Our first podcast: filming over the years at Union Station

A scene from the "The Dark Knight Rises" that was filmed in the old ticket room  at Union Station. Credit: Warner Bros.

A scene from the “The Dark Knight Rises” that was filmed in the old ticket room at Union Station. Credit: Warner Bros.

Good morning, readers and listeners! Above please find our first Metro podcast. The subject: filming at Los Angeles Union Station over the decades, a subject that Kim tackled earlier this week as part of her ongoing series of posts on Union Station’s 75th anniversary.

We’re new to the podcast thing and it’s going to take a few of these to completely find our footing in the audio world. If we sound like podcast rookies, well, we are. Please bear with us!

That said, I’m really excited about this. It’s great to post articles on the blog, but I think it’s also important for our riders and taxpayers to literally hear the voice of their government. I hope you enjoy our initial offering and we should have more podcasts soon.

 

Metro to publicly finance HOV toll lane project for Santa Clarita Valley

i5_project_map

We posted last year about a Measure R project to add tolled HOV lanes to 13.5 miles of the 5 freeway in the Santa Clarita Valley between the 14 freeway and Parker Road. Vehicles with one or two occupants would pay a toll while vehicles with three or more occupants could use the lanes for free; tolling the lanes allows the project to be built well before the original Measure R completion date of 2040.

Today we have this update: Metro and Caltrans have decided to publicly finance the project instead of seeking a public-private partnership (known as a PPP). Why? It’s less expensive to publicly finance the project by using $352 million in now-available Measure R and other funds and a federal low-interest loan for $175 million.

Under a PPP, a private firm or firms would have paid for the construction of the project and then been repaid, in part, by collecting and managing tolls from the lanes for 35 years. In this case, public financing will allow Metro to borrow less money and secure a lower interest rate on the needed loan.

This project as originally proposed was also unusual because it included new sound walls for the 210 freeway in Pasadena and Arcadia and the 170 and 405 freeways in Los Angeles, and adding extra lanes for a short stretch of the 71 freeway in Pomona. Under the public financing deal, those projects will be built separately. The toll revenues would be reinvested and used for transit services and traffic operations in the 5 freeway corridor in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The current forecast calls for the HOV lanes on the 5 to open in 2021, the soundwalls to be completed in 2019 and for the additional lane on the southbound side of the SR-71 to be done in 2021 and the lane on the northbound 71 to be finished in 2028.

 

Update on release of SR-710 North study environmental documents announced

Here is the statement from Metro:

Metro today announced that release of the draft environmental impact report/environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) for the State Route 710 North Study will be delayed. Metro is working with Caltrans on a revised schedule and will make an announcement as soon as it is confirmed.

Metro had hoped to release the draft environmental documents this spring but the work was delayed while the latest Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) regional travel demand computer model for analyzing the alternatives was calibrated and applied.

Metro was one of the first agencies to use the new 2012 model in a major project. Calibration and validation of the model was not completed until last year and the associated travel demand forecasting for all of the alternatives was not completed until February of this year. However, it has become apparent that additional time is required to complete the technical studies, which means that the release of the Draft EIR/EIS must be delayed in order to preserve the integrity of the environmental process.

Metro has been working with the community, technical consultants and Caltrans on various alternatives for addressing traffic and environmental impacts within east/northeast Los Angeles, the western San Gabriel Valley and the region generated by a 4 ½ mile gap in the original 710 Freeway design that exists between Alhambra and Pasadena.

The draft EIR/EIS will thoroughly analyze five alternatives – Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail Transit, Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management, a freeway tunnel, and a No Build option.

Metro, Caltrans, local cities and private developers all are required to use the SCAG regional travel demand model as a basis for project planning. It predicts future (2035) traffic through a thorough analysis of projected travel patterns considering such factors as population and employment growth, goods movement, land use changes and other variables. Other critical analysis including air quality, a health risk assessment, noise and energy effects also depend on travel demand computer modeling.

Metro and Caltrans are fully committed to ensure that the public has a voice in the process. Detailed analysis for each alternative will be incorporated in the SR 710 North Study draft EIR/EIS. For updates on the revised schedule and project background, go to metro.net/sr710study or facebook.com/sr710study or follow on Twitter @sr710study.

Union Station: A classic on both big screen and small

This is the fifth of a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

With its dramatic angles and dark corners, Union Station is a black-and-white noir fantasy. Yet like a character actor who is aging well, the building has played many types of roles over the past 75 years in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials.

If you were watching TV during the December holidays you probably caught the Mercedes Benz commercial posted above. Shot in the beautiful Union Station Ticket Room, it’s decked out as Santa’s garage and it looks stellar. And the cars? Amazing!

A few months ago in the TV series “Agents of SHIELD,” hacker Skye (Why does everyone think she’s so hot?) is kidnapped and taken to Union Station so her abductor can escape by train. (Go to minute 35.) She emails SHIELD her longitude and latitude, although she probably could have just said she was at Union Station. No matter. The agents catch up with her in the gorgeous Ticket Room and finally all advance to the East Portal where the SHIELD crew rescues Skye so she can live to hack and be hot again.

In Paramount’s beautiful 1950 noir film “Union Station,” starring William Holden, the station doubles as Chicago Union Station. It does not look much like its Chicago namesake but it does look incredible. And it’s amusing to see a few amenities that no longer exist, like phone booths and a luggage check room in the main concourse. No more phone booths, of course, and no more baggage checking in these days of increased security. You’ll love the trailer:

All areas of Union Station have been backdrops for films but the massive Ticket Room has played significant parts in dozens. In Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller “Blade Runner,” set in 2019, the Ticket Room is a police station and Harrison Ford looks like Indy. “Pearl Harbor” contains a romantic farewell in the Ticket Room. In the latest Batman adventure, “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Ticket Room is site of the kangaroo court overseen by Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow:

What will future roles be for this versatile performer? Stay tuned. The station is also frequently used for music videos — the subject of our next post.

For more Union Station films credits check metro.net (yes, we know the list needs updating!). For Union Station booking guidelines, click here. For more information on booking the station as a shooting location, please contact Jeff Cooper at Hollywood Locations jcooper@hollywoodlocations.com.

RELATED:

Metro Motion celebrates beautiful Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Union Station: a grand opening

Union Station’s 75th: Seymour Rosen celebrates the opening

How Harvey House restaurants changed the West

Union Station: a man worthy of respect

Regional Connector design-build contractor recommended by Metro staff

Metro staff recommends a $927.2-million design/build contract with Regional Connector Constructors (a Joint Venture between Skanska USA Civil West California District, Inc., and Traylor Bros. Inc.) to build the Regional Connector project. The staff report is above.

The 1.9-mile underground rail line, forecast to be complete in 2020, will connect the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo lines and allow trains to travel directly from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica. This should speed trips through downtown and reduce the number of transfers for most riders.

The project is partially funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The Board of Directors will consider the contract recommendation at their Construction Committee meeting on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. in the Board Room at Metro headquarters, adjacent to Union Station. The full Board is scheduled to consider the contract at its meeting on Thursday, April 24, at 9:30 a.m.

After the contract is awarded, the Regional Connector will be the fourth rail project now under construction, joining the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Purple Line Extension contract is expected to be awarded this summer and it will be the fifth rail project in Los Angeles under construction because of Measure R. 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.

map_corridor_reg_conn_eng

Traffic alert: weekend closure of San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa this weekend for Gold Line work

From the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority:

WHO:  Residents / Commuters / Business Owners in the City of Azusa.

WHAT: San Gabriel Ave at the railroad crossing (between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd) in Azusa will be fully closed to thru-traffic in both directions this weekend to allow crews to continue installing light rail track and signals. Following this closure, one more weekend closure will take place during the final weekend of April to allow for the completion of these grade crossing improvements, as part of the 11.5-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project. Motorists and pedestrians will be detoured around the work area.

WHEN:

San Gabriel Ave at the railroad crossing (between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd): Two full weekend closures to complete the grade crossing improvements:

-        Friday, April 11 at 9:00 a.m. thru Monday, April 14, 2014 at 5:00 a.m.: San Gabriel Ave will be closed to thru-traffic in both directions between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

-        Friday, April 25 at 9:00 a.m. thru Monday, April 28, 2014 at 5:00 a.m.: San Gabriel Ave will be closed to thru-traffic in both directions between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

Note: Work hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. during these weekends. A full closure will not occur during the Easter holiday weekend.

WHERE: San Gabriel Ave at the railroad crossing between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

-        The street and sidewalk will be closed to thru-traffic during this work. Detour signage and routes will be in place during the weekend closures to guide motorists and pedestrians around the work area.

-        Access to all local residences and businesses on San Gabriel Ave will remain open at all times.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

-        Visit www.foothillextension.org

# # #

About the Construction Authority: The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment from Union Station to Pasadena and is underway on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Foothill Extension is a nearly $2 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa segment is fully funded by Measure R and will be completed in September 2015, when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will determine when the line will open for passenger service. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $550 million, are being overseen by the Construction Authority to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment. The Azusa to Montclair segment is environmentally cleared and is proceeding to advanced conceptual engineering in 2014.

Northbound I-405 closure in West L.A. between Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard planned night of April 11

A little I-405 news to spice up your Thursday. Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the northbound I-405 in West Los Angeles from Santa Monica Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard to facilitate formal walk-throughs of the roadway project area in preparation for upcoming lane re-striping activities on Friday night, April 11. Closure information is as follows:

  • Friday night: 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 12

Ramps will be closed as early as 7 p.m., and lanes will begin to close at 10 p.m.

Ramp Closures:

  • Northbound I-405 Olympic Boulevard/Pico Boulevard on-ramp
  • Northbound I-405 Santa Monica Boulevard on-ramp
  • Northbound I-405 will be accessible at the northbound on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Boulevard

Detours:

  • Detour: Exit the northbound I-405 at the Santa Monica Boulevard off-ramp, turn right to eastbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn left to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, turn right to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard, and turn right onto the northbound I-405 on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Boulevard.

What to expect: 

Union Station: Here’s how Harvey House restaurants helped change the West

This is the third of a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

When English immigrant Fred Harvey opened the first of more than 80 restaurants serving rail stops from the Midwest to California, he could not have imagined the contribution he was making to a social movement that would outlive the restaurants themselves. Nor could he have understood how those restaurants would influence the character of the West.

But Harvey waitresses — made famous by the 1946 Judy Garland movie “The Harvey Girls” — contributed more than labor to what some call the first restaurant chain in America. They helped gentrify the West and took part in a movement of young women away from the home and into self-sufficient employment.

“The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound” — a terrific documentary by L.A. filmmaker Katrina Parks — tells the story of the women who worked as wait staff for Harvey House restaurants, including the one at Union Station, beginning in the 1870s.

Unlike other diners near rail, Harvey House restaurants were clean and sold good, reasonably priced food on table linen and china. For 75 cents (in a 1943 menu) customers could dine on broiled fish almandine, potatoes O’Brien and Hawaiian slaw. A slice of apple pie was 15 cents. And the restaurants guaranteed that patrons would complete their meals before their trains — often loading up on water and passengers — were scheduled to depart.

The restored Harvey House restaurant in Kansas City's Union Station. Photo by Kevin C., via Flickr creative commons.

The restored Harvey House restaurant in Kansas City’s Union Station. Photo by Kevin C., via Flickr creative commons.

At first, the Harvey company hired men to serve as waiters, since women were in short supply in the West. But the men — both customers and waiters — could be rowdy. So Harvey began advertising in Eastern and Midwest newspapers, offering employment to clean-cut, well-mannered and attractive women between 18 and 30. The pay was $17.50 a month plus tips. Room and board were free. The Harvey Girls wore distinctive black-and-white uniforms, worked long hours and had to abide by strict rules, including curfews. But for many, it was the first taste of freedom and freedom can be delicious, as the above clip suggests.

For more information about the Harvey Girls, visit the Harvey Girl Historical Society at the Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris, Calif. Or watch the Katrina Parks video. The old Harvey House restaurant space at Union Station is currently vacant, but frequently used for special events and filming. Metro, the owner of Union Station, hopes to one day see another restaurant occupy the space although considerable and expensive work will be needed to rebuild the kitchen.

A recent view of the Harvey House restaurant. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A recent view of the Harvey House restaurant. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

RELATED:

Metro Motion celebrates beautiful Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Union Station’s 75th: Seymour Rosen celebrates the opening

Union Station: a grand opening

Gate latching begins this week on the Green Line

The next step to secure gates on the Metro Rail system begins this week at the Green Line’s Crenshaw, Vermont/Athens and Harbor Freeway stations with gates scheduled to be latched Wednesday, April 9. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies are assigned to the stations from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. through April 11 to provide advance notice and to assist patrons.

Metro Green Line stations at Redondo Beach, Douglas, El Segundo, Mariposa, Aviation/LAX and Hawthorne/Lennox stations already have gates that are latched. Metro plans to latch the five remaining Green Line Stations by the end of May. When this phase of latching is complete, 41 of 80 Metro Rail stations will be latched and Metro staff are exploring adding gates at some of the remaining stations. 

Gate latching requires passengers to use a TAP card loaded with an appropriate fare to pass through turnstiles at rail stations. TAP helps to strengthen security and fare enforcement and is utilized as fare media on 11 transportation providers including Metro, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation LADOT), Access, Antelope Valley, Culver City, Gardena, Foothill, Norwalk, Montebello, Santa Clarita and Torrance.

Metrolink has its own TAP-enabled tickets that allow Metrolink riders to transfer to Metro Rail at no additional cost. A total of 26 carriers are scheduled to be part of TAP by the end of this year, helping to create a more seamless and regional transit system.

Metro and its transit partners have been rolling out TAP for several years and Metro is monitoring TAP’s progress to determine its impact on fare evasion. The LASD and civilian security personnel provide added security on board trains and buses, as well as at transit facilities and stations. They randomly check patrons on trains and stations using electronic fare checkers to ensure proper payment is made.

  

  

Some new Expo Line Phase 2 construction pics

Progress continues on the second phase of the Measure R-funded Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica. The folks at the Expo Line Construction Authority sent over the above photos, all taken in recent days.

Both Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension are more than 50 percent complete and aiming toward forecast openings in early 2016.

Meanwhile, the Crenshaw/LAX Line broke ground earlier this year — we’ll have more soon about upcoming construction activities. Utility relocation continues for the Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension with the Metro Board expected to soon consider construction contracts for both projects.