The Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority — an independent agency from Metro — has said it will begin construction of the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment of the line this year. That segment is funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2008. The segment from Azusa to Montclair is listed in the first tier of “strategic unfunded” projects in Metro’s long-range plan. Continue reading
On Monday, April 4, 1960, the same day the 1959 Academy Awards were held at RKO’s Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, Peter Kiewit Sons Co. completed a bridge across the Sepulveda Pass.
Ben Hur, still considered a landmark film, won the Best Picture award that year. The new Mulholland Drive Bridge received fewer headlines. After all, the bridge overlooked an undeveloped canyon. No freeway ran beneath it. No rapid route between West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley existed.
Now renamed Kiewit Infrastructure West, the contractor that built Mulholland Drive Bridge will be demolishing it. The San Diego Freeway that carried 100,000 vehicles per day at Olympic Bl in 1965 now carries more than 300,000 vehicles each workday, making it one of the busiest freeways in the United States.
The Sepulveda Pass I-405 Improvements Project will add a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane to a 10-mile stretch of the northbound freeway, creating the nation’s longest continuous HOV corridor, continuing a long tradition of channeling vehicles through the Sepulveda Pass to join Los Angeles with its northwestern neighborhoods.
It is a long history. Continue reading
Ronald Llanos describes himself as a visual journalist. “My images are inspired by people and by the places I travel to or frequent,” he says.
Ron collects drawings in a sketchbook while people watching in a café or walking through Los Angeles neighborhoods. He creates thousands of quick sketches of people engaging in city life: talking with friends, walking past businesses carrying shopping bags, pushing a baby carriage or talking on a cell phone. These vignettes become the subject matter for zines – small self-published magazines that tell a story about a particular place at a moment in time. You can see more of Ronald’s images and follow his blog here.
In preparing the artwork designs for the Expo/Western Station, Ronald spent time filling his sketchbook with drawings of people and activities he observed around the station area. He then mapped the art panels at the platforms to unfold like the pages of an open book. A series of 16 watercolor paintings describe scenes from the local neighborhood.
Ronald’s watercolor paintings have a fresh, spontaneous quality to them. The task of translating his translucent washes of color into a hard, permanent material was a challenge. Artisans at Mosaika Art & Design traced Ronald’s designs onto ceramic tile and added thin layers of glaze to preserve the feel of the artist’s hand in the work. Next the work was fired, cut into small pieces and placed within the panels.
Speaking about the artwork for Expo/Western Station Ronald says, “I feel that if I search within myself for that which I find interesting about the places and people of those areas, I might be able to communicate with people across time.”
More ‘Art for Expo Line’:
Metro will be holding community update meetings January 24 through 31 for the Westside Subway Extension Project, currently going through its Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) planning phase.
Metro will provide members of the public with background on Project planning to date, detail what community members can expect during the Final EIS/EIR phase and provide an overview of the anticipated subway construction process.
The public can participate in any of the three community update meetings. Content for all three meetings will be identical:
- Monday, January 24, 6-8 p.m., LACMA West – Terrace Room, 5th Floor, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Served by Metro Lines 20, 720, 217 & 780. Validated vehicle parking is available in the Museum’s 6th Street underground garage. Enter from 6th and Ogden. Spanish & Korean translation will be provided.
- Wednesday, January 26, 6-8 p.m., Westwood United Methodist Church – Fellowship Hall, 3rd Floor, 10497 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Served by Metro Line 20. Free parking is available below Belmont Village, the building east of the Sanctuary. From Wilshire Blvd., use the Belmont Village driveway and proceed under the overhang to the underground parking lot. Park on levels P2, P3 or P4 and take the church elevator in the southwest corner of the parking lot. There will be signs to direct public to the meeting room. Spanish translation will be provided. Metro will also offer a live webcast of this meeting that you can view from any computer simply by going to metro.net/westside.
- Monday, January 31, 6-8 p.m., Roxbury Park – Auditorium, 471 S. Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Served by Metro Line 28 and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 5. Metered lot and street parking is available. Spanish translation will be provided.
The final environmental review and preliminary engineering phase is scheduled to last approximately one year and is a precursor to final design and construction based on project funding.
With a partial opening of the first leg of the Expo Line possible later this year, we thought we’d take another look at progress on its construction. The last time we checked in, it was in the balmy days of August 2010. As you can imagine, there are quite a few new developments to capture.
Below are five photos that I picked out from my latest survey of the line’s construction. For more Expo photos to slake your transit thirst, there are a couple of good albums to check out, in particular those at the Expo Light Rail Line’s Facebook page and the Friends 4 Expo website.
The Federal Transit Administration has notified Metro that it has given formal approval for preliminary engineering work to begin on the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector, moving both projects a step closer to actual construction.
The notification by the FTA means that both the Subway Extension and the Regional Connector are likely to be accepted into the federal New Starts program, which helps local areas pay for large transit projects. Both the Subway Extension and the Connector are also to be funded in part by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
The approval also means that the first installment of federal funds could be included in next year’s federal budget.
Furthermore, the FTA has again given strong indications that they support the subway being built quicker than originally planned. Under Metro’s long-range plan, the subway would reach Westwood in 2036. The FTA estimates that the subway could reach Westwood by 2024 under some funding scenarios. Metro is trying to accelerate the subway’s completion to 2022.
Both projects are currently in their final environmental study phase, which is expected to be finished in 2011. Preliminary engineering work is scheduled to be complete for the Subway Extension in late 2011 and the Regional Connector in early 2012.
Final design work is expected to take 14 to 18 months. Under the best-case scenario, utility relocation work for both projects could begin in mid- to late 2012 depending on when the FTA gives the go-ahead to begin building. Continue reading
With the holidays behind us and a temporary respite from the rain, geotechnical field testing for the Westside Subway Extension Project resumed today. Work this week is scheduled in Beverly Hills and consists of two types of seismic testing.
The photo above shows crews setting up a “Micro-Vib” box and sensors along Durant Drive near South Moreno Drive. The box vibrates the ground. The vibration waves are read by the sensors and recorded by seismograph equipment located in a nearby truck. The box is then moved about two feet and the test is repeated. A larger “Mini-Vib” truck will also be used to generate a different type of wave. Crews will also conduct similar tests later this week along South Moreno Drive near Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Metro contractors are testing soil along the entire alignment. In certain locations, Metro is also conducting seismic tests and noise and vibration tests.
Data gathered will be used to develop recommendations about how to construct the subway. As those following subway planning know, one of the remaining questions is the location of the Century City station (see previous Source post). The data gathered from these tests will also help develop recommendations about that station location and tunnel alignments in the area.
The past year has seen many diverse transportation issues grab headlines in Southern California and across the country. A good way to appreciate how much has changed, or hasn’t, is to think back to what the world of transportation looked like on Jan. 1, 2010. In the dawn of this year, “30/10″ was still a fledgling idea and BP’s Tony Hayward could still go yachting in peace.
So, with an eye to how far we’ve come in the Los Angeles region — and how far we still have to go — here are the top ten transportation stories of the year in no particular order:
Metro Board Backs 30/10 as Official Policy
Early in the year, the Metro Board of Directors adopted the 30/10 Initiative as official Metro policy after the idea was first championed by L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa in the fall of 2009. The idea is simple: use federal loans and other financing to build a dozen Measure R projects over the next 10 years instead of following the 30-year Measure R schedule. That would greatly expand transit to the regional’s employment centers and also extend transit’s reaches deeper into communities in L.A. County.
Parts of 30/10 will almost certainly need Congressional approval and that is no certain thing….
Crenshaw/LAX Line Wins $546 Million Federal Loan
…But the Obama Administration’s loan for the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line is an example of what 30/10 aims to do — and a sign that at least the White House is listening.
In a sign of support for L.A. County’s 30/10 Initiative to build Measure R projects more quickly using a variety of federal funds, the U.S. Department of Transportation allocated more than half a billion dollars in discretionary loans to begin construction of the Crenshaw project. The loan may help complete the project by 2016 instead of the original 2018 timeline. The loan may also free up some funding for use in other capital investments projects. It was a huge win for the county and a sign that the Obama Administration is aware of 30/10 and its potential.
Feds Fail to Approve a National Transportation Bill, Again
For the second consecutive year, Congress failed to authorize a new six-year transportation financing bill — the same kind of bill that will likely include the necessary language to fully enact 30/10. One big reason for this foot-dragging is the refusal of most politicians to even consider raising the gas tax, which is earmarked for transportation infrastructure investments. Attentive readers will recall that the federal gas tax has remained stuck at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. Because the tax is not indexed to inflation, it has slowly lost its buying power over the years, prompting Congress to kick in general funds to cover the deficit.
For the next two years, the effort to direct more federal funding to transit investments may have gotten more difficult. Not only did transit champion Minnesota Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) lose his reelection bid to the House of Representatives in November, the new House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee features a majority comprised entirely of representatives of suburban and rural districts. It remains to be seen how inclined they are to support urban transit projects.
Routes chosen for Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector
After decades of changing political winds, ever-slowing traffic, and financing issues, the Metro Board of Directors in October selected a locally preferred alternative that will extend the Purple Line west to the VA Hospital in Westwood from its terminus at Wilshire and Western. It would mean a 25-minute ride from Union Station to Westwood — cutting in half current transit times.
At the same meeting, a fully underground Regional Connector was approved that will directly link the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo lines with three new stops in downtown Los Angeles. The day it opens, Angelenos will be able to grab a one-seat ride from Santa Monica to East LA or Azusa to Long Beach. Like the Westside subway, the Connector was another project that has been on the books for many years, but could never quite muster enough political support to get it built.
Of course, Measure R — the half-cent sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2008 — made both projects possible.
The Rise of the Transit Blogger
Transportation coverage in L.A.’s media outlets has taken a hit in the past few years. But picking up the slack have been a slew of local blogs by transportation enthusiasts, advocates and even public agencies themselves — like, say, your humble transit blog The Source.
But we’re far from the only store in town and it truly has been a great year for transportation blogging. LA Streetsblog relaunched under its own leadership board (full disclosure: I’m a member) and plans to expand its coverage with writers in Long Beach, Northeast L.A., the Westside and beyond. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation launched a Bike Blog to help keep locals up to date on its plans to make the city a more bike-friendly place. Siel Ju, who wrote extensively about “de-car-ing” as Green LA Girl joined KPCC’s environmental blog, Pacific Swell. And of course, this year Joel Epstein has added his vital voice for transportation reform in Los Angeles at the Huffington Post.
Bike Planning Moves Forward
Across the Southland, cities have begun to embrace bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation. In 2010 several took steps to create infrastructure that support this healthy, carbon free and traffic-reducing method of commuting. After working extensively with bicycle advocates, the city of L.A.’s Planning Department has finally produced a bicycle plan that is widely supported and includes the Backbone Bikeway Network. Meanwhile, the second largest city in the county, Long Beach, is making great headway in its plan to become the most bike friendly city in the U.S.
Wilshire BRT Approved with Condo Canyon Exemption
Come 2013, the tens of thousands of Angelenos who travel by bus through the Wilshire corridor every day will see a boost to their travel speeds. At its December meeting, the Metro Board gave its initial approval to a project that will add a peak hour bus lane to Wilshire from the Santa Monica-L.A. border to the MacArthur Park area, although about one mile of lanes was removed from the Condo Canyon stretch of Wilshire in Westwood. Of all the public transportation investments in L.A. County right now, this one probably offers the biggest bang for the buck. The project will come back to the Board in the spring.
BP Oil Spill Devastates Gulf of Mexico
America’s petroleum-based transportation system has a profoundly negative impact on our health and environment. But sometimes its deleterious effects — whether it’s asthma or toxic runoff — are out of sight and out of mind.
When a BP oil well off the coast of Louisiana exploded and spewed sticky oil into the Gulf of Mexico for months, the high cost of our transportation was put in stark relief. The long term question remains: Will Congress take action to support transportation systems that do not rely on off-shore drilling and importing oil from politically volatile nations? On this point, cities and states are already leading the way.
California High Speed Rail Commits to Central Valley
In January, California’s High Speed Rail project got a major boost when it won $2.25 billion in Federal stimulus funds. And there have since been additional infusions of federal money. The California High-Speed Rail Authority says the money will be enough to build track and stations between Bakersfield and Madera, just north of Fresno.
This initial segment is a critical piece of the project, even though it isn’t intended to be operational until the line is built all the way from San Francisco to Anaheim. In other words, the project has a long ways to go.
10/10/10 — 100,000 Angelenos Come out for CicLAvia
I count myself among those who were excited, even optimistic, about L.A.’s first open streets celebration. But I don’t think anyone expected the turnout, the unbridled joy and the ebullience of that day. Even the L.A Times understood that, on that October day, the car’s reign was overthrown in a peaceful coup by the bike and the sneaker. At its core, CicLAvia was an act of transportation revolution, and for that reason I think it was this year’s biggest local transportation story — although I’m sure some of you will disagree. If you missed it, check out this video and come out for the next CicLAvia on April 10, 2011.
Agree or disagree with my choices? Or feel I left any stories off my list? Leave a comment!
Here’s the press release:
Expo Line Achieves Rare Construction Safety Performance Goal
Expo Crews Have No Lost Time Injuries in Over 3,000,000 Hours Worked
Los Angeles, CA (December 22, 2010) – Since 2006, construction crews have spent more than 3,000,000 work hours constructing Phase 1 of the Expo Line. No lost time injuries occurred during this time, a remarkable achievement by industry standards.
“This is a rare goal in the industry,” said James Brown, Expo Line Director of Construction Safety, “and all crews should be very proud of this accomplishment.” Continue reading
Here’s the latest update on planning and pre-construction efforts on the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, which will extend the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border adjacent to Citrus College. The Foothill Extension is a project funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
The update is from Habib Balian, the CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency that is building the line, which will be operated by Metro when completed:
Before the year comes to a close, I want to update you on progress made this month critical to our schedule.
First and foremost is the outstanding cooperation we have received from Caltrans. This month, the agency approved the Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa) Project Study Report/Project Report (PSR/PR) and Type Selection Study, essential documents for the progression of the Iconic Freeway Structure (IFS) and overall Phase 2A project. The PSR/PR, a detailed technical document required by Caltrans when working in their right-of-way, was approved for all elements of Phase 2A including construction of the IFS; upgrades to existing bridges, underpasses, and the I-210/I-605 Interchange; conduit laying; fence replacement and other key elements. Caltrans’ “Bridge Type Selection Committee” approved the Authority’s “Type Selection Study” after a substantive meeting in Sacramento with the Authority and the Skanska USA team to discuss the engineering, technical studies, and preliminary design submitted for the IFS. These approvals not only keep the IFS on schedule to begin construction in June, but also keep the entire Phase 2A alignment on schedule as we prepare to select a design-builder in the coming months. Continue reading