Iconic bridge starting to shape up for Foothill Extension Gold Line

This 14-foot wide Auger was used to drill foundation holes for the bridge abutments.

Local media were provided a nice tour this morning of the work being done on the “Iconic Bridge” being built over the eastbound 210 freeway for the Gold Line Foothill Extension in Arcadia. The Measure R-funded project will extend the existing Gold Line from its terminus at Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena for 11.5 miles to the Azusa/Glendora border, a trip that will only take about 20 minutes.

The 584-foot linear bridge will carry the tracks from the median of the 210 to the south side of the freeway. The old single-track railroad bridge — at that point, long out of use — was torn down in 1997 because it needed serious seismic upgrades and was too narrow to accommodate the tracks in both directions needed for light rail. The new bridge almost sits atop the footprint of the old bridge.

The SR 100 Soilmec Drill Rig makes its way across the eastbound 210 last month to complete the foundations for two of the bridge's three abutments.

Skanska, the contractor, began serious work on the $18.6-million bridge over the summer and is scheduled to be complete in July 2012. The steel frame for two of the three bridge columns (and their associated deep foundations) are in the ground and the third is being installed this week. The two deep completed foundations are 110-feet-deep and 11-feet in diameter — motorists on the 210 can only see the 16 feet steel skeletons that are above ground. The accompanying photos show some of the work done to date.

A few other interesting factoids about the project:

•The three deep foundations have nearly 11 miles of rebar, as well as more than 1,300 cubic yards of concrete from Irwindale (local materials!). They also have a relatively new technology — never used before by Metro — that that in the future will allow Metro to check the structural integrity of the concrete after earthquakes by measuring electrical pulses traveling along wires inside each abutment.

•In December, work crews will begin installing the falsework allowing them to build the bridge itself. The temporary support for the bridge must span the width of the freeway for the entire stretch across the freeway, which will create a tunnel of sorts for the eastbound 210 while work is being done.

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Gate locking test begins at 1 p.m. today at Wilshire/Normandie station

Just a reminder: Metro will be locking turnstiles at the Wilshire/Normandie station on the Purple Line subway from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today as part of a test. There will be Metro personnel on hand to help those without TAP cards get through the turnstile.

Here’s more info about the tests that will take place over the next few weeks.

The schedule for tests is as follows:

The Wilshire/Normandie turnstile closure will be followed by closures on three consecutive Wednesdays at three other stations, from 1 to 4 p.m., adding one station per week in this order: week 1: Wilshire/Normandie Station; week 2: Wilshire/Normandie plus Vermont/Beverly; week 3: Wilshire/Normandie and Vermont/Beverly plus Hollywood/Western; week 4: Wilshire/Normandie, Vermont/Beverly and Hollywood/Western plus Wilshire/Western.

Sunset Bridge reconstruction work to require road, ramp closures beginning Sept. 30

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor will reconstruct all approaches to the Sunset Boulevard Bridge that spans the 405 freeway in West Los Angeles, a construction activity that will require two separate phased 14-day ramp and roadway closures beginning Sept. 30.

Motorists should anticipate delays and are encouraged to plan ahead when traveling through this construction zone.

The work is being performed as part of the reconstruction of the southern side of the Sunset Boulevard Bridge, which was initially demolished in July 2010. Local road and freeway ramp closures are now necessary to raise the street intersections and utilities to meet the new height of the bridge’s reconstructed south side.

Work is also being done to prepare for the demolition and reconstruction of the northern side of the bridge. When complete, the completely rebuilt bridge will be widened to provide additional vehicle capacity on the bridge and improved access to freeway ramps.

All the details are after the jump.

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Metro's response to Texas Transportation Institute's annual congestion rankings

Click above to see a larger image.

The annual Texas Transportation Institute congestion survey was released today and, as usual, the L.A. metropolitan area didn’t fare well — ranked third in the U.S. for time delays per auto commuter per year and first when it came to overall time and fuel wasted due to traffic jams.

As I posted yesterday, this isn’t exactly shocking news — we live in a big, sprawling six-county region with millions of cars and trucks on the road. I encourage you to check out some U.S. Census Bureau statistics in yesterday’s post that I believe better explains how we’re getting around the L.A. region these days.

Here is the official response to the TTI study from Metro:

Texas Transportation Institute’s 2011 Annual Urban Mobility Report released today is the nation’s barometer of the rising pressure caused by traffic congestion in 439 urban areas. Although traffic congestion continues to rise in American cities of all sizes, the urban area swath of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana is holding the line in the battle with traffic congestion and holding promise of future mobility.

In terms of congestion and fuel costs and delays in travel time per auto commuter, the Los Angeles – Long Beach – Santa Ana urban area ranked third in the nation for very large urban areas with a population of over 3 million. On the downside, the region ranked first when measured in terms of an aggregate population wasting 521,449 hours in travel delay and consuming an excess of 278,318 gallons of fuel which costs the region $10.9 billion. The just-released mobility report notes that congestion in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana region chokes 57 percent of the freeway and major arterial system during the 8-hour peak periods, causing the average peak period traveler to spend an extra 64 hours of travel time – up from 25 hours in 1982 — and an additional 34 gallons of fuel per year. Congestion costs the solo driver an additional $1,334 in cold, hard cash to operate an automobile.

There’s more response after the jump!

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Another look at commuting times and how we get to work in Los Angeles County

Click above to see larger image. Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

The Texas Transportation Institute is scheduled to release its annual congestion survey tomorrow. If history holds true, the Los Angeles area will likely rank as of the most congested traffic areas in the United States, as measured by the TTI.

As regular readers know, there are all sorts of ways of ranking traffic congestion and commuting these days. And it seems like a new ranking comes out every week. I’m not sure most of them tell us anything that isn’t glaringly obvious to anyone who is alive: 1) we live in a giant, six-county (I include San Diego County) metro area with about 20 million people, many of whom have cars, and; 2) Southern California, generally speaking, didn’t start building a modern transit system until the late 20th century, meaning we’re in catch-up mode and a lot of people drive.

As it happens, the U.S. Census Bureau last week burped out some commuting data that tells a somewhat different story. Most of the media (rightly, me thinks) focused on the time it takes commuters to get to work. In the L.A. metro area as measured by the Census Bureau, we came in 17th place with an average of 28.1 minutes — a lot less than some metro areas with robust transit systems. If looking at sprawling L.A. County alone, we’re at 29 minutes, a slight reduction from the 29.4 minutes measured in the 2000 Census. The difference probably is explained in part by the current recession and high unemployment numbers.

I think that the most interesting numbers explain how L.A. County residents are getting to work. Here’s the breakdown between 2000 and the 2005-2009 numbers the Census Bureau released last week:

The results are interesting: A decrease in carpooling looks to have resulted in more people driving alone — perhaps one explanation is that’s a result of increasing congestion in carpool lanes, leading fewer people to take them.

There’s also a slight uptick in people taking transit, cycling and working at home — perhaps due to more and better internet tools and company flexibility. As for the transit side of things, in 2000 there was still no subway service to the San Fernando Valley, no Gold Line and no Orange Line.

More Census Bureau charts are after the jump.

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Turnstile locking demonstration begins this week

As we posted earlier this month, Metro will begin a turnstile locking demonstration this Wednesday to collect more data on TAP (Transit Access Pass) smart cards and so-called “paper fare media” (paper tickets and passes) currently in use. The first closure will be at the Purple Line Wilshire/Normandie Station from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Wednesday. The one-entrance station and time of day were selected to help minimize passenger inconvenience.

The station will be well staffed with personnel who will TAP through riders who do not have TAP cards. This is not a study of fare evasion. Nor is it a permanent and final closure of the gates. The purpose of the demonstration is to find out what types of paper tickets and passes are still being used by Metro customers, including valid rail tickets, Metrolink passes, EZ Transit Passes and inter-agency transfers.

The Wilshire/Normandie turnstile closure will be followed by closures on three consecutive Wednesdays at three other stations, from 1 to 4 p.m., adding one station per week in this order: week 1: Wilshire/Normandie Station; week 2: Wilshire/Normandie plus Vermont/Beverly; week 3: Wilshire/Normandie and Vermont/Beverly plus Hollywood/Western; week 4: Wilshire/Normandie, Vermont/Beverly and Hollywood/Western plus Wilshire/Western.

Late night closures of eastbound 210 freeway in Arcadia tonight and Tuesday night

Work on the bridge that will take the Gold Line Foothill Extension from the median of the 210 to the south side of the freeway continues. Here’s the alert from the Foothill Extension Construction Authority, which is building the 11.5 project from Pasadena to Azusa:

Click above to see a larger image.

Portion of Northbound I-405 planned for closure night of Sept. 24

Project contractors are planning to close a portion of the northbound I-405 over the Sepulveda Pass starting Saturday night, Sept. 24, for one night to take down some freeway signs and other equipment that are currently in the way of the new traffic lane now being constructed.

Temporary signs indicating how many miles to the next street exit will be put in their place, but the northbound-only side of the freeway will be closed for about five miles between Getty Center Drive and Ventura Boulevard while this work is performed. Another similar closure may be required later. As with all of these types of directional freeway closures, Sepulveda Boulevard will remain open as the official detour route between the closure hours of 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday morning.

The construction notice is after the jump. Continue reading

Other actions taken today by Metro's Board of Directors

A few other nuggets from today’s Board meeting:

•(Item 32) The Board delayed a vote on a proposal to rename six train and bus stations.

•(Item 54) The Board, after considerable public testimony, voted to hold off canceling bus service on Line 442 pending a three-month review of what could be done to improve ridership on the line to make it more economically feasible.

•(Item 30) The Board approved a resolution to seek a change in federal law that would allow Metro to require contractors to have local hiring programs on projects in which Metro is contributing at least half the costs. Federal funding prohibits this.

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