Carpool lanes on 110 freeway to be closed overnight for next 13 months

The 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. carpool and transitway closures begin Sunday night, Aug. 7 to accommodate the ExpressLanes project, which is converting the existing carpool lanes into toll lanes. The closures are scheduled to continue through Sept. 2012.

Several bus lines, including the Silver Line, will be impacted. Please note that the regular lanes will REMAIN OPEN.

Please keep in mind that carpoolers, buses, vanpools and motorcycles will still be allowed to use the lanes for free when the ExpressLanes open, scheduled for late 2012. Single motorists will be allowed to use the lanes for a toll — when there’s extra space in the lanes to sell. It’s part of a one-year project in partnership with the federal government to give congestion pricing a try.

The news release from Metro with more info on bus detours is after the jump.

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Motion by Supervisor Antonovich seeks to preserve high-speed rail route through the Antelope Valley

I suspect one of the most interesting discussions at Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors will involve a non-Metro project: the California high-speed rail project between Anaheim and San Francisco.

County Mayor/Supervisor and Metro Board Vice Chairman Mike Antonovich has authored a motion asking the Board to support a high-speed rail route that travels through the Antelope Valley between L.A. and Bakersfield — with a station in Palmdale. That was, in fact, the plan for the state agency building the line. But earlier this year the agency — beset with funding woes — decided to reopen studies of an alternate route along the 5 freeway that would be shorter and cheaper to build.

It will be intriguing to see if the Metro Board at this stage wants to throw its weight behind a particular route, given that the entire high-speed rail project is in such a tenuous state. The 5 freeway corridor between Bakersfield and Santa Clarita has relatively few people living near it, whereas Lancaster and Palmdale have a combined population of about 300,000. The Antelope Valley also lacks Amtrak rail service and is presently a two-hour journey to L.A. Union Station via Metrolink.

Earlier this year, Antonovich and Board Member Ara Najarian authored a motion — approved by the Metro Board — asking Metro to work with Metrolink to develop a master plan to greatly speed up train trips to the Antelope Valley. It’s clear that Antonovich has concerns about keeping the northern part of his district connected to the rest of the state and metropolitan area. The motion – which also seeks to have a So Cal representative on the high-speed rail board — is below.

Click above to see a larger image.

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The Westside Subway Extension: Subway Facts & History, part one

The Westside Subway Extension is a big, complicated project that has been discussed in Los Angeles in one form or another for the past 50 years. Planning for the current project got underway in 2007 and is now in the final environmental review stage.

The Source is launching a new series called “Subway Facts & History” to address some of the issues generating discussion involving the subway project. The facts below are based on information from Metro staff and consultants planning the project. The information, in various forms, has already been publicly released.

Part one of the series will look at what can be built above subway tunnels and stations since the subway does not travel exclusively under city streets. It’s an especially hot topic because one of the subway routes under study by Metro would require tunnels to travel under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus.

•Current Metro subway tunnels run under numerous buildings that were there long before the subway was built. The slide below shows just one place where the current subway runs under private property.

•Metro must pay for an easement to tunnel beneath any property. Any impacts to future development of a property would be part of the easement negotiation. Here’s a property acquisition fact sheet with more information.

•The right-of-way for the tunnels would extend 10 feet from the top of the tunnel — not all the way to the surface. In other words, the easement prevents structures from being built within 10 feet of the top of the tunnels.

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Reminder: downtown streetcar meeting this afternoon

Metro is holding a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the 1st floor conference room at the Caltrans building (1st and Main streets) to discuss the planning process and possible routes for the return of streetcar service in downtown Los Angeles.

Here is a link to a previous Source post about possible routes and below is a new two-page fact sheet on the project.

Click above to see a larger image.

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First installment of federal funding secured for Wilshire bus lane project

Some good news out of Washington today: Metro received word that $9.7 million in federal funding for the Wilshire bus lane project has been secured. The project, approved by the Metro Board of Directors this past spring, will add 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes to portions of Wilshire, mostly within the city of Los Angeles.

The $9.7 million is the first of two installments that Metro is expected to receive in $23.3 million of Very Small Starts funding, a program run by the Federal Transit Administration to help pay for transit projects. Attentive readers will recall there was concern during the project’s planning stages that shortening the lanes slightly could impact federal funding but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Construction of the lanes is expected to start next year, with an opening date scheduled for 2013. Here’s the news release from Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein:

Feinstein, Boxer Announce $9.7 Million for Bus Rapid Transit in Los Angeles

Will create dedicated bus lanes along Wilshire Boulevard

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today announced a $9.7 million grant for Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to enhance bus rapid transit on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

This award was the result of funding that Senator Feinstein secured in the fiscal year 2009 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

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Metro's early take on the debt-ceiling bill

Below is an early analysis from Metro’s government affairs staff of the debt-ceiling compromise before Congress. Not surprisingly, it includes cuts in federal transportation spending:

The House and Senate are set to vote today on legislation that reduces our national deficit, raises the debt ceiling and avoids a technical default by the U.S. Treasury Department. The plan agreed upon last night by the House and Senate leaders and the White House has two parts or phases – with the initial impact being a nearly $1 trillion reduction in the national deficit and an increase of $900 billion in the debt ceiling. The second part of the bill would empower a joint congressional committee with the task of securing an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction and raising the debt ceiling by a similar amount. Should the joint congressional committee fail to achieve significant debt reductions, the bill being considered today includes trigger mechanisms that would force across the board spending cuts.

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Increasing investment in public transit in California: A how-to from UCLA and Berkeley Law

Passengers buy tickets at NoHo Red Line station. Photo by flickr user sicoactiva.

By now reality is setting in: We need to dramatically increase our investment in transportation infrastructure just to maintain the status quo. But it looks like Congress isn’t willing to do it, at least in the near future.

One might think that we’re sitting pretty in Los Angeles County thanks to Measure R — we’ve definitely got it better than some other regions — but federal largess also plays a big role in getting projects built here. Without it, L.A. and other cities throughout the state are going to have to find new sources of funding to help keep transit running and make down payments on future transit projects.

That’s the issue that a team of researchers from UCLA and Berkeley’s respective environmental law programs tackled in their report, “All Aboard: How California Can Increase Investments in Public Transit” [PDF].

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Foothill Extension CEO explains selection of contractor to construct the project

Here is the email that went out this afternoon from Foothill Extension Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian to project supporters about the selection of a contractor to build the 11.5-mile line from Pasadena to Azusa:

Today, the Authority staff and evaluators had the opportunity to make the case that Kiewit Parsons was the right team to build the Pasadena to Azusa extension. The Construction Authority board of directors considered the award of the Alignment contract at today’s Special Board Meeting and unanimously concurred with my recommendation, authorizing execution of a $486 million design and construction contract with the joint-venture team. The contract will include final design and construction of all aspects of the 11.5-mile extension, with the exception of the (already underway) Iconic Freeway Structure and future station parking facilities.

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Images and renderings: The Gold Line Foothill Extension

With the news today that a contractor has been selected to build the Gold Line Foothill Extension, I wanted to post a few photos and drawings of the project. Please feel free to use on your own blog, website, etc!

A rendering of the rail bridge to be built over the eastbound side of the 210 freeway in Arcadia.

An aerial view of the bridge location. The bridge is needed to take the tracks from the freeway median to the south side of the road.

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