Transportation headlines, Day of Earth, April 22

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Happy Earth Day! Photo: NASA.gov.

Happy Earth Day! Photo: NASA.gov.

Linking the Los Angeles airport (New York Times)

The NYT takes a look at Metro’s Airport Metro Connector project, which seeks to connect the LAX terminals to Metro Rail via a people mover or light rail. The featured photo shows the junction where a Green Line spur was supposed to turn north toward the airport — a spur, as you know, that was never built.

Excerpt:

But just how the connection is made is where the politics lie.

There are two options drawing the most consideration. One is an underground rail line that would offer more direct access to the airport, at a cost of about $2 billion more, but it would do little to ease airport congestion. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, board has placed the proposal on the back burner.

The other option, backed by Mayor Garcetti, is centered on what Mr. Bonin, the councilman, describes as building a new front door to the airport, about a mile and a half away. Ideally, it would be not only a transit hub, but also a place where cars could be parked and luggage checked before passengers took an automated people mover that circulated through the nine terminals.

“The people mover scenario makes the most sense,” said Juan Matute, the associate director of U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies. “There’s a lot of land available to build a world-class arrival center. Then from there, running a people mover will allow a higher capacity of people to enter the airport.”

The article concludes with a note of skepticism anything will happen. I’m not so sure — in my time here it seems there is currently more interest than ever in getting something done and certainly having the Crenshaw/LAX Line under construction is part of that. The big unanswered question, as with most projects, involves funding, namely will there be funds available to build some of the more expensive options.

Riding transit is the best way to celebrate Earth Day (Huffington Post)

The president of a transit workers union — in partnership with the Sierra Club, btw — offers a collection of statistics demonstrating that transit is more sustainable than driving alone. Obviously he has skin in the game, but federal and academic studies back him up. Here’s a page from a 2010 Federal Transit Administration report:

PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010

Here’s how the media is getting the whole cities & millennials story wrong (Grist)  

Bed Adler writes that the New York Times and other similar media are over-stating the migration of millennials back to cities from the ‘burbs – and the media is under-stating the reason why young sprouts are coming back to cities. It’s not entirely for art and culture, says Grist. It’s for ease of transportation that cities provide.

Interesting issue and I tend to agree with Ben. I’m writing this today from Cincinnati, Ohio (family business), where gentrification of downtown’s Over the Rhine area is underway, including a new streetcar line that is under construction. I grew up here and the number of old buildings that have been rehabbed is very noticeable and it’s hard not to interpret the gentrification as a direct response to the relentless march of sprawl and suburbs to the north. Cincinnati and Dayton were once two distinct metro areas. No more as their ‘burbs have merged.

Of course, many of us equate the ‘burbs with driving and cities with other transportation choices. But it’s not quite that easy. Almost all of the rehabbed buildings of Over the Rhine included parking and those lots were filled with some pretty pricey vehicles, Range Rovers included. I suppose the counter-argument is that city life probably reduces the need for all vehicles — including the fuel hogs — to be used.

Gentrification in Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Gentrification in downtown Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 21

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Editor’s note: I’m blogging this week (again) from Cincinnati, where I’m attending to some unexpected family business. I hope to soon be back in L.A. assuming I don’t tumble into a giant pothole or drown in a four-way. 

Mayor calls delayed 710 report a significant setback (Pasadena Now) 

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard says that he believes that a tunnel to close the 710 gap is still under consideration despite the announcement last week that the draft environmental study for the project will be delayed to accommodate new computer modeling. The mayor has in the past said that he’s against a tunnel. Other alternatives under consideration include light rail, bus rapid transit, intersection and traffic signal improvements and no build.

11 simple ways to speed up your city’s buses (Streetsblog USA)

The headline could have easily been 11 common sense things to do to speed up buses. Among the suggestions: moving stops to the far sides of intersections (so buses don’t stop twice — once for passengers and again for a red light), consolidating stops, streamlining routes, using more bus lanes and using more traffic signal priority. It’s a smart post and I hope that it’s read by the many cities that are served by Metro and muni buses in Los Angeles County — as they have a big say in this.

Train nearly takes out elected official at press event promoting train safety (San Francisco Examiner) 

Bottom line: don’t stand on the yellow line at the edge of the platform, even if you’re deemed an important person.

How to travel the West on $10,000 per day (High Country News) 

One idea: the “Earthroamer” a 10-ton RV complete with its own array of solar panels that probably don’t help prevent it from being a greenhouse gas machine.

Cincinnati streetcar foes have a new target: bus lanes (Streetsblog USA)

An attempt to stop the city’s streetcar project failed. The new enemy of the public: a proposed bike lane in downtown on Central Parkway, which could rob businesses of free employee parking, so says Cincinnati’s mayor. Semi-irony: Spending money on the bike lane was previously approved and underneath Central Parkway is a subway that was partially built in the 1920s but never completed. Construction of a streetcar along the Parkway was halted and almost suspended last winter but work has resumed. Hey Cincy: try finishing what you started!

Not really related but for those who didn’t understand the above reference, below is what a “four-way” plate of Cincy chili looks like. Four way as in cheese on top of chili, onions and spaghetti. Chili John’s on Burbank Boulevard and Keystone in Burbank serves a very similar and tasty dish and Metro’s 154 bus stops right in front for the culinarily curious and adventurous.

photo (5)

 

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 16

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ART OF TRANSIT: That's Lake Powell in southern Utah as seen by yours truly yesterday afternoon. I'm in Ohio this week attending to family business that arose suddenly. I will be posting occasionally this week -- and if it seems like I'm 2,100 miles away, I am. Lake Powell, btw, is about 39 percent full -- but still is holding more than a trillion gallons of water, some of which will end up in So Cal via the Colorado Aqueduct. Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: That’s Lake Powell in southern Utah as seen by yours truly Monday afternoon. I’m in Ohio this week attending to family business but I will be posting occasionally as there’s lots happening — thanks in advance for your patience. Lake Powell, btw, is about 39 percent full — but 39 percent still equals more than a trillion gallons of water, some of which will end up in So Cal via the Colorado Aqueduct. No sign of the Icarus. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Metro recommends $927-million contract for downtown rail project (L.A. Times) 

A good look at the staff recommendation for a design-build contractor — Skanska USA and Traylor Bros. — for the Regional Connector project. As the article notes, Metro will need to shift some funds around to meet the project’s budget and the current cost hinges on Metro getting the construction permits it needs from the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Five years since its opening, still much work ahead for the Eastside Gold Line (Boyle Heights Beat) 

Good article. The Eastside leg of the Gold Line will celebrate its five-year anniversary in November and Boyle Heights residents have mixed views on the line — some find it convenient, some think earlier bus lines were a better option. Metro officials point to community amenities that were part of the project (improved sidewalks, lighting and new trees, for example). My own three cents: the Regional Connector will especially benefit the communities along the Eastside line, allowing trains to travel directly into downtown L.A. instead of routing passengers to Union Station and a transfer to the subway.

SEPTA to restore all-night subway service (Mass Transit) 

The agency that serves the Philadelphia metro area will run all night service on two subway lines this summer for the first time since the early 1990s. Increasing night life and new residences in downtown Philly prompted officials to launch the experiment.

How did the bicycle cross the highway? (Medium) 

Here’s how the Dutch did it:

These Detroit bus benches are made from demolished homes (The Atlantic Cities) 

Specifically, doors from properties torn down — Detroit has thousands of abandoned properties — are being smartly repurposed. Very cool.

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 14

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Mayor Garcetti’s State of the City: six ‘Great Streets’ announced (Streetsblog L.A.)

Good breakdown and overview of the plans for beautifying and making six streets throughout the city more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The six streets: Gaffey (San Pedro), Reseda and Van Nuys (San Fernando Valley), Westwood (Westside), Figueroa (downtown and South L.A.) and Crenshaw (South L.A.). As Joe Linton notes, light rail is coming to Crenshaw, the Expo Line will stop at the southern end of Westwood and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Project is planned for Van Nuys. Figueroa, of course, parallels the Expo Line.

Climate efforts falling short, U.N. panel says (New York Times) 

Officials say we can’t afford to lose another decade talking and not taking action. The top of the story:

BERLIN — Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.

In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.

Downtown L.A. goes from gritty to glitzy (Wall Street Journal) 

The story’s emphasis is on luxury real estate and, to a lesser degree, the revival of some downtown neighborhoods. Interestingly, the words “transit,” “bus” or “train” do not appear in the article.

A bike path in the L.A. River bed (KCET)

The headline should come with a question mark at the end as the issue is being explored by a cyclist and real estate developer tired of lack of access to the river in downtown L.A.

Will Angels Flight ever roll again? (Downtown News) 

A dispute between the foundation that runs the short funicular and state regulators means it could be some time before a reopening. Trains are running but without passengers, says the foundation.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 11

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Garcetti offers back to the basics in first State of the City speech (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the new carpool lane on the northbound 405 over the Sepulveda Pass would open next month (Metro said there’s no date set yet), reiterated a pledge to build a rail connection to LAX (the project is still in the study phase) and offered more details on the city’s Great Streets Initiative, saying Reseda Boulevard, Gaffey Street and Crenshaw Boulevard would be among those on the list. Of course, work just started earlier this year on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that will run both along and under parts of Crenshaw between Exposition Boulevard and 67th Street.

Some thoughts on near roadway pollution and L.A.’s future (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Interesting post based on a forum held this week about pollution from roads that spills over into neighborhoods and cities. Streetsblog’s Joe Linton:

As I was listening to all this, I felt like there was too much emphasis on dealing with our car-centric system as a given. Car-choked freeways are just part of the way god made our cities. We, health professionals, are just doing our best to adjust to the system we find ourselves stuck in. The discussion was all about how to keep people out of the way of pollution, but not to look at reducing or eliminating that pollution at its source. It’s as if health professionals looking at the tobacco problem just assumed that smoking happens everywhere, and then spent a lot of effort studying gas-masks for non-smokers. Taking on tobacco is a great public health success – because health professionals were able to ban tobacco from many places, and to stigmatize tobacco based on its threat to health.

(I also think that an overly narrow focus on near-roadway-air-pollution makes us miss other huge health risks associated with cars. Every year, driving kills 30,000+ people in the U.S.1.5 million worldwide. There are greenhouse gases, water pollution, noise pollution, obesity, and plenty more issues.)

I was glad to hear Occidental College’s Mark Vallianatos, commenting from the floor microphone, suggest an important alternative. Instead of moving people away from roads, let’s change our roads to be safe for people. If we have schools, playgrounds, housing, etc. adjacent to a road, then, for the sake of health, let’s design and regulate that road to limit vehicle emissions to safe levels. Let’s traffic-calm and road diet our arterials, downgrade our freeways, hopefully get rid of, at least, some of them.

 

Good post, tough issue.

Have U.S. light rail lines been worth the investment? (The Atlantic Cities)

The reporter, Yonah Freemark, says the overall answer is ‘yes.’ But he also offers sobering news about five light rail systems built in the 1980s in five different cities, four of which are on the West Coast — San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, Portland and Buffalo.

The bottom line: none of the systems increased transit use in their regions, although they have shifted more people from buses to trains. In addition, only San Jose saw a slight growth in its central city population. What to make of this?

Even this relatively positive outcome doesn’t compensate for the fact that regions that invested in light rail in the 1980s largely failed to increase the share of workers commuting by transit, or to increase the vitality of their center cities with respect to the surrounding regions. Does this mean we should cease investment in new light rail lines? Certainly not; in many cases, rail has provided the essential boost to reinvigorate communities, and in some cases it has also resulted in higher ridership than before: just look at Rosslyn-Ballston in the D.C. region or Kendall Square in the Boston region.

But spending on new lines is not enough. Increases in transit use are only possible when the low costs of driving and parking are addressed, and when government and private partners work together to develop more densely near transit stations. None of the cities that built new light rail lines in the 1980s understood this reality sufficiently. Each region also built free highways during the period (I-990 in Buffalo, I-205 in Portland, US 50 in Sacramento, CA 54 in San Diego, and CA 237 in San Jose), and each continued to sprawl (including Portland, despite its urban growth boundary). These conflicting policies had as much to do with light rail’s mediocre outcomes as the trains themselves — if not more.

Paid parking fees coming to Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink lots (Daily Bulletin) 

The city wants to impose a $4.50 daily fee or monthly charge of $25 to $30 to off-set maintenance costs for the two lots. The San Bernardino Association of Governments isn’t thrilled — it worries that the move may drive people away from transit — but approved the city’s request. Others are concerned that riders will instead drive to nearby Upland and park in the free lots there.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 9

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Game changing mixed use project planned for El Pueblo (Curbed LA)

A new residential and commercial development is planned on two surface parking lots near Olvera Street and Union Station. Good news: parking lots that sit empty much of the day aren’t helping the economy or streetscape of this part of downtown L.A.

Cuomo aide urges MTA to review ads on transit (New York Daily News) 

Why the review? The provocative ads are for breast augmentation surgery. And the governor of New York isn’t convinced they’re appropriate with tens of thousands of children riding transit each day. Fun tabloid story.

Downtown S.F. traffic may seem worse, but actually getting better (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The numbers seem to indicate that the number of cars entering the city is down while more people are walking, riding bikes and taking transit. Still, traffic is no picnic, especially with some big construction projects around town.

Police probe Smart Car tipping in San Francisco (Associated Press) 

Four got tipped Monday morning in the city. Police are investigating.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 8

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Art of Transit: two different types of two-wheelers at the top of Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Art of Transit: two different types of two-wheelers at the top of Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Metro to repair cracks in Gold Line freeway overpass (L.A. Times) 

The agency found some cracks — which it calls cosmetic — in the supports for the bridge over the 101 just south of Union Station. Trains are being slowed to eight miles per hour (from the usual 15 mph) until repairs are made, which Metro says will happen very soon.

After troubling audit is leaked, Washington Metro defends reforms (WNYC) 

The FTA audit found “[Washington] Metro approved millions in no-bid contracts, broke federal contracting rules, played favorites with vendors, and overbilled the FTA for reimbursements after completing rebuilding projects.” The agency accepted the findings and executives said they have been working to reform the grant program for several years.

Afraid it was missing the boat, Arlington tries the bus (Texas Tribune) 

The famously transit averse city has started a commuter bus pilot program in hopes of providing mobility to the car weary and those who don’t have access to their own vehicles. Critics say transit would be a waste of money in a sprawling, low-density Dallas ‘burb and that most people don’t have any idea how expensive it is to run a transit system. Sounds like something Hank Hill would say.

Urban Instagram photographers you should follow (The Guardian) 

Cool stuff from around the world for shutterbug and city enthusiasts. Here’s one from S.F.:

 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 7

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ART OF TRANSIT: Looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains from the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over Foothill Boulevard in Azusa. Awesome photo by Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

ART OF TRANSIT: Looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains from the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over Foothill Boulevard in Azusa. Awesome photo by Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

Move LA’s Measure R 2 proposal, including their rail fantasy map (Streetsblog L.A.) 

A look at the activist group’s “strawman proposal” for a half-cent sales tax increase they would like to see on the Nov. 2016 ballot; please note that Metro hasn’t decided to pursue such a tax yet although is surveying cities about their own desired projects. In any case, Move LA wants to see a 45-year sales tax increase with 30 percent of the funds dedicated to new rail and bus rapid transit projects — which they say would raise $27 billion over the life of the tax.

As Streetsblog notes, Move LA says their proposal is intended only to spur discussion and they include some projects for potential funding. Some are projects receiving seed money from the present Measure R (Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, South Bay Green Line Extension) while others are new such as converting the Orange Line to a rail line, extending the Green Line to a junction with Metrolink in Norwalk, extending the Gold Line to San Bernardino County, extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to Wilshire Boulevard, extending the Purple Line to Santa Monica from its future terminus at the West LA VA Hospital and extending the Eastside Gold Line Extension to both South El Monte and Whittier instead of just one of those.

If such a tax goes forward it will certainly be interesting to see how much is allocated to paying for new transit projects and which projects. As Move LA’s list shows, there are certainly some worthy candidates out there that would travel through many different parts of the county. And there are certainly parts of the transit network with holes in it. Stay tuned!

The real reason that mass transit fares are rising across the U.S. (The Atlantic Cities) 

Writer Eric Jaffe points out that several large agencies in the U.S. are currently pursuing fare increases (including Metro). And that’s not surprising: using data from a new federal report, Jaffe says that most agencies have seen the cost of providing bus and rail service rise substantially since 2000 while allowing fares to lag behind — often for good reasons (affordability, mobility, etc.). A lot of the cost appears not to come from employee salaries but rather the cost of employee benefits, which I’m guessing really means health care. It’s a national problem, Jaffe writes, and there doesn’t appear to be a neat solution on the near horizon outside of fare increases.

Dan Walters: bullet train faces withering set of issues (Sacramento Bee)

The political columnist concludes his column by asking whether construction should even begin on a project this year that may never have the funds to complete a link between L.A. and San Francisco or even the San Joaquin Valley. He also neatly lays out some of the current issues on the table, many involving legal challenges as to whether the project fulfills requirements in a 2008 bill that allowed the bond measure to go to state voters. Obviously this bears watching with one interesting but little publicized side issue: if the bullet train project hits more obstacles what happens to the part of the state bonds to help local projects connect with the bullet train? Both L.A. and San Francisco are using some of that money to fund local projects (the Regional Connector, to be specific).

What the Internet thinks of the world’s subways (Mashable) 

Fun pros and cons of 10 big subway systems around the globe (Los Angeles’ is not included) as gleamed from online reviews. Warning: the language used is not always delicate.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 3

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South L.A. needs trees (L.A. Times) 

The editorial despairs the loss of about 135 trees along Crenshaw Boulevard to accommodate construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line but also says the train is an important project. A city of Los Angeles streetscape plan to follow construction is vital, says the editorial.

Westside subway survives legal challenge from Beverly Hills (L.A. Times) 

Coverage of yesterday’s Superior Court ruling in favor of Metro in a pair of state lawsuits brought by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District against the Purple Line Extension. Reporter Laura Nelson this morning tweeted an update: the Beverly Hills City Attorney said a decision whether to appeal is still to come. Here’s our post with the ruling, links to the complaints and background on the issue.

UPDATE: LAT reporter Laura Nelson on Boston radio and on KPCC. And CurbedLA on the news.

Beverly Hills City Council approves two permits for Metro (Beverly Hills Weekly)

Outside of court, life goes on and the City Council on Tuesday approved two permits for Metro to conduct utility relocation work near the future Wilshire/La Cienega station. The city and Metro continue to work on a master agreement that will govern when and how construction is done in the city, according to the Weekly.

Watch the Wilshire bus lane stretching westward to Highland (Curbed LA)

And, speaking of Wilshire Boulevard, city of Los Angeles workers are making progress on the construction of the peak hour bus lane that will operate on parts of Wilshire between the Santa Monica-Los Angeles border and just west of downtown. Rebuilt lanes should hopefully make for a smoother ride for the 20 and 720 buses instead of the sometimes kidney-rattling journey of present.

Metrolink, Metro propose more express trains for busy San Bernardino County line (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

Studies are underway to add more express trains — although it would require double-tracking some parts of the alignment. The project is still unfunded. There is currently one express train in each direction between San Bernardino and L.A. with a 65-minute run time compared to the usual one hour, 50 minute run time. The downtowns of the two cities are about 60 miles apart, btw.

Is effective transit possible in a transit-hostile city (Transport Politic)

The city is Nashville, where a big and nasty dispute has erupted over a 7.1-mile bus rapid transit project. Among the fears: the loss of regular traffic lanes. No word yet on where Reyna James, ex-hubby Mayor Teddy and Juliet Barnes stand on the matter.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 2

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A tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass? It might be yours for 25 cents a day (L.A. Times) 

Kerry Cavanaugh looks at the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project through the prism of a possible transportation sales tax increase that Metro is exploring for 2016. Measure R dedicates about a billion dollars for the project, but some of the early options for the project — including both a road/toll tunnel and rail tunnel — would require a public-private partnership, cost billions more and probably require some public money. Excerpt:

Yet the possibility of easing the most congested corridor in the nation is so tantalizing that Los Angeles voters might just be willing to tax themselves again to build it, right? That’s what transportation advocacy group Move LA is certainly hoping. Last week during a conference focused on developing a new half-cent sales tax increase proposal, Move LA organizers made the Sepulveda Pass tunnel a key focus of the discussion.

Move LA is pitching the sales tax measure for the November 2016 ballot, with a eye toward raising $90 billion over 45 years. The group estimates that it would cost the average county resident about 25 to 30 cents a day. This would be on on top of the existing Measure R half-cent tax increase for transportation.

After the loss of Measure J (a 30-year extension of the Measure R tax, which voters narrowly rejected) in 2012, Move LA and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are approaching the ballot measure cautiously. They’re trying to build more county-wide consensus on needed transportation projects, with the incoming Metro board president, Mayor Eric Garcetti, promising a more “humble Los Angeles city” as he courts the San Gabriel Valley and South Bay cities that rejected Measure J.

As Kerry writes, the prospect of a good transit project across the Sepulveda Pass has always seemed to be a “distant dream.” So true. If there is a ballot measure in a couple of years, it will be very interesting to see what, if any, role this project plays in it. On a related note, here’s a study from 2012 that shows some of the different concepts initially explored for the Sepulveda Pass project.

L.A. could clash with L.A. County on transit tax measures (L.A. Times) 

Reporters Laura Nelson and David Zahniser ask a good question: if the city of Los Angeles pursues a sales tax increase this November to pay for street repair, how will city voters respond if Metro (a county agency) pursues the aforementioned ballot measure in 2016? It’s especially tricky considering the city of of L.A. is, of course, by far the largest city in the county and no county measure would likely pass without major support from city voters. The few people willing to talk on the record say that pursuing sales tax increases in both 2014 and ’16 is a poor idea but elected officials from the city of L.A. declined comment.

Koreatown to become next luxury market (GlobeSt.com)

The real estate site’s article is bullish on the prospects for K-town, saying there will be more multi-family housing and one of the big attractions for the area is its quick transit connections to downtown L.A. and Hollywood. The words “cosmopolitan” and “luxury” are tossed around in the article; the word “affordable” does not make an appearance.

L.A.’s interchanges are beautiful — if you’re not stuck in traffic (Southland-Gizmodo)

Nice photo spread on some of our bowl-of-spaghetti freeway interchanges, with a couple of sweet aerial shots of the four-level 110-10 junction in downtown.

Study ranks metro areas by sprawl (Governing) 

If there’s anything new here, it’s the assertion that more compact and connected metro areas offer more economic mobility. Makes sense. Not entirely sure why it required a study. About to send your child to graduate school? My three cents: perhaps a plant identification guide, map of the Pacific Crest Trail and a good lightweight backpack would be a better investment — if, that is, enlightenment is the goal.

America’s zippy new trains still lag behind those in Europe (Wired) 

A short and depressing reminder that train travel in the United States — the same country known for its big, wide open spaces — will mostly remain a 79 mile per hour or under affair with a few exceptions.