure: exit Valley Vista off-ramp and detour south on Sepulveda Boulevard to the I-405 southbound Getty on-ramp.
  • I-405 northbound closure: exit Getty Center Drive off-ramp and detour north on Sepulveda Boulevard to the northbound I-405 on-ramp at Greenleaf Street.
  • Skirball Bridge: To go south: head south on Sepulveda Boulevard to the I-405 southbound Getty on-ramp. To go north: head north on Sepulveda Boulevard to the northbound I-405 onramp at Greenleaf Street.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard will be open northbound and southbound from Getty Center Drive to the U.S. 101. Getty Center Dr. southbound on-ramp and Getty Center northbound off-ramp will be open.

For additional project information or to obtain detour maps, visit  Follow the project on social media at and For real-time traffic conditions, visit Caltrans web site at

City of West Hollywood holds ribbon cutting for La Brea Streetscape Project

WeHo officials dedicate the new landscaping. Photos by Joshua Barash.

WeHo officials dedicate the new landscaping. Photos by Joshua Barash.

The city of West Hollywood held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning for the La Brea Streetscape Project. The project includes design, installation and construction of streetscape improvements to a .375 mile segment of La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood.

These improvements include 3 new median islands, added green space to the area, used drought tolerant plants in the medians and parkways, stormwater infiltration parkways, 40 new trees, and 20 new pedestrian level lights. The project makes La Brea Avenue a greener, more complete street that can support more alternative modes of transit.

Metro provided $862, 500 in funding through Call for Projects for the $1.4M project.