Metro Business Opportunities Summit to be held Monday to help South Los Angeles merchants

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Metro Business Opportunities Summit

The Community Leadership Council (CLC) in partnership with Metro invites you to come learn about business and professional opportunities at the Metro Business Opportunities Summit. The Summit is a forum for Metro to inform and educate local small businesses around South Los Angeles about the broad range of economic opportunities. During the Summit, both Metro and Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors will highlight the broad range of their respective business opportunities and non-construction-related professional career options that will be available on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project and other transit projects.

The Metro Business Opportunities Summit is taking place on Monday, October 28, 2013, from 9am to 3pm at the California African American Museum located at 600 State Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037.

For more info contact info@metrosummitla.com.


Roundup of today’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors; here’s what the agency’s deciders decided

A long meeting today clocking in at four hours and five minutes — about 1 1/4 Hobbit movies by my estimation or enough time to watch the new Captain America trailer 180 times or so.

In the order the items were tackled, here are some of the votes and discussion by the Board (full agenda here)

•The Board approved a motion by five Board Members that would have Metro be the lead agency in developing a countywide bike share plan. Here’s a recent Source post about the motion.

•Votes on items 16, 68 and 69 were postponed so the Board could receive more information. The items concern Metro’s ability to issue a series of small contracts for technical work.

•The Board approved a contract modification for the Airport Metro Connector for more work on one project alternative: a rail connection with the airport’s planned Intermodal Transportation Facility (ITF).

As part of that item, the Board also approved a motion by Board Chair Diane DuBois for Metro to perform a feasability study of locating the ITF near the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s maintenance yard at 96th Street and Aviation.

The Board also approved a second motion by Supervisor Don Knabe, L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin and Santa Monica Councilwoman Pam O’Connor asking for monthly updates at Metro Board Committee meetings on Los Angeles World Airport’s and Metro’s ongoing work to connect the LAX terminals to Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line.

Speaking in favor of that motion, both Ridley-Thomas and Bonin said the Airport Metro Connector should be one of the Board’s highest priorities and that more attention needs to paid to it.

Here’s a recent Source post explaining the many issues involved with the Airport Connector.

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Metro applies for federal funding for Regional Connector project

Metro CEO Art Leahy informed Metro staff and Board today that the agency has officially sent in its application for federal New Starts funding for the Regional Connector project to the Federal Transit Administration.

It’s a first step in the process of obtaining a federal contribution for the 1.9-mile underground light rail project to connect the Blue, Gold and Expo Lines in downtown L.A. The full funding grant application for the Purple Line Extension project is planned next.

Here’s the update from CEO Leahy:

Correspondence to FTA – Regional Connector Full Funding Grant Agreement

This morning, I transmitted our Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) application for the Regional Connector to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers.  Over the coming months, the FFGA for the Regional Connector will be fully reviewed and considered by the FTA and the relevant congressional committees.  The FFGA for the Regional Connector includes a federal New Starts commitment of $670 million.  I would like to personally express my appreciation to FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and his professional staff in Washington, DC and at the FTA’s regional office in San Francisco and local office in Los Angeles for their exceptional efforts in working with our agency’s staff on this planned transit project.  For your review, please find my letter to FTA Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers.

October meeting of Metro Board of Directors is underway

October Board of Directors agenda

Good morning, Source readers! Metro Board Chairwoman Diane DuBois has just dropped the gavel on the October meeting of the agency’s Board of Directors, the 13-member group that serves as the ultimate deciders for Metro.

The agenda is above. It doesn’t quite have the appearance of being a fall classic — but you never know. That’s why they play the game!

Those who wish to listen to the meeting can phone 213-922-6045.

As per usual, I’ll provide updates later on The Source.

Gold Line Foothill Extension kicks off further planning for Phase 2B

Attendees at yesterday's event for the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

Attendees at yesterday’s event for the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority held held an event Wednesday in Claremont to announce the start of further planning and conceptual for the Azusa-to-Montclair phase of the project.

An 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line between eastern Pasadena and Azusa is currently under construction with Metro forecasting an opening in early 2016. An extension beyond Azusa is in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan but is not funded at this time. The Metro Board earlier this year, however, did approve a concept that allows for up to $36 million of Measure R funding (Measure R is funding the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment plus a new rail yard in Monrovia) to be used for planning, engineering and environmental work for the segment beyond Azusa.

Here is the news release from the Construction Authority, the independent agency building and planning the Foothill Extension:

CONSTRUCTION AUTHORITY KICKS-OFF ENGINEERING PHASE OF

METRO GOLD LINE LIGHT RAIL LINE FROM AZUSA TO MONTCLAIR
Local, State and Federal Officials Attend Meeting to Learn What to Expect Over Next Two Years of Design/Engineering

 

CLAREMONT, CA – Today, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) hosted a kick-off meeting for the much-anticipated Azusa to Montclair segment of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail line. The 12.3-mile project will extend light rail service from the current terminus under construction in the city of Azusa, to the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair.

“This is an important time for the project,” stated Construction Authority CEO, Habib F. Balian. “Over the next two years, we will take this project from a less than 10% design understanding to a point where we will be ready for a design-build procurement. This will be a period of hard work for the Construction Authority and our partner cities, but it will definitely pay off as we ready the project for construction.”

Presenting to a capacity-filled room of federal, state and local officials, station artists, and key stakeholders, a panel of four speakers provided details on the next steps in the process to advance engineering and station art for the project. The panel – consisting of Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian, Chief Project Officer Chris Burner, Station Environment Coordinator Tanya Patsaouras, and Public Art Program Manager Lesley Elwood – provided the attendees updates on the latest station design criteria, choices cities will have regarding station colors and materials, the schedule for advanced conceptual engineering and station art development, and much more.

 

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Metro Board to consider approval of concept for Union Station Master Plan that would add new concourse and relocate bus plaza

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Work on the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan has been underway for more than a year, with Metro staff and contractors tackling some big questions about the best way to improve the facility Metro purchased in 2011.

The Master Plan team is asking the agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday for approval to further develop a concept that would construct a greatly expanded east-west passenger concourse while relocating the bus plaza to a north-south configuration closer to Alameda Street that would also consolidate many of the bus stops around Union Station.

The above staff handout includes several good visuals that best explain the concept. It’s important to keep in mind that these are not final designs by any means — in other words, these are not architectural plans. Rather, it’s a chance for the Board to start their process of deciding what-goes-where on the 40-acre Union Station property.

As the staff report below explains, some of the rationale for this approach for the relocated bus terminal are:

• More flexibility to grow and change, if needed;
• Best connections/transfers to other modes;
• Preserve the historic integrity of the station;
• Strongest connection to existing street bus stops including the Silver Line/EI Monte transitway and Alameda and Cesar Chavez bus routes;
• Most successful at minimizing pedestrian/bus conflicts.

The report also explains the reasons for pursuing an East-West Passenger Concourse:

• Creates strong east/west spine across the site both to accommodate transit and knit together the two sides of the property;
• Can be phased to work with SCRIP, leveraging the opportunity to realize improvements in the concourse while accommodating the access changes necessitated by SCRIP [SCRIP is the acronym for the run-through tracks project that will allow trains to arrive and depart from Union Station to both the north and south];
• Allows a reconfiguring of the east side of the property which can promote development;
• Frees up the historic station for re-programming that creates a destination not completely reliant upon the transit uses.

Naturally, a few questions have been raised about two existing current structures — the Patsaouras Transit Plaza and the Mozaic Apartments. Bottom line: Under the new plan, the transit plaza would be relocated and the Mozaic perhaps replaced. The large four-story underground parking garage built as part of the transit plaza would remain.

Of course, it’s still going to take quite some time to finish the master plan, have the new buildings designed, engineered and then secure funding for them. By the time that occurs, both the existing transit plaza and apartment building will have likely been around for quite some time.

One project that is going forward — with federal funding — is the new El Monte Busway station on the south side of the Union Station property along the 101 freeway. In the meantime, Metro is also working on several other fronts, including an effort to better link Union Station to the surrounding area and provide more amenities in the existing station.

Union Station Master Plan item

I-405 project is now 85 percent complete

405 Sign

The end is in sight for the 405 improvements project.

Good news from the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which has successfully navigated through some considerable obstacles during construction of a 10-mile northbound HOV lane between the 10 and 101 freeways. Project managers now report that the project is officially 85 percent complete, with major milestones planned before the end of the year.

The project that brought the public the “Carmageddon I and II” mega-closures in 2011 and 2012, respectively, was originally scheduled to open in May of this year. However, retaining wall problems, utility relocations, legal challenges, problems with procuring needed rights-of-way and efforts to avoid a county storm drain, among others, have required extensive mitigation efforts. The project team continues to open parts of the project as soon as they are ready and safe for public use — but the entire project won’t be done until the middle of next year.

The Design-Build delivery method used to build the I-405 improvements has allowed design and construction to occur simultaneously, shaving up to seven years off the construction schedule compared to traditional Design-Bid-Build methods, but even still the unavoidable project delays and cost increases have taken a toll on public patience. U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman recently queried the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the federally funded project and its delays, asking how the project could be completed as quickly as possible.

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Next generation bus on display this morning at Union Station

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A look inside a new Metro bus. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Thursday toured one of the next-generation buses that will be soon part of the agency’s fleet while also expressing thanks to agency staff for their efforts to improve transit access for mobility-impaired passengers.

Mayor Garcetti met with General Manager of Transit Capital Programs Richard Hunt and Andrew Janicki of Metro’s Civil Rights Division to demonstrate features that make the New Flyer bus a step forward over current models.

Metro has installed industry-leading improvements that go beyond requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The boarding ramp has an angle of 7 to 1, instead of the ADA required 6 to 1, meaning the new ramps won’t be as steep as the current ones.

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Motion asks Metro to pursue countywide bike sharing program to help people get to and from transit stations

Above is one of the more interesting motions to come forth in the October round of meetings for the Metro Board of Directors. It involves one of our favorite issues: first mile, last mile — i.e. how to get people to and from transit stations.

The gist of it: The motion, by five members of the board, seeks to have Metro pursue a countywide bike share program that would put bikes at key transit stations throughout Los Angeles County. The motion sailed through the Board's Executive Management Committee on Thursday and will be considered by the full Board next Thursday.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti explained the rationale for the motion on Thursday, saying he believes it would be better to create a countywide program instead of having individual cities pursue their own programs. A county program, the mayor said, is “the best way to create a simple system that crosses city boundaries.”

The city of L.A. had been pursuing a bike share program with BikeNation, but that effort has been stalled.

Damien Newton at L.A. Streetsblog has a good post on the motion, which is hardly surprising: Damien has long been following the bike share issue in our region.

The article includes this quote from Metro Board Member and L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin that I think sums up this effort and the challenge ahead for Metro:

“To be successful, we need to make sure our bike share program is user friendly. We can’t have a maze of competing bureaucratic regulations, standards and fees from city to city. A single membership card and a single membership fee will provide easy access to the system, allowing someone to check out a bike in Venice and return it in Santa Monica, or check it out in West Hollywood and return it in Silverlake.”