Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 24

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

The people mover at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Photo by David Wilson, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: The people mover at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Photo by David Wilson, via Flickr creative commons.

Freeway toll lanes seem to speed things along, somewhat (L.A. Times) 

Here’s the top of the story, which provides a good summary of the preliminary analysis of the ExpressLanes that was released this week:

The first comprehensive analysis of Los Angeles County’s experimental toll lanes indicates the pay-to-drive routes made some rush-hour commutes faster and less painful, both in the toll lanes and in the free lanes, but made little to no difference for many drivers battling morning traffic.

According to an independent report prepared for federal transportation officials, the toll lanes along the 110 and 10 freeways didn’t significantly change overall traffic speeds during peak periods for drivers using either the tollway or the general lanes.

But for individual drivers on the freeways at certain times, the experimental lanes may have made a significant difference: Drivers heading west on the 10 Freeway toll lanes at 7:30 a.m. may have driven up to 18 mph faster than they could have before the tollway opened, the report said. But on the northbound 110 Freeway at 8 a.m., commuters in the free lanes crept toward downtown Los Angeles at 21 mph, the same speed as before the lanes opened.

The Metro Board is scheduled to today to consider whether extending operation of the ExpressLanes beyond January 2015.

In related news, the Los Angeles Newspaper Group has an editorial saying it’s too soon to continue the ExpressLanes. Excerpt:

As it is now, the MTA has authority to run toll programs along the two freeways through January 2015. There’s a bill in the Legislature that would extend that authority and open the possibility of proposing more toll roads.

The legislation by California Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, could be a game changer for the MTA, which has previously floated the idea of a toll lane on the 405 Freeway.

It’s going before some key legislative committees next week, so there’s a push by MTA staffers to get the board to back an extension. An affirmative vote would bolster the bill, SB 1298, which has already gained the support of the board.

Also, RAND’s Martin Wachs (a senior researcher) and UCLA’s Brian Taylor (Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies) have an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Register arguing that the Metro Board should make the ExpressLanes permanent. Excerpt:

HOT lanes carry more people with less delay than other lanes, and can be added at lower cost and disruption than most alternatives. An independent consultant to the Federal Highway Administration issued a report last week showing that these lanes have improved transit service and given drivers more choices. Unlike other new highway lanes, they also raise needed revenues for transit improvements from drivers voluntarily paying tolls. Most importantly, HOT lanes increase the choices available to travelers, who can drive in regular lanes for free, pay for faster and more reliable driving during rush hours, opt for the improved express bus service financed by the tolls, or join new toll-subsidized van pools.

The FHWA study found that during the short demonstration period, in addition to those already having them, nearly 260,000 new drivers were issued transponders. While average driving speeds changed only slightly in both the express lanes and general lanes during the peak hours, travel time reliability was a principal benefit for HOT lane users.

Bait bikes ready to nab S.F. bike thieves (SFist) 

Gotta love this:

The bike theft unit of the San Francisco police department took to Craigslist on Tuesday with a post titled, “We Have Our Bait Bikes Out.” Complete with a snazzy decal of a creepy cycling skeleton, the ad warns of GPS-laden bikes that the cops will track. And if you sell a stolen bike, the po-po threaten to toss you in jail and plaster your face “all over social media.” 

The SFPD isn’t saying how many bikes actually have GPS devices installed in them. Nor does it say if clever thieves can de-activate or destroy the GPS. The idea is to instill a kernel of doubt in those who steal.

Off the bus, but pressing on (USDOT Fast Lane blog) 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says that President Obama will soon release a detailed proposal for a multiyear federal transportation spending bill. The current bill expires this year and Congress hasn’t yet agreed on the next one. Metro is certainly watching this one closely, hoping the bill includes both a loan and bond program that are key to the America Fast Forward program to expand federal funding for transportation projects.

Security cameras help transit agencies fight crime (Transit Wire) 

A short and unskeptical article but with some interesting info about efforts to use cameras to deter crime or enforce rules in both Portland and Chicago.

 

Crenshaw Boulevard closure between MLK and Stocker May 2 for traffic control change

Here’s the notice from Metro regarding the traffic control change on Crenshaw Boulevard that will be starting May 2. The implementation requires a full street closure of Crenshaw Blvd. between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Stocker Street starting at 10 p.m. on May 2, lasting through 1 p.m. on May 3. The work is necessary for the construction activities of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

If you have questions or concerns about this closure, upcoming closures or other construction work taking place for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, join us for a live chat with Metro on April 29 from 6 – 7 p.m. You can leave your advance questions at the chat page on Reddit, email CrenshawCorridor@metro.net or call in during the chat at 213.922-4601.

Northbound 405 closures in the Sepulveda Pass planned for four consecutive nights April 24-28

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the northbound I-405 in the Sepulveda Pass for four consecutive nights April 24-28.  The closure boundaries and hours change each night. The closures will enable the contractor to install overhead freeway signs.

  • The northbound I-405 will be fully closed from Getty Center Drive to Greenleaf Street on the night of Thursday, April 24, midnight to 5 a.m., Friday, April 25

Closures:

  • Ramps begin closing as early as 7 p.m. Lanes begin closing at 10 p.m. 
  • Northbound Sunset Boulevard to on-ramp  
  • Northbound Moraga on- and off-ramps 
  • Northbound Getty Center Dr on-ramp
  • Northbound Skirball Center Dr on-ramp
  • Northbound I-405 to the north US 101 connector

Detour:

From I-405 northbound: Take the northbound Getty Center Drive off-ramp, head north on Sepulveda Boulevard to the northbound I-405 on-ramp at Greenleaf.

  • Northbound I-405 fully closed from Skirball Center Drive to Greenleaf Street on:
    • Night of Friday, April 25, 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., Saturday, April 26
    • Night of Saturday, April 26, 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., Sunday, April 27
    • Night of Sunday, April 27, midnight to 5 a.m., Monday, April 28

Closures:

  • Ramps begin closing as early as 7 p.m. Lanes begin closing at 10 p.m.
  • Northbound Skirball Center Dr on-ramp
  • Northbound I-405 to the north US 101 connector

Detour:

From I-405 northbound: Take the northbound Skirball Center Drive off-ramp, head south on Skirball Center Drive, head north on Sepulveda Boulevard to the northbound I-405 on-ramp at Greenleaf.

What to expect:

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 23

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Transit-related note: Thanks to Kings fans for riding the Expo and Blue Lines to last night’s game. Lucky bounce, Sharks. Games four and six will be at Staples Center. 

Gold Line being challenged on possible terminus at Ontario Airport (Los Angeles Newspaper Group)

The San Bernardino Association of Governments is opposing a state bill that would give the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority permission to plan and study a third segment of the project between Claremont and Ontario Airport. SANBAG says it wants to first study other options for connecting transit to the airport, which in recent years has a seen a significant decline in air passenger travel. The airport segment lacks funding at this time. The Construction Authority is an independent agency that is building the Gold Line extension to Azusa with Measure R funds; Metro will operate the line when completed.

Pay lanes have better result on 10 freeway than 110 freeway, report says (Los Angeles Newspaper Group)

A look at the Metro staff report issued earlier this week that offered a preliminary analysis of the performance of the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways during their one-year pilot period. Excerpt:

For example, on the 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway between Adams Street and the 91 Freeway during the morning commute, it took on average 2 minutes longer to travel on the ExpressLanes than when the lanes were regular High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. The evening commute showed no change, the report stated.

On the 14-mile stretch of ExpressLanes installed in February 2013 on the 10 Freeway from the 605 Freeway to Alameda Street in Los Angeles, commuters got where they were going more than 2 minutes faster on average. Even the general-purpose lanes showed a near 2-minute decrease in travel time, compared to before the lanes were implemented.

The analysis, by the Federal Highway Administration, noted that the ExpressLanes have still met many of their goals — for example, ridership on the Silver Line has increased 27 percent and use of the ExpressLanes has increased since they began, resulting in increased revenues.

The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday will consider whether to keep the lanes beyond January 2015.

‘Rail to River’ project envisions greenway along rail tracks (KCET)

A look at the proposal being studied by Metro to use 8.3 miles of the Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way for a pedestrian and bike path between the Los Angeles River and the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Here’s a recent Source post on Metro’s ongoing study. As noted in the KCET article, one big challenge is that parts of the old rail corridor are narrow and may not be able to accommodate both a future rail or BRT line (although nothing is imminent) and a walking and biking path.

A look at L.A.’s second-year bike lane implementation list (Streetsblog L.A.)

A good look at some of the bike lane projects under consideration by the city of Los Angeles. As Joe Linton notes, some of the current lanes seem more opportunistic than strategic whereas some of the second-year lanes would connect between current bike lanes and help build a true biking network. Looks like several of the projects would intersect or be near future Metro Rail lines, which is important for first- and last-mile connections.

 

Northbound 405 freeway closure between I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard in West L.A. planned night of April 23

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the northbound I-405 between the I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles the night of Wednesday, April 23 from midnight to 5 a.m. Thursday, April 24.  The closure will facilitate installation of mainline traffic loops.

Ramps will be closed as early as 7 p.m., and lanes will begin to close at 10 p.m. 

Ramp Closures:

Eastbound and westbound I-10 connectors to northbound I-405

Northbound I-405 on-ramp from Olympic Boulevard/Pico Boulevard (on Cotner Avenue)

Detour:

From westbound I-10: exit Bundy North, turn right to northbound Bundy Drive, turn right on eastbound Santa Monica Boulevard, and turn left to enter the northbound I-405 at the Santa Monica Boulevard on-ramp.

From eastbound I-10: exit at Overland Avenue off-ramp, turn right to northbound Overland, turn left to westbound Pico Boulevard, turn right to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, turn left to westbound Santa Monica Boulevard, and turn right to enter the northbound I-405 at the Santa Monica Boulevard on-ramp. 

What to expect:

  • Work is dependent on favorable weather conditions.
  • Emergency access will be maintained at all times.

For a listing of daily closures and latest updates visit our website at www.metro.net/405 or follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/I_405 and Facebook atwww.facebook.com/405project.

Metro and The Academy release only known film of 1939 Union Station opening parade shot by famed animator who created Jiminy Cricket

In honor of Union Station’s 75th Anniversary, Metro and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in cooperation with the family of Ward Kimball, have restored the only known footage of the historic opening. The parade, documented in the home movie, drew half a million spectators to downtown Los Angeles.

This silent 6-minute color film clip features train engines, vintage automobiles and spectators from the parade on May 3, 1939. The home movie was shot by legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball, creator of numerous classic Disney characters, including Jiminy Cricket in “Pinocchio”, Tweedledee and Tweedledum in “Alice in Wonderland” and Lucifer the Cat in “Cinderella.” In 1970, Kimball received an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for “It’s Tough to be a Bird.”

Ward Kimball, circa 1948

Ward Kimball, circa 1948

Kimball, was an avid railway enthusiast and collector of old railroad memorabilia. His personal film collection at the Academy Film Archive includes footage of Kimball’s own Grizzly Flats Railroad and documentation of a range of transportation technologies.

The home movie begins with two locomotives that later appear in the parade: the Southern Pacific Number 1 and the Union Pacific Number 22. They are clearly being attended to … probably in preparation for their parade.appearance. If anyone recognizes the people in the clip, please let us know.

How are America’s transit agencies going green?

Solar Canopies produce green energy and shade buses at MARTA's Decatur garage.

Solar canopies produce green energy and shade buses at MARTA’s Decatur garage.

Here in the United States, public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Though a greener option than personal vehicles by far, transit agencies still use large amounts of energy, and produce their fair share of waste, in the course of operations.

You’ve already read what we here at Metro are doing to ensure a more sustainable, energy-efficient system today and in the future. With Earth Day as our impetus, we decided to take a look at how other transit agencies across the country are going green. Below, a few examples:

Did you know Chicago Transit Authority headquarters have been LEED Platinum certified since 2012, helped, in part, by their green roof?

Continue reading


Nighttime Wilshire/Sepulveda intersection closures planned April 22 through May 5

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the Wilshire / Sepulveda Boulevard intersection in Westwood nightly for two weeks beginning April 22 to May 5 for needed paving work.

The contractor will grind existing asphalt, pave a top lift of asphalt roadway, install traffic loops, and restripe the intersection to its permanent alignment.

Closure information is as follows:

  • From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22 – and continuing nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – until 6 a.m. on Monday, May, 5, 2014.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard will be reduced to one lane in each direction from Constitution Avenue to 800 feet south of Wilshire Boulevard.
  • Wilshire Boulevard will be fully closed from Bonsall Avenue to Veteran Avenue.

Ramp Closures:

Ramp closures will begin at 8 p.m.

Off-ramp Closures

  • Northbound 405 to westbound Wilshire Boulevard
  • Southbound 405 to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard

On-ramp Closures

  • Eastbound Wilshire to northbound 405
  • Westbound Wilshire to northbound 405
  • Westbound Wilshire to southbound 405

Detour:

  • From westbound Wilshire: turn left to southbound Westwood Boulevard, turn right to westbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn right to northbound Federal Avenue, and turn left to continue onto westbound Wilshire Boulevard.
  • From eastbound Wilshire: turn right to southbound Federal Avenue, turn left to eastbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn left to northbound Westwood Boulevard, and turn right to continue onto eastbound Wilshire Boulevard. 

What to expect:

Transportation headlines, Day of Earth, April 22

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Happy Earth Day! Photo: NASA.gov.

Happy Earth Day! Photo: NASA.gov.

Linking the Los Angeles airport (New York Times)

The NYT takes a look at Metro’s Airport Metro Connector project, which seeks to connect the LAX terminals to Metro Rail via a people mover or light rail. The featured photo shows the junction where a Green Line spur was supposed to turn north toward the airport — a spur, as you know, that was never built.

Excerpt:

But just how the connection is made is where the politics lie.

There are two options drawing the most consideration. One is an underground rail line that would offer more direct access to the airport, at a cost of about $2 billion more, but it would do little to ease airport congestion. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, board has placed the proposal on the back burner.

The other option, backed by Mayor Garcetti, is centered on what Mr. Bonin, the councilman, describes as building a new front door to the airport, about a mile and a half away. Ideally, it would be not only a transit hub, but also a place where cars could be parked and luggage checked before passengers took an automated people mover that circulated through the nine terminals.

“The people mover scenario makes the most sense,” said Juan Matute, the associate director of U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies. “There’s a lot of land available to build a world-class arrival center. Then from there, running a people mover will allow a higher capacity of people to enter the airport.”

The article concludes with a note of skepticism anything will happen. I’m not so sure — in my time here it seems there is currently more interest than ever in getting something done and certainly having the Crenshaw/LAX Line under construction is part of that. The big unanswered question, as with most projects, involves funding, namely will there be funds available to build some of the more expensive options.

Riding transit is the best way to celebrate Earth Day (Huffington Post)

The president of a transit workers union — in partnership with the Sierra Club, btw — offers a collection of statistics demonstrating that transit is more sustainable than driving alone. Obviously he has skin in the game, but federal and academic studies back him up. Here’s a page from a 2010 Federal Transit Administration report:

PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010

Here’s how the media is getting the whole cities & millennials story wrong (Grist)  

Bed Adler writes that the New York Times and other similar media are over-stating the migration of millennials back to cities from the ‘burbs — and the media is under-stating the reason why young sprouts are coming back to cities. It’s not entirely for art and culture, says Grist. It’s for ease of transportation that cities provide.

Interesting issue and I tend to agree with Ben. I’m writing this today from Cincinnati, Ohio (family business), where gentrification of downtown’s Over the Rhine area is underway, including a new streetcar line that is under construction. I grew up here and the number of old buildings that have been rehabbed is very noticeable and it’s hard not to interpret the gentrification as a direct response to the relentless march of sprawl and suburbs to the north. Cincinnati and Dayton were once two distinct metro areas. No more as their ‘burbs have merged.

Of course, many of us equate the ‘burbs with driving and cities with other transportation choices. But it’s not quite that easy. Almost all of the rehabbed buildings of Over the Rhine included parking and those lots were filled with some pretty pricey vehicles, Range Rovers included. I suppose the counter-argument is that city life probably reduces the need for all vehicles — including the fuel hogs — to be used.

Gentrification in Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Gentrification in downtown Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

 

Chat with Metro on upcoming Crenshaw/LAX construction full street closures Tuesday, April 29

Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor - Work

Join Metro for a one-hour live chat on Tuesday, April 29 at 6 p.m. to discuss the upcoming full street closures that will take place due to Crenshaw/LAX construction. Project director Charles Beauvoir will answer questions regarding travel options for pedestrians, motorists, business owners and the general public during the Crenshaw Boulevard closures.

Crenshaw Blvd. will be closed between Martin Luther King Jr. and Stocker Street from 10 p.m. Friday, May 2 through 1 p.m. Saturday, May 3, as work begins on the Crenshaw/MLK underground station. On Friday, May 16, a second full street closure will take place on Crenshaw Blvd. between Exposition Boulevard and Rodeo Place.

The full street closures are required to implement traffic rerouting for upcoming construction activities such as utility relocation, pile installation, decking and excavation.

The live chat will be hosted on Reddit. You can leave advance questions on the chat page once it is live, email your questions to CrenshawCorridor@metro.net or call the project hotline 213.922-2736. If you’d like to call in via phone during the chat, call 213.922-4601 to submit your questions. All questions will be answered from 6 – 7 p.m. on the Reddit page.