Transportation headlines, Friday, October 12

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

The Endeavour resting this morning near LAX in preparation for its two-day journey to the California Science Center. Photo by David Islas via Flickr creative commons; click above for a larger view. The Expo Line is your best bet transit-wise to see the shuttle on Saturday as it approaches Exposition Park.

Good morning, folks. Headlines is back after a short break. I’ll probably need a couple of days to catch up on the latest news from transpo-world that I think is worthy of your attention. In the meantime, let’s begin with everyone’s favorite topic…TAP cards!

The latest Metrolink TAP solution (L.A. Streetsblog)

Writer Dana Gabbard, who has long covered the TAP saga, looks at the latest proposal from Metrolink on how to deal with locked gates at Metro Rail stations. The problem, of course, is that Metrolink customers have paper tickets that won’t get them through Metro’s locked gates.

And the solution to be considered by the Metrolink Board of Directors? Provide paper TAP cards to those who buy Metrolink one-way, round-trip, weekly and weekend tickets and provide temporary 30-day TAP cards to Metrolink customers with a monthly pass. To say the least, Dana is unimpressed that after years of implementing TAP, the paper TAP cards will initially be distributed by hand to Metrolink passengers.

How to see Endeavour ride into the sunset (ZevWeb)

The space shuttle’s journey is scheduled to resume at about 1:30 p.m. this afternoon as it heads toward the California Science Center. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website offers tips on where to see the shuttle enroute — it’s a little tricky — along with other interesting facts about the big move.

Measure J hopes to extend half-cent sales tax (KPCC)

The radio station talks to very few proponents and opponents of the proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot to continue the Measure R sales tax until the year 2069 in order to accelerate transit and road projects. The story doesn’t dig very deep into the proposal.

Beverly Hills school board opposes Measure J (L.A. Times)

The Times donates 352 words of real estate on its website to the less-than-shocking news that the Board of the Beverly Hills Unified School District opposes Measure J. The BHUSD has sued Metro to try to stop tunneling for the Westside Subway Extension under the Beverly Hills High campus and Measure J proposes to accelerate subway construction. I wonder if the Times will publish stories about every city council or school board that resolves one way or the other on Measure J.

Transit tax may hurt Gov. Brown’s Prop 30, Ridley-Thomas warns (L.A. Times)

News that’s actually interesting: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, also a member, of the Metro Board of Directors, tells a community forum that having Measure J on the same ballot as Prop 30 will lead voters to believe they’re being over-taxed and that if Brown’s tax measure fails, counties already struggling financially will have to contend with more budget cuts. Metro Board Member Richard Katz provides the counter-view, saying that Prop 30 appears of Measure J on the ballot and that Prop 30 is facing serious opposition from both the left and right.

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Statement from Kiewit on death of worker on 405 project

Here is the statement issued by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. on the death of a worker early Thursday morning:

We were deeply saddened to learn that early this morning one of our employees, Adolfo Figueroa, died while performing work on the I-405 Improvements Project. We extend our sincerest condolences to Adolfo’s family and friends, and those who knew and worked with him at Kiewit. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with all of them at this time.

The safety of those who work on our projects and the traveling public is our most fundamental value and top priority. Kiewit is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter and working closely with CalOSHA, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and other state and local authorities, to determine the factors contributing to this tragic event.


New info and visuals for the Westside Subway Extension — pre-construction work begins s-o-o-n!!!

The location of the Fairfax station in relation to the surrounding area and LACMA. Not shown here is a potential second station entrance on the north side of Wilshire. Metro is talking to LACMA who may be willing to fund this. More cool visuals below! Don’t stop reading!

The Westside Subway Extension project held a community update on Wednesday night. It has been a busy few months since the project’s final environmental study was approved by both the Metro Board of Directors and the Federal Transit Administration.

Here’s the latest:

•The current schedule has the first 3.9-mile phase from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega opening in 2023. The second phase to Century City would open in 2026 and the third phase to the Westwood VA Hospital would be done in 2035.

•If voters approve Measure J, which extends the Measure R sales tax until 2069, the entire Westside Subway Extension could possibly be completed to the Westwood/VA station by the same time.

This rendering shows the usual mix of utilities under Wilshire Boulevard that will have to be relocated. Click above to see larger.

•Construction is planned to begin in 2014, with pre-construction until then. The first utility relocation, near Wilshire and La Brea is planned to begin this fall.

•Work will also soon begin on a 75-foot deep exploratory shaft near Wilshire and Fairfax. The shaft will help Metro learn more about gas conditions and earth pressure in the area. Fossils will be turned over to the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.

The subway planning team has also posted a lot of new info online:

Meeting PowerPoint Presentation

Revised construction fact sheet and revised property acquisition fact sheet

New pre-construction fact sheet

New station fact sheet

And brand new FAQs

Below are some neat visuals showing the location of the three stations in the project’s first phase:

The Wilshire/La Brea station.

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Metro's statement on construction worker killed on 405 project early this morning

The statement from Metro:

A construction worker on the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project was killed about 2:30 this morning when a steel construction beam fell on him. The accident occurred on the Santa Monica Boulevard off-ramp from the southbound 405. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Metro expresses its deepest condolences to the worker’s family, friends and co-workers. It is the first serious incident on the I-405 project in nearly three years of work. Further work on the entire project has been stopped while the contractor does a thorough safety review. The incident is being investigated by CalOSHA.

 

Transportation Secretary LaHood bring big check to L.A. for Crenshaw/LAX light rail project

From left, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, Santa Monica Councilmember Pam O’Connor, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Lakewood Mayor Diane DuBois, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Congresswoman Janice Hahn. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A news conference with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was held Wednesday at the Green Line’s Aviation station for the recently announced $545.9-million federally-backed TIFIA loan Metro will receive to help fund construction of the Crenshaw-LAX Line. The loan was first announced in 2010, with the deal closing earlier this month.

Many of the speakers congratulated Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who successfully lobbied Congress to adopt his America Fast Forward program to expand the TIFIA loan program. In plain English: the program will make it far easier for transit agencies to borrow money needed to build projects

“This is a program that the Mayor came to us with,” said Secretary LaHood. “He had a great vision…The U.S. Department of Transportation is very proud to provide the MTA with this $545.9-million TIFIA loan to help build a new light rail line along the Crenshaw corridor.”

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Pics of new El Monte Station

The ribbon cutting was held this morning for the new El Monte Station — and it's certainly an impressive building. “Has anyone ever seen a more beautiful bus facility?,” asked Metro CEO Art Leahy.

Riders will get a chance to answer that question on Sunday when the station opens to the public. I'm looking forward to hearing taxpayer reactions!

County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Gloria Molina served as master of ceremonies and offered some brief remarks. “The passenger experience at El Monte Station has been brought into the 21st century,” she said, noting the many amenities — including real-time signage with bus information.

Here are a few photos I took with my now ancient iPhone. Those who believe in photographic integrity should note that I do use filters to make it appear that I know what I'm doing.

First off: here's the temporary bus station.

A Silver Line bus on the station's upper level.

Transit stores and bike racks on the station's upper level.

 

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Metro Silver Line and Foothill Silver Streak riders can soon ride either line, using the same ticket and paying the same fare

The new program begins Sunday, when the new El Monte Station is open to the public. Here’s the news release from Metro:

When was the last time something actually became easier? Soon transit riders will be able to hop aboard either the Metro Silver Line or the Foothill Transit Silver Streak using the same ticket or paying the same fare for travel between the brand new El Monte Station and downtown Los Angeles.

Metro and Foothill Transit have teamed up to offer this new easy and convenient combined service for all Silver Line and Silver Streak riders, as part of a one-year demonstration program. Beginning Sunday, Oct. 14, when the new El Monte Station opens, all categories of Foothill Transit 31-Day passes and Metro 30-Day, 7-Day or Day passes will be accepted on either Metro Silver Line buses or Foothill Silver Streak buses, and riders paying cash will pay the same fare ($2.45, one way) no matter which bus they take.

Patrons wanting to travel on the El Monte Busway can just board the first bus to arrive — Metro Silver Line or Silver Streak — show their fare media from either Metro or Foothill Transit and be on their way.

Metro Silver Line buses operate every 5-10 minutes during morning and afternoon peak periods, every 15 minutes midday and every 60 minutes late at night. The Metro Silver Line travels from El Monte Station to the Artesia Transit Center, with several stops in downtown Los Angeles. The Foothill Transit Silver Streak operates approximately every 10 to 20 minutes during morning and afternoon peak periods, every 20 minutes midday and every 60 minutes late at night. The Silver Streak travels from Montclair Transit Center to downtown Los Angeles.

For more information on this new easy and convenient fare arrangement, including cash and pass fares, visit foothilltransit.org/silver or metro.net/silverline.