Transportation headlines, Friday, May 30

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! 

Have fun this evening and thanks for riding, L.A. Kings fans!

Beverly Hills appeals ruling that lets Metro tunnel under high school (L.A. Times) 

The city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District are appealing a Superior Court ruling earlier this year that upheld the environmental studies for the Purple Line Extension. The city and school district are unhappy that the subway’s route will tunnel under a part of the Beverly Hills High School campus and have also filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Transit Administration that challenges the federal environmental documents for the project.

Judges in both lawsuits are only deciding whether Metro has to redo the environmental studies (or part of them) for the project. The judges are not deciding the route for the subway. Metro staff recommended and the Metro Board of Directors adopted a route under the high school campus to avoid earthquake fault zones along Santa Monica Boulevard and to reach a station in the heart of Century City that will be easier for more workers and residents to reach.

Readers react: make driver pay for HOV lane access (L.A. Times) 

A trio of letters about the opening last week of the northbound HOV lane on the 405 between the 10 and 101 freeways. One calls for making the lane a toll lane, one says authorities need to do a better job of keeping vehicles with single motorists out of the lane and the other calls for monorails spanning the pass to provide transit.

 

In expansion of No. 7 line, one problem: an elevator (New York Times)

The project is expected to open later this year and will extend the 7 Line from Times Square to 11th and 34th on the far western side of Manhattan. The project would have opened last year if not for problems involving a diagonal elevator designed to be more convenient for wheelchair users than a traditional elevator. The article does a nice job of dissecting the decisions and the contracting that have led to delays in the project, which was originally expected to open while Michael Bloomberg was still mayor.

Southbound 405 closures between Getty Center Drive and Wilshire Boulevard planned nights of May 30-June 2

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to conduct a series of nighttime freeway closures on the southbound I-405 between Getty Center Drive and Wilshire Boulevard the nights of Friday, May 30 through Monday morning, June 2 to facilitate permanent striping and paving of general purpose lanes.  Closure information is as follows:

  • Midnight, Friday, May 30 to 7 a.m. May 31
  • Morning of Sunday, June 1, 1 a.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Midnight, Sunday, June 1 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 2

Ramp Closures:

Ramps will begin to close at 7 p.m. and lanes will begin to close at 10 p.m. on the night of each operation.

  • Southbound on-ramp from Getty Center Drive
  • Southbound on-ramp from Westbound Sunset Boulevard
  • Southbound on-ramp from Eastbound Sunset Boulevard

Detour: Exit southbound Getty off-ramp, head southbound on Sepulveda Boulevard, make a right going west on Wilshire Boulevard to westbound Wilshire on-rampto southbound I-405.

What to expect:

2014 Diamond Awards recognize outstanding efforts of commuter programs throughout the region

The winners of the 2014 Diamond Awards. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro.

The winners of the 2014 Diamond Awards. Photo: Josh Southwick/Metro.

The Diamond Awards has announced its annual winners list of Southland companies and individuals who go to extra mile to promote commute alternatives to bust traffic tie-ups. The awards, now in their 16th year, are co-sponsored by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) and recognize the achievements of corporate rideshare programs in the region and their contribution toward decreasing gasoline consumption, air pollution and commuter costs as well as improving mobility. The awards ceremony was held on May 29 at Los Angeles Union Station.

Keep reading after the jump for the the list of winners and the press release from Metro.

Continue reading

Traffic rerouting on Crenshaw and Exposition Blvd for underground station construction May 30

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Here’s the press release from Metro:

Construction will begin on Friday, May 30, on the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project at Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards with a 15-hour full street closure to implement a new traffic configuration. This area will be the stage for the future underground Crenshaw/Expo Station.

Wash/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) will implement this traffic configuration between Jefferson Boulevard and Coliseum Street beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday, May 30, through 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 31.

WSCC will place on the westside of Crenshaw Boulevard K-rail (concrete barriers), between Exposition Boulevard and Rodeo Place to separate the work area from the street traffic and restripe traffic lanes. Work is anticipated to last for 15 hours.

Southbound detour

Beginning Friday at 10 p.m. motorists traveling southbound on Crenshaw will be diverted to the left on Jefferson Boulevard, right at Arlington, right on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and left at Crenshaw Boulevard.

Northbound detour

For those motorists traveling northbound on Crenshaw Boulevard, they will be diverted to the right at Martin Luther King Jr., left at Arlington, left at Jefferson and right at Crenshaw Boulevard.

This upcoming construction activity mirrors the new traffic configuration on Crenshaw Boulevard between Martin Luther King and Stocker Street on May 3.This work is need it if for the excavation of the station boxes and will allow underground work while the flow of traffic continues above ground, reducing the effects of construction to motorists and pedestrians.

After the full street closure on Saturday traffic will resume with two lanes in each direction. The bus stop located on the southwest corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road will be relocated to the northwest corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Exposition Boulevard. Changes to bus routes or bus stops may occur due to construction activities however Metro will post English and Spanish signs at affected stops to advice of alternative boarding locations. Real time information is available at metro.net/service/advisories or 323.GO.METRO.

There will be limited access to business during the night time activity. However, pedestrian access will be maintained as well as access to emergency vehicles.

The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project is a light-rail line that will run between the Expo and Green Lines. The $2.058 billion Measure R transit project will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester and the LAX area with eight new stations, a maintenance facility, park & ride lots, traction power substations and the acquisition of rail vehicles and maintenance equipment.

Following the closure WSCC will begin these construction activities: utility relocation, pile installation, street decking and excavation.

For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project visit metro.net/crenshaw or by email to crenshawcorridor@metro.net, by phone at (213) 922.2736 or follow the project at facebook.com/crenshawrail or twitter.com/crenshawrail.

I-5 Empire Project groundbreaking

This morning, Metro Board Director Ara Najarian and Deputy CEO Lindy Lee participated in groundbreaking ceremonies for the Empire Project which will enhance travel along Interstate 5 in Burbank. Metro is supplying $180 million of the total $355 million budget and improvements include a new carpool lane, building a new interchange at I-5 and Empire Avenue, reconstructing the Burbank Boulevard overcrossing and realigning ramps, elevating the railroad at Buena Vista Street and San Fernando Boulevard. The project will relieve congestion, improve traffic flow and provide easier access to Bob Hope Airport and shopping centers.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 28

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! 

Editor’s note: Hello Source readers. I’m traveling this week and will be mostly away from the blog — but wanted to catch up to the news of late. Regular programming resumes next Monday!

Metro fares will increase despite protests of low-income riders (L.A. Times)

Good story covers all the bases in last Thursday’s vote by the Board of Directors to raise the base fare from $1.50 to $1.75 this fall while including two hours of free transfers — meaning some riders may see a fare decrease. Many others, of course, will not. Excerpt:

Riders’ advocates said the increase will disproportionately hurt minority passengers, who make up about 80% of bus ridership. More than 90% of Metro riders are low-income, with an average household earning less than $20,000, according to agency data.

“Do you even understand how much we’re struggling day by day?” said Hee Pok Kim, a 92-year-old woman who could barely see over the public comment lectern. She spoke in Korean through a translator. “When we reach out to you for help, you shouldn’t push us away. You should grab our hands.”

We received a lot of comments and questions on the fare increases on The Source. I’ve answered the inquiries that I could. Metro officials are preparing answers to other questions and we will have all the information on the blog soon.

Northbound car-pool lane opens on the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass (Daily News) 

Coverage of the opening of the northbound HOV lane on the 405 on Friday. Excerpt:

As many as 300,000 cars and trucks pass over the 405 Freeway each day — a number that may rise by 50 percent to 447,000 by 2025, federal transit officials say.

The car-pool lanes have become the primary tool for adding capacity to such aging freeways with little room to grow, according to Caltrans. The state has 1,400 miles of car-pool lanes, or 40 percent of the nation’s total, with more than 800 miles in Southern California.

Similar car-pool lanes are being added along the 5 Freeway between Santa Clarita and downtown, with plans for continuous HOV lanes through Orange County.

In Los Angeles, each average car-pool lane can ferry 3,100 people in 1,300 vehicles per hour — nearly double the number of motorists than in a regular lane, MTA officials say. Together, some 322,000 cars containing 750,000 people car-pool across Los Angeles County each day, making it the busiest HOV lane system in the country.

Officials hope those numbers will grow as more car-pool lanes are added and more commuters opt to share rides as the legendary traffic worsens across the region. A new express bus may be in the works between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside.

 

We’ll be keeping tabs on the studies for the express bus. As for the numbers above about increases in traffic, it will be very interesting to see if those kind of numbers come to pass. They certainly make a good argument for the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project, which aims to provide transit across — or perhaps under — the Pass.

LA gets Purple Line transit money but will Angelenos leave their cars? (KPCC)

The headline doesn’t quite match the story, although there’s some of the usual skepticism about investing in transit in a city renowned for getting around by car. Elected officials from our region point out — rightfully, I think — that building an alternative to sitting in So Cal’s infamous traffic seems like the smart and kind of obvious thing to do.

I also think the last four graphs are the most important. Excerpt:

Transit construction is booming across LA County. By years’ end, there will be a record five rail lines under construction, funded in part by $3.5 billion in federal grants and loans.

The competition for future federal dollars to finish those projects will be tougher. LA got one in ten TIFIA loan dollars over the past two years. Measure R gave the region a head start, but now states and local communities across the nation are also competing for the loans. In fact, attending the Wednesday press conference was a public radio reporter from Alaska who says her state wants a shot at TIFIA money for a major bridge project.

Senator Feinstein says there’s another “boogeyman” out there that could prevent LA from getting future funding: sequestration. If Congress returns to its cost-cutting solution that mandates across the board cuts, funding for future transportation projects – including extension of the Purple Line to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood – will be in jeopardy.

The Purple Line is scheduled to reach La Cienega Blvd. by 2023. It won’t reach the VA until 2035. The project is projected to cost $2.8 billion.

There is, of course, Measure R money available to complete the Purple Line Extension to Westwood. But federal loans and grants profoundly help and it won’t be good news if those things end up being in short supply.

The myth of the magic bus: the weird politics and persistently weird logic of the Orange Line (Streetsblog L.A.)

Writer Roger Rudick argues the Orange Line should have been a rail line and is not the success that some claim it to be as it’s often running at capacity. He argues that for the same cost — $324 million or $23 million per mile — the Orange Line could have been rail, citing the cost of a couple other rail projects in the U.S., including the Sprinter in northern San Diego County. Lots of interesting debate in the comments.

As far as light rail construction goes in Los Angeles County (the chosen rail technology here thus far), the cost has proven in recent times to be a lot more than $23 million a mile. The least expensive of the ongoing projects is the Gold Line Foothill Extension with a $735-million budget for 11.5 miles of rail and some of the cost of building the rail car maintenance campus in Monrovia.

Planning for Expo Line in Santa Monica (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

Officials are planning to modify traffic signals along Colorado Avenue to give Expo trains priority and allow them to run every five minutes eventually. That’s potentially good news for those who plan on taking the train all the way to downtown Los Angeles (and beyond) and want speedier commutes and less waiting time for trains. It’s refreshing to see cities give signal priority to transit — as signal priority has proven to be an issue on the aforementioned Orange Line and the first phase of the Expo Line.

Remembering the designer who changed the way that we think about transit maps (The City Lab)

A nice tribute to graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, who died Tuesday at the age of 83. He was known for more minimalist designs and his map of the New York City Subway endured for most of the 1970s before being replaced with a more literal design.

Google’s next phase in driverless cars: no brakes or steering wheel (New York Times) 

With progress slow on cars that allow humans to take over driving from the computer, Google is exploring another strategy: smaller, slower cars that lack a steering wheel, brake and gas pedals and gear shifts. Most interesting sentence in the article: “The front of the car will be made from a foamlike material in case the computer fails and it hits a pedestrian.” Hmm.

No MetroCard needed (New York Times) 

A good story about the relationship between real estate and bicycling in New York City. Excerpt:

As the search for more affordable real estate in New York City pushes deeper into neighborhoods that were once considered out of the way, bicycle lanes are taking on new importance. Since 2007, the city has carved out more than 350 miles of bike lanes in the five boroughs, according to the Department of Transportation. As a result, the distance from the nearest subway or bus stop has become less of a drawback for the two-wheeled set, particularly in transit-challenged areas of Brooklyn like Red Hook, Greenpoint and parts of Bushwick. In a twist to the real estate catch phrase, location, location, location, brokers say, bicycling is beginning to influence some real estate decisions.

“Your housing options change when you buy a bike and use it,” said Lyon Porter, a sales and leasing director of Town Residential, who relied heavily on a fixed-gear Dutch cruiser when living in Williamsburg several years ago and continues to cycle frequently around the city. “People get so much more for their money in this tight, compressed market,” when freed from the need to be near a train line, he said. “Your definable boundaries are different on a bike.” Without one, he said, “your map changes.”

This week’s closures for I-5 HOV Improvement Project

Here’s the press release from Caltrans:

THIS WEEK’S CLOSURE NOTES

  • Southbound I-5 between the I-5/SR-170 interchange and Sheldon Street will be closed intermittently at night through May 2014, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Through June 2014, crews will be working on the I-5 median barrier between Van Nuys Boulevard and SR-118. The two lanes closest to the median in both directions will be closed when this work is underway, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Arleta — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) plans to implement the closures listed below during the week of May 27-30, 2014, as part of a project that is constructing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV or carpool) lanes and a direct HOV lane connector at the I-5/SR-170 interchange. More information about the project is here.

Ramp closures will be nonconsecutive. Detours will be signed. Closures are subject to change.

Residents may hear some construction noise, but it will not exceed levels permitted by state and federal regulations.

Closure information for this and other freeway projects is available on the Caltrans website.

For real-time traffic information, visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov, go511.com, or call 5-1-1.

Northbound I-5

Lanes

  • Up to two lanes between SR-118 and SR-170: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Note: The most restrictive closures (i.e., the most lanes closed) will occur between midnight and 4 a.m.

Southbound I-5

Southbound I-5 between the I-5/SR-170 interchange and Sheldon Street will be closed intermittently at night through May 2014, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. A signed detour will direct motorists. Additional closures below.

Lanes

  • Up to four lanes between SR-118 and SR-170: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Note: The most restrictive closures (i.e., the most lanes closed) will occur between midnight and 4 a.m.

Long-Term On-Ramp Closure

  • Branford Street to southbound I-5 (opens October 2014)

About the Project

Caltrans is constructing an HOV lane in each direction on I-5 between the Hollywood Freeway (SR-170) and SR-118, a distance of 6.8 miles (3.4 miles in each direction). The project is also widening four undercrossings, replacing sections of pavement, and building a direct HOV connector at the I-5/SR-170 interchange. A direct HOV connector allows for freeway-to-freeway transfers without exiting the carpool lane.

This project will alleviate congestion, encourage carpooling, improve air quality, and provide a smoother ride for motorists. The work is part of Caltrans’ effort to provide motorists with a seamless carpool lane network in California. Work began in August 2010 and is on track for completion in late 2014. Funding administered by Metro.

For the safety of the construction crew and motorists, please be attentive to closures, slow for the cone zone, and move over one lane where possible.

Caltrans thanks motorists for their patience and understanding during construction. For more information, visit I-5info.com.