Recap of today's Board of Directors meeting; action taken on 710 gap environmental studies

Here is a recap of today’s actions — it was a fairly subdued meeting with the public session clocking in at under a rare three hours:

•The Board approved a $37.3-million contract with CH2M Hill to perform the environmental studies for the 710 gap contract. After some discussion, the Board also decided to allow the environmental studies to consider a surface freeway as one of the options to improving traffic in the 710 gap. It is important to note, however, that Metro highways chief Doug Failing said that he wants to study that option in order to demonstrate that it would have a signficant impact and to get it off the table as a possible project. In addition, Failing said that not studying all options could lead to a lawsuit challenging the environmental studies.

•The Board approved a $17-million contract with PB Americas to advance the preliminary engineering and final design for the Westside Subway Extension. The contract is in addition to the existing $73-million contract with PB Americas to help plan the subway and perform the necessary environmental studies.

•The Board approved a contract worth up to $58.8 million with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to continue law enforcement with Metro through June of next year.

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Night-time I-405 freeway closures planned beginning Oct. 30 to demolish north side of Sunset bridge

Additional nighttime I-405 freeway closures are planned beginning Monday, Oct. 31, for 12 nights as construction crews for the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project demolish the northern side of the Sunset Boulevard bridge in West Los Angeles.

During this demolition activity, only one side of the freeway will be closed at a time for a distance of up to one mile in the bridge area. All demolition work and associated closures will be conducted during nighttime hours, with the bridge, freeway and local streets reopened in time for daytime traffic.

Ramp closures on the Sunset bridge will start as early as 7 p.m. Freeway lane closures will start as early as 10 p.m., with full directional freeway closures between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. weekdays, and 12 a.m. and 7 a.m. weekends. Street closures will be in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Below is a schedule of planned demolition activity, freeway and street closures and recommended detours (Detour maps are available at metro.net/405):

Full Closure Location Night Recommended Detour
Northbound I-405 between the Montana Ave and Moraga Dr. ramps  Three consecutive nights:Oct 31-Nov 2 Northbound I-405 traffic will be detoured off the freeway at the Montana Ave off-ramp to Northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, back to Northbound I-405 on-ramp at Moraga Dr.
Southbound I-405 between the Church Lane Southbound on-ramp and the Sunset Boulevard Southbound on-ramp Three consecutive nights:Nov 3 – 5 Southbound I-405 traffic will be detoured from Sunset Boulevard off-ramp to Northbound Church Lane, to Southbound Sepulveda Boulevard, to Westbound Wilshire Boulevard on-ramp to Southbound I-405.Oversized vehicles will be detoured off the freeway at Southbound Getty Center Dr. off-ramp to Southbound Sepulveda Boulevard to Westbound Wilshire Boulevard on-ramp to Southbound I-405. 

 

Sepulveda Boulevard between Montana Ave and Sepulveda Way  Three consecutive nights:Nov 6 – 8  Northbound Sepulveda Boulevard traffic will be detoured to Eastbound Montana Ave, to Northbound Veteran Ave to Westbound Sunset Boulevard to Sepulveda Way, back to Sepulveda Boulevard.Southbound Sepulveda Boulevard traffic will be detoured to Eastbound Sepulveda Way and continue on Sunset Boulevard to Southbound Veteran Ave, to Westbound Montana Ave, back to Sepulveda Boulevard.
Sunset Boulevard between Gunston Dr. and Thurston Ave  Nine consecutive nights:Oct 31-Nov 8 Westbound Sunset Boulevard traffic will be detoured to Sepulveda Way, to Northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, to Southbound Church Lane, back to Sunset Boulevard. Eastbound Sunset Boulevard traffic will be detoured to Northbound Church Lane, to Southbound Sepulveda Boulevard, to Eastbound Sepulveda Way, back to Sunset Boulevard.

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State awards $448 million in bonds to L.A. County transportation projects

Eight key transportation projects in Los Angeles County were awarded a total of $448 million in state bond money on Wednesday by the California Transportation Commission at their meeting in Sacramento.

The Alameda Corridor East project received $336.6 million to help eliminate street crossings of the busy Union Pacific railroad tracks in San Gabriel. The overall project aims to improve safety and reduce the number of street crossings along 70 miles of railroad tracks in the San Gabriel Valley.

The second phase of the Expo Line light rail project — which will run for 6.7 miles between Culver City, Los Angeles and Santa Monica — received $35.3 million. When completed in 2015, the full Expo Line between downtown Los Angeles and downtown Santa Monica is expected to be one of the busiest light rail lines in the United States.

The four-mile extension of Metro’s popular Orange Line busway from Canoga Park to Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley received $13.5 million. Also awarded money were three traffic signal synchronization projects to better manage traffic on Foothill Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley and in South Los Angeles.
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Reminder: Metro Board of Directors meet tomorrow — station name changes to be considered

The final Thursday of the month is upon us, meaning the full Metro Board of Directors will convene at Metro HQ in downtown Los Angeles tomorrow at 9 a.m. for their regular meeting. The meeting, of course, is open to the public; the Metro building is adjacent to Union Station.

Here’s the agenda, along with links to staff reports and motions related to the various items.

As Board meetings go, this one doesn’t appear to be action-packed. Most of the items are administrative in nature — there are no big-ticket project approvals as we’ve seen in prior months.

Thumbing through the agenda, four items stand out — the links below are to staff reports:

•The Board will vote on whether to make the following name changes to Metro rail and bus stations:

A. “Imperial/Wilmington/Rosa Parks” to “Willowbrook/Rosa Parks;”

B. “103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn” to “103rd St/Watts Towers/Kenneth Hahn;”

C. “Vermont Av/I-105″ to “Vermont Av/Athens;”

D. “Hawthorne Bl/I-105″ to “Hawthorne Bl/Lennox;”

E. “Venice/Robertson” to “Culver City;”and

F. “Artesia Transit Center” to “Harbor Gateway Transit Center.”

Here’s an earlier post about that issue.

Keep reading for more items and a map of potential bus rapid transit corridors in the county.

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Downtown L.A. Streetcar alternatives released; community meeting coming next Thursday

The Metro team studying the possible resurrection of streetcar service in downtown Los Angeles has released a briefing package [PDF] that details the seven routes now under consideration and compares the pros and cons of each.

Metro planners have been winnowing potential routes — “alternatives” in planner speak — since this spring. For those who are new to the project, The Source attended the project kickoff meeting last May and had this recap, which covers the basics. Here’s an excerpt:

Metro staff members began the meeting by bringing the audience up to speed on a project whose conceptual roots go back to the mid-1990s. In short, Metro was brought on last year to head up the environmental planning process on behalf of the city of Los Angeles and the non-profit Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc., which are working to secure funding for the $125-million dollar project.

In March 2011, the city of L.A. and its Community Redevelopment Agency allocated seed money — including funds from the city’s Measure R local return funds — to pay for preliminary engineering, continued community outreach and other planning work.

[...]

The primary goal for the project is to enhance connections between downtown’s principal residential and commercial activity centers, including South Park, Bunker Hill and the Broadway corridor, among others. Metro Planning Director Robin Blair emphasized that the streetcar is, above all, really about “accelerating pedestrian” movement through downtown.

The briefing package [PDF] mentioned above is packed with interesting data and charts that are definitely worth a closer look. While the document stops short of recommending one particular route, some options appear to be stronger candidates than others based on Metro’s preliminary evaluation. Maps and charts are after the jump! [Update: Here is an additional PDF document with individual maps of the seven routes in greater detail.]

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Bay Area pushes for huge Express Lanes expansion

The ExpressLanes project in the L.A. area has been mildly controversial at times — the one-year experimental program is converting about 25 miles of existing carpool lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways into variable toll lanes. Carpoolers will still use the lanes for free and single motorists will be able to use them for a toll, when there’s sufficient space in the lanes to sell.

It’s a big step for both Metro and the Southland, which has always emphasized the “free” in “freeway.”

But it’s a modest step when compared to the toll lane program sought by the Bay Area-based Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which this week is seeking permission from the state to add 290 miles of variable toll lanes either by converting existing HOV lanes or widening freeways and adding new lanes.

That’s on top of the 280 miles of lanes already approved for conversion into variable tolls lanes. The region would like one day to have a whopping 800-mile network of the lanes.

As the map shows, the lanes that the MTC needs approvals for this week are mostly in the East Bay — an area that has relentlessly sprawled outward over the decades. Reading deeper into the MTC’s application, it also looks like many of the carpool lanes will in the future require three passengers for free use of the lanes. I’m guessing that won’t sit entirely well with everyone.

I’m unaware of any congestion pricing project this big in the U.S., although there are certainly some large metro areas such as New York and Chicago where tolls — for everyone — are routine on many roads. The Bay Area proposal is a different type of beast, given it’s targeting just the carpool lanes. It will be mighty interesting to see how well it works, how many people carpool or pay to use the lanes and, of course, whether the new toll lanes can speed up express bus service that uses freeways.

Southbound I-405 offramp at Sunset Boulevard reopens

Following reconstruction progress on the Sunset Bridge, I-405 project crews have reopened the southbound freeway offramp at Sunset Boulevard early.  The offramp had been closed between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. during weekdays only as of October 15.  The offramp provides access to UCLA, Brentwood and other Westside areas. It was not scheduled to reopen until Oct. 29.

See the construction notice after the jump for additional details.

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I-405 freeway closures changed to start October 25

The schedule for this week’s full directional freeway closures in support of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project has been revised. These closures will begin tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 25, 2011, and last approximately four nights.

See construction notice for details:

ATTENTION RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS IN THE VICINITY OF THE SKIRBALL CENTER DR BRIDGE AND THE I-405 SAN DIEGO FREEWAY

The contractor has scheduled the implementation of a full directional freeway closure for four nights starting Tuesday, October 25, 2011 during the late night hours, weather permitting. A number of work activities will be conducted concurrently during these nights of the full directional freeway closures. These activities are as follows:

  • Installation of walkway on the north half of the Skirball Bridge
  • Mulholland Bridge column construction work
  • Removal and replacement of overhead freeway signs and structures to support freeway widening

Each night, ramps within the freeway closures limits may begin to close as early as 7:00 pm and freeway lanes will begin to close as early as 10:00 pm, leading up to the full directional freeway closure between the hours of 12:00 am, midnight, to 5:00 am. See below for schedule of upcoming freeway closures.

What: The implementation of a full directional freeway closure for several work activities in the area.

When: Work is anticipated to begin Tuesday, October 25, 2011, and last four nights during the late night hours, weather permitting. See table below for schedule of upcoming freeway closures.

Where: I-405 freeway between the Getty Center Dr. ramps and 101 freeway.

What to expect:

  • Oct. 25 & 26 — Southbound I-405 freeway from the 101 freeway to Getty Center Dr.  (freeway lanes closures staring at 10:00 pm)
  • Oct. 27 & 28 –Northbound I-405 freeway from Getty Center Drive to Ventura Blvd.  (freeway lanes closures staring at 10:00 pm)
  • Sepulveda Blvd. will remain open during the nights of these full directional freeway closures and will be used as a detour route. Detour maps are available at http://www.metro.net/405
  • Utility relocations will be conducted on the Skirball Bridge during the nights of the full directional freeway closures which requires the closure of the Skirball Bridge from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am
  • Emergency access will be maintained on the bridge at all times.
  • Pedestrians will be rerouted to an area outside of the construction zone
  • For a listing of daily closures and latest updates visit our website at http://www.metro.net/405 or follow us on twitter: twitter.com/I_405 and Facebook at facebook.com/405project

Letter from Independent Review Panel on Westside Subway Extension seismic and tunneling studies

We have already posted about last week’s oral report to the Metro Board by several experts on seismic and tunneling issues in the Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood areas. The experts recommended that the Century City station be located along Constellation Avenue to avoid two active earthquake fault zones and also said that tunneling could safely be done under the Beverly Hills High School campus.

As part of the studies, Metro asked four experts who did not work on the reports to review their findings; click here to see their biographies. Perhaps the best known is Dr. Lucy Jones, a research seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the California Institute of Technology who is often interviewed by local and national media.

Below is the two-page letter from those experts, who did agree with the reports’ conclusions:

Click above for a larger version.

 

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