The team of Metro staffers working on the 710 gap closure study held a briefing with members of the media this morning and stories are expected to be published in several newspapers.
As we posted on Monday, a round of 18 community meetings begins on Feb. 15 to discuss the history of the area and possible solutions to traffic caused by the gap in SR-710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. The meetings are part of the scoping process which will help define the purpose and need of the project, as well as consider some possible solutions.
Doug Failing, the executive director of Metro’s highway programs, hit on several key points about the meetings and the prospective project:
•The 710 gap is believed to impact traffic not just in the western San Gabriel Valley but as far away as the northern San Fernando Valley because traffic takes detours to avoid the gap.
•”As far as I’m concerned, everything is on the table,” Failing said. “We’re going to have a really robust scoping” process. He also emphasized that nothing has been decided in terms of what the project will be. He added that he takes seriously his responsibility under state and federal environmental law to consider all options. Continue reading
Over the past year, Metro’s 30/10 Initiative has gained traction locally and in Washington. There seems to be sentiment in many quarters — including the Obama Administration — that using federal loans and other financing to accelerate construction of Measure R projects is a good idea that should be enshrined in federal law.
At the same time, the political reality — according to politicians and the media — is that we will be facing a fiscally constrained government in Washington for some time because of the federal deficit.
That doesn’t necessarily jeopardize 30/10. Part of the plan’s ingenuity is that it’s not your typical federal handout to one metro area. A 30/10 federal program could be structured to help any city or metro area that has dedicated local taxes for transit projects and can pay back the federal government.
Photo of Light Rail in Denver via Flickr user ercwttmn.
In the last decade, numerous communities have invested heavily in mass transit. And like L.A. County, many have taken matters into their own hands, voting to tax themselves or issue market-rate bonds to pay for these investments. Phoenix and Denver did it in 2004, as did Honolulu in 2007. The Center for Transportation Excellence has a complete list of cities here. With a 30/10-style hand-up, they too could realize their transit visions sooner, rather than later.
All of this will depend on creating such a program in the next multi-year federal transportation spending bill, which seems likely to be debated by Congress this year.
One of the challenges of the 30/10 Initiative is persuading other regions to help convince Congress that it’s not just a plan designed to help Los Angeles County. In the coming weeks our goal at The Source is to write about other regions that could potentially take advantage of a 30/10 plan.
The idea is simple: If we can show that Los Angeles County’s interests dovetail with those of Honolulu and Denver and Minneapolis — and many others — then we can make an even stronger case to Washington. We can show the Feds that embracing innovative financing reforms – e.g. creating an infrastructure bank and expanding Build America Bonds for rapid transit – will be a windfall for all Americans in terms of their mobility and having nicer places to live and work.
A rendering of what the landscaping will eventually look like along the Expo Line.
Here’s the press release from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the agency building the line that will be operated by Metro:
Los Angeles, CA (February 9, 2011) – Expo Line crews started planting trees and other landscaping today along the new light rail line as it nears completion from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. The landscaping elements are part of plans to develop a multi-modal corridor that integrates transit, a bikeway, and pedestrian areas into a safe and balanced parkway setting.
With its native and drought tolerant plants, the landscaping along the alignment will provide screening and buffering along the transit corridor and establish a parkway that connects neighborhoods along the way. “The plantings will form a continuous, green, linear park and establish each station as a place, with a unique planting color and atmosphere,” said Roland Genick, Lead Urban Designer for the project. Continue reading
In this relatively new feature for The Source, I express actual opinions while working for government. Members of the media: please take any of these ideas and run with them — we could use the coverage!
1. It’s kind of a mixed message to say you’re against a bus lane in your neighborhood but you’re for mass transit.
1b. I’m weary of hearing the “but it will cause traffic” argument being used against every conceivable project in L.A., including the building of mass transit. Yawn.
2. I wish the conversation about a downtown L.A. football stadium near transit was a conversation about a downtown L.A. baseball stadium near transit.
2a. Anyone saying that a downtown stadium would be a traffic killer has never driven — a verb I use with irony — to a football game at the Coliseum or a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Sports Arena.
2b. When the Regional Connector is built, there will be frequent trains to Long Beach, Santa Monica, East Los Angeles, Azusa and Union Station stopping just a couple blocks from L.A. Live, Staples Center and the Convention Center.
President Obama’s bullet train plan and the Umami burger after the jump…
In early 2010, President Obama announced a plan to help build a national network of high-speed rail and began doling out federal funds to projects across the United States — with California, to date, the largest recipient.
The plan received a mention in the President’s State of the Union speech and today Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Obama Administration planned to spend $53 billion over the next six years to help get the network built. To put that number in perspective, the Anaheim to San Francisco segment of California’s high-speed rail project is estimated to cost $43 billion. Excerpt from the White House press release:
As the first step in this comprehensive, six-year plan, the President’s Budget for the coming fiscal year would invest $8 billion in expanding Americans’ access to high-speed passenger rail service. In order to achieve a truly national system, these investments will focus on developing or improving three types of interconnected corridors:
* Core Express: These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
* Regional: Crucial regional corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service. Continue reading
Click above to see a larger version.
In 2008, Los Angeles County voters approved the Measure R sales tax increase — and, along with it, a long list of transit and road projects to be funded by the half-penny hike. One of those projects: improving traffic in the area of the 4.5-mile gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.
On Feb. 15, a series of 18 public meetings will begin and continue through the end of March. Metro is billing the meetings as a chance to have a “conversation” with the public about the 710 gap, its history and possible solutions. The meetings, too, are the start of a new process to study what project — if any — might help traffic.
Some quick background: The 710 freeway opened between Long Beach and Valley Boulevard on the Alhambra/Los Angeles border in 1965. The goal, at the time, was to complete the freeway to Pasadena but controversy and lawsuits stopped it from happening, leaving a 4.5-mile gap between the 710 and a planned junction with the 210 and 134 freeways in Pasadena.
Not surprisingly, traffic has diverted to other roads, including surface streets in Alhambra, Los Angeles, South Pasadena and Pasadena.
The El Monte Busway and carpool lane on the 10 freeway. The photo was taken in 1992. Credit: Metro Transportation Library and Archive, via its Flickr photostream. Click above to visit.
L.A. Streetsblog recently ran an interesting post that pointed out that the number of carpoolers in Los Angeles County has declined between the year 2000 and 2009, according to Census Bureau numbers.
The decline, Streetsblog suggested, should lead Metro to better evaluate whether it’s worth spending money on HOV lanes such as the lane being added to the northbound 405 through the Sepulveda Pass — a project with a pricetag more than $1 billion.
Dave Sotero, who is part of Metro’s communications team, left the following response on Streetsblog and I thought it was worth posting on The Source for the sake of public debate:
Census data goes up and down, but one thing remains constant: the number of vehicles and the number of vehicle miles traveled are both expected to increase to unsustainable levels in the future.
There are too many cars and not enough roadways to handle them all. The more immediate probable cause of the drop in carpooling is the stubborn recession. If people aren’t working, they’re not carpooling to a job.
The recession is not a permanent phenomenon. As critical gaps in the carpool lane network are filled (the I-405 project is one example of this), carpooling, vanpooling and public transit should grow as well, particularly with the continuing escalation of gasoline prices. The 405 freeway carpool lane project fills the last gap in the entire I-405 freeway HOV system. Completing it is essential to improve mobility not just for the I-405, but the entire region’s freeway network.
The extra lane of traffic will in fact improve mobility on the 10-mile portion of the northbound I-405 by making all of the lanes of traffic flow more efficiently, whether you use the carpool lane or not. Continue reading
Here’s the news release from the Expo Line Construction Authority:
Los Angeles, CA (February 3, 2011) – Expo Line construction crews began installing components of pedestrian and vehicle crossing gates today, the first of many elements designed to help ensure the safety of motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and the more than 64,000 daily riders expected to use the light rail line by 2030.
Pedestrian crossing gates and vehicle crossing gate components, including crossing arm motors and intersection lights, will be installed over the next month. Crews are scheduled to return to the intersections to install crossing gate arms in the spring. The crossing gates are designed to alert pedestrians and motorists of approaching trains and prevent them from crossing the tracks until it is safe to do so. The same operational safeguards have been used on the Metro Gold Line, which has been providing transit service through residential communities and near schools since 2003, and is one of the safest light rail lines in the country. Continue reading
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has updated their Facebook page and want you to join the conversation:
Our Facebook page is proving to be a good place to hear the latest news, talk about the project, share your thoughts and get your questions answered. We hope you’ll join us there and encourage your own Facebook friends to do the same.
The more voices we have in this conversation, the better this project will meet California’s need for a low-cost, clean, fast and convenient way to travel. Join us today!
A quick recap on California’s plans for high speed rail: the initial leg is planned for San Francisco to Anaheim and will eventually reach as far south as San Diego and north to Sacramento – linking the state’s major cities with trains capable of speeds of up to 220 mph.
Also worth following: the Authority’s Twitter and Flickr pages.
Here’s the email that went out today from Habib Balian, the CEO of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the independent agency that is overseeing the building of the 11.5-mile light rail line from the current Gold Line terminus in Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border.
The Foothill Extension is funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. When the line is complete, the Construction Authority will turn it over to Metro, which will operate the line.
Here is Habib’s email:
This morning, the Construction Authority received proposals for the Pasadena to Azusa Foothill Extension Phase 2A Alignment contract. This is a major milestone in our process to select a design-builder to complete final design and construction of the 11.5 miles of track, stations, crossings, systems, maintenance facility, and more.
The three proposals were all in by 9:00 a.m. this morning, hours ahead of the deadline. Each proposal will now go through a significant evaluation process, including review by multiple technical evaluation committees. Continue reading