Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 16

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ART OF TRANSIT: That's Lake Powell in southern Utah as seen by yours truly yesterday afternoon. I'm in Ohio this week attending to family business that arose suddenly. I will be posting occasionally this week -- and if it seems like I'm 2,100 miles away, I am. Lake Powell, btw, is about 39 percent full -- but still is holding more than a trillion gallons of water, some of which will end up in So Cal via the Colorado Aqueduct. Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: That’s Lake Powell in southern Utah as seen by yours truly Monday afternoon. I’m in Ohio this week attending to family business but I will be posting occasionally as there’s lots happening — thanks in advance for your patience. Lake Powell, btw, is about 39 percent full — but 39 percent still equals more than a trillion gallons of water, some of which will end up in So Cal via the Colorado Aqueduct. No sign of the Icarus. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Metro recommends $927-million contract for downtown rail project (L.A. Times) 

A good look at the staff recommendation for a design-build contractor — Skanska USA and Traylor Bros. — for the Regional Connector project. As the article notes, Metro will need to shift some funds around to meet the project’s budget and the current cost hinges on Metro getting the construction permits it needs from the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Five years since its opening, still much work ahead for the Eastside Gold Line (Boyle Heights Beat) 

Good article. The Eastside leg of the Gold Line will celebrate its five-year anniversary in November and Boyle Heights residents have mixed views on the line — some find it convenient, some think earlier bus lines were a better option. Metro officials point to community amenities that were part of the project (improved sidewalks, lighting and new trees, for example). My own three cents: the Regional Connector will especially benefit the communities along the Eastside line, allowing trains to travel directly into downtown L.A. instead of routing passengers to Union Station and a transfer to the subway.

SEPTA to restore all-night subway service (Mass Transit) 

The agency that serves the Philadelphia metro area will run all night service on two subway lines this summer for the first time since the early 1990s. Increasing night life and new residences in downtown Philly prompted officials to launch the experiment.

How did the bicycle cross the highway? (Medium) 

Here’s how the Dutch did it:

These Detroit bus benches are made from demolished homes (The Atlantic Cities) 

Specifically, doors from properties torn down — Detroit has thousands of abandoned properties — are being smartly repurposed. Very cool.

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 14

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! 

Mayor Garcetti’s State of the City: six ‘Great Streets’ announced (Streetsblog L.A.)

Good breakdown and overview of the plans for beautifying and making six streets throughout the city more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The six streets: Gaffey (San Pedro), Reseda and Van Nuys (San Fernando Valley), Westwood (Westside), Figueroa (downtown and South L.A.) and Crenshaw (South L.A.). As Joe Linton notes, light rail is coming to Crenshaw, the Expo Line will stop at the southern end of Westwood and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Project is planned for Van Nuys. Figueroa, of course, parallels the Expo Line.

Climate efforts falling short, U.N. panel says (New York Times) 

Officials say we can’t afford to lose another decade talking and not taking action. The top of the story:

BERLIN — Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.

In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.

Downtown L.A. goes from gritty to glitzy (Wall Street Journal) 

The story’s emphasis is on luxury real estate and, to a lesser degree, the revival of some downtown neighborhoods. Interestingly, the words “transit,” “bus” or “train” do not appear in the article.

A bike path in the L.A. River bed (KCET)

The headline should come with a question mark at the end as the issue is being explored by a cyclist and real estate developer tired of lack of access to the river in downtown L.A.

Will Angels Flight ever roll again? (Downtown News) 

A dispute between the foundation that runs the short funicular and state regulators means it could be some time before a reopening. Trains are running but without passengers, says the foundation.


Northbound I-405 closure in West L.A. between National Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard planned nights of April 14 to 19

Closures on the I-405 this week:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the northbound I-405 in West Los Angeles from National Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard the nights of April 14 through 19 to facilitate re-striping of northbound I-405 lanes between the I-10 and Wilshire Boulevard. Closure information is as follows:

  • From midnight to 5 a.m., starting at midnight on Monday, April 14 and continuing every night—from midnight to 5 a.m.—until 5 a.m. on Friday, April 18 (Four nights)
  • On Friday night, April 18, from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 19 (One night)

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

Ramp Closures:

Eastbound & Westbound I-10 connectors to Northbound I-405

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

Northbound I-405 on-ramp and off-ramp at Santa Monica Boulevard

Northbound I-405 off-ramp to Eastbound Wilshire Boulevard

Northbound I-405 off-ramp to Westbound Wilshire Boulevard

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 right to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard, and turn right to enter the northbound I-405 at the eastbound Wilshire Boulevard on-ramp.

Northbound I-405 will be accessible at the northbound on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Boulevard.

What to expect:

Southbound I-405 closure in West L.A. between Getty Center Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard planned Nights of April 12, 13

Weekend closures on the I-405:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the southbound I-405 in West Los Angeles from Getty Center Drive to Santa Monica Boulevard to facilitate roadway pouring at the freeway median, installation of an overhead sign and restriping of lanes westerly on Saturday and Sunday nights, April 12 and 13. Closure information is as follows:

  • The night of Saturday, April 12, from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday
  • The night of Sunday, April 13, from midnight to 6 a.m. Monday

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

Ramp Closures:

o   Southbound Getty on-ramp

o   Southbound/Eastbound Sunset on-ramp

o   Southbound/Westbound Sunset on-ramp

o   Southbound Sunset off-ramp

o   Southbound Eastbound/Westbound Wilshire off-ramp

o   Southbound Santa Monica off-ramp

Detour:

o   Southbound Getty off-ramp, south on Sepulveda Boulevard, east on Santa Monica Boulevard to Southbound Santa Monica on-ramp.

What to expect:

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 11

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Garcetti offers back to the basics in first State of the City speech (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the new carpool lane on the northbound 405 over the Sepulveda Pass would open next month (Metro said there’s no date set yet), reiterated a pledge to build a rail connection to LAX (the project is still in the study phase) and offered more details on the city’s Great Streets Initiative, saying Reseda Boulevard, Gaffey Street and Crenshaw Boulevard would be among those on the list. Of course, work just started earlier this year on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that will run both along and under parts of Crenshaw between Exposition Boulevard and 67th Street.

Some thoughts on near roadway pollution and L.A.’s future (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Interesting post based on a forum held this week about pollution from roads that spills over into neighborhoods and cities. Streetsblog’s Joe Linton:

As I was listening to all this, I felt like there was too much emphasis on dealing with our car-centric system as a given. Car-choked freeways are just part of the way god made our cities. We, health professionals, are just doing our best to adjust to the system we find ourselves stuck in. The discussion was all about how to keep people out of the way of pollution, but not to look at reducing or eliminating that pollution at its source. It’s as if health professionals looking at the tobacco problem just assumed that smoking happens everywhere, and then spent a lot of effort studying gas-masks for non-smokers. Taking on tobacco is a great public health success – because health professionals were able to ban tobacco from many places, and to stigmatize tobacco based on its threat to health.

(I also think that an overly narrow focus on near-roadway-air-pollution makes us miss other huge health risks associated with cars. Every year, driving kills 30,000+ people in the U.S.1.5 million worldwide. There are greenhouse gases, water pollution, noise pollution, obesity, and plenty more issues.)

I was glad to hear Occidental College’s Mark Vallianatos, commenting from the floor microphone, suggest an important alternative. Instead of moving people away from roads, let’s change our roads to be safe for people. If we have schools, playgrounds, housing, etc. adjacent to a road, then, for the sake of health, let’s design and regulate that road to limit vehicle emissions to safe levels. Let’s traffic-calm and road diet our arterials, downgrade our freeways, hopefully get rid of, at least, some of them.

 

Good post, tough issue.

Have U.S. light rail lines been worth the investment? (The Atlantic Cities)

The reporter, Yonah Freemark, says the overall answer is ‘yes.’ But he also offers sobering news about five light rail systems built in the 1980s in five different cities, four of which are on the West Coast — San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, Portland and Buffalo.

The bottom line: none of the systems increased transit use in their regions, although they have shifted more people from buses to trains. In addition, only San Jose saw a slight growth in its central city population. What to make of this?

Even this relatively positive outcome doesn’t compensate for the fact that regions that invested in light rail in the 1980s largely failed to increase the share of workers commuting by transit, or to increase the vitality of their center cities with respect to the surrounding regions. Does this mean we should cease investment in new light rail lines? Certainly not; in many cases, rail has provided the essential boost to reinvigorate communities, and in some cases it has also resulted in higher ridership than before: just look at Rosslyn-Ballston in the D.C. region or Kendall Square in the Boston region.

But spending on new lines is not enough. Increases in transit use are only possible when the low costs of driving and parking are addressed, and when government and private partners work together to develop more densely near transit stations. None of the cities that built new light rail lines in the 1980s understood this reality sufficiently. Each region also built free highways during the period (I-990 in Buffalo, I-205 in Portland, US 50 in Sacramento, CA 54 in San Diego, and CA 237 in San Jose), and each continued to sprawl (including Portland, despite its urban growth boundary). These conflicting policies had as much to do with light rail’s mediocre outcomes as the trains themselves — if not more.

Paid parking fees coming to Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink lots (Daily Bulletin) 

The city wants to impose a $4.50 daily fee or monthly charge of $25 to $30 to off-set maintenance costs for the two lots. The San Bernardino Association of Governments isn’t thrilled — it worries that the move may drive people away from transit — but approved the city’s request. Others are concerned that riders will instead drive to nearby Upland and park in the free lots there.

 

FINAL UPDATE: Gold Line resuming normal service

Repairs to the Metro Gold Line’s overhead power supply system have been completed, and test trains have successfully traversed the segment of track previously closed between Highland Park and South Pasadena stations.

This means trains will start running on both tracks between Highland Park and South Pasadena stations, and that the Metro Gold Line will begin resuming normal service at this time. However, Gold Line customers should still expect 5-10 minute residual delays as trains revert back to their normal 2-car lengths and attempt to fall into schedule.

Repairs and ensuing delays began around 8:30 a.m. yesterday, after a 1,000 foot segment of wire became detached from overhead support structures. Work took longer than anticipated due to complications caused by the length of the downed wire and the location of the damage.

For those who need delay verification because of Gold Line delays, please call 213.922.6235 or fax 213.922.6988.

Finally, we would again like to thank all Gold Line customers for sticking with us as we made repairs, and for their patience as we work to get the Line back to normal again.


Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Community Leadership Council holds quarterly meeting tonight

The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Community Leadership Council (CLC) is holding their quarterly meeting tonight, April 10, from 6 – 8 p.m. The meeting will take place in the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in the Crystal Room located at 3045 Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016. CLC quarterly meetings are open to the public.

You can get to the meeting via the Expo Line Expo/Crenshaw Station. For additional routes and connections, please use Trip Planner. Free parking will also be available in the adjacent lots.

CLC Quarterly Meeting Flyer 4.10.14

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 9

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! 

Game changing mixed use project planned for El Pueblo (Curbed LA)

A new residential and commercial development is planned on two surface parking lots near Olvera Street and Union Station. Good news: parking lots that sit empty much of the day aren’t helping the economy or streetscape of this part of downtown L.A.

Cuomo aide urges MTA to review ads on transit (New York Daily News) 

Why the review? The provocative ads are for breast augmentation surgery. And the governor of New York isn’t convinced they’re appropriate with tens of thousands of children riding transit each day. Fun tabloid story.

Downtown S.F. traffic may seem worse, but actually getting better (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The numbers seem to indicate that the number of cars entering the city is down while more people are walking, riding bikes and taking transit. Still, traffic is no picnic, especially with some big construction projects around town.

Police probe Smart Car tipping in San Francisco (Associated Press) 

Four got tipped Monday morning in the city. Police are investigating.

Metro Motion celebrates Union Station 75th anniversary stories

In this edition of Metro Motion the focus is on beautiful Los Angeles Union Station, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary on May 3. The 1939 opening was an amazing party and half a million spectators turned out to explore the last of the great railway stations and see the parade of bands, floats and massive steam engines.

From the beginning, Union Station has been Hollywood’s train station and like any great Hollywood star it has appeared in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials. Find out which ones and why the beguiling but aging star still appears frequently in movies … even as she moves toward her golden years.

In another segment we visit beautiful Harvey House restaurant in Union Station and find out about the women who waited tables there – the Harvey Girls – and how they were part of the settling of the West. We also tour a luxurious private rail car – the Patron Tequila Express – that is sometimes parked in Union Station’s private rail car yard. We meet some of the early settlers of L.A.’s Chinatown, whose parents were residents of the original Chinatown located where Union Station now stands.

We talk with the head of the Union Station planning team who tells us what’s in store for the iconic building as it develops into the hub of transit for our region. And finally, we meet fourth graders from Utah Street Elementary School who draw pictures of what they want the Union Station of the future to look like. Some will surprise you.

Metro Motion is co-produced by Metro and Santa Monica City TV.