One mile of new traffic lane added to the 405 project


New traffic lane on I-405. Photo credit: Ned Racine

Metro, Caltrans and Kiewit have opened another one-mile section of new freeway lane on the I-405 between Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard, making good on a promise to continue opening parts of the freeway improvements project as soon as they’re ready for public use.

Just before the Memorial Day weekend, the project opened a 1.7-mile section of additional lane between the I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard to help ease traffic flows for drivers navigating through the I-10/I-405 interchange. See this earlier Source post for details.

This latest lane opening now officially extends nearly three (3) miles – one-third of the overall 10-mile freeway widening project. The No. 1 lane closest to the freeway median will continue to operate as a general purpose lane until the contractor can later convert it to an HOV lane.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 18

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Regional Connector construction concerns (Downtown News) 

The editorial loves the project but has concerns about Metro’s request for construction permits that could potentially allow the agency to work around-the-clock. Metro, in turn, has said that it is seeking flexibility to help keep the project on schedule and on budget. My three cents: one reason the Connector project is so expensive ($1.36 billion) and work intensive is because Metro listened to downtown residents and workers and is building the project underground instead of mostly at street level.

Mayor Villaraigosa unveils new downtown L.A. park (L.A. Times) 

Goodbye parking lot, hello new 2/3-acre park along Spring Street. And more excellent news: the city of L.A. has purchased the plot of land along 1st Street between Spring and Broadway. It used to house a state office building, but has been empty and an eyesore since 1976. The mayor said it will become a park which makes sense given it’s adjacent to Grand Park. If the federal courthouse ever gets built and Related ever builds its Grand Avenue project, the Civic Center part of downtown may actually look like a…downtown. The Red/Purple Line already serves the area and the Regional Connector will have stations at both 2nd/Broadway and 2nd/Hope.

Can a Fairfax area trolley solve wall-to-wall congestion from the Grove? (CityWatch) 

The article suggests that it would be better to improve the pedestrian experience in the areas around the Grove so more people could walk there — perhaps from the future subway.

A train that flies (Global Rail News)

If they could clip a couple of Amtrak cars to a Southwest plane, I’d give it a try. It would solve my travel woes: I won’t take long-distance trains in the U.S. — pack mules are usually faster — and I don’t like to fly, because I don’t like waiting in lines and the concept of carry-on luggage makes my see red.

Transportation headlines, Monday, June 17

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Some L.A. County bus drivers say pesticides are making them ill (L.A. Times)

At least 14 Metro bus operators are pursuing workers comp claims, according to their attorney, and three operators have lodged complaints with CAL/OSHA, alleging that a common pesticide used by Metro on buses is making them ill. CAL/OSHA declined comment to the Times because an inquiry is pending. Here’s an excerpt with Metro’s response:

Metro officials said ample precautions are taken when buses are treated to kill roaches and other insects attracted by crumbs from sandwiches, chips, candy and other food items that passengers often bring on board.

They say that safety information is provided to operators, and no more than eight driver complaints have been officially lodged in the last five years. In a recent letter, the authority told Cal/OSHA that employee exposures are insignificant because of the controlled conditions and limited amounts of pesticide applied.

“Spraying buses is common to prevent insect infestations,” said Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesman. “These are standard industry practices, and the chemicals are used for a multitude of purposes.”

The pesticides in question are pyrethrins made of a natural substance from chrysanthemums or their synthetic equivalent known as pyrethroids.


The story goes on to note that transit agencies commonly spray pesticides but also says that two agencies — OCTA and Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica — usually use gels that can be applied directly to problem areas in buses and that both agencies rarely spray. 

The truth about Tejon Pass (California High-Speed Rail Blog) 

A guest post makes the case that the bullet train’s route between the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles should take the tracks over/under Tejon Pass instead of Tehachapi Pass because it would cheaper to build, be more profitable and shave 12 minutes off travel times. The post also argues that the California High-Speed Rail agency should have studied a different — and cheaper — route over Tejon Pass.

Not mentioned is this: a Tejon Pass alignment would mean the bullet train would not run through the Antelope Valley. And I’m guessing some Los Angeles County politicians would have something not super nice to say about that.

County may grab millions from South Bay road projects to pay for Crenshaw/LAX Line (Daily Breeze) 

In order to accomodate the growing cost of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Metro staff are recommending moving about $95 million in funds from South Bay ramp and interchange projects and the Airport Metro Connector project to help pay for the light rail line’s two new stations, as well as increased contingency funds. South Bay officials want the road money to stay put. The article is a bit one-sided, as Metro officials declined comment.

The Board will be considering a contract to build the Crenshaw/LAX Line at its June meeting and it’s obvious they’ll have questions about the financing plan for the projects. It’s also worth noting the the vast majority of the Board voted to add the stations two weeks prior to Metro staff releasing its recommendation for a construction contract that helped detail the project’s entire cost (only Board Member Diane DuBois voted against). Two councilman in Los Angeles last week complained that some of the city’s Measure R funds would be used to help build the stations.

My three cents: before everyone has a total conniption, I hope everyone considers the big question here: in the coming decades, will spending the money on stations have/not have a greater impact than some of the other possible uses of the funds? That’s the heart of the debate here.

Electric bus charges in 15 seconds (Forbes) 

The technology, from the Swiss firm ABB, would allow buses to quickly charge and stay on schedule. It also means no overhead wires — the reason that many cities have shunned using electric-powered buses in the past. Electric buses can save on fuel costs (obviously) and are often quieter than buses powered by natural gas or diesel.


Transportation headlines, Friday, June 14

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. Reminder: the Library is switching over to a new format for its headlines on Monday. No need to act right now! We'll be changing this topper to help guide you straight to the library's new headlines page.

O.C. toll roads could keep fees through 2053 (L.A. Times)

The Foothill-Eastern toll roads have struggled to attract motorists willing to pay the tolls that, in turn, continue to pay for the construction of the new roads. A new bond sale means the tolls could remain in place until the early 2050s instead of being lifted sooner. Bottom line: it continues to be hard to pay for new roads with expected tolls.

Climate change could reduce snowfall in local So Cal mountains (L.A. Times)

A new UCLA study forecasts a 30- to 40 percent decline by mid-century due to global warming. There still may be more precipitation in the region — including more intense storms — that would pose a challenge for the region's stormwater system. Reminder: taking transit, even occasionally, is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Construction Authority Board opposes Measure R amendment (Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

The Board adopts a resolution against the amendment, which is part of a project accleration proposal by Metro staff that is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board this month. The Construction Authority Board wants the amendment to include the full cost of extending the line to Claremont, which they see as a key step in getting the project funded. An 11.5-mile segment extending the line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border is now under construction.

As the release mentions, not all Measure R transit projects are fully funded — i.e. the reason the subway isn't going all the way to the sea and the reason the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is looking into a public-private partnership. It may also be worth mentioning that Measure R is investing more than $2 billion in extending both legs of the Gold Line deeper into the San Gabriel Valley.


In case you missed the signs: gates to be latched at Red/Purple Line at Union Station on Wednesday


We’ll have a big post explaining the ins and outs of gate latching and TAP early next week. The gates will be latched at entrances to the Red/Purple Line in Union Station on June 19th and then at other subway stations over the rest of the summer — followed by some light rail stations in the fall.

For the time being, it was pretty hard for Red/Purple Line patrons on Wednesday to miss the news: there’s signage all over the Union Station platform and mezzanine, in addition to  temporary TAP event staff reminding people as they enter and exit the station.

In other TAP-related news, the new arrays of TAP validators adjacent to the platform for the Blue and Expo lines at 7th/Metro Center are now complete. The new validators make it easier for patrons to tap their TAP cards when traveling between the subway and Blue and Expo line trains.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 13

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. Reminder: the Library is switching over to a new format for its headlines on Monday. No need to act right now! We'll be changing this topper to help guide you straight to the library's new headlines set-up.

Tow truck driver had checkered history behind the wheel (KNBC)

The tow truck driver involved in the fatal crash early Wednesday with a Metro bus lacked a valid driver's license — it had been suspended four times since 2009 — and a permit to operate a towing company, according to KNBC. The station also reported that the driver had also been involved in a high-speed chase with police in Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2008. Yesterday's accident remains under investigation and the tow truck driver remains hospitalized.

Major blowback from City Council members over Leimert Park funding plan (L.A. Streetsblog)

The headline is a bit misleading; two members of the Los Angeles City Council have authored a resolution against Metro's funding plan for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Councilmen Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz don't like the part that would transfer money from other projects to help provide contingency funds for the Crenshaw rail project — they seem especially unhappy over seeing some funds transfered from a pool of money used for smaller projects such as left-turn signals and bike lanes. Will their resolution get the support of the entire Council? Hard to say, given that many Council members have said they want a Leimert Park station. One note: Metro is proposing to transfer money from an older Wilshire bus lane project — not the peak hour bus lanes that are scheduled to fully open next year.

Mayor-elect Garcetti shares his priorities for the city (KPCC)

Good interview with the inbound mayor of Los Angeles. I thought this was an interesting paragraph:

To me, that is the symbol of the decline of Los Angeles. The potholes that we have, our cracked streets. We have to invest in that as well as in public transportation. It's not just for cars — but the bike lanes and the walkable communities, the sidewalks. I was talking to a woman at our forum in South L.A. this weekend and she said, “I can't go for a walk in my own neighborhood. I am disabled and it's literally too dangerous.” That's unacceptable in Los Angeles.

Other cities should do the same. I have a road bike and I've almost been vaulted from the saddle in more than a few places across the Southland. I'll mention two: in the city of Los Angeles, the stretch of 5th Avenue between Dewey and Rose appears to have last been paved in the 13th century. In the city of San Marino, the stretch of Allen between Lombardy and Orlando — i.e. the section right in front of the Huntington — is filled with giant tire-eating cracks and the pavement actually wobbles when you ride over it. And don't tell me you don't have money to fix it, San Marino: many of your residents wheel dumpsters instead of cans to the curb on garbage day!


Metro bus operator killed in downtown collision this morning

Terrible news. Here is the statement from Metro:

Metro is saddened to learn of the passing of one of our family members this morning as a result of a horrific accident in downtown Los Angeles. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bus operator’s family and friends during this difficult time. A thorough investigation of the accident is underway.

A tow truck collided with a Metro bus that had just gone into service about 5 a.m. this morning at 5th and Broadway. There were not yet any passengers on board the bus.