Metro and elected officials dedicate new state-of-the-art El Monte Station

Supervisor and Metro Board Member Gloria Molina cuts the ribbon the new El Monte station while joined with other elected officials. Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

The public opening is Sunday, when the reviews from riders will start rolling in. One key takeaway here is that funding for the station expansion partially came from the funds provided by the federal government to Metro to test the ExpressLanes concept on parts of the 10 and 110 freeways (the 110 section opens next month).

Here’s the news release from Metro:

Metro joined a host of elected and community officials this morning to officially dedicate the completion of the new state-of-the-art El Monte Bus Station that has been totally revamped and expanded and is now set to open to the public on Sunday, Oct. 14.

“As part of our efforts to enhance the County’s regional transit system, this new state-of-the-art bus facility will be a major San Gabriel Valley connection point for thousands of daily commuters,” said LA County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Michael D. Antonovich.

The upgrade of the El Monte facility, which first opened in 1973, is part of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program known as Metro ExpressLanes and is funded by a $210 million federal grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Metro and Caltrans District 7, along with Foothill Transit, Gardena Transit, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and Torrance Transit are partnering in a one-year demonstration project during which existing carpool lanes on the I-10 El Monte Busway (between Alameda Street and I-605) and the I-110 Harbor Transitway (between Adams Boulevard and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center) will be converted to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes called Metro ExpressLanes.

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A quick look at the new El Monte station

Elected officials and Metro are cutting the ribbon on the new El Monte Station later this morning, with the public opening on Sunday. I’ll post some photos of the facility later today. In the meantime, here’s a fact sheet on the station:

Click above to see larger.

A look at the alternatives under study for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor; community meetings are underway

Click on the map to see a larger version.

The latest round of community meetings began last night for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project, which aims to improve north-south transit in the area shown in the map above. Info on the remaining three meetings is here; the next meeting is Thursday night (Oct. 4) from 6 to 8 p.m. at San Fernando High School. The meeting will also be live-streamed on the Internet.

Below is a handy chart showing the alternatives that are under study (you can download the pdf here):

A few notes about the project:

•This study is evaluating improvements that begin at Ventura Boulevard and extend north from there. It is not specifically looking at improvements over the Sepulveda pass and beyond. As many of you already know, another project, the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, extends all the way from the San Fernando/Sylmar Metrolink station to Los Angeles International Airport, overlapping with the East San Fernando Valley’s study area. Here is a post from June about the alternatives being studied as part of the Sepulveda Pass project. The two planning teams are consulting with each other and there is a great deal of interest in ensuring that these projects coordinate.

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Hollywood weighs in on Carmageddon II

Hey Readers!

The I-405 is officially liberated and Carmageddon turned out to be CarmaHeaven once again. The speculation and wonderment kept the Twittersphere abuzz all weekend – everyone and their grandmothers tweeted about the phenomenon. We thought it would be fun to round-up the Twitter chatter from famous people (do they drive?). As last year, there seems to be two camps: those enjoying the unique phenomenon and those taking it with a grain of salt. The latter brought out the funnies.

Where do you stand? What did you do this weekend? Let us know — if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #CarmageddonII.

Loved it!

These famous folks soaked up the CarmaHeaven weekend.

This one scares me a little. GWAR + Carmageddon, hmm?

 

Doubters, and Meh?

Homer Simpson said Bart and Lisa are his Carmageddon.

Olivia Munn was not impressed. Believe you, me Olivia, it was real.

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U.S. Department of Transportation approves $545.9-million loan for Crenshaw/LAX Line

The loan was announced back in 2010, but a lot of paperwork goes into securing these things. The good news is that the deal is now officially complete and the money will go a long way toward the $1.75-billion Crenshaw/LAX Line, which is currently out to bid to contractors.

As for the TIFIA loans, this is the program that was greatly expanded in the two-year federal transportation spending bill approved this summer by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The gist of it: these loans have favorable terms and are well-suited for local transportation projects.

Here’s a statement from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been advocating for the expansion of TIFIA for the past three years as part of his America Fast Forward initiative:

“With today’s loan approval, Angelenos are one step closer to getting the transportation system they want and deserve. This flexible, low interest loan will help us build a vital link in our expanding public transit system.

“I traveled to Washington, D.C. to push hard for these funds through countless meetings at the White House, at the Capitol, and at the Department of Transportation. This work has clearly paid off and I will to work until the end of my term to ensure Los Angeles can continue to build a 21st Century transportation system.”

Here’s a statement from Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas:

“The Crenshaw/LAX line is the only project in the region to have received a TIFIA loan,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It is my hope and expectation that this massive infusion of federal funds will enhance the light-rail project in such a way that serves the entire region — speeding passengers to the airport, creating much-needed in the community, and providing the financial flexibility and stability that will see a station located in Leimert Park Village.”

And a statement from Metro Board Chair and Supervisor Mike Antonovich:

“Constructing the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line will bring us one step closer to connecting Los Angeles International Airport to our regional rail system.”

And here is the news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation:

WASHINGTON—U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has approved a $545.9 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan that will enable the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) to advance construction of a new light rail transit line along the Crenshaw corridor that will enhance access to existing transit service throughout Los Angeles.“President Obama called for an America built to last, and this loan program can help us achieve that,” said Secretary LaHood. “This important investment in the future Metro Crenshaw Line will create jobs in Los Angeles, building a major transportation project that will help the regional economy continue to grow and prosper.”The Crenshaw/LAX transit corridor project consists of a new 8.5-mile light rail line and at least six new transit stations with off-street parking. The line will connect existing rail service on the Metro Green Line with the Metro Exposition Line, which recently opened for service, making it easier for low-income residents, seniors and other riders to reach downtown Los Angeles, the Westside, South Bay and the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo. The project also includes a new transit vehicle maintenance and storage facility. Continue reading

Governor signs bill that officially puts Measure J on the Nov. 6 ballot in L.A. County

Some news from Sacramento yesterday; see the release below from Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), who wrote the state bill needed to get Measure J on the ballot. Measure J would continue the Measure R sales tax from mid-2039 to mid-2069, with the sales tax money being used in part to accelerate Measure R projects.

Here’s a web page on metro.net that gives all the particulars on Measure J. On the transit side, Measure J seeks to build all the Measure R transit projects by 2025.

The release:

GOVERNOR SIGNS FEUER LEGISLATION

TO EXPEDITE L.A. COUNTY TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

AB 1446 Authorizes L.A. County Metro to Seek Voter Approval for Extension

Of Existing Measure R Sales Tax for Infrastructure Projects

September 30, 2012 (Sacramento) – Governor Jerry Brown has approved AB 1446 by Assembly Member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles).  The measure would, with voter approval, fund Los Angeles County rail, highway, bus and local transportation improvement projects more quickly, jumpstarting those projects and getting Angelenos back to work.

Specifically, the bill would authorize the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to ask County voters to extend the term of the Measure R sales tax authorization.  This extension would enable Metro to bond against future Measure R revenue and build transportation projects much sooner than originally contemplated, relying only on local funds.

“We need to get these transportation projects underway now,” said Feuer.  “By signing AB 1446, the Governor has agreed to empower L.A. County voters to jumpstart 250,000 jobs and break through traffic congestion that chokes our region.”

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And the 405 is officially liberated

That’s the scene as of a couple minutes ago as traffic on the northbound 405 rolled under the Mulholland Drive Bridge with horns a-honkin’ — led by a big-time escort by the CHP and Caltrans vehicles (below). The southbound lanes should be open in the next hour or two. The screen capture was taken from KCBS’ live-cam.

UPDATE: 11:40 p.m. The southbound lanes are now open, too. Have a great morning commute!

Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.