Reminder: Streetcar public meeting is tonight

A community update meeting for the L.A. Streetcar project is tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Caltrans building (100 S. Main Street) in downtown Los Angeles.

In case you missed it, here’s our post from last week about the new briefing package available on the project and the seven routes under consideration.

And here’s the web page for the project; Metro is doing the planning on behalf of the city of Los Angeles, which will fund and operate the streetcar.

A streetcar in downtown Toronto. Photo by nouspique, via Flickr

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority announces court ruling on CEQA lawsuit

Below is the news release from the Authority, which is building the 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. The case involves the Authority’s attempts to acquire the land needed for a rail car maintenance facility in Monrovia.

MONROVIA – Today, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) received the final Court ruling on one of several petitions filed by an unwilling seller of land within the future maintenance and operations facility site for the Pasadena to Azusa extension of the Gold Line Foothill Extension project. The ruling released today denies the petitioner’s request that the court invalidate the Construction Authority’s certification of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the project.

In general, the basis for the lawsuit was the following: the SEIR covered only a piece of the overall project from Pasadena to Montclair and therefore did not evaluate the full impact, mitigation or alternatives necessary; the range of alternatives was insufficient; the Final SEIR did not adequately respond to the comments submitted to the Draft SEIR by the petitioner; and the Monrovia site was the predetermined choice for the maintenance facility before the environmental process was complete.

“This is an important victory for the project,” said Construction Authority board chairman and Glendora Mayor Doug Tessitor. “The SEIR addressed and analyzed a number of project changes since the original EIR was certified in 2007 and the Authority can now continue moving forward with these changes as part of the final project.”

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FTA officially announces two big grants to Metro

A media event was held at Metro on Friday afternoon to celebrate two recent grants from the Federal Transit Administration: $25 million for the purchase of about 60 new compressed natural gas-powered buses and $9.6 million for a new Silver Line station at Patsaouras Plaza at Union Station.

The grant for the bus platform was the largest FTA Livability Grant Initiative in the nation. And the bus grant was fourth largest State of Good Repair grant. Both awards come on the heels of last year’s $47.7 million State of Good Repair Grant from the FTA to help pay for the new Bus Division 13 building adjacent to Metro headquarters.

All good signs that Metro is staying competitive when competing for federal dollars.

FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan and Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa came together at the event and also called upon Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, which includes billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements across the U.S.

“I tell people that the biggest deficit facing the nation is not the budget deficit, but the jobs deficit,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We need Congress to put the bickering aside and put thousands of able-bodied people back to work.”

“We should be doing a lot more for this county as big and busy as it is,” said Deputy Administrator McMillan. “And we would do a lot more if Congress passes the American Jobs Act.”

McMillan said that the Act would provide about $400 million to California transit agencies for bus repair and about $1 billion statewide for transportation projects. “There are too many people out there hurting for us to do nothing,” she added.

The new bus division, the Silver Line station — as part of Metro’s ExpressLanes project — and the new CNG buses are expected to create more than 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly, according to Metro’s estimates.

The news release from the FTA is after the jump.

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Metro Orange Line turns six tomorrow, progress made on Chatsworth extension

The Metro Orange Line is six years old tomorrow, Oct. 29.  The anniversary coincides with ongoing construction of its four-mile extension to the Chatsworth Amtrak/Metrolink Station, another key Valley transportation hub.

Metro’s construction team and design-builder are making good progress building the extension, which is scheduled to open in summer of next year.

Below is a photo of the very first station canopy work at the future Roscoe station.  Metro’s press release follows.

Workers use crane to unload canopy from truckbed at the future Roscoe Station. Photos: Dave Sotero

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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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