Use 511 to avoid Century Crunch traffic this weekend

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Southern California 511 has launched a new feature to keep drivers up to date during the planned Century Crunch closure scheduled July 25 to 28.

Century Crunch will see Century Boulevard, one of the main access roads to the airport, closed to traffic at the Aviation Boulevard intersection beginning 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, through 6 a.m. Monday, July 28. The old Century Boulevard Bridge needs to be demolished to allow for the future construction of a new Crenshaw/LAX Line light rail station.

To access the real-time traffic information, call 511 and say “Century Crunch” after the automated greeting. You will get info on the intersection closure and learn recommended detour routes. Or say “traffic” to receive frequently updated traffic information on nearby roadways that feed into the LAX area.

Updates will include freeway traffic drive times, freeway speeds and SigAlerts. For real-time traffic maps and public transportation travel alternatives, visit the website Go511.com or use the Go511 app available in iTunes and Google Play app stores.

Motorists are advised to call or use the mobile app before starting their trip. Please do not use your phones while driving.

I-5 Empire Project update: upcoming construction activities and closures

Here’s the news release from Caltrans; Metro is a funding partner on the project:

The construction activities and closures listed below will occur during the week of July 20-25, 2014, as part of the I-5 Empire Project in Burbank, a series of freeway improvements between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street. More information about the project is here. Construction activities and closures are subject to change.

Major Construction Activities for the Week of July 20-25, 2014

Daytime work except where noted.

  • Fill placement between the San Fernando Boulevard tunnel and the Lincoln Street/Victory Place intersection.
  • Removal of vegetation along southbound I-5 between Scott Road and Burbank Boulevard.
  • Construction of a boring pit at Victory Place and Wilson Avenue.
  • Manhole work at Victory Place and Empire Center Drive (the signaled intersection near Wendy’s and Catherine’s).
  • The Gas Company will perform utility removal/relocation work near the intersection of Empire Avenue and Victory Place and on San Fernando Boulevard between the northbound Scott Road off-ramp and Grismer Avenue. Some of this work will be performed at night. Please be attentive to lane closures and watch for workers in the construction zone.

What to Expect: Residents and businesses close to the freeway may notice vibration and construction noise, but it will not exceed levels permitted by state, federal and local regulations. Also, the contractor is using approved dust-control measures to minimize airborne particles, but some dust is expected. Additionally, motorists should be attentive to new traffic patterns created by restriping of travel lanes and concrete barriers. Please proceed cautiously and watch for workers.

Closures for the Week of July 20-25, 2014

Northbound I-5 Closures

Ramp

  • Burbank Boulevard/Walnut Avenue on-ramp: A permanent closure was implemented on July 16, 2014.

Southbound I-5 Closures

Ramps

  • Scott Road off-ramp: Permanent closure. This ramp will be integrated into the Empire interchange, which will open in mid-2016
  • Victory Boulevard/Lincoln Street on-ramp: Permanent closure. This ramp will be integrated into the Empire interchange, which will open in mid-2016

Resources for Motorists

  • Project Information:Information about the project is here.
  • Closure Information: Closure information for this and other freeway projects is also available on the Caltrans website and the I-5 website.

For the safety of the construction crew and motorists, please be attentive to closures, slow for the cone zone, and move over one lane where possible.

Caltrans thanks motorists for their patience and understanding during construction. For more information, visit I-5info.com.

 

Motion proposes further study of ExpressLanes for part of the 105 freeway

The above motion is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors this month — the motion seeks to launch environmental studies of adding ExpressLanes to the 105 freeway, with an initial segment between the 405 and 605 freeways. To be perfectly clear: the motion concerns more studies of the concept. A decision to go forward with such a project would come much later.

The 105 freeway, as you likely know, intersects with the existing ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway. The 110-105 junction includes exclusive on-ramps and off-ramps between the 110 ExpressLanes and the HOV lanes presently on the 105 — i.e. there’s no need for motorists to exit the ExpressLanes or HOV lanes when going between the two freeways.

The idea, at this time, would be to have two ExpressLanes in each direction. That would be done mostly by re-striping the freeway with some spot widening. Adding those extra lanes would require approvals from Caltrans, the state agency that oversees freeway operations.

Some background: the Metro Board in 2010 had asked Metro staff to study the possibility of adding ExpressLanes to the 405 freeway between the Orange County border and Los Angeles International Airport. At the time, Orange County was considering adding HOT lanes to the 405 but Orange County Transportation Authority officials have since rejected that notion and want to add a general lane instead to their portion of the 405. This Metro staff report explains the issues.

As a result, Metro has studied other alternatives and determined that adding ExpressLanes to the 105 and eventually the 605 would help provide an ExpressLanes corridor between Orange County and LAX. If that happens, it would be a phased approach and the Board is being asked to consider an initial segment on the 105 between the 405 and 605.

Contract to build first phase of Purple Line Extension moved to full Board of Directors

The Metro Board of Directors’ Construction Committee Thursday morning took up the issue of the contract to build the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega. The Metro staff report explaining the recommendation is above.

Staff has recommended that the $1.6-billion project be awarded to a joint venture of Skanska, Traylor and Shea. The Metro Board moved the item without recommendations to the full Board of Directors for their consideration at next Thursday’s meeting.

The Committee also asked Metro staff to report back next week on the reasons for a $288 million increase in the budget for the project, bringing the total to $2.77 billion — and how it will impact Measure R funding in the Westside/Central subregion of L.A. County. “We believe we can pay for the Westside Subway Section 1 cost increase of $288 million
directly from Measure R or, if necessary, incur additional bond debt to cover the cost
increase,” writes Metro staff in the above report (see appendix C).

Motion asks for study of upgrading Orange Line and possibly connecting to Pasadena

The Metro Board of Directors will consider this month the above motion that asks for study of a number of upgrades to the Orange Line, including better traffic signal synchronization by the city of Los Angeles, using more articulated buses, building grade separations, the possibility of extending or connecting the line to Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena and an assessment of converting the line to light rail.

The key word in the above paragraph: “study.” This is NOT a funded project, nor is it in Metro’s long-range plan. The motion comes on the heels of Gov. Jerry Brown signing a bill earlier this month lifting the restriction on building rail along the Orange Line right-of-way (which, ironically, was once a Southern Pacific rail corridor).

An amendment by Board Member Pam O’Connor asked a broader — and crucial — question: what kind of process could be created to evaluate new projects to see if they merit being added to the agency’s long-range plan?

The Board’s Planning Committee forwarded the motion and amendment without recommendation to the full Board of Directors to consider (the full Board meets next Thursday, July 24). As Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky said, the agency needs to figure out the best path forward for evaluating new transit projects so that the ones with the greatest impact are the ones that get built.

Metro CEO Art Leahy explained why that is important. Metro will soon be receiving a list of potential transportation projects from sub-regions in the county for inclusion in a possible ballot measure in 2016 to accelerate and/or build new transit projects by extending Measure R and/or some type of new tax (Measure R was a half-cent sales tax increase for 30 years and expires in mid-2039). Leahy said that it’s very likely that the list of projects will exceed what could be funded. And, thus, the list of projects will ultimately have to be narrowed.

In short, this motion is really about two things. The first is obviously seeking ways to improve the Orange Line, which has enjoyed very strong ridership since the first segment opened in 2005. The second is about the possible 2016 ballot measure and the Board trying to find a way to evaluate projects beyond a metric commonly used: political support.

 

Some pre-Century Crunch demolition already taking place

Work crews hanging new banner on Century Boulevard Bridge informing those in the area of the upcoming Century Crunch closure. Photo: Jose Ubaldo/Metro

Work crews hanging new banner on Century Boulevard Bridge informing those in the area of the upcoming Century Crunch closure. Photo: Jose Ubaldo/Metro

A new banner is up to inform motorists and all travelers to LAX about Century Crunch. Make sure to allow extra time or steer clear of airport area traffic and take public transit the weekend of July 25-28. The intersection of Century Boulevard and Aviation Boulevard will be closed for 57 hours that weekend as the old railroad bridge is demolished to make room for a new Crenshaw/LAX light rail station.

Some pre-bridge demolition work also began today. Check out the video below to see the demolition of the north side approachment to the Century Boulevard Bridge.

First of new light rail cars arrives at Port of Long Beach

First new Kinkisharyo light rail car arriving at the Port of Long Beach.

First new Kinkisharyo light rail car arriving at the Port of Long Beach. You can just make out the windows under the protective covering.

Exciting news! The first of the 78 Kinkisharyo light rail vehicles Metro ordered has arrived in the Port of Long Beach, less than 23 months after Kinkisharyo was given the notice to proceed in August 2012. To see the car in its unwrapped glory during testing in Japan, see video below.

In compliance with Buy America’s final assembly contract provisions, the car will be transported to the new Kinkisharyo facility in Palmdale, where final assembly and vehicle testing will take place. The car is scheduled to be shipped from the Palmdale facility to Metro by October 2014.

The new light rail vehicles will be used in support of the openings of Expo Phase II and Gold Line Foothill Extension. Metro has already exercised two of four options to buy an additional 97 vehicles to be used on other projects — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector and replacement of other rail cars currently in use.

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New light-rail vehicle makes its first public appearance (in Japan)

New rail car designs in the works

Metro Board approves contract to purchase new light rail cars

Metro currently has four rail projects under construction: the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the second phase of the Expo Line, the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the Regional Connector and work is expected to begin soon on the Purple Line Extension’s first phase. All are funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008. In addition, Metro has begun receiving the first of 550 new state-of-the-art buses and is spending $1.2 billion to overhaul the Metro Blue Line, including the purchase of new light rail vehicles..