Metro Board of Directors June meeting is underway; Airport Metro Connector item to be considered today

Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois has dropped the gavel on the June meeting on the Metro Board of Directors. The agenda is above. Click here for the regular online version here with links to staff reports.

If not here in person, you can listen to the meeting over the phone at 213-922-6045. You can try to listen online by clicking here.

For those at the meeting trying to watch the USA-Germany World Cup game over Metro’s wifi…good luck.

Perhaps the item that will interest the most people today involves the Board considering whether to approve a new light rail station at Aviation and 96th Street as the locally preferred alternative as part of the Airport Metro Connector project. The station would serve the Crenshaw/LAX Line and some Green Line trains and would be the transfer point to a people mover planned by LAX that would connect to airport terminals. More at this recent Source post.

The Los Angeles Times published an editorial today on the preferred alternative.

This is Diane DuBois’ final meeting as Board Chair. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes over chair duties in July.

 

U.S. Conference of Mayors backs America Fast Forward

The U.S. Conference of Mayors last week voted to back a resolution by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that “urges Congress to create a new category of qualified tax credit bonds to fund $45 billion over 10 years for transportation to stimulate infrastructure investment.”

Not exactly earth-shaking news. But it’s good news nonetheless.

Let me explain. Metro has been pursuing the America Fast Forward (AFF) initiative for four-plus years. AFF includes two parts: an expanded federal loan program and a new bond program.

The loan program — called TIFIA — was expanded by Congress in 2012. TIFIA loans help provide local transit agencies such as Metro with low-interest loans that can be used to help pay for big, expensive projects — and, in fact, TIFIA loans are being used to help finance the building of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the first phase of the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

The bond program has been garnering support, but Congress still hasn’t made it part of a multi-year transportation funding bill. In a nutshell: those who invest in transportation bonds receive federal tax credits instead of interest, a good way for investors to lower their tax burden and a good way for transportation agencies to save on interest costs.

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Will Congress go for it? Hard to say as partisan politics have prevented Congress from approving of a truly long-term transportation funding bill since a four-year bill was signed into law by President Bush in 2005. That bill expired in 2009, was extended several times and then replaced by a two-year bill in 2012 that expires this year.

Earlier this year, President Obama released a bill proposal that embraced the AFF bond program as well as the TIFIA program. Congress hasn’t exactly embraced the President’s bill but there have been indications of support for the AFF bond program. In the meantime, mayors continue to push Congress to do something, as many cities are trying to expand transit systems and need help financing pricey projects.

As Mayor Garcetti wrote about the Conference, “As gridlock continues to paralyze our federal government, it’s America’s mayors who are increasingly leading the charge to improve quality of life across this country.”

Video of this morning’s ‘Century Crunch’ media event

Above please find video of the media event held earlier today to announce the closure of the intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards for 57 hours from the night of Friday, July 25, through the early morning of Monday, July 28. If you or someone you know is headed to Los Angeles International Airport that weekend, please take heed — there will be extra traffic in the LAX area due to the closure.

Metro is encouraging LAX-bound motorists to take transit or allow extra time if driving.

The closure is being done in order to demolish an old railroad bridge over Century Boulevard in order to make way for the new Aviation/Century Station that will serve the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Green Line.

Many more details at our earlier post, including a detour map. And, of course, we will be frequently reminding you of the closure between now and July 25.

Attention LAX passengers: Aviation/Century intersection to be closed July 25-28 — allow extra time driving to airport!

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A media event was held this morning. In the meantime, above are the important visuals, including a map of the impacted area, the detour map and a rendering of the Aviation/Century station that will be shared by the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Green Line.

The bridge needs to be demolished as part of the Creshaw/LAX Line project, which is adding 8.5 miles of rail between the Expo Line and the Green Line. Here is the news release from Metro:

Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Construction Alert

L.A. Metro, LAWA, LADOT Give Advance Public Notice for “Century Crunch” Bridge Demolition and Street Closures Near LAX July 25-28 

Plan ahead, allow extra travel time or steer clear of airport-area traffic the weekend of July 25-28, 2014. These are the messages that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), and Caltrans are advising the public in advance of a major bridge demolition that will result in 57-hour street closure that weekend of a portion of Century Boulevard, a major artery leading into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

“We’re advising motorists to steer clear of the construction zone and avoid getting caught in traffic during the 57-hour closure,” said Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. “We’re also encouraging the public to visit Metro’s web site at metro.net/crenshaw for the latest updates including recommended detours.”

DuBois noted that the demolition work is necessary at this time for Metro to stay on schedule for the new light rail line that will connect the Metro Green and Expo lines in 2019.

“World class cities have world class airports, and world class cities have world class transit. And we all know Los Angeles is the greatest city on earth,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “So we are going to take down this bridge and we’re planning ahead to make sure that disruption is minimized just like we did with the Carmageddon that never materialized.”

For the effort, dubbed the “Century Crunch,” Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors, a contractor working for Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, will demolish a defunct railroad bridge at the intersection of Century and Aviation boulevards from 9 p.m. Friday, July 25 until 6 a.m. Monday, July 28. The work is necessary to clear the site for a new light rail train station. Demolition will close a portion of Century Boulevard at the Century/Aviation intersection. The street is a major artery leading into LAX during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaking at the media event this morning. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaking at the media event this morning. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

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Detour map for closure of Aviation and Century boulevards July 25-28 for Crenshaw/LAX Line bridge demolition

Click above to view larger.

Click above to view larger.

As we posted recently, the old railroad bridge over Century Boulevard needs to be demolished to make way for the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Aviation/Century station. That means there will be a 57-hour closure of the intersection of Aviation and Century from the evening of July 25 through early morning July 28. The detour map is above.

A media event to promote the closure will be held today at 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of Aviation and Century. For media planning to attend: Please confirm your attendance by sending e-mail to Jose Ubaldo, Communications Manager, Metro Media relations at ubaldoj@metro.net. Jose can also be reached by phone at (213) 922-3087.

The old bridge over Century Boulevard that will be torn down on the weekend of July 25-28. Photo by Jose Ubaldo/Metro.

The old bridge over Century Boulevard that will be torn down on the weekend of July 25-28. Photo by Jose Ubaldo/Metro.

New TAP-TO-GO allows loading of regular monthly passes by text message

TAP-TO-GO Card

This is something that riders may find convenient: it’s now possible to load a 30-day regular monthly Metro pass on a TAP card via text message. If buying a pass by text message, passes load immediately on cards without the one- to two-day delay when passes are bought on taptogo.net.

TAP-TO-GO is a six-month trial program that is beginning this week and will run through Dec. 1. There are two important caveats: at this time, only regular monthly passes are available and you need to use a new, special TAP card from the program to participate. There is no additional cost for the card.

The program is being run by Metro and its contractor mobileAxept. Reminder: Monthly passes are still available at TAP Vending Machines at all Metro Rail and Metro Orange Line stations, Metro Customer Centers and El Monte Station.

How to sign up 

1) Text TAPSIGNUP to 28950  or visit taptogo.net to sign up online.

2) If texting, mobileAxept will reply with a link to sign up.

3) Enter your name, mailing address and email address. Participants will be directed to the BlueFin-hosted secure payment site to submit credit/debit card information. Credit/debit cards will not be charged until you receive your card in the mail and load your first pass.

4) Once your information has been validated, mobileAxept will send a text confirming participant has successfully joined the TAP-TO-GO pilot program. 

5) Participants receive a special TAP card in the mail within seven to 10 business days, with instructions on how load your first Metro 30-DayPass. Again, you need to use this new card — it’s not possible to sign up using an existing TAP card.

How to reload

•Text TAP30DAY to 28950 to reload your Metro 30-Day Pass. You will receive a reply text message confirming your payment has been received and your card is loaded.

When it’s time to reload your Metro 30-Day Pass, you will receive a reminder text to reload three days prior to expiration, and if necessary, one day prior to its expiration.

•Avoid paying single ride fares — currently $1.50 rising to $1.75 as early as September — by purchasing your pass before your Metro 30-Day Pass expires.

An FAQ on the TAP-TO-GO program is after the jump.

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Metro officials say they will continue to help firms along Crenshaw Boulevard during rail construction

As we noted earlier this week, more intensive construction work began Monday on the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The work involves closing the east side of Crenshaw Boulevard between Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Stocker Street and installing supports for the underground station that will serve the area.

The east side of Crenshaw in this area is lined with small businesses that rely in part on street access and street parking. The work, as expected, has its impacts — K-rails, fencing and mesh were installed between the street and the sidewalk. NBC-4 ran a segment earlier this week about the concerns of some business owners and their worries about how the work will affect their customers and their bottom line.

Over the last several weeks, Metro has been working closely with the businesses to respond to their concerns. The message Metro wants to convey: the community spoke, Metro listened and Metro reacted to help further mitigate the impacts of construction. In particular, Metro officials want to stress:

•Parking for those patronizing businesses on the east side of Crenshaw Boulevard continues to be available at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on the west side of Crenshaw. Metro and its contractor, Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors, have also been trying to lease a vacant parcel on the east side of Crenshaw. If a deal can be reached with the property owner and the city of Los Angeles approves, the lot would be paved, striped and lighting installed. It would provide about 10 spaces for businesses on the east side of Crenshaw.

•Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) has assigned a superintendent to work with Loves Furniture to ensure that deliveries can continue to be made to the store and that customers can pick up merchandise they have purchased.

•The contractor building the project will be replacing the green mesh on fences with a mesh that is 60 percent less dense and will allow for more light to shine through. The new mesh will be used on a trial basis; Metro and WSCC need to make sure that it helps control dust and debris from the construction site, in addition to other functions.

•In response to concerns about safety because of narrowed sidewalks, Metro has asked for a greater LAPD presence in the area, in addition to the contractor’s security patrols currently in place for the construction work area.

•Metro has had banners in place to advise the public that the existing businesses are open, that there is parking and to specifically mention the name of businesses. To improve on those efforts, Metro will be installing new banners along the work zone:

Expo Biz List SignWork will continue on the eastern side of Crenshaw Boulevard through summer and then work will shift to the western side of Crenshaw Boulevard. The goal is to complete the work that must be done at street level as quickly as possible so that decking can be installed on the street and work can continue on the station below the ground and largely out-of-sight for the majority of the remaining construction.

“This is a significant project for the Crenshaw community as it holds great promise for the community and its businesses,” said Charles Beauvoir, the Project Director of the Crenshaw/LAX Line for Metro. “We will continue to try to minimize our impact on the community and its businesses during the construction period and welcome the input of the community to ensure that we are continually improving on our delivery of this important project.”

 

Metro staff recommends new light rail station at Aviation/96th Street to connect to future LAX people mover

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One of the ongoing projects that we’ve been following closely is the Airport Metro Connector, which seeks to connect the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with the growing Metro Rail network. This is obviously a project of great interest given that LAX is the third busiest airport in the United States and many other airports in the U.S. and abroad are connected to local rail systems. 

A new Metro staff report released today (above) recommends that one alternative for the project be studied more intensively: building a new rail station near Aviation Boulevard and 96th Street to serve trains along the Crenshaw/LAX and Green Lines. The station would also be the “gateway” transfer point to an Automated People Mover that would take people to the airport terminals. The people mover would be built by LAX. 

Metro will evaluate the light rail part of this alternative — i.e., the new rail station — in the project’s upcoming environmental clearance document. The planners at LAX would study the Automated People Mover. 

The new Metro Rail station would be about .4 miles north of the future Aviation/Century station that will also serve both the Crenshaw/LAX and Green Lines. The idea, according to the Metro staff report, is that the 96th Street Station would be the gateway for passengers headed to LAX while the Aviation/Century station would connect riders to the many businesses along the Century Boulevard corridor.

A new analysis by Metro staff also found that this alternative would deliver about the same number of riders to LAX as running a light rail line directly to the airport terminals. The analysis also found that the recommended alternative would get people to the terminals in about the same amount of time, cost far less to build and could be built sooner, with a completion date perhaps as early as 2022, depending on when LAWA builds the people mover.

The preferred alternative was developed in close cooperation with planners and officials at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city of Los Angeles agency that oversees the airport.

Over the past several years, LAWA has been finalizing details on its current modernization plan, which includes the people mover, a new ground transportation hub (known as the Intermodal Transportation Facility or ITF) and a consolidated rental car facility. LAWA’s current plans are to build the people mover just north of 96th Street en route to the Crenshaw/LAX corridor. Here is the link to the latest LAWA presentation on their ground transportation program. 

The people mover would also include a station at the ITF to be built by LAWA on the northwest corner of 98th Street and Airport Boulevard. That facility would serve as a pick-up and drop-off point for airport passengers and, according to LAX, would allow passengers to check in for flights and check their baggage. LAX is studying whether to build two or four people mover stations to serve the airport terminals. 

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Pile installation begins Monday for construction of MLK underground station for Crenshaw/LAX Line

Here is the construction advisory from Metro:

Pile Installation Begins for Construction of MLK Underground Rail Station for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project

Metro and Walsh-Shea Constructors will on Monday, June 16, begin installing soldier piles on the east side of Crenshaw Boulevard, between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Stocker Street. This activity is part of construction for the Crenshaw/LAX Trans Project underground MLK station.

Work is expected to last for one month and is scheduled for Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the first week. The next three weeks it will be a 24-hour work schedule. Installation of the east side wall will take place with a new technology called cutter-soil mix (CSM).

This activity will take place behind K-rail concrete barriers but may require an occasional night-time lane closure for northbound traffic on Crenshaw Boulevard between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Stocker Street.

WHAT: Installation of CSM wall and soldier piles

WHEN: Starting on Monday, June 16, 2014

This will be a 12-hour activity the first week and then a 24-hour activity for three weeks, weather permitting.

WHERE: Crenshaw Boulevard between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Stocker Street.

DURATION: Approximately 1 month

What to Expect

Emergency vehicles and pedestrian access will be maintained at all times. An occasional northbound lane closure at night may be needed to complete this activity. Noise from construction work activities will be monitored.

Note

Construction may result in changes to bus routes or stop locations. Metro will post signs at affected stops to advise patrons of alternative boarding locations. Real-time information is available at metro.net/service/advisories or 323.GOMETRO.

For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project visit metro.net/crenshaw or email crenshawcorridor@metro.net, or phone (213) 922.2736 or follow the project at facebook.com/crenshawrail or twitter.com/crenshawrail.

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 it is the lead transportation planning and programming 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.netfacebook.com/losangelesmetrotwitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.