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.

Transit-oriented development along the Gold Line — present and future

Very interesting video released yesterday by the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority on new development along the downtown L.A.-to-Pasadena Gold Line, which has attracted its share of new residential development — particularly in South Pasadena and Pasadena.

As the video shows, cities along the 13-mile route of the Foothill Extension have plans of their own to create development. There’s undoubtedly space for it and many of the plans have been on the books for years — the reason the cities have been pushing so hard to get the project built.

The Foothill Extension, funded by Measure R, is now under construction and scheduled for completion in 2015. The Construction Authority yesterday gave the contractor building the main part of the line an interim notice to proceed on design and pre-construction activities.

A vision for Atlanta's "Beltway" project

I’m a big fan of architectural renderings when it comes to any kind of civic infrastructure. While the drawings aren’t always moored to accuracy, they’re a nice way to get people thinking and/or excited about projects that can take many years to build.

One of the things I do think the California High-Speed Rail Authority has done right is put together a lot of videos and renderings of what the bullet train would look like. I’d like to see that kind of work done on behalf of more urban transit projects, including here in L.A. And, as far as I’m concerned, the more renderings Metro produces, the better.

The following drawings were done to promote Atlanta’s “Beltline” project, an attempt to convert an old 22-mile rail corridor into a greenway with transit, parks and new development. It’s an ambitious project that has been slow going so far, but at least they’ve got a vision.

More drawings are after the jump.

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Subway Facts & History: Metro responds to errors in Beverly Hills Courier and allegations by Beverly Hills school district

The above slide is from a presentation given by exerts to the Metro Board Planning Committee on Wednesday. Click above for a larger image.

On Oct. 21 and 28, the Beverly Hills Courier published six news and analysis articles about the two reports Metro released last month on seismic and tunneling issues affecting the Westside Subway Extension project in the Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood areas (Oct. 21 edition and Oct. 28 edition; both are pdf files and an email address is required to open).

The Courier articles included significant errors, misleading statements and omissions.

In addition, Beverly Hills Unified School District President Lisa Korbatov earlier this week posted online a letter to community members that contained incorrect information, as well as untruthful allegations about Metro.

In order to correct the record for residents and policymakers alike, here are responses from Metro about information in the reports:

COURIER: The Courier wrote that “The major fallacy of the Report is its conclusion that a subway station on Santa Monica Blvd would be “unsafe” but a station barely 150 feet away would be “safe.”

Metro’s response: The Constellation station site is more than 1,100 feet from the proposed Santa Monica Boulevard station. No evidence of fault rupture was found at or close to the Constellation site.

The purpose of the study was to locate areas of potential ground surface rupture and deformation, which is usually limited to the area immediately near active fault zones.

Earthquakes on the Santa Monica or Newport Inglewood fault zones could result in ground rupture — called “fault displacements” — at ground level or just below. Subway stations are two-story structures up to 1,000 feet in length and designing such a station to withstand ground ruptures without significant damage and loss of life is both impractical and without precedent.

The level of damage could require a complete rebuilding of the station and nearby tunnels — which could take several years. No subway stations in North America have been designed to tolerate active fault zones and their associated potential ground displacements.

This differs from ground shaking that occurs over a wide area during an earthquake. The subway stations and tunnels will be designed to withstand shaking, and there are special construction techniques available to reinforce the tunnels in the short distances where they must cross active fault zones.

COURIER: The Courier wrote that the new report may doom new construction along Santa Monica Boulevard and that the report calls into question any construction between Beverly Hills and the ocean, as well as high-rise development along Santa Monica Boulevard.

Metro’s response: The report provides technical data on the location and nature of the fault zones in the study area only and does not comment on the results of the findings – other than with respect to Metro’s subway project.

Based on the new information, the State of California will determine if the area qualifies as an Alquist-Priolo zone that would require local building departments to limit some types of development.

It is important to stress that both reports were prepared for purposes of planning the Westside Subway Extension and will be used in the preparation of the final environmental impact document for the project. All government agencies and private property owners can access and review the content with appropriate professional staff and/or consultants and decide if the information is needed for their own purposes.

Neither Metro or the Courier is in a position to advise other agencies or property owners on how to apply the information in these reports.

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Metro holds ribbon cutting ceremony for Duarte sound wall project along 210 freeway

Metro Board Member John Fasana (holding the scissors) with school officials and civic leaders at the ceremony this morning. State Senator Carol Liu is fourth from right. The $2.3M sound wall, background, streches one-half mile along the 210 Freeway directly across from the Duarte High School campus. Photo by Gayle Anderson/Metro.

Here’s the news release from Metro:

Metro held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning to celebrate the completion of the $2.3-million Duarte Sound wall project on the north side of the 210 freeway between Highland Avenue and Buena Vista Street in the City of Duarte. The long awaited half-mile sound wall will provide noise mitigation to adjacent Duarte schools and nearby residents along the I-210 freeway.

“The new Duarte sound wall adjacent to Northview Intermediate and Duarte High Schools is a welcome addition that will reduce excessive noise and create a better environment for teaching and learning on our campuses” said John Fasana, Councilmember, City of Duarte and Metro Board of Director. “I appreciate the cooperative effort by Caltrans and Metro to work with our city during construction.”

O’Donnell Construction Inc. of San Dimas was the project’s general contractor. Tetra Tech Inc. of Irvine was the designer on the project. Caltrans managed the construction contract. Metro managed the design contract with Caltrans oversight. “Caltrans is very pleased that, with the help of funding from Metro, we are able to provide noise relief to Duarte residents living near the freeway,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles. “It is particularly gratifying that the sound wall will make it quieter for students at the nearby school.”

School board officials and students from the Duarte High School Jazz Band participated in today’s ceremony. “The Duarte Unified School District joins the city of Duarte in celebrating the completion of the sound wall along the north side of the 210 freeway,” said Duarte Unified School District, School Board President, Pam Kawasaki. “On behalf of the Board of Education we would like to extend our appreciation to all the individuals who made this possible.”