Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 3

Caltrans I-5 project

Caltrans to add truck lanes to I-5 for Santa Clarita commute (Glendale News-Press)

Good news for those who dread their daily truck-filled commute on the I-5 between L.A. and Santa Clarita. New truck lanes on both the southbound and northbound I-5 will separate heavy big-rig traffic from passenger vehicles and create a quicker, safer ride for commuters. It’s a Caltrans project slated for completion in 2014.

Do honor systems on mass transit work better in smaller cities? (The Atlantic: Cities)

As Metro moves forward on a plan to lock subway gates, “The Atlantic: Cities” ponders the notion that perhaps commuters in smaller cities are more honest about paying that folks in mega-cities. What do you think?

Good news for the Westside: New bike lanes appear on Sepulveda Boulevard (StreetsBlog LA)

And the lanes on Sepulveda will provide a safe connection to the Expo Line for people living south or southwest of the station.

No strangers on the train (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Music, theater and a whole new world of L.A. culture opened up for this writer last weekend, as Expo made it’s debut.

 

Wilshire ramp reconstruction work getting close, no ramp closure dates yet

Metro’s Construction Relations Department today sent a construction advisory e-mail to local constituents for the upcoming Wilshire Ramp reconstruction work that is part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.  Reconstruction work will require extended closures of key on and off-ramps at Wilshire Boulevard and the 405 — a major Westside intersection.  It’s important to note that no exact dates for the first ramp closures have been selected yet, so this advisory essentially serves as a heads up and a summary of the planned work to improve traffic flows in the area:

 Wilshire Ramps Reconstruction
Upcoming Construction Advisory

This spring, to improve long-term traffic flow on Wilshire Bl and the I-405 freeway, the project’s contractor will begin reconstructing the ramps joining Wilshire Bl and the I-405. This rebuilding begins with the demolition of two ramps:

  •  Westbound—Wilshire Bl on-ramp to northbound I-405
  • Northbound—I-405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire Bl

The contractor anticipates rebuilding these two ramps in 90 days. Subsequent ramps will be rebuilt in pairs. Reconstruction of all eight Wilshire ramps is expected to require more than one year.

These closures and the subsequent reconstruction of the other six Wilshire ramps are expected to create significant temporary impacts to Wilshire Bl and adjoining streets, such as Federal Av, Sepulveda Bl and Veteran Av. Sunset Bl and Santa Monica are recommended alternatives.

Once the date of the demolition of the two Wilshire ramps is known, Metro will notify the public.

By building the new ramps, we will reduce the conflict between Wilshire Bl and the I-405 as it crosses Wilshire Bl. In turn, this should reduce backup at other north/south streets, such as Westwood Bl and Veteran Bl.

Our studies also show that Wilshire Bl would interfere less with on- and off-traffic from the I-405, one of the nation’s major arteries. There would be benefits even for drivers who do not access the I-405 from Wilshire. The new, longer ramps would store more vehicles, slowing Wilshire Bl traffic less.

Besides reducing backup on the I-405 and Wilshire Bl, the new ramps will reduce a dangerous weave situation happening at two of these regionally important intersections:

  •  Westbound—Wilshire Bl on-ramp to the southbound I-405
  • Southbound—I-405 off-ramp to eastbound Wilshire Bl

At both these locations, a mass of drivers struggle to reach a through-freeway lane or change lanes to reach the off-ramp exit. These maneuvers must occur within a short distance. The same challenge awaits drivers as they shift from the northbound I-405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire Bl. The northbound on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Bl features the same chaos: the on-ramp traffic tries to merge on while off-ramp traffic merges off.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 2

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Bike riders with, and without, helmets at the April 2012 CicLAvia. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro.

Hard-headed: 4 out of 5 bike share riders don’t wear helmets (GOOD)

Maybe it is the fear of helmet hair? With urban bike share programs popping up in cities across the country (L.A. is launching it own bike share program soon), civic leaders are struggling to find ways to encourage helmet usage. Problem is, bike share users are far less likely than regular riders to be carrying a helmet when they need one. Boston’s solution is to install sidewalk helmet kiosks selling inexpensive helmets at bike docks. Another obstacle to wider usage is mixed findings from the research on the effectiveness of helmet use. With more bikes on the road, watch for more public awareness campaigns aimed at increasing helmet use.

Businesses along new Expo Line hoping to cash in (KPCC)

With Phase One of the Expo Line up and running, local businesses along the new line are hoping to attract new customers. KPCC speaks with business owner Cary Earle of Earlez Grille who says, “We need that. It’s going to be good for the community. It’s going to bring a lot of jobs… [and] it’s going to bring a lot of people to the community that don’t necessarily come to this community.” The report also cites a transportation and urban planning professor from USC who feels the next decade could be a threshold changing decade for public transit in Los Angeles.

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Downtown L.A. bus detour information for May Day

As of 3:17, many Metro bus lines serving downtown Los Angeles were detoured from their regular routes due to the May Day protests.

Impacted bus lines include: 002/302, 004, 010, 014, 016/316, 018, 020, 028, 030, 033, 037, 040, 042, 045, 048, 051/052/352, 053, 055/355, 060, 062, 066, 068, 070, 071, 076, 078/079/378, 081, 083, 084, 090/091, 092, 094, 096, 439, 442, 450x, 460, 487/489, 720, 728, 730, 733, 740, 745, 760, 794, Silver Line (910)

After the jump is the detour information for the individual bus lines.

The best way to get up-to-date information is to check the service alerts on the metro.net homepage or to subscribe to Metro’s service alert Twitter feed. Service alerts can also be received by text message on your phone — here’s how to sign up.

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How do they do that? Make roads smarter

Photo by Carl Greenlund/Metro

How do they do that? is a series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.

How do they do that? Make roads smarter

In their future form, smart roads could be the automated highways of tomorrow — the roadways we cruise, possibly in self-driving cars, hooked to a group of other cars headed in the same direction. By traveling together cars can move faster and distances between them can be decreased, since the group accelerates and brakes simultaneously. This maximizes road capacity while it minimizes the chance of accidents, which slow down traffic.

Obviously we’re not there yet. But there are a variety of smart road technologies being used in Los Angeles County and Metro is participating — primarily by helping to fund them — in programs to squeeze more capacity out of streets and freeways. They may not be smart roads of the future, but they are promising advances.

Here’s a quick overview of what’s going on:

•Caltrans and Metro are in talks to mirror a program already running in Orange County on the northbound I-5 freeway. By offering real-time travel comparisons between the freeway and Metrolink, electronic message signs let commuters know when it would be faster to take Metrolink than to stay on the freeway. Comparative travel times would work the same way in L.A. County comparing, say, commute times on the 210 Freeway with the Gold Line speed to Pasadena. The intent is to encourage drivers to consider transit as an option.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 1

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

It’s been a busy past few days at Metro and we’ve skipped some good headlines. So let’s play catch up…

L.A.’s transit dreams coming true? (The Architect’s Newspaper)

This review of the Expo Line praises the unified design of the stations all the way down the line and the views. Reviewer Alissa Walker says the new line, however, deserves better looking rail cars than what is currently being used.

Scenes from Expo Line, day one (Curbed LA)

Nice photo essay from Saturday.

A low-cost way of improving transit (Grist)

How? Make it fun and whimsical, says this blog post — citing a new e-book titled Making Transit Fun. Among some ideas: putting singers on transit (in Portland in the video below), making bus shelters look giant pieces of fruit, putting slides in subway stations for those who don’t want to take the stairs.

Cars, trains and partisan posturing (New York Times)

This editorial castigates the House of Representatives for refusing to put forth a transportation bill that would continue funding at present levels and help sustain 2.9 million jobs. Instead, the Republican-led House is bent on using the bill to advance other parts of their agenda, such as securing an approval for the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Here comes Expo: Photos from the dedication

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 27

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Expo Line’s opening launches rail service push to Westside (L.A. Times)

The Times’ Dan Weikel and Ari Bloomekatz provide a good recap of the significance of the opening of the first phase of the Expo Line. The piece highlights in particular the benefits to USC students, and, I think, gives a fair assessment of what Expo will mean to Los Angeles. Be sure to check out this cool time-lapse video of the Expo Line by Bryan Chan.

Expo’s backstage safety patrol (Zev Web)

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s official blog details the numerous measures Metro has undertaken to ensure that the public knows how to navigate the new Expo Line safely. The story focuses in particular on the efforts of Vijay Khawani, Metro’s Executive Officer of Corporate Safety, and Barbara Burns, manager of Metro’s Transit Safety Education Programs. As the blog notes, Metro has been very proactive in its community outreach on safety issues:

To educate the public about what’s headed their way, Burns’ team has conducted dozens of training sessions at schools, senior centers and libraries and with neighborhood watch and community groups, sent out hundreds of notices about train testing, put up 4,000 safety posters and handed out 60,000 flyers door to door.

The most beautiful train stations in the world (Flavorpill)

Is Los Angeles Union Station one of the 10 most beautiful train stations in the world? Culture blog Flavorpill thinks so and your humble Metro blogger agrees completely. I’m particularly fond of Union Station’s mix of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco architectural elements — two of my favorites styles, both of which you can see across L.A. Hat tip to LA Observed for the link.

Walk Score’s best cities in America for public transportation (NRDC Switchboard)

Everyone’s favorite mapping tool, Walk Score, has launched a new service called Transit Score and used it to determine what it believes are the best American cities for public transit. The Switchboard blog has a recap and analysis. Los Angeles clocks in at 11, just behind Portland, Ore., and ahead of Denver, Colo. — respectable enough company, I suppose. That said, I do have some constructive criticisms of Transit Score’s methodology.

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