High Desert Corridor draft environmental study is released

map_corridor_hidesert_eng

Caltrans and Metro today released the long-awaited draft environmental study for the High Desert Corridor project, which contemplates a new 63-mile freeway between Palmdale in Los Angeles County and the town of Apple Valley in San Bernardino County — along with a possible high-speed rail line, bikeway and green energy transmission corridor. The study also considers the legally-required No Build alternative.

The draft study can be viewed by clicking here.

The High Desert Corridor sits north of the San Gabriel Mountains, traditionally the divide between the heavily populated Los Angeles Basin and the rural Mojave Desert. In recent years, however, desert cities such as Palmdale, Lancaster, Adelanto, Hesperia, Victorville and Apple Valley have grown tremendously and now have a combined population near 700,000. The study predicts more growth — and more traffic — in coming decades.

Transportation, however, has remained a challenge in the High Desert with Highway 138 remaining the primary east-west option. Highway 138 is narrow — two or four lanes, often with no center divider — and long ago earned a reputation for its safety issues.

As with other transportation projects, funding for the High Desert Corridor project will remain a challenge. At this time, the project is not funded, although Measure R helped provide money for the project’s environmental studies. Among the alternatives studied is a toll road that could raise funding needed to help finance the project.

The news release from Caltrans is after the jump.

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Crenshaw/LAX Line: Two week full street closure on Rodeo Road rescheduled for Oct. 24

The news release from Metro:

Metro’s contractor Walsh/Shea Corridor Contractors (WSCC) has rescheduled the Rodeo Road two week closure to Friday, Oct. 24.

The full street closure is needed to complete the underground perimeter wall with steel piles for the Crenshaw/Expo station box. The work schedule and the detours remains the same.

Originally rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 3, the two-week full street closure of Rodeo Road at Crenshaw Boulevard will precede excavation of the underground station. Nightly closures are taking place in this location from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next day as crews continue to work on storm drains and utilities in the area.

This location is of vital importance for the project since this is where the tunnel boring machines will be lowered to begin digging the southbound tunnel through Crenshaw/MLK station and finalize the Crenshaw/Vernon station. The lowering of the tunnel boring machine is expected to take place next year.

Preview of October Metro Service Council meetings

The San Fernando Valley Service Council leads off Halloween month (how did we get here so quickly?) with the first of our five monthly Service Council meetings beginning tonight. Fortunately, none of the meetings will be held on a Friday the 13th.

All Service Councils are scheduled to receive the monthly Director’s report, which provides statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. Two of the Councils — San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central — will receive updates on the implementation plan for Line 788, a new express service scheduled to begin in December that will link the San Fernando Valley and the Westside using the Sepulveda Pass HOV lanes on the I-405.

For more information about each Service Council, click on the name of the Council to view their web page. Meeting topics for Service Council meetings this month also include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 10/1) – Recognition of Dr. Richard Arvizu and Kymberleigh Richards for their service to the San Fernando Valley Service Council; Update on Line 788 Implementation.

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 10/8) – Swearing in of Maria Sipin as a new Westside/Central Service Council member, Update on Line 788 Implementation, Election of 2015 Chair and Vice-Chair for Westside/Central Service Council.

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 10/9) – Presentation on First – Last Mile Connectivity, Report on Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 public hearings.

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 10/10) – Recognition of Division 18 Bus Operators Gordon Green and Rickey Griffin; Presentation on Access Services.

San Gabriel Valley (5 pm, Monday, 10/13) – Presentation on Access Services; Report on Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 public hearings.

For a detailed listing of all Service Council meeting dates, times and locations, click here. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and share their comments with the Service Councils on improving bus service throughout LA County. If you would like to provide input to a Council but cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your comments in writing through the Service Council web page or send them to servicecouncils@metro.net. If your comments are for a specific Council, please make sure to indicate which one you are addressing in your e-mail.

Ground is broken for Regional Connector project to link Blue, Expo and Gold Lines

RegionalConnectorMap

RegConnectorPlan

The official groundbreaking for the $1.42-billion Regional Connector project is being held this morning in Little Tokyo. The 1.9-mile underground light rail line will link the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines, allowing for faster and more frequent service on Metro’s light rail lines to and through downtown Los Angeles.

The project will also eliminate the need to transfer for many light rail riders. Riders on the Expo and Blue Line will be able to continue north on light rail from 7th/Metro Center to other downtown neighborhoods such as the Financial District, Civic Center and Little Tokyo. Likewise, Gold Line riders will no longer have to transfer to the Red/Purple Line subway at Union Station to reach the heart of downtown.

The project is currently forecast to be completed in 2020. When done, Metro plans to run trains between Long Beach and Azusa on a north-south light rail line and east-west between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles. Metro continues to work on potential naming and color schemes for its light rail lines to be used in the future.

Three other Metro Rail projects are already under construction: the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line, the six-mile second phase of the Expo Line to downtown Santa Monica and the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension to the Azusa/Glendora border. The 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway is in pre-construction with utility relocations underway.

The Regional Connector, like those other projects, is receiving funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by nearly 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in November 2008.

Below are a pair of the station renderings. We’ll add more pics to The Source from today’s media event later and will be posting photos to our Twitter and Instagram streams during the event. Media, bloggers, anyone: feel free to use/share any photos or renderings that we post.

And here is video from this morning’s event:

Below is the news release from Metro:

Federal, State & Local Elected Officials Join in Groundbreaking Ceremony

Metro Breaks Ground on New Regional Connector Light Rail Project in Downtown Los Angeles

Metro joined U.S Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx along with state and local elected officials today to officially break ground on the $1.420 billion Regional Connector Light Rail Project in downtown Los Angeles that will better connect the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo lines with the rest of the region.

“This project will mean people can take a one-seat ride through Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Monica, the Eastside and points in-between,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “Bringing our rail lines together and making transfers simpler will make it easier for people to use rail and will help take more cars off the road.”

The Regional Connector Project completes a 1.9-mile segment between the Metro Blue and Expo Lines and the Metro Gold Line by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles.

“The Regional Connector will dramatically improve passengers’ daily commutes,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Gloria Molina.”It will provide them with better connections to the rest of the Metro Rail system without requiring them to transfer from one line to another. The Regional Connector is a major step forward in transforming Los Angeles County’s mass transit network into a truly world-class system.”

The Regional Connector Project is an important rail connection project overwhelmingly approved by the voters and funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax ordinance for LA County transportation improvements. In addition to Measure R funding, a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the federal government secures $670 million for the project. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted Metro a loan of $160 million for the Regional Connector project from a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan (TIFIA) to complete the project.

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Zocalo Public Square tackles the can-we-fix-traffic question at last night’s event

From left, UCLA's Brian Taylor, FAST's Hilary Norton, Metro CEO Art Leahy and KCRW's Kajon Cermac. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

From left, UCLA’s Brian Taylor, FAST’s Hilary Norton, Metro CEO Art Leahy and KCRW’s Kajon Cermac. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Zocalo Public Square and Metro held a panel discussion Monday night at the Petersen Automotive Museum with an appropriate topic for the venue: what, if anything, can be done to speed up traffic in our region?

A podcast of the discussion is above. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermac served as the moderator with the panel including Metro CEO Art Leahy, UCLA Director of Transportation Studies’ Brian Taylor and Hilary Norton, executive director of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic.

Can traffic be fixed or seriously improved? The short answer: probably not much can be done unless the region embraces drastic and politically unpopular measures such as heavier tolling across all lanes on freeways to reduce peak hour traffic, passing laws to greatly restrict driving, building many billions of dollars of new freeways (which includes the challenge of finding places to put them) or going the Detroit route by shedding jobs, residents and the local economy.

In other words, as UCLA’s Taylor put it, the status quo of traffic congestion is the least bad option for the politicians who frequently ask him how to fix traffic.

Which is not to say that things can’t be done to improve mobility and even some traffic.

Taylor praised the congestion pricing projects on freeways in our region (which Metro’s ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110) and said they are improving capacity and speeds in the toll lanes, as well as Metro’s Rapid Buses and the Orange Line. Norton pointed to the increasing number of people taking transit to big events.

And Leahy noted that thanks to Measure R, Metro is currently in the midst of the largest transit building boom in the nation (one that will include a subway station next door to both the Petersen and LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile). He said the goal is to keep expanding the transit network and making it work better so that people can use it travel far and wide and get out of their cars.

The conversation covered a lot of ground and I’m interested in feedback and comments from those who listened or attended the event.

My three cents: I felt like it was a good, albeit brief, adult conversation about traffic and urban planning — and the fact that traffic is not something easily “fixed” without serious consequences. I also thought UCLA’s Brian Taylor did a good job pointing to the fact that a lot of the traffic stereotypes about our region are total bunk and that concentrating density around transit and high activity centers may not fix traffic — but often makes places nicer, happier places to live and visit.

 

 

A Better Blue Line: more photos, work update

Work on the Blue Line in downtown Long Beach is progressing on schedule. Here are some more photos of what’s been taking place.

For those taking transit to Long Beach Comic-Con or other Long Beach events this weekend: the four downtown Long Beach Blue Line stations are closed for repair and other work. Transfer from the Blue Line at Anaheim Street Station to a free shuttle bus serving the downtown Long Beach rail stations.

Blue Line closure alert poster

Related Posts

Service Advisory: 30-day closure of four Blue Line stations
30-day Closure of Four Blue Line Stations
A Better Blue Line
Test Demonstration of Track Work

Monday’s Zocalo forum will ask: Is traffic L.A.’s destiny? (We certainly hope not!)

Metro photo

Metro photo

What could speed up traffic? We all have opinions, of course. But at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Petersen Automotive Museum some pretty good minds will tackle the subject as part of a Zocalo Public Square forum. The forum is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Here’s how the Zocalo website describes it:

When people say that death and taxes are the only certain things in life, they are forgetting about Southern California traffic. Despite freeway widening and highway construction and newly synchronized streetlights, there’s still not enough room on the roads. We now get accident reports in real time and can change our routes to avoid jams, but Angelenos still spend more time in traffic than other Americans. However, there is more change still to come. The region is in the early stages of a 30-year transit transformation that began with the passage of Measure R in 2008, a sales tax increase that is funding a wide range of transportation projects. Will express lanes, fewer potholes, and improved interchanges speed drivers along? And will new rail lines, improved bus service, and bike lanes finally get millions of people out of their cars? L.A. Business Council president Mary Leslie, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies director Brian D. Taylor, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic executive director Hilary Norton, and Metro CEO Art Leahy visit Zócalo to ask whether traffic is forever L.A.’s destiny. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak will moderate.

What could speed up traffic? Taking Metro bus 720 or 20 down Wilshire or the 217 down Fairfax to the Monday night forum could help. Find out more at the forum.

Zocalo is an L.A. based not-for-profit group that blends live events with written and broadcast journalism. Metro and Zocalo are co-presenting the event.