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.

*******

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.

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 3

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Metro unveils bold proposal to modernize Union Station (L.A. Times) 

Good overview of some of the details Metro released yesterday on the emerging Union Station Master Plan, which seeks to add an expanded concourse, widened rail platforms, a relocated bus plaza and new development. A community meeting will be held Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Metro headquarters (no RVSP required) in the Board room. Our post from yesterday also has renderings.

Downtown institutions battle over having name on Expo Line station (Downtown News)

The 23rd Street station is near both the Orthopaedic Institute for Children and the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College — and both want their names on the station. The issue will eventually land before the Metro Board of Directors.

L.A. Mayor identifies city’s ‘Great Streets’ (L.A. Times)

Mayor Eric Garcetti this morning is announcing the sections of 15 streets in the city — one in each council district — that are to get an extensive makeover. The city has $800,000 budgeted for the program. Metro has busy bus lines on all the streets, btw, and some sections are near existing or future rail stations.

In related news, an appeal of the MyFigueroa plan by an auto dealer has been withdrawn, according to StreetsblogLA. That should clear the way for pedestrian and cycling improvements on the street, as well as new bus stops.

Park Mile fretting over plan for 48 little houses (Curbed LA)

Another development dispute, this time involving the Farmers Insurance campus on Wilshire Boulevard. It was purchased by the developer CIM who wants to subdivide it and build 48 homes on the site after the insurance workers move to another office. Wilshire is a busy transit corridor, of course, and it will be interesting to see how the homes are designed to fit into the fabric of the existing neighborhood of single-family homes.

Academy to pay LACMA $36 million for movie museum lease (L.A. Times) 

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences will pay the money up front and then have a 108-year lease for its planned museum at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax. Which is conveniently located near two busy bus corridors and the future Purple Line Extension’s station at Wilshire and Fairfax! LACMA also some big plans for the eastern side of its campus.

Wilshire/La Brea Customer Center closes on June 20 for move to new location

Due to future Purple Line Extension construction, the Wilshire/La Brea Customer Center will be closing and moving to a new location. The customer center will close on Friday, June 20, and reopen at the Red/Purple Line’s Wilshire/Vermont station on Tuesday, July 1. The Lost and Found will relocate and be near the Gold Line’s Heritage Square Station. It will also open on July 1.

The new addresses are as follows:

  • Wilshire/Vermont Customer Center: 3183 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 174, Los Angeles, CA, 90010
  • Heritage Square Station Lost and Found: 3571 Pasadena Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90031

Transportation headlines, Monday, June 2

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If you’re a hockey fan and lucky enough to be attending the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, the Pico Station shared by the Blue and Expo Lines is one block from Staples Center. Maps and timetables here.

L.A. is still car crazy and we shouldn’t apologize for that (LA Weekly) 

The essay and reality check by Dennis Romero is in response to a statement in the L.A. Times that L.A.’s love affair with the car is over — a statement that slipped out in response to the Purple Line Extension securing $2 billion from a federal grant and loan. If you consider that more than 80 percent of L.A.’s commuters use vehicles to reach work and the fact that L.A. remains a significant hub of auto imports and design, Dennis has a point :) This is not an anti-transit article, by the way. I like these two graphs:

You needn’t be a Luddite or pig to embrace our love affair with cars, either. Vehicles are evolving at an amazing pace, and you can still be a “car guy” (or girl) and environmentally conscious at the same time.

Don’t get us started on all the rich Westsiders with power-sucking McMansions who think they’re doing their part by driving Priuses. You don’t have to be this kind of hypocrite to dig cars nowadays.

I just took a few days off and drove to the Eastern Sierra and back in my car. So I have about zero moral authority to argue with Dennis. That said, I left my car parked in Pasadena this morning and took the Gold Line to work. Yes, I still drive. But I drive less than I used to :)

Speaking of the Eastern Sierra, here's a place served only by foot. Let's see if any readers can name that lake. Bonus points for naming the peak behind it. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Speaking of the Eastern Sierra, here’s a place served only by foot. Let’s see if any readers can name that lake. Bonus points for naming the peak behind it. Photo by Steve Hymon.

When will the Las Vegas monorail expand to the airport? (Las Vegas Review Journal) 

There has been some very preliminary talk about connecting the monorail — which serves the Strip — to the busy airport. But nothing firm yet, although officials say the cab industry won’t hold up an airport monorail if it should come to pass. Because, you know, Las Vegas is such a virtuous place politically speaking :)

Fil-Am appointed as L.A. Board of Transportation commissioner (Asian Journal) 

Metro’s Cris B. Liban, executive officer for the Environmental Compliance and Services Department was appointed by Mayor Garcetti as one of the commissioners for the L.A. Board of Transportation. Cris, btw, is someone who most definitely practices what he preaches.

Legal challenge seeks to stop L.A. from demolishing historic bridge (L.A. Times) 

Cycling and open space advocates are seeking to stop the city of Los Angeles from demolishing the old Riverside Drive bridge, which is being replaced with a new structure. They want the bridge to be used as park space and to help provide a cycling connection between the east and west sides of the Los Angeles River. City officials says that keeping the old bridge would require retrofitting and would add to the cost and timeline for completing the new one.

Boxer: transportation bill ‘unworkable’ (The Hill) 

A new proposal from House Republicans to pay for a short-term transportation bill with cuts to the Postal Service is not earning rave reviews from California Senator Barbara Boxer. The current multi-year transportation funding bill expires this year and Congress has been struggling — to say it politely — to come up with a new bill that governs federal transpo spending in the coming years.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, May 30

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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.