Metro Board of Directors agenda for Jan. 26

The Metro Board of Directors meets tomorrow at 9 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station.

The big item on the agenda – posted below – is consideration of a Project Labor Agreement that sets hiring targets for many Metro transit and highway projects to ensure that 40 percent of the work hours are performed by workers who would be hired from economically disadvantaged areas from this region and around the nation. Ten percent of those work hours also would be targeted to individuals who are struggling with poverty, chronic unemployment and other hardships. The agreement also seeks to provide entry-level jobs to help workers launch careers in the construction industry.

Jan. 26 Metro Board agenda

Filmmakers tackle California's high-speed rail project

This excellent segment titled “Train Wars” on the proposed high-speed rail project in California was produced by filmmakers Roger Rudick and Luke Mines and recently aired on KQED in Northern California. It’s seven minutes long and I encourage you to watch — the segment takes a look at some of the issues in play in San Francisco and the San Joaquin Valley.

Work continues on bridge for Gold Line Foothill Extension

The above is the latest construction update on the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, which will extend the Gold Line for 11.5 miles from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border.

The video focuses on the work done in the past few months on the bridge that will carry the tracks from the 210 freeway median over the eastbound lanes and toward downtown Arcadia. The video also explains some of the upcoming early morning closures of the eastbound 210 — between midnight and 5 a.m. — that will be required for work.

Sign up to receive construction updates on the project. The Foothill Extension is funded by the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 and is scheduled for completion in 2015.

Highlights from the Regional Connector's final environmental study

This map shows how the Regional Connector will fit into Metro's expanding rail and busway system.

As many of you know by now, the Regional Connector’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report was released last Friday. (News release and Exec summary here). The public review period begins today and the Metro Board of Directors will consider the report at their February meeting.

Here are some of the highlights of this key project — I can’t emphasize the word ‘key’ enough — which is funded in part by the Measure R sales tax approved by Los Angeles  County voters in 2008:

The Basics

The 1.9-mile light rail line will connect the Gold Line to the Blue Line and Expo Line in downtown Los Angeles via a tunnel that will mostly follow 2nd and Flower streets.

As the above map shows, the project will allow for a one-seat ride for light rail passengers to downtown destinations and allow for trains to run from Santa Monica to East L.A. (and beyond) and from Azusa (and perhaps beyond) to Long Beach. That means fewer transfers and more time savings for Metro passengers — more on that below.

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Why Do Back-Up Alarms Have To Be Noisy?

When they are working as intended, back-up alarms—in common with some forms of modern music—broadcast annoying sounds for several blocks. The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project has been trying to do something about this.

The answer may rely on a duck or, at least, the sound of a duck.

Back-up alarms are annoying by design in hopes of reducing collisions between construction workers and the far larger vehicles surrounding them. These collisions are not a rare problem.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that six percent (397 deaths) of all fatalities in the construction industry in 2002 resulted from workers being struck by vehicles. Consequently, Cal OSHA requires back-up alarms for worker safety.


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Five things I'm thinking about transportation, Jan. 18 edition

REGIONAL CONNECTOR: I think it was nice to see the final environmental study for the Regional Connector be released the other day. Although public review and approval from the Board of Directors is still required, it’s the fourth major environmental study of a Measure R project to be completed since the public voted for the half-cent sales tax increase in 2008 — the others are the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the Expo Line’s second phase.

The Westside Subway Extension’s final study is also due to be released soon. Yes, construction is sexier, but these exhaustive and furniture-sized studies are required by law and must be done first.

As for the Connector, I recommend taking a look at the study. When all is said and done in the coming years, Metro will have spent more than $3 billion on building the Expo Line to Santa Monica, the Gold Line to Azusa and the Blue Line to Long Beach.

The Connector ties those lines together in downtown Los Angeles and by greatly reducing the need for transfers and allowing more frequent service, the Connector will shave time off the commute of anyone traveling into downtown Los Angeles or through it.


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The temptation at La Cienega Station

Chocoholics are going to love the La Cienega Station once the Expo Line opens. Just imagine standing on the elevated platform, gazing out at the Hollywood sign in the distance, when the wind picks up…and suddenly the smell of chocolate, cream and warm sugar fill the air. Just as you’re starting to drool, you look towards the street and that’s when you see it: the classic black and white façade.

Lucy and Ethel on the candy assembly line at See's Candies. Photo credit: CBS Television.

Just south of the La Cienega Station is a See’s Candies store. See’s Candies, a historical Los Angeles institution of deliciousness, as a great selection of chocolate goodies. The location on La Cienega is also home to one of the nation’s two See’s Candies kitchens, which is where all those divine aromas are coming from. Fun fact about this kitchen: it’s the location where I Love Lucy filmed the famous “Job Switching” episode, in which Lucy attempts to hold down a job at a candy factory and predictably loses control of the situation. (Here’s the full video on the CBS website).

Although the kitchen is not open for tours, you can still visit the store and pick up a box of chocolates for your commute home, or just pop in for a free sample fresh from the kitchen. Go ahead and indulge every time you go Expo, and treat yourself to something sweet.

Home of See's Candies, just down the street from La Cienega Station


Regional Connector final environmental document released

Executive Summary Part1 of 3

One week earlier than expected, Metro today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/R) for the Regional Connector project. A 30-day public review period begins next Friday, Jan. 20, and lasts for 30 days.

The document is available for viewing and download on the Regional Connector section of The first part of the Executive Summary is posted above. Parts two and three of the summary are posted after the jump.

The Metro Board of Directors are scheduled to vote on approving the document at their meeting on Feb. 23 on Metro headquarters adjacent to Union Station. The Board’s Planning Committee will also discuss the document at their Feb. 15 meeting.

The Regional Connector will connect the Blue Line, Expo Line and Gold Line in downtown Los Angeles so that light rail passengers can reach downtown destinations without having to transfer to the Red/Purple Line subway at the 7th/Metro Center station or Union Station. Studies for the project began in 2007.

Open houses for the public are scheduled for early February — Metro staff will be available to answer questions from the public about the document. The meetings are:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Colburn School of Music
200 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Japanese American National Museum
369 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

After the jump: Parts two and three of the Exec Summary of the FEIS/R and a FAQ from Metro staff on the document.

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California Geological Survey issues letter about L.A. Weekly story

The California Geological Survey has sent Metro the letter posted below about its position on earthquake fault zones in the Century City area.

The letter was prompted by an L.A. Weekly story published in December headlined “Westside Subway Extension feud: Did Metro rig a Century City fault study to move the Purple Line?” That story reported that the California Geological Survey had previously deemed the Santa Monica Fault to be inactive, which prompted the Weekly to run this correction:


The article “Westside Subway Extension Feud” (Dec. 23) incorrectly stated that trenching, a method of fault testing, had been conducted on the Santa Monica Fault in the late 1970s and found the fault to be inactive. In fact, the fault was evaluated using mapping and other data, not trenching. The data was insufficient to deem the fault active or inactive.


As of Friday, the correction was still not attached to the online version of the story, which also did not identify the engineer quoted as being a consultant to the Beverly Hills Unified School District. Here is the letter from the California Geological Survey that clarifies its position on the Santa Monica Fault, the West Beverly Hills Lineamint and Alquist-Priolo fault designations:

CGS Letter

State high-speed rail CEO to step down

Banner: High Speed Rail

The California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark just told the agency’s Board of Directors that he will be stepping down from his job in two months to pursue more time with his family and other priorities.

The Board is meeting today at Metro headquarters in Los Angeles.

Van Ark was hired in June 2010.

In addition, two other key Authority staff members are leaving the agency — spokesperson Rachel Wall and deputy director Dan Leavitt.

Board Chairman Thomas J. Umberg also said that he intends to step down as the chair but will continue as a Board member.

Earlier in the meeting, the Board voted not to further study a route along the Grapevine for the bullet train. Instead a route through the Antelope Valley will be pursued — that’s the alignment backed by the Metro Board of Directors.