8 days left before Jamzilla…who you gonna call?

Disclaimer: the above video is a dramatization. Actually calling 511 may result in a different experience.

Southern California 511 – the free traveler information service that provides traffic updates via phone or web – has launched a new feature to keep Southern California drivers up to date during Jamzilla, the 80-hour paving operation scheduled for Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 14-18 in the Sepulveda Pass.

Call 511 on your phone or smart phone during President’s Day Weekend and, after the automated answer, say “Jamzilla” to receive information on the I-405 closure or say “traffic” to receive frequently updated information on traffic on nearby freeways that feed into the Sepulveda Pass area. Updates will include freeway traffic drive times, freeway speeds and SigAlerts. Similar information will appear on the website go511.com, which also includes a real-time traffic map.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Jamzilla live chat scheduled for this Friday! We promise, no roaring over the keyboard.

New “Jamzilla” public service announcement available for public use

Continuing the urgent drum beat to raise public awareness on the planned northbound 405 80-hour paving operation in the Sepulveda Pass this Presidents’ Day Weekend, Metro, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol have released a new public service announcement that is now freely available via Youtube.

Anyone who is interested in helping spread the word on their web sites or social media are welcome to link to the 30-second video. Here’s a transcript:

Hi, I’m Chief Dan Bower with the California Highway Patrol. We are again asking for the public’s help to avoid a major traffic jam here on the 405 this Presidents’ Day Weekend.  Metro and Caltrans will be conducting an unprecedented, 80-hour paving operation.  Motorists are advised to avoid delays, reduce driving and to simply stay away. The CHP will do its part to keep motorists safe.  The rest is up to you!

Metro’s Open Streets Program Workshop

Photos by Aaron Paley

Metro hosted an Open Streets workshop on Wednesday that featured speakers from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over 80 people attended the event that focused on the planning and implementation of Open Streets programs.

Open streets are events which temporarily close the streets to automobiles and open them up to people to re-imagine and experience their streets while walking, biking, rollerblading or pushing a stroller in a car-free environment. The goals of the program are to encourage sustainable modes of transportation (biking, walking and transit), provide an opportunity to take transit for the first time and foster civic engagement.

The Metro Board of Directors approved the Open Streets Program in September 2014, including up to $2 million annually for open street events in Los Angeles County. The money will be distributed through a competitive grant application process.

The Metro Open Streets Program application is now available to cities to apply for grant funding by clicking here. The deadline to apply online is Friday, March 14, 2014.

Here’s the latest presentation given to Purple Line Extension’s Advisory Group with updates on current work

The Advisory Group of the Purple Line Extension had a community meeting last night for the latest update on the project that is extending the subway for 3.9 miles from Wilshire & Western to Wilshire & La Cienega.

The presentation is posted above. Updates were provided on current work on the project (including utility relocations and the exploratory shaft), systemwide station design principles and Metro’s art program, including upcoming workshops for artists who may want to be considered for Metro art opportunities on the subway project or other projects.

Jamzilla 405 operation more complex than Carmageddon

The Presidents' Day northbound 405 paving operation will realign a portion of the freeway centerline to the west in the San Fernando Valley.

The Presidents’ Day northbound 405 paving operation will realign a portion of the freeway centerline to the west in the San Fernando Valley. Photo taken from project area on the southbound side of the 405.

The planned 80-hour “Jamzilla” paving operation now scheduled for Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 14-18 is more complex, requires new construction and is more time-consuming than the epic “Carmageddon” bridge demolitions of 2011 and 2012.

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements project contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, will not benefit from gravity in the frenzied destruction of an iconic freeway bridge. Instead, the contractor will take its time to pour a single layer of pavement at a time.  Each concrete layer takes its own time to cure.  The operation is similar to baking layers of a wedding cake.

“Operationally speaking, demolishing a bridge is a much simpler operation than paving and striping freeway lanes that must return to public use as quickly as possible,” said K.N. Murthy, Executive Director of Transit Project Delivery at Metro. “It’s the essential difference between destroying a structure and building a structure. Building something is much more difficult, and the paving methods we are using vary between each material type and have specific requirements that must be adhered to.”

A car drives on the No. 1 lane that will receive a final pave during Jamzilla lane closures.

A car drives on the unfinished No. 1 northbound lane that will receive a final pave during Jamzilla lane closures.

The operation officially begins Friday night, February 14.  After a full northbound freeway closure at 1 a.m., Kiewit will begin excavating and paving multiple areas within the 5.6-mile area of the northbound I-405 in the Sepulveda Pass simultaneously. In order to complete as much paving work as possible, the contractor will use new polyester pavement that cures and reaches specified strength within hours instead of days, and provides an extremely durable roadway surface for the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that drive on the northbound 405 every day.

But the operation depends on the weather.  The polyester paving requires favorable temperatures in order to cure properly and give strength. If temperatures are less than favorable or if it rains, it could complicate the operation, or at worse, cause it to be rescheduled over several consecutive 55-hour weekend operations.

Polyester concrete has quick-dry, high-strength properties and is very compact.

Polyester concrete has quick-dry, high-strength properties and is very compact.

The contractor will perform up to four separate paving operations during the 80-hour period on various portions of the northbound 405.  The contractor must grind, tack, pave and stripe the freeway in a carefully choreographed sequence. Because the paving areas abut one other, the contractor will operate in a very confined work zone.  Maneuvering construction vehicles within this area for all needed work will be a logistical challenge.

Adding to the complexity of the operation, the contractor must shift the freeway centerline 20 feet to the west for approximately 1,000 feet as the northbound I-405 winds its way down into the San Fernando Valley.  There was no room for the freeway to be widened to the east due to the existence of a multi-residential building adjacent to the northbound 405 in Sherman Oaks.

A 1,000 portion of the freeway centerline in Sherman Oaks must be shifted 20 feet to the west.

A 1,000 portion of the freeway centerline in Sherman Oaks must be shifted 20 feet to the west.

Also in this area, approximately 1,700 feet of freeway and shoulder lanes must be completely excavated to full depths and rebuilt in order to realign the freeway to the west.

The most complex work will occur where the northbound 405 meets the Sepulveda Boulevard undercrossing bridge just before the U.S. 101 connector ramps.  The contractor must demolish and then rebuild the approach slabs on both sides of the freeway bridge to upgrade the slabs for seismic safety and roadway durability.  This includes first building a seat to accommodate the new approach slab. The contractor must also reinforce the concrete with rebar for seismic safety and ensure the new approach slabs comply with state highway standards.

Three concrete pours will be required to rebuild the approach slabs.  Each of those pours requires its own 8-hour cure time.  The extensive work required to rebuild these slabs drives the critical path for the entire 80-hour operation.


The Sepulveda undercrossing approach slab has to be rebuilt. The new roadway surface will be much improved for motorists.

Finally, when all paving and approach slab work is completed, the contractor will restripe the freeway prior to reopening lanes by 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, February 18.

Compared to the flurry of activity of the Carmageddon bridge demolitions, this new paving operation will have little visual excitement.  There will be periods during the 80-hour operation when concrete is curing where nothing appears to be happening. However, the contractor will still be working from a meticulous schedule to complete all tasks within the 80-hour period.

A Caltrans engineer shows the different layers of paving needed for the 80-hour operation.

A Caltrans engineer shows a cross-section of freeway to indicate the multiple layers of needed paving during the 80-hour operation.

Motorists are reminded to fully cooperate with agency calls to stay off the freeway just as they did during the previous Carmageddon closures.  Motorists should eliminate unnecessary auto trips, avoid the area and/or divert to other freeways to avoid major traffic delays.

How Metro is studying the Rail-to-River proposal

In 2013, Supervisors and Metro Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina began promoting a proposal to build an 8.3-mile pedestrian and bike path that would connect the future Crenshaw/LAX Line to the Los Angeles River.

The path would follow the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way that Metro owns and that runs through Vernon and then along Slauson Avenue.

It’s certainly a very interesting proposal similar in some respects to other urban rails-to-trails that have been built across the United States. Such a path would serve an area where bikes are commonly used to reach jobs and run errands and the path would connect the existing Blue Line, Silver Line and future Crenhsaw/LAX Line — all important north-south corridors.

Because this is an issue that involves Metro, I wanted to explain the process involved in evaluating the proposal:

•Prompted by a motion by Board Members Molina and Ridley-Thomas, Metro last year initiated a feasibility study of building an intermediate “active transportation corridor” along the eastern portion of the Harbor Subdivision. The study is expected to be presented to the Metro Board of Directors this September. The above fact sheet explains the scope of the feasibility study.

•Depending on the results of the Study the Metro Board will ultimately decide whether to initiate a project. The Board would also have to decide how such a project would be funded.

•Metro purchased the Harbor Subdivision ROW in the early 1990s and does own the land along the tracks. However, as part of the purchase deal, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad owns easements that allow it to run trains along the eastern portion of the Harbor Subdivision.

BNSF rarely runs trains on that section of tracks. But Metro would have to deal with those easements in order to make any improvements to the existing transportation corridor, whether it be for an intermediate active transportation use, or to facilitate major transit such as Bus Rapid or Light Rail Transit along the tracks.

•Metro owns several old rights-of-way (ROW) in Los Angeles County that could one day be used for rail or busway projects. Metro also has a policy about altering rail right-of-ways that it owns; the policy is posted below. The policy seeks to find a balance between allowing some uses of the ROWs while preserving them for future transportation needs.

To help give you a better idea of the lay of the land, here is a video that shows the right-of-way between its intersection with 25th Street running for 8.3 miles to Crenshaw Boulevard and 67th Street. The video was made by Metro using a shoulder mounted boom with camera attached and walking the entire 8.3 miles followed by editing to speed up the footage and give one the feeling of traveling at a higher speed.

Finally, there is a meeting for stakeholders on Feb. 26 at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School’s multi-purpose room, 644 E. 56th Street, Los Angeles, CA, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting notice is below:


The art of transit: KNX’s take on Jamzilla


Courtesy of KNX1070

Jamzilla. It’s coming. We’re asking folks to stay away from the 405/Sepulveda Pass area to avoid major traffic delays this Presidents’ Day weekend. We’re asking the news media to help us spread the word. And so far, KNX1070 has done an awesome job.

Keep the above graphic from becoming reality. If you don’t have to travel northbound through West Los Angeles and the Sepulveda Pass during the Presidents’ Day weekend, don’t travel! The power is yours! (Wait, wrong movie…)

Our own humble efforts, thus far:

Roundup of today’s Metro Board of Directors meeting

Here are some of the more interesting items tackled today by the Metro Board of Directors at their January meeting:

•Item 76, the Board approved a public hearing on March 29 to review two fare restructuring proposals released by Metro staff on Friday. At this point, the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting on May 22. Source post including charts and staff report.

•Item 15 on options for further study for the Airport Metro Connector: The Board approved a substitute motion by Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas for more study of two alternatives that would run light rail directly into the LAX terminal area; however the Board did not vote to include those alternatives as part of the project’s draft environmental study. I’ll have a post up with more info tonight or tomorrow. Staff report and earlier Source post with the four proposals favored by Metro staff and another Source post on the original Knabe-Ridley-Thomas motion that was tabled in favor of the substitute motion.

•Item 6, the Board approved a motion by Board Members Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to investigate adding gates or partial gates to the Orange Line to reduce fare evasion. Motion and Source post with staff report on two December crackdowns on fare evasion on the Orange Line.

•Item 67: the item on possible ballot measures in 2016 was withdrawn by Metro staff. However, staff will continue to work with local COGs (Council of Governments) and other stakeholders on developing a list of local transportation projects that need funding. Staff report and earlier Source post.

•Item 39, the Board on consent approved a $33.4-million budget to refurbish Blue Line stations, including new canopies. Staff report.

•Item 53, the Board on consent approved a motion asking the Board to give Metro permission to seek a state bill that would allow the ExpressLanes program to continue. Here’s what you need to understand: the Board will not decide whether to continue the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways until this spring. If they decide yes, Metro would need state legislation to continue the program — and now is the time to submit bills in the Legislature for consideration this year. Staff report.

•Item 74, the Board approved the motion posted below involving a business mitigation program for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Staff report

•Item 58, the Board approved a motion directing Metro to study of how a countywide bike share program could be developed and implemented. Staff report

•Item 44, the Board on consent approved increasing the budget of the Silver Line bus platform at Patsaouras Plaza from $16.8 million to $30.9 million. Staff report

•Item 75, an oral report on issues involving the Orange Line’s Pierce College station and lack of restrooms at stations was not heard. It will be heard at a later date. Motion and earlier Source post

•Item 71, the Board approved a motion by Board Members Ara Najarian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to work with UCLA and USC on commemorative TAP cards. Motion

Agenda for Thursday’s Metro Board meeting: it’s going to be a long one, folks

UPDATE: The gavel has dropped on the meeting and it’s now underway.

This is a big meeting, folks, with tons of interestingness (relatively speaking) and a lot of important items. For those attending and media: might be a good idea to have a few Red Bulls along with your coffee for breakfast.


Three of the tall ones, please!

You can also view the agenda with hyperlinks on metro.net or view or download it as a pdf. The meeting is, as always, open to the public and begins at 9:30 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station. To listen to the meeting on the phone, please call 213-922-6045.

Some of the more interesting items on the agenda:

•Item 76, asking the Board to set a public hearing on March 29 to review two fare restructuring proposals released by Metro staff on Friday. Important to note: THE BOARD IS ONLY CONSIDERING SETTING A PUBLIC HEARING; THEY ARE NOT VOTING ON THE FARE CHANGES. At this point, the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting on May 22. Source post including charts and staff report.

•Item 15, asking the Board to narrow the list of options to four for the Airport Metro Connector, the project that seeks to connect Metro Rail to the airport terminals via a combination of light rail and people mover. A motion by Board Members Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas seeks to restore two options that Metro staff wanted to eliminate that would build light rail directly to the airport terminals. Staff report and earlier Source post with the four proposals favored by Metro staff and another Source post on the Knabe-Ridley-Thomas motion.

•Item 6, a motion by Board Members Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to investigate adding gates or partial gates to the Orange Line to reduce fare evasion. Motion and Source post with staff report on two December crackdowns on fare evasion on the Orange Line.

•Item 67, asking the Board to approve the development of two options for ballot measures to take to voters in 2016 to accelerate existing Measure R projects — either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax, which may also include new projects. Staff report and earlier Source post.

•Item 39, establishing a $33.4-million budget to refurbish Blue Line stations, including new canopies. Staff report.

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