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.

Metro posts official document inviting construction companies to submit proposals to build first segment of the Purple Line Extension

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 3.24.33 PM

A screen grab from Metro’s solicitations web page. Click above to see the real thing!

Another milestone today for the Purple Line Extension as Metro has officially invited construction firms to submit proposals to build the 3.9-mile first segment of the Purple Line Extension subway between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega. The proposals are due on Dec. 19 from the four firms that Metro deemed qualified in the earlier Request for Qualifications process. They are:


•Impregilo S.p.A., Samsung E & C America, Inc., and Salini USA, Inc. (Westside Transit Partners)


•Shimmick Construction Company, Inc.; Obayashi Corporation; and FCC Construccion, S.A. (Shimmick / Obayashi / FCC, a Joint Venture)


•Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc., Traylor Bros., Inc., and J.F. Shea Construction, Inc. (Skanska, Traylor and Shea, a joint Venture)


•Dragados USA, Inc. (DUSA), Southland Contracting, Inc., and Astaldi Construction Corporation (Dragados / Southland / Astaldi (DSA) a Joint Venture)


It’s a massive project, obviously — involving tunneling under busy Wilshire Boulevard and the building of three underground stations. Metro is seeking to award the contract in spring 2014.

Utility relocations for the project are already underway as is the construction of an exploratory shaft on the south side of Wilshire across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 11

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: My awesome new Metro bus piggy bank navigates the kitchen counter. A friend found this in her office and gifted to yours truly. Prepare yourselves dear readers: giant yellow lab toys with bus photos are just a matter of time. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: My awesome new Metro bus piggy bank navigates the kitchen counter. A friend found this in her office and gifted to yours truly. Prepare yourselves dear readers: giant yellow lab toys with bus photos are just a matter of time. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Angelenos get their say about Wilshire subway (KNBC)

View more videos at:

A brief get-up-to-speed segment keyed to last week’s community meeting on the Purple Line Extension. Unless my eyes deceive, it looks like a quick shot of the Washington D.C. Metro snuck its way into the piece toward the end.

Expo Line Fan’s construction photos (ipernity)

His frequently updated stream of photos of construction on the second phase of the Expo Line has a new home. There’s a whole crop of new photos of work on the bridge that will carry the tracks over Venice Boulevard and toward Palms, West L.A. and Santa Monica.

New transit promotion: North Texans can swap gasoline receipt for transit pass (DART)

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency is trying to lure motorists by offering a weekly regional pass in exchange for their latest gas receipt. It’s part of a promotion for Dump the Pump Day and a weekly regional pass normally goes for $50.

Bullet train agency gives $985-million contract to Tutor Perini (L.A. Times) 

I meant to post this yesterday as it got a little lost in the news. The California High-Speed Rail Agency’s Board, as expected, accepted the staff recommendation and awarded a contract to build 29 miles of track bed, trenches and bridges to the Sylmar-based firm. Ron Tutor appeared before the Board and defended his firm’s work, which has been criticized by some in the past. Before work can begin, the rail agency still must acquire some key parcels and a favorable ruling in a lawsuit brought against the project.

Good food, Grand Park

Photos by Kim Upton/Metro

Photos by Kim Upton/Metro

The great thing about the Grand Park Downtown Farmer’s Market is that the food is better than it needs to be. And it’s such a pleasant surprise to find smack in the middle of the downtown L.A., surrounded by the courts, the LA Times and beautiful City Hall.

Take the Metro Red or Purple Line to Civic Center Plaza (Temple Street exit) and walk down the hill. On Tuesdays the market is open between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It’s small, not fancy. There’s no one with a parrot on his head, like you might find at other markets. Most people are in suits. But it’s a nice place for lunch, a snack or a bag of cookies. Sweet Gourmet Nuts is there, selling delicious cinnamon-and-sugar pecans, walnuts and cashews. Delicious Starry Kitchen is there selling lemon grass tofu with garlic noodles, plus a meat entre or two. PopGram is there with upscale kettlecorn. And there’s a ton of fresh organic produce that is particularly wonderful this time of year.

What’s your favorite farmer’s market near Metro? Write us at Put RIDE & DINE in the subject field so we don’t miss it and we’ll post on The Source or our Ride & Dine map. Or fill out an easy form.

Transportation headlines, Monday, June 10

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Big Blue Bus on Main Street in Santa Monica alongside the public gardens. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Big Blue Bus on Main Street in Santa Monica alongside the public gardens. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Westside development fuels debate over growth — smart or otherwise (L.A. Times)

A good look at the proposed 638-unit building at the corner of Sepulveda and Pico boulevards that will also include a station for the second phase of the Expo Line. The Casden West project would also include a supermarket, other businesses and possibly a Target, leaving many critics to contend that it will attract far too many cars for something others call transit-oriented development. Politicians are mixed on the project (L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa supports it, 5th District Councilman Paul Koretz wants it down-sized) but many nearby residents are fighting it, saying the intersection — adjacent to the 405 freeway — is already clogged. However, the article also quotes one community resident saying she’s looking forward to walking, not driving, to the market. The L.A. City Council is scheduled to consider approval of the project this week, although the vote may not happen until later in the month.

Metro recommends contractor (and $160 million more) for Crenshaw/LAX Line (L.A. Times) 

Of the four proposals received by firms to build the 8.5-mile light rail line, Walsh/Shea was the lowest in terms of dollars and highest in terms of technical score. Metro staff have also recommended adding more contingency money to the project’s budget, bringing it north of $2 billion. That will require some money to be moved from other projects. Here’s our post about the contract and the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The Metro Board is scheduled to consider the contract recommendation by Metro staff this month. If approved, major construction would begin next year.

For Regional Connector, Metro wants things to go bump in the night (Downtown News) 

The story provides a good overview of Metro’s request to have construction permits in downtown that essentially allow the agency to perform some work during rush hour or at night. The agency says it needs the flexibility to maintain the construction schedule on the 1.9-mile underground light rail line while residents and businesses fear noise that could keep them awake or scare away customers. The permits will be considered and issued by the city of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles air pollution is declining, losing its sting (NOAA)


An interesting pair of photos featured in the new study.

It’s hardly news that smog has been reduced in recent decades even as the area’s population and the number of vehicles on the road has grown tremendously. But the chemical make-up of the smog has changed, too, meaning it stings the eyes a lot less. That’s good news, the result of tighter emissions standards adopted by the state in years past.

But let’s not get too giddy. From the South Coast Air Quality Management District website:

California and its individual air districts have made remarkable progress in cleaning the air during the past three decades in spite of dramatic increases in population and driving.  From 1980 to 2010, the state’s population increased by 65 percent and daily miles driven by all vehicles increased by 137 percent.  But thanks to a comprehensive air pollution control strategy, smog-forming pollutants were cut by 55 percent during the same period. California’s largest industrial plants also cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent between 2008 and 2011.

These improvements have occurred in spite of the fact that neither the state nor local air districts have the authority to regulate federally controlled sources of air pollution including ships, locomotives and aircraft.

And yet daunting challenges remain to reach current air quality standards, especially for the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California’s South Coast Air Basin, the two most severely polluted regions in the nation.  Recent studies show that pollutants are harmful to our health at lower levels than previously thought.  As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has revised key air quality standards to be more stringent and health-protective.  This means that local air districts and the state have to develop clean air plans requiring significant further emission reductions from all sources including cars, trucks, businesses and consumer products.

Metro speaks … to your organization

Fed up with traffic? Worried about smog and climate change? Wondering what you can do to help? Metro Speaks is an colaborative of Metro employees who are available to provide free presentations throughout Los Angeles County on a variety of transportation topics:

  • New ridesharing options such as carpools and vanpools
  • Rail and bus service
  • The latest advances in transit technology
  • How transit-oriented development is changing the face of Los Angeles
  • How smart roads save commuters time and money
  • Transportation and the local economy

Send requests to