Exciting new video: work on joining Expo Line Phase 1 to Expo Line Phase 2

It may not quite be the Golden Spike, but it’s still a nice sign of progress: above is a short video taken this week from the Culver City Station platform showing welding work where tracks from the existing Expo Line meet tracks from the second phase of the Expo Line. There is a lot more to be done to truly join the two projects — work is expected to be completed late this year — but it’s still exciting to see the present meet the future.

Below are a couple of nice photos in West L.A. of the Expo Line alignment taken by Darrell Clarke (who founded Friends4Expo and currently advocates for transit on behalf of the Sierra Club) from the top of the parking garage for Bed, Bath & Beyond in West L.A. The top photo is looking west toward the Bundy Station and the bottom photo is looking east toward the Expo Line bridge over Pico Boulevard and the undercrossing of the 405 freeway.

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The second phase of the Expo Line will extend the tracks for six miles from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with seven new stations. The Measure R-funded project is currently scheduled to open in early 2016.

Many more construction photos can be found on Expo Line Fan’s photo page.

And speaking of photos, an important public service announcement: Metro is very happy folks are excited about the many transportation projects under construction around Los Angeles County. And we’re happy that people want to take photographs. Our one request: please, please, please take those photos from vantage points outside the construction work zone. We don’t want anyone to get hurt and we don’t want to expose contractors and/or Metro to unnecessary litigation that will ultimately cost taxpayers. Work zones are covered by all sorts of laws and rules to keep workers safe. We really appreciate everyone’s cooperation especially with an unprecedented four Metro Rail projects currently under construction and a fifth on its way. Thank you!

 

“Notice to Proceed” granted for construction of Regional Connector project!

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It’s official: there are now four Metro Rail projects currently under construction after the Metro earlier this week gave its contractors — the Regional Connector Constructors, Joint Venture — the official “notice to proceed” on building the line. Until recently, Metro never had more than two rail projects underway at the same time.

The Regional Connector will be a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue Line and Expo Line in downtown Los Angeles. With a scheduled opening of 2020, the Regional Connector will allow trains to run directly between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles on an east-west line and between Azusa and Long Beach on a north-south line.

That should pass along several benefits to Metro Rail riders: faster and more frequent trains through downtown Los Angeles; fewer transfers for most riders; three new stations in Little Tokyo, Civic Center and 2nd/Hope, and; eliminating the need to turn around every Blue Line and Expo Line train at 7th/Metro Center, where both lines currently dead end.

Utility relocations and other advance work on the project began last year.

The three other Metro Rail lines under construction are a 6-mile extension of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica, an 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border and the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line that will run between the Expo Line and connect to the Green Line south of the airport.

The Expo Line and Gold Line Foothill Extension projects are currently scheduled to open in early 2016. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is scheduled to open in 2019; it will eventually connect to a people mover to be built by Los Angeles World Airports to connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line to terminals at the airport.

The Metro Board is also scheduled to consider awarding a construction contract later this month for the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway between the existing Wilshire/Western station and Wilshire/La Cienega. When work begins, there will be five Metro Rail projects under construction.

All five of these projects are receiving funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by two million Los Angeles County voters in Nov. 2008. Measure R included funds for 12 transit projects and a number of highway projects, as well as money for operations and funds for smaller transportation projects in cities in Los Angeles County.

Update on the vanishing federal Highway Trust Fund

If you have the brainspace and stomach for it, here’s an update from Metro CEO Art Leahy and the agency’s government relations team on efforts to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent:

U.S. House of Representatives Bill Would Fully Fund Federal Highway Trust Fund Through May 2015

Earlier today [Tuesday], legislation was introduced in the U.S House of Representatives by the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means that would fully fund the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) through May 2015. The bill (H.R. 5021) offered by Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) would derive approximately $6.5 billion in new revenues from “pension smoothing” and another $3.5 billion from extending custom fees until 2024. Critics of the legislation have noted that the bill raises revenues over a 10 year period to ensure the solvency of the HTF for only the next 10 months.

The House Committee on Ways and Means is expected to hold a markup of H.R. 5021 this Thursday.

Also this week, the Senate Committee on Finance, led by Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking member Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) may act on their own version of a bill to ensure the solvency of the HTF. The Senate proposal, while not finalized, is expected to raise approximately $8 billion in new revenues, which would keep the HTF solvent through December of this year.

Please find here the text of H.R. 5021. We will continue to communicate our high level of interest on this matter with members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation.

Why does this matter? See this post that explains how a depleted federal Highway Trust Fund could eventually result in service cuts at Metro and other financial impacts.


Metro report explains potential impacts of Highway Trust Fund being further depleted

Above is a report prepared by Metro CEO Art Leahy and Metro staff for the agency’s Board of Directors. The short of it: Metro would eventually have to cut service if the federal Highway Trust Fund continues to wither.

The bigger issue is this: Congress is due this year to approve a long-term transportation funding bill to replace the one that expires in 2014. The new bill needs to tackle an ongoing issue: the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is funded by the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993 (it’s 18.3 cents per gallon). Vehicles are more fuel efficient and people aren’t driving as much or using as much gas — thus, the HTF is struggling to keep up with expenses that have risen over time.

One of those expenses is helping supply funds to transit agencies across the country for items such as maintenance and construction projects. Local agencies tend to spend most of their funds on providing daily service and, thus, need the help of state and federal government for big expenses.

How to save the Highway Trust Fund from eventually going broke — it’s nowhere near that, yet — has been a source of considerable discussion in Washington D.C. for many years now. One idea that is constantly batted around is imposing a vehicle mileage tax that would tax motorists based on how many miles they drive instead of by the gallon.

But nothing has happened. Politics in D.C. are tough and the two-year election cycle in the House of Representatives makes things tougher. Hopefully this is just another threat to transportation funding that never comes to pass. Time will tell.

Metro staff recommend contractors to build Purple Line Extension’s first phase

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This another step forward for the 3.9-mile Purple Line Extension project and puts the subway addition closer to construction. Utility relocations and some other prep work have are already underway.

Three rail projects that are receiving Measure R funding are already under construction — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Regional Connector is ramping up for construction after the awarding of a construction contract earlier this year.

There will be more details on the Purple Line Extension contract later in the month when the staff report is released. The Metro Board is scheduled to consider the contract at its meeting later this month.

The news release from Metro:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) staff today recommended awarding a $1.636 billion contract to design and build a 3.9-mile extension of the Metro Purple Line subway from Wilshire and Western to Wilshire and La Cienega to a joint venture composed of three of the world’s top construction companies.

At its July 24 meeting the Metro Board will consider the recommendation to award a contract to the firms of Skanska, Traylor Bros. and J.F. Shea, a Joint Venture (STS). The Metro Board’s Construction Committee will first review staff’s recommendation on July 17.

The procurement process has been extensive and altogether has taken nearly two years to reach the point where the Metro Board this month will consider a contract award for the first phase of the subway extension.

The contract calls for building twin subway tunnels on a 3.92-mile alignment that includes three new underground stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. It also includes train control and signals, communications, traction power supply and distribution, and fare collection systems that will be integrated with the existing Metro Rail system. Construction activities could begin later this year depending on when the contract is awarded. The contract requires completion in October 2024. The contractors have proposed an early completion schedule saving 300 calendar days.

Combined, these three construction firms have more than 300 years of experience.    Traylor Bros., Inc. has a track record that features more than 110 tunneling projects including the Metro Gold Line Eastside project that connects downtown Los Angeles with Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. That project was completed in 2009 on time and within budget, and Traylor Bros. achieved 4.5 million work hours without incident and zero ground loss during construction.

Skanska is building the extension of the Expo light rail project from Culver City to Santa Monica, scheduled to open in early 2016. The project is on time and within budget.  The company also worked on the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa, also scheduled to open in 2016 and is on time and within budget.

Skanska and Traylor Bros. are the team building the Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile underground light rail project in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo lines.

Shea is part of a joint venture building the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, which will connect the Metro Expo and Green light rail lines in the Crenshaw and Inglewood corridors.

Shea and Traylor worked on the large City of Los Angeles Northeast Interceptor Sewer tunnel.  

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Avoid LAX “Century Crunch” traffic July 25-28 by taking public transit

The news release from Metro:

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Public transit is one of the best options for avoiding the “Century Crunch,” a 57-hour street closure on Century Boulevard to demolish the Century Boulevard Bridge leading into LAX during the weekend of July 25-28 as part of construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

Numerous transit lines, including FlyAway® bus, Metro Green Line with free LAX Shuttle G to and from airline terminals, Metro Bus, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Culver City Bus, Beach Cities Transit, and Torrance Transit will all provide access to the airport during the weekend bridge demolition operation.

Century Boulevard, one of the main access roads to the airport, will be closed to traffic at the Aviation Boulevard intersection beginning 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, through 6 a.m. Monday, July 28. Access to LAX from Sepulveda Boulevard will remain open as usual.  The old railroad bridge needs to be demolished to allow for the future construction of a new Century/Aviation light rail station.

“We avoided ‘Carmageddon’ on the 405 because we planned ahead and Angelenos chose to use transit and avoid unnecessary trips, and we can do the same during the ‘Century Crunch.’ If you are traveling to LAX during this time, it’s the perfect time to discover the car-free options that are available, and you just might decide to use them in the future.” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti.

The FlyAway® service offers four bus lines that serve all terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.  Boarding locations include the Metro Expo/La Brea Station, Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, the Van Nuys FlyAway® bus terminal in the San Fernando Valley, and Westwood/UCLA Flyaway.  A new FlyAway® service also will begin to operate from Santa Monica Civic Center on July 15. For more information on FlyAway® bus schedules, locations and fares, visit www.lawa.aero/flyaway.

To get to LAX by public transportation on the weekend of July 25-27 and beyond, it is hard to beat the Metro Green Line. Ride to the Aviation/LAX Station, go downstairs and catch the free “G-Aviation” LAX shuttle bus from Bays 6 and 7. The “G” shuttle is operated by the airport and it serves all passenger terminals. Metro Line 120 (Imperial Highway) also serves the Aviation/LAX Station.

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Metro Bus lines serving the airport include Lines 102, 111, 117, and 232.  These lines all terminate at the LAX City Bus Center on 96th Street just east of Sepulveda Boulevard. After getting off your bus, walk a short distance to the west end of the LAX City Bus Center and cross over to the LAX Parking Lot C depot where you catch the free “C” LAX shuttle bus to the LAX airline terminals. Line 102 serves Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Stocker Street, and La Tijera Boulevard. Line 111 serves Florence Avenue and Arbor Vitae Street. Line 117 serves Century Boulevard, and Line 232 serves Pacific Coast Highway and Sepulveda Boulevard south of LAX.

Municipal bus providers with service to LAX include Beach Cities Transit Line 109, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 3, Culver City Line 6 and Torrance Transit Line 8.  All four lines serve the LAX City Bus Center. Beach Cities, Big Blue Bus, and Culver City also serve the Metro Aviation/LAX Green Line Station.

The bus lines that will be affected by the Century Boulevard closure are Metro Bus 117 and Line 40 owl service, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 3, Culver City Bus Line 6 and Beach City Transit Line 109.  On the weekend of July 25-27, bus service on these lines will follow recommended detours through the area.

To plan your trip on public transportation, visit metro.net and use the trip planner.  For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the Century bridge demolition, related street closures and recommended detours go to metro.net/Crenshaw. Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CrenshawRail and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/crenshawrail.

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Follow LAX on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LAInternationalAirport, Twitter at www.twitter.com/flyLAXairport and www.LAXisHappening.com for airport construction and traffic-related impacts.

About Metro

Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines; a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and; the lead transportation planning agency for Los Angeles County. Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

Metrolink introduces 91 Line weekend service

From our friends at Metrolink:
A New Way to L.A.

Traveling to L.A. and Orange County on the weekends just got easier. Beginning July 5, Metrolink will offer weekend service from Downtown Riverside to L.A. with stops in between at La Sierra, North Main Corona, West Corona, Fullerton, Buena Park and Norwalk. Experience L.A. and beyond like never before with day trips to Chinatown, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pantages Theatre, L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Universal Studios, L.A. Live, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Old Town Pasadena and much more when you take the 91 Line to L.A. and connect on the Red, Purple, Expo and Gold lines. The 91 Line weekend service offers a new way to see L.A. and experience all that L.A. has to offer.

Due to this schedule change, San Bernardino Line weekend trains (351, 367, 364, 376) will no longer start or end at Riverside-Downtown, also effective July 5.

Metrolink $10 Weekend Day Pass

Metrolink offers a Weekend Day Pass for only $10. This pass allows a passenger to ride anytime, anywhere systemwide on Saturday or Sunday. The Weekend Day Pass includes free connections to most rail and bus lines throughout Southern California.

Inbound to L.A. Union Station 751 753
RIVERSIDE-DOWNTOWN 7:40 AM 9:00 AM
RIVERSIDE-LA SIERRA 7:50 AM 9:10 AM
NORTH MAIN CORONA 7:58 AM 9:18 AM
WEST CORONA 8:04 AM 9:24 AM
FULLERTON 8:29 AM 9:49 AM
BUENA PARK 8:36 AM 9:56 AM
NORWALK/SANTA FE SPRINGS 8:44 AM 10:04 AM
LA UNION STATION (arrival time) 9:20 AM 10:40 AM

Outbound to Riverside-Downtown

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LA UNION STATION 3:15 PM 7:15 PM
NORWALK/SANTA FE SPRINGS 3:36 PM 7:36 PM
BUENA PARK 3:42 PM 7:42 PM
FULLERTON 3:49 PM 7:49 PM
WEST CORONA 4:13 PM 8:13 PM
NORTH MAIN CORONA 4:20 PM 8:20 PM
RIVERSIDE-LA SIERRA 4:29 PM 8:29 PM
RIVERSIDE-DOWNTOWN (arrival time) 4:52 PM 8:55 PM