Transportation headlines, Friday, Aug 2

Carmageddon II is coming! Will you take on the challenge of staying out of your car for a weekend? Photo by Juan Ocampo

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 orRSS feed.

The Best Days to Commute in Metro Areas (Governing)

Research firm Inrix reports that the best day for Angelenos to drive to work is Monday. The average commute time on Monday is shortened by three minutes each way, and though that doesn’t seem like much, every minute not spent sitting in traffic is a good minute, right? The worst day for Los Angeles commuters? Thursday. So for those who want to get around the worst of rush hour traffic, perhaps try carpooling or taking public transit on Thursdays.

Learning to Love Congestion (Planetizen)

While on the topic of traffic, Planetizen has an interesting piece on why congestion may actually be a good thing, at least in urban areas. The right kind of congestion can bring prosperity and happiness to downtown centers. The article cites Boston’s Newbury Street as an example of a heavily trafficked and successful area. Which streets in Los Angeles also fit the bill? Downtown’s Spring Street is looking pretty good.

Carmageddon sequel gets a positive spin (Los Angeles Times)

Though apocalyptic traffic might not happen this September, officials gathered yesterday to ask Los Angeles County residents not to get complacent about Carmageddon II. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky led the charge in challenging Angelenos to stay local and stay car-free during the I-405 closure taking place Sept. 29-30.

 DASH Downtown Route D to be Extended (LADOT)

Come Monday, DASH Route D riders will be able to easily transfer to the Metro Expo Line. Two new stops have been added at 23rd Street and Flower Street in each direction, right by the Expo Line 23rd Street Station. This brings even more connectivity and transit options for those who live and work in downtown Los Angeles.

USC and Metro a great combo for getting to games at the Coliseum

Metro has just released details on enhanced service for getting to USC games this fall. These new enhancements are added to others, including late-night weekend service for sports fans traveling to Staples Center and the popular Dodger Stadium Express that transports fans from Union Station to Dodger games. Here’s the release:

This fall for the first time, Metro and the University of Southern California will team up to make getting to USC home games fast, inexpensive and easier than driving.

With the first home game just around the corner on Saturday, Sept. 1, Metro’s new Expo Line is the perfect vehicle for the more than 80,000 fans who crowd USC games at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. And Metro is enhancing service to make it easy for fans to avoid traffic and parking hassles and take Expo to the games.

“In our effort to develop a regional transit system connecting all of our County residents to the places that they really want to go, sports fans now have the option of using Metro, Metrolink, Amtrak and the Dodger Stadium Express to games at the Coliseum, Staples Center and Dodger Stadium,” said MTA Chairman and L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

“We think the teaming up of Metro with USC home games will be a welcome change for Trojan fans,” said Metro CEO and USC graduate Art Leahy. “On game days you can bring picnic baskets and blankets and have the whole day experience.  And you don’t need to anticipate what is for some a very long drive home because Metro can now take you to within a short walk of the games and then carry you home again. Or for those who live far away, Metro can take you to Metrolink and Amtrak at Union Station.”

USC passengers will arrive at the game and then depart it at two convenient locations: Expo/Vermont and Expo Park/USC stations.

Frequent service will make it easy. Before and after the games, additional trains will be added to the Expo Line, as well as to the Red, Purple and Gold lines to make transfer connections efficient system-wide.

After the game, passengers will board trains at either Expo/Vermont or Expo Park/USC stations. Additional trains will remain in service to accommodate increased passenger loads.

Additional service also will be provided on the Silver Line for 20 minutes after each game in both directions from the 37th Street/USC Station. The Silver Line is Metro’s limited-stop service connecting the South Bay and San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles. It runs between Artesia Transit Center and El Monte Station via the Harbor Transitway on the Harbor Freeway and the El Monte busway on the San Bernardino Freeway.

Passengers traveling to the games should purchase $5 Metro Day Passes at the station where they are starting out … and that is all they will need for the day. Those starting on the Expo Line should purchase a one-way fare. When they arrive at either Vermont or Expo Park, they should purchase a return trip fare, to avoid having to stand in line after the game.

For more information on USC Trojan games go to http://www.usctrojans.com/sports/m-footbl/sched/usc-m-footbl-sched.html. For more information on the easiest ways to get there via Metro go to the trip planner at metro.net.

ULI report presents a strategy for developing a Union Station District

ULI Advisory Panel: Flanked on the east by the potential of the Los Angeles River, Union Station and its environs are ripe with development opportunity.

ULI Advisory Panel: Flanked on the east by the potential of the Los Angeles River, Union Station and its environs are ripe with development opportunity, but successful revitalization will require a detailed strategy and indentificaiton of the types of development most appropriate for the area. Click on image to view in full.

  • Aerial photos by Gary Leonard

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Services Panel visited Los Angeles in December, sponsored by Metro and the City of Los Angeles planning department, to examine the Union Station study area and to advise the city on what land use and infrastructure investments the city should pursue given the pending master plan for Union Station.

The ULI report is precursor to the development of the Union Station Master Plan. On June 28, the Metro Board of Directors approved Gruen/Grimshaw as the consultant team to develop the master plan, which will be completed in 24 months.

Although the Union Station Master Plan will deal strictly with the actual 40+-acre Union Station site purchased by Metro in April 2011, the ULI report provides a useful inventory of existing conditions and strategic options that will inform Metro’s planning process.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, Aug. 1

Photo by Joits via Flickr

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 orRSS feed.

Make it urban (Architect’s Newspaper)

An editorial in Architect’s Newspaper argues that as Los Angeles makes major strides in redeveloping its core, the urban pattern must be preserved, meaning density served by public transit, yes; suburban looking businesses with huge parking lots, probably no.

City abandons plans to take Brentwood sidewalk space for bus only lanes (StreetsBlog LA)

Everyone says they love the speed and convenience of bus lanes but no one wants to give up space/parking/anything to make room for them. There are lots of reasons not to, of course, and here’s another.

Tunnel visions (New York Times)

A piece on the subway now under construction below Second  Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side has echoes of L.A.’s struggle to tunnel from downtown to the sea. “Geology defines the way you drive the tunnel,” says Amitabha Mukherjee, an engineering manager with the firm supervising construction, suggesting that geology should have a vote on the selected route. And yes, he is referring to the path the Second Avenue subway will take — a path “New York City has been postponing, restarting, debating, financing, definancing and otherwise meaning to get in the ground since 1929.” Sound familiar?

Officials: Get Ready, Carmageddon II Coming

City, county and state officials met on the side of the I-405 near Mulholland Bridge this morning to again ask for the public’s cooperation for “Carmageddon II,” the second extended closure of 10 miles of the nation’s busiest freeway the weekend of Sept. 29-30.

The long anticipated closure between the I-10 and U.S. 101 is now about two months away, and transportation agencies, law enforcement, and other emergency responders are preparing for the closure the same way they did the first time: with diligent planning and concern, particularly if the public does not take seriously calls to “Plan Ahead, Avoid the Area, or Eat, Shop and Play Locally” this time.

While sending a positive tone by encouraging Angelenos to enjoy a car-free weekend and exploring their local neighborhoods by foot, bike or transit, officials also were quick to point out that the risk factors from Carmageddon I have not changed.  The I-405 still ranks as the nation’s busiest freeway, and its sister freeways – the I-10 and U.S. 101 – carry their own tremendous traffic loads on weekends. The closure area is still within a geographically constrained canyon pass, with no other direct north/south connections nearby.  And the final demolition of the Mulholland Bridge won’t be done early because crews have a third more work to do, meaning that the closure will likely extend until the early morning hours of Monday.  The closure is set to expire by 6 a.m., just in time for morning rush hour traffic.

“You’ll hear this again and again this morning, but don’t become complacent,” warned L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky. He said he was confident the public would again heed the call and cooperate with authorities.  They said “Thank You” following last year’s highly successful operation, and called for a car-free weekend once per month in L.A.

At least for the end of September anyway, they will get their wish granted a second time.

Let a canopy be your umbrella

 

The Westlake/MacArthur Park Station is getting a pretty new umbrella, although at the moment it looks more like orthodonture.

As we posted a few months ago, Westlake will be the first of three stations to get a protective canopy, with the other two stations — Civic Center and Pershing Square — still not ready for rain.

The construction process involves building massive support columns at the site to hold up the sleek but heavy canopy coverings. The umbrellas are constructed in another location and then carted in.

The point of the project is to protect the escalators from weather and improve their reliability. The umbrellas also will shield those of us who ride the escalators from the elements and, hopefully, protect us from having to march up and down steps just when we least want to … wearing work clothes and uncomfortable but attractive work shoes.

It’s difficult to judge yet exactly what the finished umbrellas will look like — construction fencing and scaffolding is necessary but not particularly site enhancing — but given these recent photos, it looks like the effect will be nice.

Metro’s contractor continues to work on construction of the two canopies for the Civic Center station, which should be ready this fall. In the meantime, one of the escalators at the Civic Center First Street Station is out of service due to construction. So unless you’re StairMaster addicted, when you depart the Red or Purple line at Civic Center you might want to head for the Temple Street exit.

Pershing Square, by the way, doesn’t look like there’s anything umbrella related going on. But we’ll keep you posted as the project progresses.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Aug. 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.

Another spot of green for downtown L.A. (blogdowntown)

Grand Park may have this week’s starring role but another downtown park is breaking ground tomorrow, Aug. 2. Spring Street Park, between 4th and 5th streets, is set to enter its construction phase and expected to open in spring/summer 2013. And it’s located on land once reserved for a parking structure. Studies have shown that fewer parking spaces translate to more hunger for public transit. Now if we could just replace a few more lots.

Alameda Corridor has success written all over it. But what about the debt?  (CityWatch)

Alameda Corridor — the 20-mile rail expressway connecting the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern rail yard gateway to the rest of the country — has been a resounding success for truck and car mobility and air quality. And it has allowed the Ports to accommodate significant growth over the last ten years. However, there’s a little matter of significant debt and what to do about it.

Exploring the Orange Line Extension (KCET)

A short guide book tour of the Orange Line Extension separates out minor, but in several cases intriguing, points of interest that might otherwise go unnoticed by travelers passing by on the bus.

Sounds of the cities (NPR)

Last but not least, check out this segment in the on-going NPR Cities Project, which has been asking listeners to talk about the hearts of their cities. You might recognize this quick soundbite as one of our own. In its own way, it’s music to our ears.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 31

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.

An uphill climb for downtown L.A. Streetcar (KCET)

D.J. Waldie wonders aloud whether downtown property owners along the proposed alignment will vote to tax themselves to pay for the project. Bottom line: without such as tax, the project will be very short of funding. Waldie primarily has questions about the route and whether it will appeal to enough of downtown L.A. to make the project worthwhile.

Touchdown pass or lost yardage — what will be AEG? (L.A. Streetsblog)

The op-ed written by a pair of environmental health advocates says that the proposed downtown football stadium could impair air quality because of increased traffic to games, increase noise in surrounding neighborhoods and displace residents of nearby neighborhoods. Read it for yourself and decide if a football stadium, on the site of part of the current convention center and next to a heavily-trafficked freeway, could really do that much harm to the area. The stadium is really going to be louder than the freeway? I doubt it.

Long Beach staff says 405 plan would cause bottleneck (Long Beach Business Journal)

A plan to widen the 405 freeway in northern Orange County has Long Beach officials fearful that they will get the brunt of the traffic caused by a wide freeway meeting a narrower one at the boundary between O.C. and L.A. counties. Seems like a legitimate concern; on the other hand, part of the O.C.’s plan may include a toll lane to help speed up traffic for some. Tough one, people.

And we're back…again

Hi folks. As I tweeted earlier, The Source had some bad clams — i.e. a software update — that didn’t set well, resulting in the blog going topsy-turvy on Monday and parts of day.

But looks like we’re back and regular posting will resume…now. I hope.

In the meantime, I was a guest on Warren Olney’s “Which Way L.A.?” for a short segment that aired Monday on Metro’s new weekend late night service. If you would like to listen, here it is.


Transportation headlines, Friday, July 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.

State PUC orders re-hearing on parts of Expo Phase 2 environmental document (L.A. Streetsblog)

The hearing, requested by Neighbors for Smart Rail, will deal with some procedural matters as well as whether the Expo Line’s environmental document needed to better describe an undercrossing of the 405 freeway and a pedestrian bridge in Palms. I know. I’m sure that you, like me, believes that state environmental law should concern itself with the impacts of a light rail line on a freeway undercrossing. Parents: sign your kids up for environmental law school sooner, not later.

LaHood: major increase in TIFIA funding (Welcome to the Fast Lane)

As a result of the part of America Fast Forward that was approved as part of the recent transportation bill in Congress, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $1.7 billion in federal TIFIA loans is now available for critical infrastructure projects. By offering federal backing of loans, that money be leveraged into $50 billion overall in public and private funds. Local agencies will be applying for the loans.

California Incline to be rebuilt beginning in 2013 (Santa Monica Mirror)

The ramp that connects bluff-top downtown Santa Monica to PCH has long-needed a seismic overhaul and will get it beginning in the fall of 2013 and lasting a year or more. The closure of the heavily-trafficked incline is expected to hinder the area’s already bad traffic. The new incline, however, is touted as being safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Why we should pay people to bike to work (Boston Magazine)

Office and retail space in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge has increased 40 percent in recent years while auto trips in the area declined 13 percent. What the what?! As it turns out, a law required employers to provide employees a subsidy they could use toward parking or transit. Many, it seems, have opted for using the extra money on transit or biking because they can pocket they money they don’t use.