Go Green, Go Metro to L.A. Clippers games during NBA Green Week

Fans of the L.A. Clippers can support their team by taking public transportation to any of the three Clippers home games during NBA Green Week on April 3, 6 or 9. Riding the bus or train can help you greatly reduce your carbon footprint…and as an added bonus, every time you share on Twitter how you go Metro with the hashtag #NBAGreen, the NBA and Sprint will plant another tree with the Arbor Day Foundation.

Metro and Metrolink will also be handing out “Go Green” gift bags at the Wednesday, April 9 Clippers game. Just drop by the Metro/Metrolink table inside Staples Center and show your TAP card or Metrolink pass to receive a free gift bag! (Availalble while supplies last.)

And as always, Metro riders can save 10% on merchandise and gear at the Clippers Team LA Store.

To get to the Staples Center, take the Blue/Expo Line to Pico Station, walk from 7th/Metro, hop on the Metro Silver Line or take various Metro buses. Use Trip Planner for more routes and connections.

Construction notice: weekend of San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa this weekend for Gold Line work

Here’s the alert from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the 11.5-mile addition to the Gold Line between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border:

First of Three Weekend Closures of San Gabriel Ave in Azusa Begins this Weekend, April 4-7

WHO:  Residents / Commuters / Business Owners in the City of Azusa.

WHAT: San Gabriel Ave at the railroad crossing (between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd) in Azusa will be fully closed to thru-traffic in both directions for three weekends this month to allow crews to install track and signal work. This work is part of the 11.5-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project. Motorists and pedestrians will be detoured around the work area.

WHEN:

San Gabriel Ave at the railroad crossing (between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd): Three full weekend closures to complete the grade crossing improvements:

-        Friday, April 4 at 3:00 p.m. thru Monday, April 7, 2014 at 5:00 a.m.: San Gabriel Ave will be closed to thru-traffic in both directions between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

-        Friday, April 11 at 9:00 a.m. thru Monday, April 14, 2014 at 5:00 a.m.: San Gabriel Ave will be closed to thru-traffic in both directions between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

-        Friday, April 25 at 9:00 a.m. thru Monday, April 28, 2014 at 5:00 a.m.: San Gabriel Ave will be closed to thru-traffic in both directions between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

Note: Work hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. during these weekends. A full closure will not occur during the Easter holiday weekend.

WHERE: San Gabriel Ave at the railroad crossing between Ninth St and Foothill Blvd.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

-        The street and sidewalk will be closed to thru-traffic during this work. Detour signage and routes will be in place during the weekend closures to guide motorists and pedestrians around the work area.

-        Access to all local residences and businesses on San Gabriel Ave will remain open at all times.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

-        Visit www.foothillextension.org

# # #

About the Construction Authority: The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment from Union Station to Pasadena and is underway on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Foothill Extension is a nearly $2 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa segment is fully funded by Measure R and will be completed in September 2015, when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will determine when the line will open for passenger service. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $550 million, are being overseen by the Construction Authority to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment. The Azusa to Montclair segment is environmentally cleared and is proceeding to advanced conceptual engineering in 2014.

Update, 3:42 p.m.: trip planner at metro.net restored and ticket machines accepting credit cards again

UPDATE, 3:42 P.M.: Earlier problems detailed below appear to have been resolved. Thank you for your patience and sorry for any inconvenience!

Due to an internet issue at Metro headquarters, credit cards are not currently working at ticket machines at Metro Rail stations and other locations where the ticket machines are located. Please use cash until credit card access is restored!

Also the trip planner at metro.net is not currently working. Please use Google Transit for your planning needs.

Metro is working to fix both issues. Thank you for your patience!

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 3

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

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.

Court rules for Metro in state lawsuits brought by Beverly Hills over subway extension

A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Metro on Wednesday in state lawsuits brought by the Beverly Hills Unified School District and the city of Beverly Hills alleging that the environmental studies for the Purple Line Extension project were flawed and needed to be redone.

To put it in plain English: Judge John A. Torribio upheld the studies and denied the requests that they be redone, a task which could have potentially cost Metro millions of dollars and delayed construction of the project. The judge found that Metro’s decision to place a station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars in Century City was based on “substantial evidence” and that the station location meets the project’s goals of increasing mobility in the region.

Metro issued this statement about the ruling:

“Metro is pleased that our in-depth, multi-year environmental review process was found valid by the Superior Court.  We look forward to working with all the communities along the alignment, including Beverly Hills, to fulfill our commitment to deliver this regionally significant and beneficial project for the taxpayers of L.A. County.”

The dispute involves Metro’s plans to tunnel under the Beverly Hills High School campus in order to reach the approved Century City station at the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Avenue. The station location was selected by Metro for three reasons: to locate a station closer to the heart of Century City, generate higher ridership for the new line and to avoid an active earthquake fault  zone that runalong Santa Monica Boulevard as determined by seismic and geotechnical studies by Metro and its contractors.

The Constellation route meant that the subway would have to tunnel under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. School District and city officials complained that could damage the school and/or prevent them from building an underground parking garage, among other issues. After a final Metro Board hearing on the matter in May 2012, Metro determined that it was safe to tunnel beneath the campus, the tunnels would not prohibit any new development, noise and vibration levels would be within federal limits, old oil wells in the area do not present an unmitigable risk to tunneling and the project would not prevent the campus from being used as an emergency evacuation center.

Both the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have also filed lawsuits against the Federal Transit Administration, alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act. The FTA is helping fund the Purple Line Extension and approved the environmental studies for it. Those lawsuits are still in court.

Local funding for the 8.5-mile Purple Line Extension was approved as part of the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase that was supported by 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008. The project is being built in three phases: phase one is from Wilshire & Western to Wilshire & La Cienega, phase two extends the project to Century City and the third phase extends tracks to two stations in Westwood — one at Wislhire and Westwood and the final one near the Westwood/VA Hospital, just west of the 405 freeway.

Advanced utility relocation for the first phase of the project is underway and the FTA is expected to soon announce a funding agreement for that part of the project. The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to select a contractor to build the project this summer with construction starting in late 2014. The first phase is currently forecast to open in 2023.

New Flyer holds open house for new bus facility in Ontario

New Flyer opened a new bus service facility in Ontario earlier this year, creating more than 50 new local jobs. The facility helps to support delivery and maintenance service of the 550 buses ordered by Metro.

The buses are built in the manufacturing plant in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Once they are approximately 80 percent to 90 percent complete, they make the 2,200-mile trek from St. Cloud to Ontario. The drive acts as a “breaking in” and helps New Flyer perform final testing and performance evaluation before the buses are sent into service. At the Ontario facility, buses undergo final build–i.e. the installation of seats, support rails and decals as well as testing and safety acceptance. They are then handed over to the operating agency.

The facility has already finished and delivered 66 buses, many of them Metro buses that are already in service on the streets of L.A.

Trees to be removed for Crenshaw/LAX Line along Crenshaw Boulevard

Crenshaw_lax_tree_removal_factsheet FINAL 032614 Crenshaw2

We posted last week about plans to remove about 135 trees along Wilshire Boulevard to accommodate the first phase of the Purple Line Extension. This week we are posting about similar tree removal plans for the Crensaw/LAX Line, a subject tackled in a story published Monday in the L.A. Times.

The above flier provides a good overview of the work. The highlights:

•The removals will be done in three stages, as shown in the map in the above flier.

Phase 1 from Exposition Boulevard to 48th Street: 98 trees are being removed. Of those, the arborist has identified 11 trees that may potentially be relocatedThe final decision on the number of trees to be relocated will to made by the city of Los Angeles. Two trees will be planted for each tree that is being removed.

Phase 2 from 48th to 67th streets: the arborist report for this area is still in draft phase but it is estimated that 53 trees will be removed with two trees planted for each that is removed. The actual number of trees to be removed may vary.

Phase 3: the arborist report is still under development and the number of trees to be removed is still to be determined.

•The plan is to keep the present trees as long as possible until construction is imminent. The plan calls for planting two trees for every non-native tree that is removed.

•Perhaps the most controversial of the tree removals is in Park Mesa Heights, where mature Canary Island Pines are in the median of Crenshaw Boulevard. These are trees, as their name implies, are native to the Canary Islands located off the northwest coast of Africa and are known for being drought-tolerant.

The median and the trees will eventually being removed to accommodate the train tracks that will run down the middle of the street.

Here are a couple of views:

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.57.02 PM

This is the view looking south on Crenshaw Boulevard between 51st and 52nd Streets. Photo: Google Maps.

The Endeavour moving north through Park Mesa Heights in 2012. The light rail line will run along the median at right, where the trees are located. Photo by Steve Hymon.

A view of the trees looking north on Crenshaw Boulevard from 54th Street. The train will run down the middle of the street and north and south traffic and parking lanes will be on either side of the tracks. Photo by Steve Hymon.

The Canary Pines were considered for relocation, but it was determined they didn’t have a good chance of surviving for a variety of reasons including their extensive root systems, previous damage from vehicles on Crenshaw Boulevard and from signs being posted to them in the past.

•The size of the replacement trees will vary depending on the species. The trees will initially be raised in nurseries and some may be nine- to 10-feet tall when first planted along the Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment.

•Plans still need to be finalized for the palm trees along the rail right-of-way on the north side of Florence Avenue. The project’s environmental studies indicated that most would remain and Metro is required to preserve 90 percent of the palms in the right-of-way in the city of Inglewood.

•The city of Los Angeles Planning Department is in the midst of developing a streetscape plan for the Crenshaw Boulevard area that is being funded with a grant from Metro. The agency has commented on the plan — but it’s important to recognize the plan is not part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line project.

•On a similar note, some trees in the project area were previously removed for the move of the Endeavour from LAX to the California Science Center. The museum has a plan to replace those trees. That plan is separate from the Crenshaw/LAX Line project.