Caltrans seeks public input on statewide freight mobility plan

The Los Angeles meeting will take place on July 22. Here’s the press release from Caltrans:

With the economic recovery expanding, California’s highways, seaports, and railroads are again teeming with freight being transported across the state and on to the rest of the nation. Caltrans has invested billions of dollars in projects aimed at improving freight movement and reducing its environmental impacts, and this summer it will ask the public to weigh-in on the future of freight movement in California.

Caltrans will host eight public workshops between June 17 and July 24 to solicit input on the draft California Freight Mobility Plan (CFMP), which lays out a vision for all the ways freight is moved, including seaports, air cargo, railroads, and trucking. While promoting economic competitiveness, the plan will also benefit the environment and promote public health by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

“To maintain and improve California’s status as the eighth-largest economy in the world, we must create a multimodal freight plan that sustains freight jobs, improves transportation, protects the environment and our communities,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation will rely on the CFMP and other state freight plans as it shapes a national freight plan. Projects identified in California’s plan will be eligible to apply for a higher percentage of federal funding.

This plan is especially important because California is a national and global trade leader. Of the country’s internationally traded consumer products, about 40 percent is transported through California’s seaports. With 12 seaports, California has an unparalleled geographic trade position on the Pacific Rim.

California has set aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a sustainable environment. The freight plan’s goal is to transition the freight industry to zero or near zero emissions by 2050. California has already made progress in reducing freight’s effects through better engines, cleaner fuels, infrastructure changes, and improved operations.

To review the draft plan and comment, please attend any of these eight public workshops:

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 10

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There are many reasons that the Los Angeles Kings are up three games to none over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals. One big reason is that the Rangers don’t know how to defensively cover the most dangerous part of the ice in terms of allowing opponents to take shots. Top photo is Jeff Carter’s first goal in last night’s game and the bottom photo is Justin Williams taking the overtime winner in Game 1. Notice any similarities?!!! Game Four is Wednesday night in New York and Game Five, if necessary, Friday afternoon at Staples Center, located conveniently near the Pico Station served by the Blue Line and Expo Line and a pleasant stroll from the Red/Purple Line station at 7th/Metro Center.

House rejects cuts to Amtrak (The Hill)

Perhaps the source of the cuts — an outgoing Georgia politician — were the issue. Still pretty amazing, given the un-love that some Congress members have heaped on Amtrak in the past.

Why Chicago’s botched privatization of parking meters is bad for the environment (Next City) 

A while back, Chicago leased its parking meters to a private firm for $1 billion for 75 years. The idea was that the city would get an instant cash shot-in-the-arm in exchange for the revenue stream from its meters. The deal has had its critics and this article certainly takes a dim view of it — including examples of how the deal is getting in the way of other goals. Example: installing bus lanes is now more difficult as it’s more difficult to remove meters.

Eric Garcetti endorses funding mass transit with cap-and-trade revenues (L.A. Times)

Coverage of the media event held at Metro’s Division 13 last week about pending state legislation to use revenue from California’s cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions to help fund mass transit. In related news, the New York Time’s Thomas Friedman published an interesting interview with President Obama about climate change, with the president saying that putting “a price on carbon” is crucially important.

More on the Westwood Boulevard bike lane issue (Biking in LA)

Some interesting background on the bike lanes that the city of Los Angeles is not going to install of Westwood Boulevard. I mention it here because two future Metro Rail projects will have stations on the street: the Expo Line will stop just south of the Westside Pavilion and the Purple Line Extension will stop at Wilshire and Westwood. Bike connections from both stations could help with first mile/last mile issues, I suppose.

No longer for punks, skateboards cater to yuppie commuters (Wall Street Journal) 

Speaking of first mile/last mile…here is how a few people are solving the problem — by riding. The private sector is responding with electrified skateboards to tackle hills, skateboards with fat tires to handle bumpy and rocky city pavement and other contraptions that are skateboard-like. I don’t see a ton of commuters on skateboards but I’ve definitely see more skateboards in bike lanes than in the past.

 

Interested in doing business with Metro? Come meet the buyers on June 24

 

Meet the Buyers is an excellent opportunity for all small businesses to meet Metro executives, project managers, buyers and contract administrators and discuss upcoming contract opportunities. The event takes place on June 24 at Metro HQ.

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Transportation headlines, Friday, June 6

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A media event was held Friday morning at Metro's Division 13 facility to promote cap-and-trade efforts in the state and the regional benefits of reducing greenhouse gases. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is at the podium in the above photo. Behind him, from left, are Senator Kevin de Leon,  Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

A media event was held Friday morning at Metro’s Division 13 facility to promote cap-and-trade efforts in the state and the regional benefits of reducing greenhouse gases and raising money for transit and other clean energy programs. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is at the podium in the above photo. Behind him, from left, are Senator Kevin de Leon, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Kern County votes to sue over high-speed rail review (Bakersfield Californian) 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to file a state lawsuit alleging the environmental impact report for the bullet train project did not adequately study the impacts and mitigations on the route between Fresno and Bakersfield. The city of Bakersfield is also planning to file a similar suit. The city has taken issue with the proposed route through town for the train, alleging it’s too disruptive to existing buildings and roads. The county is also one of the plaintiffs in an ongoing suit alleging the project is not properly using voter-approved state bond money.

Gold Line Extension to Claremont left off funding list by MTA (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Officials in the San Gabriel Valley want a planned segment of the Gold Line from Azusa to Montclair to be included in the short-range plan to be considered by the Metro Board this summer. The only transit projects listed in the plan — which covers the next decade — are those that have funding from Measure R. Of course, what gets built over the next decade or so could change, depending on whether the Metro Board seeks a ballot measure in 2016 to accelerate and/or build more transit projects.

Expo adjacent mall rising quick, signing leases (Curbed LA)

The new mall — to be called The Platform — is across the street from the Culver City station on the site of old auto dealerships. One of the new tenants is Blue Bottle Coffee for you coffee nerds out there. Nice to finally see some development in Culver City near the train station. There has been a lot of talk but not much action in recent times.

Brazil Metro on strike one week before World Cup (AP)

The opening game is June 12 in Sao Paulo, perhaps the reason that transit workers in Sao Paulo went on strike Thursday. Naturally, the easiest and best way for fans to reach the game is by train. Not all workers left the job — but enough did to cripple the system, despite a judge’s orders not to strike. In related news, if you have HBO watch the segment on Real Sports about countries that build stadiums for the World Cup and Olympics and what happens to those facilities after. Short answer: white elephants.

Have fun at tomorrow afternoon’s game, Kings fans. Staples Center is easily reachable via the Pico Station shared by the Blue Line and Expo Line. As for the above photo…it’s nice to see the Rangers making a beer league mistake, leaving Kings winger Justin Forward alone in the high slot — the exact place from which you never want the other team shooting on your goal.

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 5

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Congress detours from common sense on the Highway Trust Fund (Washington Post) 

The editorial takes a dim view of lack of efforts to keep the Fund funded. Excerpt:

BOTH PARTIES want to do nothing but squabble before this year’s election. Not much will stop them — except, perhaps, this dose of reality: If political point-scoring is all they accomplish over the next several weeks, work on the nation’s roads, bridges and rails will come to a halt.

The federal Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of money this summer. Without a fix, federally backed transportation projects all over the country — not just highways — would be in danger of severe disruption or cancellation. That translates into high costs now to stop and restart projects once funding comes through, higher costs in the future as contractors build the risk of funding holdups into their prices, downward pressure on construction jobs and unnecessary delay for anyone who uses the infrastructure. Failing to shore up the fund in time would be plain legislative malfeasance.

The Post thinks two obvious funding sources would be a higher federal gas tax or a vehicle mileage fee. The current federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and hasn’t been raised since 1993.

America’s invisible trolley system (Newsweek) 

A look at some of the many light rail projects that have been proposed across the U.S. but never built for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most interesting paragraph in the article:

Compared with Europeans, Ross says, ”Americans have much greater interest in sorting out different people of different incomes into different neighborhoods.” When it comes to mass transit, he says, “the classic argument is that it’s gonna bring crime. The fashionable one right now is that it will gentrify our neighborhood and make poor people suffer. I’ve seen people make both of these arguments in the same paragraph.”

San Francisco transit workers call in sick for a third day (San Francisco Chronicle) 

About 70 percent of the San Francisco Muni’s bus and rail service was running Wednesday — an improvement over the previous two days. Union workers rejected a new contract last Friday that they said would result in a pay cut. At this time, the union isn’t allowed to strike but members are allowed to call in sick.

 

I-5 full freeway and ramp closures June 9 to June 13

Here’s the press release from Caltrans:

Caltrans will conduct overnight full directional freeway closures nightly June 9 through Friday, June 13 on the northbound Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5) from Valley View Avenue to Carmenita Road. The closures also include the on-ramps at Artesia Blvd, Alondra Blvd., and Firestone Blvd.  Similar full directional freeway closures on southbound I-5 are scheduled for  June 18 to 20, plus a closed connector from southbound I-605 to southbound I-5.

The work involves removing falsework, the wood structural support for the new Alondra Boulevard Bridge.  The 57-year-old Alondra Boulevard Bridge was completely demolished in June 2013; the new bridge, and the Freeway Drive/Alondra Blvd. intersection is scheduled to reopen later this summer.

Northbound ONLY I-5 Full Freeway Closures:  Nightly, Monday, June 9  through Friday, June 13

N/B I-5 On-ramps Closed:     Nightly, 11 p.m. to  4 a.m.at Artesia Blvd., Alondra Blvd., and Firestone Blvd.

N/B Full Freeway Closure:  Nightly, 11:59 p.m. to 4 a.m. from  Valley View Ave. to Carmenita Road.

Southbound ONLY I-5 Full Freeway Closures: Nightly, Wed. June 18;  Thurs. 6/19; and Fri. 6/20

S/B I-5 On-ramps Closed:     Nightly, 11 p.m. to  4 a.m.at Carmenita Road and Alondra Blvd,.

S/B Full Freeway Closure:  Nightly, 11:59 p.m. to 4 a.m. from  Carmenita Road to Valley View Ave.

Connector Closure: southbound I-605 connector to S/B I-5 will be closed from 11:59 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The construction work and schedule is weather-permitting and subject to change.  The Alondra Boulevard Bridge Project is a $110 million project to construct one carpool and one general purpose lane in each direction, from North Fork Coyote Creek Bridge to Marquardt Avenue, reconstruct overcrossings at Alondra Boulevard and North Fork Coyote Creek, and realign and upgrade adjacent frontage roads. The bridge is being widened from a four-lane to a six-lane bridge, with three lanes in each direction, and longer to accommodate a wider freeway. The Alondra Project is scheduled to complete in mid-to-late 2015. The contractor is C.C. Myers, Inc. of Anaheim, Ca.

The construction is part of the $1.8 billion Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) South Corridor Improvement Projects to construct one carpool and one general purpose lane in each direction from the Los Angeles/Orange County line to Interstate 605.

The motoring public, residents and businesses are encouraged to sign-up to receive notifications on street, lane and ramp closures by calling the toll-free I-5 South Corridor Improvement Projects information line (855) 454-6335 or visiting www.I-5info.com

New Reduced Speed Limit              “Slow for the Cone Zone”

The posted speed limit along the I-5 South Corridor, from the Los Angeles/Orange County line to Interstate 605, has been reduced from 65 miles per hour to 55 mph. Signs have been posted alerting motorists that traffic fines are doubled in highway construction work zones.  Please refrain from driving while talking, texting, browsing or other distractions. It’s Not Worth It.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 4

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A 'CPR Block Party' was held by the EduLife Institute at five Metro Rail stations on Tuesday, including Union Station. The idea was to train as many people as possible in CPR, a very good cause. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A ‘CPR Block Party’ was held by the EduLife Institute at five Metro Rail stations on Tuesday, including Union Station. The idea was to train as many people as possible in CPR, a very good cause. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

DTLA businesses semi-win lawsuit against Regional Connector (Curbed LA)

The U.S. District Court ruled last week that work on the project is allowed to continue but that Metro must amend the final environmental document to explain why the agency is using cut-and-cover tunneling methods — and not other methods of tunneling — on Flower Street between Fifth and Seventh streets. Here is Metro’s statement:

Metro is pleased the Court upheld its analyses and mitigation of the environmental impacts of the Regional Connector Project. In the one area that requires further environmental documentation to explain why alternative tunneling methods on lower Flower Street are infeasible, Metro will follow the Court’s directive to meet and confer with the Plaintiffs and to file a joint report by June 20, 2014 regarding Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief. Metro will continue to provide the public with information on the infeasibility of alternative tunneling methods for the lower Flower Street portion of the Regional Connector Project through the environmental review process.”

 

And here is the court ruling:

Primary election results narrow candidates for Metro Board (L.A. County Registrar)

Each of the five Los Angeles County Supervisors are guaranteed seats on the Metro Board of Directors, the 13-member board that has the final say over agency policies, budgets and projects. In the two races to replace term-limited Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, the field of candidates has been narrowed. In the first district currently represented by Molina, Hilda Solis captured more than 50 percent of the vote and won, according to unofficial results. In the third district represented by Yaroslavsky, Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver were the two top vote-getters.

In the 33rd Congressional district, where the route of the Purple Line Extension under Beverly Hills High School was briefly an issue, the finalists are Elan Carter and Ted Lieu.

Union Station plans would alter and preserve (LAObserved) 

LAObserved editor Kevin Roderick moderates a panel discussion last week at the Los Angeles Public Library on the history and future of iconic Union Station. It’s appropriate: the station just celebrated its 75th anniversary in early May and this week new details were released by Metro on the emerging Union Station Master Plan, which seeks to preserve the historic nature of the station and add improvements to serve growing crowds of riders who use the station. Here’s a podcast of the event.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti paves the way for ‘Great Streets’ (Daily News) 

The mayor on Tuesday announced 15 sections of streets in the city — one per council district — that will get refurbished to attract more pedestrians. The Daily News talks to council members representing the San Fernando Valley and they’re in agreement something needs to be done to attract more businesses to the area. The project has an initial budget of $800,000.

Just how great will those great streets become? That’s the question that Joe Linton asks at Streetsblog LA. He is skeptical — but hopeful — believing it takes more than upgraded signs and shrubbery to make an area shine again.

Evaluating protected bike lanes in the U.S. (National Institute for Transportation and Communities)

This long and academic-minded report comes to the not-surprising conclusion that protected bike lanes in six cities evaluated attract increase bike traffic fairly quickly. And those who already bike, tend to bike more often using the routes.

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Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Kings and New York Rangers is this afternoon at 5 p.m. at Staples Center, one block from the Pico Station shared by the Blue Line and Expo Line. Have fun, Kings fans and welcome to the Best Coast, Rangers fans! Say your respective prayers. We like the Kings in five games.