Transportation headlines, Friday, Feb. 22

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 Gold Line train bound for East Los Angeles crosses the 1st Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Gold Line train bound for East Los Angeles crosses the 1st Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Where the Los Angeles mayoral candidates stand: transportation (Los Angeles Times) 

Best breakdown I’ve seen yet on where the major candidates stand on a variety of issues, including project acceleration, lowering the voter threshold for transportation tax increases,  rail versus buses, the route for the Westside Subway Extension in Century City (i.e. should it tunnel under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus), a 710 tunnel, adding more toll lanes in Los Angeles County and moving the north runway at LAX, among other questions. While the candidates often agree, there are certainly differences. Put down your jelly donuts and read this, people and/or voters!!

Mapping the end of the road on the 405 (ZevWeb) 

Good piece on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website about the Sepulveda Pass project on the 405. The gist of it: many elements of the project will be finished this year but one challenging section around Montana Avenue and Church Lane will see work carry over into 2014. In that area, utility relocations have been particularly problematic.

Motor vehicle fatality estimates: 2012 sees five percent increase (National Safety Council) 

These are early estimates — usually the federal government takes about a year to compile all the information and come up with a firmer number. California fared worse than the nation with the state seeing an estimated seven percent increase in deaths from 2011 to 2012, with 2,994 fatalities. 

Five ways to make public transit awesome (Mother Nature Network) 

Writer Chris Turner says it’s no surprise transit often fails to capture the public’s imagination — too often bus stops and train stations are designed as little more than an afterthought. His suggestions include making the bus stop a sanctuary, a cafe and/or a community gathering place. Check out a very cool photo with the post of a transit line and green space in Germany.

The mayoral candidate video series: Eric Garcetti (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The fourth part of Streetsblog’s interviews with the five leading mayoral candidates is with Councilman Eric Garcetti, who discusses the Metro Board and busways.

 

Transportation headlines: toll lanes, bike lanes, bus lanes & art of transit

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 Metro Rapid bus crosses the Broadway bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon, the day after a storm greened the local hills and dumped snow in the San Gabriel Mountains. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro Rapid bus crosses the Broadway bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon, the day after a storm greened the local hills and dumped snow in the San Gabriel Mountains. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

 

Readers respond to proposed bike lanes (LA Observed)

Mark Lacter wrote recently that he doesn't believe it's a good idea to add bike lanes to parts of Westwood and Sepulveda boulevards on the Westside at the expense of traffic lanes. Reactions run the gamut — fun read — and the question that swirls above the issue is this: how many cyclists are using the new bike lanes in the city?

More freeway toll plans? Slow down, Southern California (Daily News)

The editorial lightly punches Metro for proposing new toll lanes on 13.5 miles of the 5 freeway through the Santa Clarita area before the impact of the ExpressLanes on the 110 and 10 are known (the lanes on the 10 open Saturday). Metro, however, did send a letter to the Daily News saying there's a key difference: the toll lanes on the 5 are being proposed as a way to accelerate the project and have it built by 2019 instead of 2040 or after.

The mayoral candidate video interview series: Jan Perry (L.A. Streetsblog)

Councilwoman Jan Perry gets her turn in part three of the series; her interview takes place on an Expo Line platform.

 

CicLAvia unveils map for CicLAvia to the sea on April 21 (L.A. Streetsblog)

The map of the new route is out and the big to-do is that cyclists and pedestrians will be able to take Venice Boulevard from the ocean all the way into downtown L.A. The new course will also intersect with the Expo Line, Red Line, Purple Line, Blue Line and Gold Line.

 
 

 

Transportation headlines, Wed., Feb. 20; amazing bike grill, candidate ‘clarifies’ subway position, fare free transit spreading?

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: The scene on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles last night. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The scene on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles last night. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Millenium Hollywood plan clears first hurdle (L.A. Times) 

The city of L.A.’s planning department approved plans for two towers — a block from the Hollywood & Vine Red Line station — that would house apartments, offices and retails. Some residents are upset, saying the towers, which would be at least 485 and 585 feet tall, respectively, would block views and add to traffic in the area. I’ll offer up the opposing view: it’s nice to see Hollywood getting some much needed new development, homes, jobs and commerce — the things that make a city function like a city. The towers still must be approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

The mayoral interview candidate series: Kevin James (L.A. Streetsblog)

Part two of the five-part series includes a video interview with Kevin James.

Kevin James clarifies views on subway station (Century City News) 

“Clarifies” is not the word I would have chosen for the headline — James doesn’t say in this short piece whether he supports the location of the Century City station and whether it’s appropriate for the subway tunnels to go under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. James, however, says that if Beverly Hills prevails in court and the approvals for the Westside Subway Extension are overturned, he would then sit down with both Beverly Hills and Metro and work through the issues.

Fare-free transit spreading in Europe? (Human Transit) 

The city of Tallin (pop. 425,000) in Estonia is, by Jarrett Walker’s reckoning, now the largest city in the world to offer free transit for its residents — although residents still need to purchase a fare card. Tourists and visitors still have to pay fares. Interestingness excerpt:

Indeed, smart farecards make it possible for anyone to subsidize fares without much complexity, opening up a huge range of subsidy possibilities for any entity that sees an advantage in doing so.  Yet another reason that city governments are not as helpless about transit as they often think, even if they don’t control their transit system.

Like to eat sausages while biking? Then this bike grill is for you (The Atlantic Cities) 

Check out this awesome invention — instead of a bike rack behind the seat there’s a grill capable of holding four large sausages. The inventor is from L.A. and says he will target German audiences because of their high per capita consumption of bratwurst.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Feb. 19; another Beverly Hills lawsuit against subway, Najarian and Metro Board,

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.

City of Beverly Hills files lawsuit to block federal funding for Westside Subway Extension (City of Beverly Hills) 

The news release from the city is unclear whose decision it was to file a second lawsuit over the project. The only person quoted in the release is the city attorney. This suit names the Federal Transit Administration as the defendant and alleges that the environmental studies for the subway were flawed; the city doesn’t want the subway to tunnel under parts of its high school campus en route to Century City.

However, the news release notes that Mayor Willie Brien and the four members of the Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously this month to set aside an extra $250,000 of city funds for legal bills related to fighting Metro’s plans.

The lawsuit comes less than three weeks before Council elections on March 5 and the subway is obviously an issue — well, at least for some. It’s worth noting that Beverly Hills Mayor Willie Brien attended and spoke at a Metro event for the beginning of utility relocations for the subway back in November and said then that he supports the project. Support or not, the city filed this suit against the FTA, the federal agency that approves environmental documents and oversees the flow of federal money to the project.

The city of Beverly Hills last June sued Metro, also alleging environmental studies were flawed. The Beverly Hills Unified School District last year also filed a pair of suits, one against Metro and one against the FTA.

Beverly Hills’ subway spat (Los Angeles Times) 

Excerpt from this editorial:

Beverly Hills’ embarrassing battle against the Westside subway extension, which emerged as a major political issue last year, is becoming one of the key issues in the March 5 city elections. With the lines hardening between those determined to take legal action to stop the construction of a tunnel under the local high school, which they fear will endanger students, and those who see that route as the safest alternative, we urge residents to consider the scientific and engineering reality rather than merely relying on emotion. In other words: Stop gumming up the rails, Beverly Hills, for your own sake and L.A.’s.

The editorial says that Mayor Brien has tried to avoid a costly legal fight. But, as noted above, it’s unclear exactly who on the City Council approved the new suit against the FTA. According to the Beverly Hills Courier — a sometimes accuracy-challenged newspaper — Brien has said he will support the project even if it tunnels under part of the campus.

Jim Newton: an MTA power play (L.A. Times) 

Editorial chief Jim Newton looks at Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian’s battle to keep his seat on the Metro Board of Directors. Some on the Board oppose him, some support him. At the root of the battle is Najarian’s opposition to a possible tunnel for the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. That project is currently under study along with other alternatives including no-build, traffic signal and intersection improvements, bus rapid transit and light rail.

The mayoral candidate interview series (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Streetsblog on Monday debuted the first of five short video interviews with the five leading candidates for mayor of Los Angeles. The first is with Emanuel Pleitez. The mayor of Los Angeles has an automatic seat on the Metro Board and also gets to appoint members to three other seats.

Transportation headlines, Friday, Feb. 15; art of transit, speed bumps — should they stay or go?, solar trees for big parking lots

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: Nice photo of a streetcar taken in Toronto last week. Photo by Chung Ho Leung, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: Nice photo of a streetcar taken in Toronto last week. Photo by Chung Ho Leung, via Flickr creative commons.

Blast from the past? Report from new LADOT looks at benefits of removing speed bumps (L.A. Streetsblog)

Editor Damien Newton takes strong exception to the new report that sees speed bumps — intended as traffic calming measures — as an impediment to emergency service vehicles. One bike advocate quoted takes exception, saying the 24-7 safety improvements on the bumps far outweighs the few seconds in delays that they may occasionally cause. Damien suggests that the city suggests that before the City Council acts to either ban future humps (the program is currently in limbo due to budget issues), the city should first investigate traffic calming measures that slows cars but allows emergency vehicles to proceed at full speed.

In the meantime, the city of L.A. is adding another 20 miles of sharrows to help cyclists from getting clocked by car doors swinging open and to help them find their way on better cycling routes. With all due respect, I’m not a sharrows fan: I feel like they’re a poor substitute for real bike improvements. Speed bumps at least slow competing car traffic down.

Your thoughts on speed bumps? As an occasional cyclist, I like that they certainly keep traffic of some streets I frequently use in Pasadena and adjacent San Marino. On the other hand, the bumps tend to traverse the entire street, meaning I usually have to slow down, too.

City of Beverly Hills spends less on case against Metro than school district in final quarter of 2012 (page 4 of current issue) (Beverly Hills Weekly)

The city paid $13,526 in the fourth quarter of 2012 to two firms to handle its lawsuit against Metro alleging that the environmental studies for the Westside Subway Extension were flawed — the city and the Beverly Hills Unified School District is trying to prevent tunnels from going under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. By comparison, the Beverly Hills Unified School District, which has launched both state and federal lawsuits against Metro and the Federal Transit Administration, spent $439,000 in same period. The District says that much of that money was spent on geotechnical work at the school, but the Weekly points out the District still spent about fives times as much on lawyers as the city.

Meanwhile, the rival Beverly Hills Courier is trying to encourage — to put it politely — the city and Mayor Willie Brien to also file a federal lawsuit against the FTA in the subway matter. The Courier is using the subway fight as one of its criteria in choosing who to endorse in the March 4 Council elections. Brien is running for reelection to the Council and has made it clear that he supports the subway project while opposing the route under the school.

When L.A. was empty — wide open SoCal landscapes (KCET)

Another fine blog post from Nathan Masters on development and growth in Southern California, with some great photos. Excerpt:

Los Angeles kept growing. It did so in part by expanding outward from its historic core, rolling west toward the sea, but it also sprouted offshoots. First along the steam railroads, then the interurban lines of the Pacific Electric and finally the freeways, suburbs sprang up amid the countryside. Many of the most dramatic photos of an emptier Los Angeles show new settlements like Hollywood or Beverly Hills — now familiar to much of the world through popular culture — as rustic country towns. Eventually, the surrounding countryside disappeared as the suburbs and city merged into one metropolitan agglomeration.

The process reached a fevered pitch in the years immediately following World War II. From 1945 through 1957, subdividers carved 462,593 separate lots out of agricultural land in Los Angeles County. By the end of those thirteen years, nearly all of the San Fernando Valley had become urbanized, and the master-planned city of Lakewood had risen from the bean fields north of Long Beach — an event D. J. Waldie chronicled in his classic memoir, “Holy Land.”

Growing a solar forest in a South Carolina parking lot (GOOD) 

Check out the photo of this solar tree soon to be planted in South Carolina; the San Diego firm Envision Solar created it. It provides shade for vehicles parked under it, creates electricity and can be rotated to follow the path of the sun. Perhaps some big box stores and their accompanying parking lots can go this route.

Photo: Envision Solar.

Photo: Envision Solar.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Feb. 14; subway romance, Burbank’s monorail, Surfliner Express woes, $50 cup of Starbucks video

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: Happy Second Thursday in February, People. Photo is from Boston earlier this month by Craig Cloutier , via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: Happy Second Thursday in February, People. Photo is from Boston earlier this month by Craig Cloutier , via Flickr creative commons.

TIFIA loans likely skewed toward new road projects (The Transport Politic)

Good post by Yonah Freemark that notes that most of the applications for the expanded federal loan program known as TIFIA — i.e. America Fast Forward — have been for road projects. The problem, Freemark writes, is that federal legislation is working at cross purposes. On the one hand, America Fast Forward says the loans should pay for innovative transportation projects. On the other hand, the overall transportation spending bill that included AFF basically doles out TIFIA loans based on factors that most road projects can easily meet.

Dump the Surfliner Express? Report says ridership is dismal (L.A. Streetsblog)

The morning Amtrak express train between San Diego and L.A. Union Station is faring poorly and officials blame losing riders from stations that are now bypassed (San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana and Fullerton are among them). The express train requires two hours and 28 minutes to get from San Diego to Union Station, with the train leaving San Diego at 7:07 a.m. That’s competitive with driving during rush hour but let’s face it: 148 minutes — if the train is on time — to go 120 miles is kind of sad in the year 2013.

Before it’s time: Burbank’s experimental monorail (Los Angeles Magazine) 

I missed this one in yesterday’s library round-up and I’ll toss it out there to get some clicks from the monorail obsessives around town. It’s the story of a short and experimental monorail that existed from 1910 to 1912 in a Burbank orchard in hopes of persuading the powers-that-be that monorails could be the future of mass transit in So Cal. As you might have guessed, the powers-that-be were not persuaded. Cool historical photo with the post.

The world’s most expensive Starbucks drink (Chevassus Studios) 

Commuters like coffee, thus this qualifies for today’s transpo headlines! Who wouldn’t pay $50 for a drink with 48 shots of espesso? The only thing wrong with the video is the lack of a sequel to see what this guy was like after drinking this monstrosity.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Feb. 13; Transpo & State of the Union, Aspen law would allow cyclists to yield at stop signs

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 cyclist on the beach bike path in Santa Monica this past weekend. Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: A cyclist on the beach bike path in Santa Monica this past weekend. Photo by Steve Hymon.

If approved, the law would be similar to one adopted in Idaho 30 years ago and would allow cyclists to roll through stop signs in the same way that motorists can proceed at ‘yield’ signs. A survey found that 90 percent of cyclists in Aspen are running stop signs anyway, a study found that Idaho’s law has improved safety and advocates for the law say cyclists will no longer have to slam on the brakes, which can lead to loss of control. They also say that it will lead to better interactions with motorists who are never sure what a cyclist may do at a stop sign.
BART considers rebuilding two stations (San Francisco Chronicle) 
The two busy stations in downtown San Francisco would get a $900-million revamp in order to add platforms, staircases and elevators. The platforms would also have sliding glass doors that would open when trains arrive to prevent people from falling onto the tracks. The stations were designed in the late 1960s and BART’s ridership has grown to more than 393,000 average boardings on weekdays.
A rendering of BART's proposed station revisions. Image: BART.

A rendering of BART’s proposed station revisions. Image: BART.

Wendy Greuel attacks Eric Garcetti on Hollywood development (Daily News) 

Interesting story from the L.A. mayoral campaign that sort of involves transit. Greuel says Hollywood now has too much traffic and development, Garcetti says Hollywood’s turnaround is a success story. As reporter Dakota Smith notes, no skyscrapers have actually been built on Garcetti’s watch. She also writes that the dispute involves the city’s new zoning plan for Hollywood that would promote more development near housing. Some residents are suing over the plan, alleging it will allow too much development. Garcetti supports the plan, Greuel hasn’t taken a stance.

The State of the Union Speech (WhiteHouse.gov)

A few excerpts from President Obama’s speech last night that may be of interest to readers of this blog:

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.  (Applause.)  Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.  (Applause.)

[snip]
In fact, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together.  So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.  If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we.  Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.
[snip]
America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair.  Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire — a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and Internet; high-tech schools, self-healing power grids.  The CEO of Siemens America — a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina — said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs.  And that’s the attitude of a lot of companies all around the world.  And I know you want these job-creating projects in your district.  I’ve seen all those ribbon-cuttings. (Laughter.)
So tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. (Applause.)  And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most:  modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children.  (Applause.)  Let’s prove that there’s no better place to do business than here in the United States of America, and let’s start right away.  We can get this done.
My three cents: Not much overall on transportation or mass transit but certainly encouraging (in my view) to hear the President say “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.” It’s interesting to hear the President talk about more natural gas drilling on public lands to help the U.S. become more energy independent while also talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions to stave off climate change. On the surface, those goals do not seem compatible, but the President argues that natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels we would use otherwise.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s speech does not include the words “climate change,” “transportation” or infrastructure, although he did say, “When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather – he [the President] accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.”
He did talk about energy:
One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called “clean energy” companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China.
If approved, the law would be similar to one adopted in Idaho 30 years ago and would allow cyclists to roll through stop signs in the same way that motorists can proceed at ‘yield’ signs. A survey found that 90 percent of cyclists in Aspen are running stop signs anyway, a study found that Idaho’s law has improved safety and advocates for the law say cyclists will no longer have to slam on the brakes, which can lead to loss of control. They also say that it will lead to better interactions with motorists who are never sure what a cyclist may do at a stop sign.
Good issue. I live in Pasadena, where the safest place to ride are quiet residential streets that also have frequent stop signs and little cross traffic. In fact, the city encourages cyclists to use those streets, seemingly unaware that frequent stop signs are a deterrent for cyclists. So, either get rid of some of the stop signs in some directions or discuss such a law here! Your thoughts?