Why will an off-ramp on the 405 freeway disappear?

A couple news stations are reporting on the permanent closure of the Montana off-ramp in West Los Angeles as part of I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project widening work. Metro’s social media officer, Ned Racine, penned a clever “obituary” for the ramp in February of 2012 on Metro’s I-405 web page.
We’re adding it here on the Source for your reading enjoyment.

Why Will an Off-Ramp Disappear?

A Westside landmark will vanish when the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project finishes its work. Although not as prominent as the Wilshire ramps nor Sunset Bridge, this Westside resident will be hard to miss, in part because it is approximately 550 feet long and weighs 718 tons (1,435,000 pounds).

A Los Angeles resident since 1956, the northbound I-405 off-ramp to Montana Bl/Sepulveda Bl, will be consumed by the freeway’s widening along Sepulveda Bl. The widening occurs from Montana to Moraga and from Getty Center Dr to the northbound Getty Center Dr off-ramp.

For those who drive Sepulveda Bl, a major benefit from the off-ramp removal will be a simplified Montana Bl/Sepulveda Bl intersection. This translates to faster and safer traffic flow through the intersection, in part because there will be one less traffic signal cycle to slow drivers.
For the off-ramp’s neighbors, they should experience less east-bound traffic through the streets adjoining the two-lane Montana Av off-ramp, according to Caltrans traffic studies. Caltrans’ decision would also reduce noise near Montana Av.

By sacrificing the Montana Av off-ramp, Caltrans can widen the freeway without having to remove homes and other properties near Montana Av.

The project team expects UCLA traffic that used the Montana Av off-ramp to choose the expanded Sunset Bl Bridge and streamlined northbound off-ramps to Wilshire Bl.

wilshire_bi_ramps_final

Sunset-Bridge-Rendering-Final1200x600

The I-405 project team expects that removing the Montana Av off-ramp, grading the area, widening the adjoining freeway, and restriping Sepulveda Bl will require approximately five months of continuous work.

As seen in the illustration below, the simplified Sepulveda/Montana intersection will carry traffic in four, rather than five directions. The darkened freeway lanes will be added by the I-405 project. The new Montana Bl/Sepulveda Bl intersection will have the same width and number of lanes.

AFTER-rendering-6-07-11-CS4

Although closing the ramp was publicized even before the Final Environmental Report was published in January 2008, some residents and travelers will likely be surprised when the off-ramp and 500 feet of retaining and sound walls are removed and replaced with a continuous sound wall.

After all, how often do California travelers witness the disappearance of entire off-ramp.

Ned Racine

Transportation headlines, Monday, November 25

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MTANov22Sunset (13 of 34)

ART OF TRANSIT: The sunset over Union Station and downtown Los Angeles on Friday as seen from the 25th floor of Metro headquarters. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The sunset over Union Station and downtown Los Angeles on Friday as seen from the 25th floor of Metro headquarters. Can’t decide which version I like better — the bottom one was taken about three minutes after the top image. Click above to see larger. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

This time it really would be a restructuring (L.A. Streetsblog)

Editor Damien Newton ruminates on different on different fare structures for Metro and what they may mean for people’s commutes. Note: there is nothing on the table officially and there won’t be until next year. At a Metro Board Committee meeting last week, Metro staff said they will be presenting the Board with several options. Please see this post from last week.

Paying for L.A. County’s transit future (L.A. Times)

The Times’ editorial board says it has “serious reservations” about any new transportation sales tax that Metro may pursue in 2014 or ’16 — in particular, the editorial says that next year is too quick to properly vet any type of proposal. Key excerpt:

In considering a new sales tax proposal, Metro leaders must consider transportation needs throughout the county, but in the end they should select the projects that deliver the greatest impact, even if they are concentrated in the city.

That’s why a 2014 ballot measure should be off the table, and 2016 would be a better target.

 

Here’s a recent Source post about a Metro staff report that looks at potential ballot measure to accelerate and/or fund new projects. Measure R was approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 and staff are considering ways to either extend R past its expiration date of mid-2039 or possibly a new sales tax that could fund new transit projects.

Postcards from the West: Union Station bustles with film plots (L.A. Times)

A nice profile of Union Station and some of its considerable history by reporter Christopher Reynolds and photographer Mark Boster — check out Mark’s photos. Metro officials also say they’re still working to get restaurants into the old Harvey House and Union Bagel spaces, as well as add some other food offerings.

Auto correct (New Yorker) 

Very long and very good article on self-driving cars — this is a great read if you’re taking transit. Here’s the lead:

Human beings make terrible drivers. They talk on the phone and run red lights, signal to the left and turn to the right. They drink too much beer and plow into trees or veer into traffic as they swat at their kids. They have blind spots, leg cramps, seizures, and heart attacks. They rubberneck, hotdog, and take pity on turtles, cause fender benders, pileups, and head-on collisions. They nod off at the wheel, wrestle with maps, fiddle with knobs, have marital spats, take the curve too late, take the curve too hard, spill coffee in their laps, and flip over their cars. Of the ten million accidents that Americans are in every year, nine and a half million are their own damn fault.

A case in point: The driver in the lane to my right. He’s twisted halfway around in his seat, taking a picture of the Lexus that I’m riding in with an engineer named Anthony Levandowski. Both cars are heading south on Highway 880 in Oakland, going more than seventy miles an hour, yet the man takes his time. He holds his phone up to the window with both hands until the car is framed just so. Then he snaps the picture, checks it onscreen, and taps out a lengthy text message with his thumbs. By the time he puts his hands back on the wheel and glances up at the road, half a minute has passed.

The article goes on to explain the many different efforts underway to produce a self-driving car. Google seems to the most optimistic and is trying to develop the software and hardware it can sell to a traditional car manufacturer.

But that may not be easy. Many of the traditional car companies are also pursuing the technology but some — such as Mercedes — are concerned that drivers won’t buy it because they want to remain in control, particularly of vehicles marketed as performance oriented. In the meantime, some elements of self-driving have started to make their way into cars as safety features.

We recently ran a poll asking readers if they would still take transit even if they had a self-driving car. So far, 64 percent of those who responded said they wouldn’t be giving up their transit passes. Feel free to vote.

Urbanites flee China’s smog for blue skies (New York Times) 

This excerpt says it neatly:

More than two years ago, Ms. Lin, 34, and her husband gave up comfortable careers in the booming southern city of Guangzhou — she at a Norwegian risk management company, he at an advertising firm that he had founded — to join the growing number of urbanites who have decamped to rural China. One resident here calls them “environmental refugees” or “environmental immigrants.”

At a time when hundreds of millions of Chinese, many poor farmers, are leaving their country homesteads to find work and tap into the energy of China’s dynamic cities, a small number of urban dwellers have decided to make a reverse migration. Their change in lifestyle speaks volumes about anxieties over pollution, traffic, living costs, property values and the general stress found in China’s biggest coastal metropolises.

Take air quality: Levels of fine particulate matter in some Chinese cities reach 40 times the recommended exposure limit set by the World Health Organization. This month, an official Chinese news report said an 8-year-old girl near Shanghai was hospitalized with lung cancer, the youngest such victim in China. Her doctor blamed air pollution.

Check out the accompanying video; looks like some beautiful country. Any readers out there been to Dali?

Northbound I-405 freeway closures in West L.A. planned Nov. 25 and 26

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to implement full directional closures of the northbound I-405 in West L.A. the nights of November 25 and 26, 2013.

Full northbound freeway closures will occur between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. both nights. Ramp closures will begin as early as 7 p.m., with freeway lane closures beginning at 10 p.m.

The closures will facilitate the realignment of lanes to accommodate work at the freeway median for roadway widening.

Monday Night, November 25:

The northbound I-405 will be fully closed the night of Monday, November 25, from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday, November 26 from Santa Monica Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard.

Detour: From the northbound I-405, exit at Santa Monica Boulevard, turn right to eastbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn left to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, turn right to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard, and enter the northbound I-405 on-ramp on the right-hand side of eastbound Wilshire Boulevard.

Tuesday Night, November 26:

The northbound I-405 will be fully closed the night of Tuesday, November 26th, from 12 a.m. to 5am Wednesday, November 27 from Wilshire Boulevard to Moraga Drive.

Detour: From the northbound I-405, exit at westbound Wilshire Boulevard, turn right to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, turn left onto the Moraga Drive northbound I-405 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 atwww.metro.net/405 or follow us on twitter: twitter.com/I_405 and Facebook at facebook.com/405project.

East LA College gets a transit center upgrade

Grand opening of East L.A. College Transit Center. Photo by Michael Richmai/Metro

Grand opening of East L.A. College Transit Center. Photo by Michael Richmai/Metro

Metro yesterday participated in the opening ceremony of the East L.A. College Transit Center in Monterey Park. The new center will provide students with improved access to buses, making travel to campus easier and safer since bus boardings no longer need occur in mixed traffic. A new transit information kiosk also will display schedules and other information for the various bus lines that serve the immediate area — including Metro, Montebello Bus Lines and the City of Monterey Park Spirit — as well as the Metro Gold Line a few blocks away.

Metro partially funded the project with $150,000 through a Call for Projects and local match. While this project may seem small, it has the potential to affect as many as 2,000 riders a day who have been boarding buses at nearby Metro stops.

Final Update: Gold Line resuming regular train service to Sierra Madre Villa Station

Trains are resuming service on the Gold Line between Allen Station and Sierra Madre Villa Station.

Service was disrupted this morning due to an overturned big rig on the 210 freeway.

Work crews from Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol are still in the area on the 210 overseeing repairs to the safety rails along the freeway. Drivers in the area are advised to “Slow for the Cone.”

Delayed by Gold Line this morning and need delay verification for employer/school? Call Customer Relations 213.922.6235 / Fax 213.922.6988.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 21

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

ART OF TRANSIT: Rainy day, from our Instagram feed.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to launch new parking enforcement website (Daily News)

The website will tell residents where parking tickets WILL NOT be handed out that day due to changes in street sweeping, etc.

Unpatriotic Americans are not driving enough (Gawker)

No, we’re not relying on Gawker for our transpo news. This post sums up at Wall Street Journal article behind a paywall. The gist of it: with the amount of driving down across many parts of the country, private firms that invested in toll roads are having a hard time getting a return on their investment.

Washington Metro working on upgrading its train arrival signs (Washington Post)

Keeping up with technology has been a challenge for the Metro system in the D.C. area — in particular offering true real-time info in an easy-to-read way.

Commuting so bad in Canada it’s reshaping cities (Huffington Post)

There is some evidence that traffic congestion in Canada’s metro areas is worsening. Meanwhile, development in big cities is booming, luring some people back from the ‘burbs.

Why can’t Amtrak get its food right? (Atlantic Cities)

The national rail carrier has lost $600 million on food service since 2006 — most of it on long-distance routes.

UPDATE: Delays on Gold Line due to traffic accident on 210, bus shuttles replace trains between Sierra Madre Villa and Allen Stations

Photo of the overturned big rig on the 210 freeway earlier this morning. Photo: Metro

Photo of the overturned big rig on the 210 freeway earlier this morning. Photo: Metro

UPDATE: Metro and Caltrans teams are working to clear the truck accident debris from the tracks. Bus shuttles will continue to replace train service between  Allen and Sierra Madre Villa Station until early afternoon.

Due to an overturned big rig truck on the eastbound 210 freeway causing obstructions on Metro Gold Line tracks, service between Allen and Sierra Madre Villa Stations has been replaced by bus shuttles. Expect delays up to 20 minutes between the two stations. Follow announcements at the stations.

Foothill Transit Bus 187 will honor fares for Metro customers at both stations. For alternate transit routes through the affected area or to your final destination, use Trip Planner.

Metro advises all customers to be especially careful due to the rainy weather. Please do not run to catch your bus or train.

Follow Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles and @metrolaalerts for up-to-the-minute updates on information and announcements.

Go Metro to holiday light celebrations

Photo by Andrew Gorden via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Andrew Gorden via Flickr

We may miss out on the whole picturesque, snow-capped December thing here in the Los Angeles-area — which is perhaps why many of us (including yours truly) are nutty about holiday lights.

In the spirit of all things festive and electric, here is a list of Metro-adjacent holiday light celebrations. From lamp-lit Victorian houses and a luminous boat parade, to Christmas trees and menorahs too big to fit through your front door, Go Metro to dazzle your eyeballs and get in the holiday mood—sans traffic, and of course, sans snow.

Bonus: many of the events below include performances, live music, ice sculpting, fireworks, seasonal nosh, and more, so be sure to click the links for details!

Now, who else is excited for the holidays?

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 20

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!

ART OF TRANSIT: Any turkey can ride the Metro, eh? And, btw, Go Metro to the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in downtown Los Angeles. Click above for details.

ART OF TRANSIT: Any turkey can ride the Metro, eh? And, btw, Go Metro to the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in downtown Los Angeles. Click above for details. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro. 

Proposed state ballot measure would more than double California’s car tax (Sacramento Bee) 

Transportation California and the California Alliance for Jobs have filed papers to possibly pursue a ballot measure in 2014 that would increase the vehicle license fee by one percent — it’s currently .65 percent of a vehicle’s market value. The groups say it could raise $3 billion for transportation needs across the state at a time when gas tax receipts are declining. My three cents: it’s probably (and predictably) a tough sell to state motorists given high gas prices and the license fee increase between 2009 and 2011.

Fear and loathing and cycling in L.A.: tales of a bike commuter (L.A. Times)

Nice profile of Jennifer Klausner, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Yes, she has a car but she still bikes often from Brentwood to pretty much anywhere, often in the wee hours. A few nice tips about getting around on the Westside and Jennifer offers a polite wag of the finger to Beverly Hills for its lack of bike infrastructure.

The U.S. cities where cycling is growing the fastest (L.A. Streetsblog)

The numbers are through 2012; Los Angeles is not in the top 10. The numbers for most cities are still small; one reason is that the Census Bureau only tracks commuting by bicycle — thereby missing a lot of bike trips. Portland remains the big kahuna, with 6.1 percent of commuting trips done by bike.

High-speed rail costs near $600 million even before construction starts (Fresno Bee) 

That’s a lot of money, for sure. But the article is incomplete and somewhat unfair; it should have mentioned that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is a very small agency, thus the reason that environmental and engineering work is contracted out. Attention reporters: there is probably a larger national story here about the rising costs of contracting out for this kind of work and who the major players are. The environmental review process has become enormously complicated and many agencies, including Metro, have to contract with firms that specialize in the work.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, November 19

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

ART OF TRANSIT: Monday afternoon’s sunset as seen from Metro HQ. From our Instagram feed.

Japan pitches its high-speed train with an offer to finance (New York Times)

Japan plans to build a $100-billion mag-lev train between Tokyo and Osaka, with the route relying heavily on tunnels through mountains. Test trains on test track have gone 360 mph due to the technology — at about 90 mph, the wheels of the train begin levitate a few inches off the ground.

But the project faces skepticism at home, due mostly to its immense cost. Excerpt:

To get the American line off the ground, Japan has come up with a method of financing that is similarly novel. In a meeting with President Obama last winter, Mr. Abe offered to provide the maglev guideway and propulsion system free for the first portion of the line, linking Washington and Baltimore via Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a distance of about 40 miles.

Analysts say Japan has had trouble exporting the technology. It figures if the United States takes it, others will follow.

Several high-profile former politicians and government transportation officials have thrown their weight behind a proposed New York-to-Washington maglev project. Many of those folks were on a recent ride, as was a reporter for the NYT.

Here’s the issue. Maglev always sounds good, and it probably is cool to ride. But every time it is proposed in the U.S., it is usually spurned in favor of existing rail technology, usually because traditional rail is both cheaper and a known commodity. Thus, the money saved on a free Baltimore-to-D.C. segment may not be much compared to the vast cost of the Baltimore-NYC part of the project.

London tube to help heat homes (Sustainable Review)

Mayor Boris Johnson announced that excess heat from the subway will be used to heat about 500 homes. How it works (brief version): heat from the tube’s ventilation system will be channeled to a different network of pipes carrying warm air to the homes.

Huizar needs a ‘Streetcar Austin Beutner’ if streetcar is to succeed (Downtown News)

This long editorial urges downtown Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar to hire a manager to oversee the proposed DTLA streetcar, which in recent weeks has faced scrutiny over possible — and significant — cost increases.