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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

 

Subway Facts & History responds to questions from readers

We’ve posted three pieces so far in our Subway Facts & History series providing information about topics generating discussion on the Westside Subway Extension. The project is nearing completion of its final environmental document, which should be released sometime this fall.

Part 1 of the series looked at what can be built above subway tunnels, Part 2 discussed building subways in earthquake areas and Part 3 provided some background on trying to determine the station location in Century City.

A reader named Carol Spencer has asked two good questions that we wanted to share with our audience. Below are her questions and the answers from Metro planners.

QUESTION: Does Metro offer a document or means/method/way that offers recourse to the property owner who signed and settled the property acquisition for a Metro tunnel before construction begins beneath their property in the event that vibration and/or sound and/or settlement or other problems arise once the subway is operating?  There are hundreds of homes in the Westwood area as well as residential and High School property in Beverly Hills that might be affected per my question above. What is our future recourse? I have heard that we must SUE Metro – there should be a means other than legal action – after all Metro warns their might be future subsidence, vibration etc. Is it included in the contract the property owner signs? Please publish this information.

ANSWER: Wherever Metro tunnels pass under private property, Metro must purchase a sub-surface easement from the property owner. The value of the easement is determined through an appraisal and negotiation process. More information is discussed in the project’s Property Acquisition Fact Sheet.

Metro will always work to ensure that our projects are built and operate in the safest manner possible for all those who live and work nearby as well as for our passengers. The ongoing environmental review process requires us to identify potential negative impacts, including the risk of subsidence, noise and vibration from the project during construction as well as when the trains are operating. The process further requires us to implement feasible mitigation measures to avoid or substantially reduce any significant environmental impacts that are identified. Similar issues were also raised during the construction of the tunnel of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension project. These issues were successfully addressed. The tunnel portion of the project was excavated and completed with no measurable surface subsidence. Additionally, we have not received complaints about noise or vibration during operations from anyone living above any of our tunnels.

Continue reading

Reminder: supplemental draft EIR for Regional Connector available for public review

 

Click above to see a larger map.

The refinements in the report involve the alignment of the proposed tunnels through Little Tokyo. The memo from the project team:

Metro is currently circulating the Supplemental Environmental Assessment/Recirculated Sections of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (Supplemental EA/Recirculated Draft EIR Sections) presenting information on the refinements to the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the Regional Connector.

You are invited to review and comment on this document. The 45-day public review and comment period for the Supplemental EA/Recirculated Draft EIR Sections began on July 22, 2011 and will end September 6, 2011.

A copy of the Supplemental EA/Recirculated Draft EIR Sections is available at metro.net/regionalconnector and at public libraries in the study area. For a full listing of these libraries, please visit the project website at metro.net/regionalconnector.

You may submit your comments as follows:

• By e-mail to: regionalconnector@metro.net

• By US Mail to: Ms. Dolores Roybal Saltarelli, Project Manager, Metro, 1 Gateway Plaza, MS 99-22-2, Los Angeles, CA 90012

• By going to our website at metro.net/regionalconnector and clicking on “Contact Us”

Many thanks for your ongoing interest in the Metro Regional Connector.


 

To repeat: the Crenshaw/LAX Line final environmental document has been released

In case you missed our earlier post, here’s the news release about the release Wednesday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, a key Measure R transit project.

The entire document can be viewed online — here’s the link. It’s long, as these reports always are.

The Metro Board of Directors are scheduled to vote on the document at their Sept. 22 meeting. The big issues concerning the project that the Board still must decide are these:

•Whether to build a below grade separation at La Brea.

•Whether to build the rail line below grade between its northern terminus at Exposition Boulevard and 39th Street due to potential impacts with traffic and property in that area. The above rendering shows what the transfer would look like between the Expo and Crenshaw lines under this scenario.

•Whether to the the rail line in a partially covered trench adjacent to the south runways for Los Angeles International Airport, as is requested by the Federal Aviation Administration for safety reasons. The partially covered trench is an interim solution — a fully covered trench could be built when funding becomes available.

*Whether to build a maintenance facility for the line near LAX — at Arbor Vitae and Bellanca. The Board of Directors approved the location earlier this year, but now must formally incorporate the site into the project.

Finally, the Board must vote to certify the document under California environmental law. In addition, the document must be approved by the Federal Transit Administration under national environmental law. If all these approvals occur, then the project could reach the construction stage by summer 2013.