Board to consider contract for 710 gap environmental document

The 710's terminus at Valley Boulevard as seen on Google Maps.

The Metro Board will consider Thursday awarding a $37.3-million contract to CH2M Hill to prepare the environmental impact reports and preliminary engineering for a potential project to help improve traffic congestion in the area of the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.

Here’s the staff report from Thursday’s full Board meeting.. Metro held 20 public meetings this past spring called “710 Conversations” to generate ideas from the public on what type of project — if any — those who live and work in the area would like to see.

The staff report to the Board says the project “may include, but not be limited to: surface and subsurface highway/freeway construction, heavy rail and bus/light rail systems, local street upgrades, traffic management systems and a no build alternative.”

There is a 4.5-mile gap in the 710 between Valley Boulevard on the Alhambra/Los Angeles border and Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena. The Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 included up to $780 million for a 710 project to be defined through the environmental study process.

The 710 opened between Long Beach and Valley Boulevard in 1965. Here’s a post from last year with some history of the issue — and it’s an issue with a long history!

Court rules in favor of Metro in Westside Subway Extension case

A Superior Court Judge has ruled that Metro did not violate the California Public Records Act, as alleged by the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

The District had filed a petition asking the court to force Metro to release documents and alleging that the agency was withholding information being gathered as part of the ongoing environmental analysis for the Westside Subway Extension.

Excerpt from the ruling:

“A review of the verified Petition, however, fails to identify which items on Petitioner’s series of requests remain outstanding. Therefore, it is virtually impossible for Metro to counter the allegations. And, even worse, it makes it impossible for the Court to determine whether Petitioner’s claims of non-production are, in fact, correct.”

The School District is trying to stop a potential route for the subway that would involve tunneling deep under the Beverly Hills High School campus. Metro is currently working on finishing the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report and the agency has said it hoping to release that document later this year.

Metro also wants to release the geotechnical reports about this issue prior to releasing the Final EIS/EIR. But those reports must first be completed and the information completely analyzed.

Metro's response to the Community Connector Coalition letter

Below is Metro’s official response to the Community Connector Coalition’s letter suggesting realignments to stations and routes for the Regional Connector Project. As we mentioned in this morning’s headlines, the group’s letter can be read here.

We take the coalition’s letter and all public comments seriously, and will follow our well-established technical process to review and respond to all letters and comments to the Regional Connector’s environmental document.  We are currently reviewing the letter with the project’s technical, environmental and operations staff and consultants, and expect to have written responses in the coming weeks.  The Final EIS/EIR, which will include responses to all public comments, will be submitted for Metro Board consideration in December contingent on FTA approval.

Work continues on 'Iconic Bridge' for Gold Line Foothill Extension

The folks at the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority emailed these good pics of work done this past week on the bridge that will carry the Gold Line tracks over the eastbound 210 freeway. The work involved bringing steel cage bridge supports to the construction site in Arcadia and installing them — requiring a night-time closure of the eastbound 210 earlier this week.

The photos on this page show the night-time work on the steel cage (love that term, btw!). The pics on the jump page show some of the day-time work.

The Foothill Extension of the Gold Line will run 11.5 miles from the current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa in eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. It’s a Measure R-funded project that the Authority is scheduling for completion in 2015.

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Construction set to begin on Expo Line Phase II to Santa Monica

Signaling hope that rail mass transit may one day soon travel west of the 405 freeway, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held Monday morning in Santa Monica for the second phase of the Expo Line light rail project.

The 6.6-mile second phase, with a budget of about $1.5 billion, will connect Culver City and Santa Monica, mostly via the old rail right-of-way that runs along Exposition Boulevard. The budget includes several significant bridges for the train over busy streets, including Sepulveda Boulevard, as well as a maintenance yard and new rail cars.

“This is one of the most traffic impacted areas in Southern California,” said County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who also serves on the Metro Board of Directors. “People get stuck getting into this job-rich area every morning and they get stuck stuck trying to leave in the afternoon. This project will give people…an alternative to getting stuck.

“It won’t solve the traffic problems of the Westside but it will give people an alternative to sitting in traffic,” Yaroslavsky added.

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More details on President Obama's jobs plan and its proposals for transportation funding

Metro’s government relations staff wrote the following update on the job creation package proposed by President Barack Obama on Thursday.

My quick take: it appears there will be more transportation money on the table — if Congress approves the package. However, it remains to be seen how much of those funds can be secured by Metro and how much can be applied toward accelerating Measure R transit and road projects.

The update:

White House Details Transportation Spending In American Jobs Act

Embedded as part of the American Jobs Act unveiled by President Obama last night is a proposal to provide $50 billion in immediate federal transportation spending. The proposed funding includes a request for Congress to provide $9 billion for our nation’s transit systems and $27 billion to bolster our nation’s highways. The proposal also includes an initiative, consistent with America Fast Forward, to vastly expand federal support for the Transportation Infrastructure and Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. Another $10 billion would be used to create a National Infrastructure Bank. To emphasize the importance of his transportation proposals, President Obama stated last night that, “building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower.” Below please find language from a White House fact sheet detailing the transportation spending outlined in the American Jobs Act.

After the jump is a list of transportation funding initiatives in the American Jobs Act.

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President Obama makes case for more investment in transportation

Here is the description of President Obama’s speech to Congress tonight from Metro’s government relations staff:

Moments ago, President Obama delivered remarks before a joint session of Congress in which he outlined his plan to jumpstart America’s economy. The President’s plan, delivered with the national unemployment rate standing at 9.1%, encourages Congress to enact a series of tax cuts and increase investment in our nation’s infrastructure, among other initiatives. Specifically, the President encouraged added investment in roads, bridges and transit projects. Our agency’s chair, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was present at the joint session of Congress at the invitation of President Obama.

The President remarked this evening that, “The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away.”

Our agency will continue working with the Obama Administration and Congress to ensure that any legislation adopted to jumpstart our economy serves to advance our Board-approved legislative program.

Here is the description of the transportation aspects of the President’s jobs plan from the White House website:

Making an Immediate Investment in Our Roads, Rails and Airports: The President’s plan includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. The President’s plan includes investments to improve our airports, support NextGen Air Traffic Modernization efforts, and resources for the TIGER and TIFIA programs, which target competitive dollars to innovative multi-modal infrastructure programs. It will also take special steps to enhance infrastructure-related job training opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups and ensure that small businesses can compete for infrastructure contracts.The President will work administratively to speed infrastructure investment through a recently issued Presidential Memorandum developed with his Jobs Council directingdepartments and agencies to identify high impact, job-creating infrastructure projects that can be expedited in a transparent manner through outstanding review and permitting processes. The call for greater infrastructure investment has been joined by leaders from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue.

Establishing a National Infrastructure Bank:The President is calling for Congress to pass a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion, in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of nationaland regional significance, without earmarks or traditional political influence. The Bank would be based on the model Senators Kerry and Hutchison have championed while building on legislation by Senators Rockefeller and Lautenberg and the work of long-time infrastructure bank champions like Rosa DeLauro and the input of the President’s Jobs Council.

I think the bottom line here folks is that there is no immediate victory for Metro or any of the agency’s particular projects. However, I think it’s also fair to say that President Obama seems to recognize there is a more pressing need for the type of investment in infrastructure, given all the (rightful) attention on unemployment in the United States.

That’s encouraging, especially given this agency’s repeated calls for Congress to enact the America Fast Forward program to allow for more federal loans and financing to help build Measure R projects now, not years from now.

As usual, follow-through from the White House and the willingness of Congress to go along remains to be seen.

photo credit: http://www.whitehouse.gov

Foothill Extension bridge construction update

Here’s the update emailed Wednesday afternoon by Foothill Extension Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian:

There has been significant construction activity on the I-210 bridge the last two days, now that Caltrans approved our permit late last week. Preparations were completed early this week on the equipment and materials needed to drill the 110-foot deep foundations, and drilling began yesterday on the first of the three deep foundations. Over the next week, the 11 foot diameter hole for the first foundation (located on the southern shoulder) will be completed, the reinforcing steel cage will be installed and concrete will be poured and tested. Once drilling is complete on this first foundation, the drill rig and crane will then be moved to the center median of the freeway to start work on the remaining two, 110-foot deep foundations.

The photos below capture the equipment and activity happening at the site just this afternoon:

Why isn't there a Red Line station at the Hollywood Bowl?

Hollywood Bowl station design, 1983

It’s a valid question.  After all, the Red Line runs right underneath the Cahuenga Pass adjacent to the Bowl.

With thousands of Angelenos and others making their way to performances throughout much of the calendar year, why wasn’t a subway stop constructed at one of Southern California’s leading attractions?

The Metro Transportation Library and Archive periodically dives into the history behind “future stations of the past” for a closer look at transit stops that were planned but never built.

This week: The story behind the on-again, off-again plans for a Metro Rail station for the Hollywood Bowl can be found on the Library’s Primary Resources blog. Hint: it wasn’t just a money issue.

Question for Source readers: do you consider the Hollywood & Highland station a viable option for getting to the Bowl? It’s about a .8-mile walk.