Video of this morning’s groundbreaking event for the Crenshaw/LAX Line

And here is video of this morning’s groundbreaking for the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

There are nice comments about mobility — and the need for more of it — from U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Metro would like to extend a special thank you to Secretary Foxx and Senator Boxer for making the trip to Los Angeles on Tuesday and for their help — and they were both personally involved — in getting this project off the ground.

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And so it begins: ground is broken for the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line

Social media roundup for Crenshaw/LAX Line groundbreaking

Crenshaw/LAX Line groundbreaking roundup on social media


And so it begins: ground is broken for 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line

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The groundbreaking of the Crenshaw/LAX Line was held Tuesday morning adjacent to the Expo Line’s Crenshaw station. Video is coming later today and we posted to our Twitter and Instagram feeds during the event; see this post for social media coverage of the event.

Here is Metro’s news release:

Construction began Tuesday morning on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, an 8.5-mile, $2.058-billion light-rail line that will run between the Metro Expo and Green lines and is expected to open in 2019. The project will also bring Metro Rail closer to Los Angeles International Airport.

The groundbreaking bought together top officials from federal, state and local government, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and California Senator Barbara Boxer.

One of the old Yellow Cars at Crenshaw & 54th in 1954. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

One of the old Yellow Cars at Crenshaw & 54th in 1954. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

The event was held at the intersection of Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, where the first of the project’s three underground stations will be built. Demolition of some existing structures will be among the first work done, with heavy construction expected to begin this spring.

“Thousands of hard-working families and seniors living in Crenshaw depend on public transportation every day to get to work, to school, and to obtain medical care,” said Secretary Foxx.  “Bringing light rail to this community will create jobs, spur local economic development and make it easier than ever for residents to access downtown Los Angeles and beyond.”

The new Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project will be the first rail line to serve Crenshaw Boulevard and the city of Inglewood since the streetcars of the Los Angeles Rail Line (known as the “Yellow Cars”) stopped running in 1955. In some places, the new light rail line will use the old alignment for the streetcars.

“The Crenshaw Line is a top priority for me because it will provide a crucial transportation link, create over 18,000 jobs, help connect communities, reduce air pollution, and provide economic development and economic opportunities,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The new light-rail line will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester and the area around Los Angeles International Airport with eight stations, a maintenance facility and park-and-ride lots.

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Suspect arrested in fatal stabbing on Red Line last week

Here is the news release issued earlier by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the stabbing death of an adult male at 9:20 AM on Monday, January 13, 2014, on the Metro Red Line at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station, 1015 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles.

Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators have arrested a suspect for the January 13th murder of Mr. Velasco-Alvarado (MH/34), which occurred on the Metro Red Line rail.

Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators received an anonymous tip which enabled them to establish the identity of the suspect and determine the location of his residence. On Friday, January 17th, investigators executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence in North Hollywood, where they arrested Suspect Angelo Correia (M/B-25) for Mr. Velasco-Alvarado’s murder.
Suspect Correia was booked at West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and is being held in lieu of one million dollars bail.

The case will be presented to the District Attorney’s office on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

Photos of this weekend’s work in preparation of the Gold Line Foothill Extension

Above are a few photos of this weekend’s work to prepare the existing Gold Line to be extended as part of the Gold Line Foothill Extension project. This is the reason that the Sierra Madre Villa station was closed this weekend.

Most of the work involves building and/or reworking the overhead wires and infrastructure that delivers electricity to light rail trains. Thanks to riders for the patience with the station closure — the Foothill Extension project is moving along at a steady clip and will extend the Gold Line for 11.5 miles to the Azusa/Glendora border with new stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and two in Azusa.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: The urban transit revolution depends on federal dollars

The following op-ed was written by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also serves as the Vice chair of the Metro Board of Directors: 

The Urban Transit Revolution Depends on Federal Dollars 

By: Eric Garcetti

Too often, the story of Los Angeles is written by pundits who are focused on talking about this city as the car capital of the world;  there are a few storytellers, however, that have begun to tell a different story.  Last month, the L.A. Times featured a story on a new L.A., a city with a new identity and with an evolving network of transportation options creating the so-called “urban reawakening.”

CroppedHeadshot_qualityIn my first six months of office, I laid the foundation for an agenda that is focused on a “back to basics” approach.  It prioritizes the basic delivery of those city services and policies that improve our neighborhoods – including the creation of more sustainable, walkable, and transit-connected communities.

In the U.S., 81 percent of our people now live in urban areas — a number that has grown in recent times.  In California, 95 percent of us live in cities.  Mobility is the lifeblood of cities.  The ability to move people and goods allows us to compete for jobs with cities across the global economy.

On my first trip to Washington D.C. as Mayor, I met with President Barack Obama and with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to advocate for nearly $2 billion of transit funds from a federal program called New Starts.  These funds would help pay for the construction of the Regional downtown Connector and the first phase of the Purple Line projects.  They will transform Metro’s growing transit system, making it easier for riders to reach jobs and popular destinations along Wilshire Boulevard, to and from downtown and across Los Angeles — the underground Connector will tie together the Blue, Expo, and Gold lines for a one-seat ride connection.

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Reminder: Metro Gold Line will be closed between Sierra Madre Villa Station and Allen Station Jan. 18 – 19

The Metro Gold Line will be closed between Sierra Madre Villa Station and Allen Station this Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 – 19. Bus shuttles will replace train service between the two stations.

Trains will operate normal service between Atlantic Station and Allen Station on this weekend.

During the closure, crews will be working to tie the existing Gold Line to the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Most of the work involves building and/or reworking the overhead wires and infrastructure that delivers electricity to light rail trains.

All work is subject to weather postponements. Get the latest alerts and news by following Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles or @metroLAalerts.

Motion seeks to restore two Airport Metro Connector alternatives that would bring light rail into LAX terminal area

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We posted earlier about a new Metro staff report that narrows down the alternatives to be further studied for the Airport Metro Connector. Specifically, the report proposes eliminating alternatives that would build light rail directly to the LAX terminals in favor of four alternatives that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX and/or Green Line to a people mover east of the terminals.

However, in the Metro Board’s Construction Committee this morning, a motion from Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe seeks to restore two of those alternatives, shown above, for further analysis as part of a draft environmental study.

The five members of the Construction Committee moved the motion to the full Board of Directors without recommendation. The full Board will likely take up the issue at their meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23. Board Member Pam O’Connor objected to the motion, saying it was time to eliminate the above alternatives because of their expense and complexity and the difficulty in accessing all the terminals from rail stations.

In remarks, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the region deserves a world-class transit system and that it was too early in the Airport Metro Connector to eliminate options that would bring rail directly into the terminal area. Metro staff said there are several issues with those options, including a cost of $3 billion or more, a complex tangle of utilities under the terminals and runway areas and concerns from LAX about tunneling under critical facilities.

Here is the motion:

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Metro staff report updates the alternatives for Airport Metro Connector project; alternatives focus on connecting light rail to people mover

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One of the more notable Measure R projects under study is the Airport Metro Connector, which seeks to connect the Metro Rail system to Los Angeles International Airport.

The latest: Metro staff in collaboration with Los Angeles World Airports (the city of Los Angeles agency that oversees LAX) are recommending four possible connections between a people mover the airport plans to build and the Crenshaw/LAX Line and/or the Green Line for further analysis in an upcoming draft environmental study. The four alternatives are shown above.

Staff are also recommending that four alternatives that had been previously studied be eliminated from further study: a bus rapid transit alternative and three alternatives that would have run a rail line directly into the airport’s terminal area.

As the staff report explains, the high cost, travel time impact to non-airport riders and LAWA concerns about the risk of tunneling under critical facilities such as runways and terminals were considerations in this recommendation. Another important consideration are Federal Aviation Administration restrictions concerning construction in the flight path zone.

Here is what is important to understand: Even if light rail could get directly into the airport’s central terminal area — likely via an extremely expensive tunnel — many travelers would still need to transfer to a people mover to reach the different terminals. In other words, all options involve both light rail and a people mover.

The bottom line: It will be very important for Metro and LAWA to select the alternative that allows for the easiest connection between light rail and the people mover while taking into consideration riders who are not airport bound.

The report also explains something wonky but very important: Metro, LAWA and two federal agencies — the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration — have agreed on how further studies for the project will proceed.

The gist of it: Metro will study the light rail part of the project, LAWA will study the people mover part of the project and then the agencies will agree on a “locally preferred alternative.” A federal study of that alternative will follow — a study that is necessary in order to secure any needed federal funding.

Here is a good article on the issue in today’s Los Angeles Times.

There was also a news story published yesterday on the Los Angeles News Group’s Airspace blog about skepticism from airlines toward the project and its potential expense. I think it’s important to note that study of the project is going forward nonetheless and the project enjoys considerable political support both within and outside of the Metro Board of Directors — including from elected officials who ultimately oversee LAX.

The latest staff report and handout are below. Both are also available as part of the Metro Board’s Planning Committee agenda.

Extended closure at 5th & Colorado in Santa Monica for Expo Line construction

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From the Expo Line Construction Authority:

MAJOR CONSTRUCTION & STREET CLOSURE IN SANTA MONICA

 EXTENDED CLOSURE OF I-10 FREEWAY 5th STREET EXIT

STARTING JANUARY 18, 2014

Santa Monica– Major construction requiring freeway off ramp and street closures for Phase 2 of the Expo Light Rail Line in Santa Monica will begin Saturday, January 18th at 6:00 am and last through Tuesday, January 28th at 11:00 pm.  Crews will work 24-hour shifts during the extended street closure to install track across 5th Street.

Northbound and southbound 5th Street will be temporarily closed at Colorado Avenue.  Westbound Colorado Avenue will be temporarily closed between 5th Street and 4th Street.

As part of this work activity, the 5th Street exit from the westbound I-10 freeway will also be temporarily closed during this time. Motorists are encouraged to use the Cloverfield Boulevard or Lincoln Boulevard exits as alternative routes to Downtown Santa Monica.

Commuters should expect detours in downtown Santa Monica, and will be encouraged to take alternate exits off the westbound I-10 Freeway during this extended closure.  Local and pedestrian access around the closure areas will be maintained at all times. Electronic message boards, directional signage, and flaggers will be used to direct vehicles and pedestrians around the construction zone.

For additional information about the Santa Monica street closures and Phase 2 of the Expo Light Rail Line, please contact Gabriela Collins at (213) 243-5535.

For more information about the Expo Light Rail Line, visit www.buildexpo.org