Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority revises spending rules

After KCBS-TV inquired about business- and travel-related spending by the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority,  the Construction Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday adopted new rules about agency spending.

The Construction Authority is an independent agency not run by Metro. It was created by the state Legislature in 1998 to plan, design and build the light rail line from downtown to Pasadena and beyond. The funding comes from the Measure R sales tax approved by county voters in 2008; Metro distributes the money to the Construction Authority through a memorandum of understanding adopted by the two agencies.

Here is the news release about the Construction Authority’s new spending rules:

2011-11-17 Board Adopts New Policies Designed to Enhance Agency Transparency

A little more info on the Sepulveda Pass Corridor project

The aerial view of the Sepulveda Pass corridor from Google Maps.

The part of the Metro website devoted to projects was recently updated with a little more information about a project that I know is near and dear the hearts of many Source readers: The Sepulveda Pass Corridor, which proposes to improve transit between the Westside and the San Fernando Valley via the Sepulveda Pass Corridor.

From the project home page:

The Sepulveda Pass Corridor is a vital project for the Sepulveda Pass that connects the San Fernando Valley with West Los Angeles. Potential project alternatives could include light rail, bus rapid transit service on the I-405 carpool lanes with bus-only on and off ramps, peak-hour bus rapid transit-only shoulder lanes, or a transit/toll facility. All elevations (aerial, tunnel, etc.) and parallel routes, such as Sepulveda and Van Nuys Boulevards, will be explored.

Metro Planning, using its on-call technical consultant benches (planning, modeling, environmental, civil engineering, etc), will conduct an in-house technical feasibility study of various alternatives for the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, as a necessary condition to move forward with any project in the corridor. Obviously, a project embracing the initial concept of a multimodal transit and express toll road will be one of the concepts examined by staff. It is clear to all that under current financial conditions, no major project in the corridor can be built without consideration of a public-private partnership. Once a set of potential alternatives is identified, the Metro Board may then decide to undertake an analysis of the economics and feasibility of a P3 approach. This consideration by the Metro Board is likely to take place in mid-2012. Stay tuned.

A few other points worth considering after the jump…

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Five things I'm thinking about transit, Nov. 16 edition

1. DODGER STADIUM: I thought the most interesting news article I read this past week was by Jon Regardie in the Downtown News on why he thinks that AEG — owner of Staples Center and L.A. Live — should buy the Dodgers and move them into a downtown stadium that could take the place of the football stadium AEG wants to build.

AEG declined comment and on Tuesday released renderings of the latest drawings of the football stadium. Regardie wrote “I admit I know nothing about any such deal” and I have little doubt that AEG has a laser-like focus on a football stadium at this time.

That said, as a reformed and cured journalist, I don’t think such columns get written without some buzz in the downtown community about this. At the least, associating AEG with a baseball stadium instead of a football stadium is a nice way to remind the NFL that they shouldn’t just assume that a football stadium will materialize without some supportive gestures by the league.

Of course, I’m glad to read of any proposal to move the Dodgers into the real downtown Los Angeles from their current home in the middle of an ugly parking lot (see last week’s post). As for the readers who left comments last week, I strongly disagree that Dodger baseball and Dodger Stadium are one in the same. The game would survive just fine in a smartly-designed downtown stadium that is easily accessed by transit and is much more a part of the city. The original Yankee Stadium is gone, the Yankees still play baseball.

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Future “Gateway to San Gabriel Valley” moves forward

Below is the news release from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the independent agency building the Measure R-funded project, including the bridge that will carry the tracks from the 210 freeway median across the eastbound lanes toward the downtown Arcadia station:

MONROVIA – The I-210 Gold Line Bridge, which will one day serve as the “Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley,” moved closer to completion with the approval of its final design by Caltrans and the Construction Authority, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority announced today. The bridge is the first component of the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa to advance from the design phase to the construction phase.

“We started this design process with an exciting artist’s concept paying homage to the region’s historic Native American basket-weaving tradition,” said Habib F. Balian, CEO for the Construction Authority. “That vision has moved from concept to design over the last year, and the bridge’s final design has improved through that process.”

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Expo Phase 2 design moves forward as preliminary construction gets underway

A rendering of the planned Bundy Drive station in West Los Angeles.

The Expo Construction Authority hosted a community meeting last night in Santa Monica to update Westsiders on the progress of Phase 2′s design and the preliminary construction schedule. The Measure R project will connect Expo Phase 1′s terminus in Culver City to downtown Santa Monica when completed, providing a reliable transit alternative to the Westside’s notorious gridlock.

Because Phase 2 is being done as a “design-build” project, Expo staff is finalizing the design details even as early phases of construction get under way. More than a hundred members of the public turned out to view a presentation and pepper Expo staff and contractors with questions.

Topics included:

  • Ways to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections to stations.
  • The precise alignment of the tracks.
  • The design and amenities at each station.
  • Parking for bicycles and cars.
  • And, how the bicycle path will negotiate tricky intersections.

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Night-time closures of Sepulveda Boulevard begins tonight between Montana and Sepulveda Way

Here’s the news release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements contractor will remove the abutments on the east side of Sunset Boulevard Bridge in West Los Angeles, work that requires the night-time only closure of Sepulveda Boulevard between Montana Avenue and Sepulveda Way for three consecutive nights beginning Wednesday, November 16. Motorists will be required to detour around the area during the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The contractor recently completed the demolition of the Sunset Boulevard Bridge spans over the I-405 freeway and Sepulveda Boulevard.  The Sunset Bridge’s north side reconstruction is anticipated to take twelve months.

What: Demolition of Sunset Boulevard Bridge abutments

When: Abutment demolition on the eastside of the bridge is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16, 2011 for three consecutive nights.  Demolition activities are from 11 p.m. through 6 a.m. Activities are weather permitting and subject to change.

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High Desert Corridor study narrows alternatives

The Metro Board of Directors’ Planning Committee on Wednesday are scheduled to receive-and-file a Metro staff report about the recently-completed Alternatives Analysis for the High Desert Corridor project.

The project proposes a new 63-mile freeway from Palmdale to State Route 18 in San Bernardino. It’s a road that has been talked about for many years because of the tremendous growth in high desert communities that are linked by two-lane roads that have had, to put it mildly, safety challenges (especially Highway 138). Also, many trucks are already using the area as a short-cut between the 14 and 15 freeways.

The Analysis considers the usual “no build” option as required by law. Components of the project may include a freeway, expressway, toll road, green energy corridor and/or right of way for a potential high speed rail system.

Metro staff has recommended variations along the corridor for further analysis in order to avoid, minimize or mitigate environmental concerns. In addition, staff recommends no further study of having the project concentrate solely on improvements to Highway 138, saying that the environmental costs are considered to be too high compared to the transportation benefit that would be achieved.

The Measure R sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters included $33 million to help pay for environmental studies for the project. As for the project itself, it remains unfunded at this point.

State approves Expo Line Phase 2 grade crossings

Here’s the news from the Expo Line Construction Authority:

The Expo Line is one step closer to reaching Santa Monica today after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved all crossings in Phase 2.

The Commission unanimously approved Resolution SX-100, authorizing the Exposition Construction Authority to build the 16 new at-grade crossings and 11 grade separated crossings planned for the new light rail line between Culver City and Santa Monica.

Today’s approval is the culmination of two years of collaboration between Authority and CPUC staff. The Authority looks forward to starting major construction on Phase 2 early next year.

The Expo Line will provide a much-needed alternative to the heavily congested I-10 Freeway, bringing greater mobility to Los Angeles County by connecting the Westside to the region’s existing rail network.

 

The list of grade crossings is after the jump.

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Downtown L.A. streetcar presentation now online


The Source reported recently that the Metro team in charge of planning the proposed downtown L.A. streetcar had selected seven “alternatives” to study in greater detail as the process goes forward.

Metro hosted a community update meeting last week to go over those routes and other project details with the public; the meeting’s powerpoint presentation now available here. Those of you who checked out the briefing package from Oct. 25 will see some familiar information and graphics. This presentation, however, helps put everything in context — that is, where the project stands and where it’s heading.

As always, please send the Metro streetcar team your comments on the project so that they can become part of the public record:

  • Via Email: streetcarservice@metro.net
  • Via Voicemail: (213) 922-3000
  • And via standard mail: Metro, c/o Laura Cornejo, One Gateway Plaza, 99-22-2, Los Angeles, CA  90012

For more information, please visit the project website: www.metro.net/streetcar.

Digging a hole: more geotechnical testing this week for Regional Connector in Little Tokyo

Here’s the good word from the folks at Metro planning the Regional Connector:

On November 10 and 11, 2011, Metro is scheduled to perform an excavation next to the Japanese Village Plaza Parking structure to confirm the depth of the existing foundation.  The work will be performed on the sidewalk next to the parking structure.  Please refer to the graphic below for the tentative location of the testing area. The excavation is expected to be 5 to 6 feet deep and approximately 4 feet by 4 feet in dimension.

Please use caution when walking around the area.  Be aware of safety barricades.

The Metro Regional Connector project will provide a 1.9-mile fully-underground connection for the Metro Gold, Blue and Exposition Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines.  The project is completing the Final EIS/EIR, and initiated Preliminary Engineering in January 2011. The Final EIS/EIR is expected to be released later this month and transmitted to the Metro Board of Directors for approval in January 2012.  The project will provide three new stations, serving approximately 90,000 transit passengers daily.

For more information about the Regional Connector, please leave a message at 213-922-7277 or visit www.metro.net/regionalconnector. For day-to-day testing location updates, please follow us at twitter.com/metroconnector.