I-5 Empire Project update: upcoming construction activities and closures

Here’s the news release from Caltrans; Metro is a funding partner on the project:

The construction activities and closures listed below will occur during the week of July 20-25, 2014, as part of the I-5 Empire Project in Burbank, a series of freeway improvements between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street. More information about the project is here. Construction activities and closures are subject to change.

Major Construction Activities for the Week of July 20-25, 2014

Daytime work except where noted.

  • Fill placement between the San Fernando Boulevard tunnel and the Lincoln Street/Victory Place intersection.
  • Removal of vegetation along southbound I-5 between Scott Road and Burbank Boulevard.
  • Construction of a boring pit at Victory Place and Wilson Avenue.
  • Manhole work at Victory Place and Empire Center Drive (the signaled intersection near Wendy’s and Catherine’s).
  • The Gas Company will perform utility removal/relocation work near the intersection of Empire Avenue and Victory Place and on San Fernando Boulevard between the northbound Scott Road off-ramp and Grismer Avenue. Some of this work will be performed at night. Please be attentive to lane closures and watch for workers in the construction zone.

What to Expect: Residents and businesses close to the freeway may notice vibration and construction noise, but it will not exceed levels permitted by state, federal and local regulations. Also, the contractor is using approved dust-control measures to minimize airborne particles, but some dust is expected. Additionally, motorists should be attentive to new traffic patterns created by restriping of travel lanes and concrete barriers. Please proceed cautiously and watch for workers.

Closures for the Week of July 20-25, 2014

Northbound I-5 Closures

Ramp

  • Burbank Boulevard/Walnut Avenue on-ramp: A permanent closure was implemented on July 16, 2014.

Southbound I-5 Closures

Ramps

  • Scott Road off-ramp: Permanent closure. This ramp will be integrated into the Empire interchange, which will open in mid-2016
  • Victory Boulevard/Lincoln Street on-ramp: Permanent closure. This ramp will be integrated into the Empire interchange, which will open in mid-2016

Resources for Motorists

  • Project Information:Information about the project is here.
  • Closure Information: Closure information for this and other freeway projects is also available on the Caltrans website and the I-5 website.

For the safety of the construction crew and motorists, please be attentive to closures, slow for the cone zone, and move over one lane where possible.

Caltrans thanks motorists for their patience and understanding during construction. For more information, visit I-5info.com.

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, July 18

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! 

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro bus rolls down a very quiet Spring Street shortly after rush hour on Thursday evening. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro bus rolls down a very quiet Spring Street shortly after rush hour on Thursday evening. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Dodger Stadium Express: Metro nightmare or game day savior? (Neon Tommy) 

One reporter boards the free shuttle bus from Union Station to the ballpark. The other reporter drives. Who gets there faster? The reporter on the bus, who along the way apologizes to a couple from Iowa about the poor state of public transit in L.A. only to have them respond that they think transit here is “fine” and they use it during their visits to L.A. Always fun when the source doesn’t take the bait, eh? :)

Click here for more info on the Dodger Stadium Express.

Good start at Metro LA: call for active transportation funding strategy (SM Spoke) 

Santa Monica Spoke is pleased with a new motion before the Metro Board that could potentially create a steady funding stream for active transportation projects — i.e. projects that would benefit pedestrians and cyclists. There was a big activist turnout at the Metro Board’s Planning Committee on Wednesday, prompted by the Board’s consideration of a short-range plan that activists say does not supply enough funding for walking and biking.

Metro considering rail link from Valley to Bob Hope to Pas (Curbed LA)

Coverage of the the motion before the Metro Board of Directors asking for study of improving the Orange Line, including a possible rail conversion and an extension of some sort — presumably rail or bus rapid transit — to Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.

The full Board is scheduled to vote on the motion at its meeting this coming Thursday. The motion also asks for study of using more articulated buses on the line, improving traffic signal priority and grade separations. Important to know: converting the Orange Line to rail is not funded by Measure R, nor is it in Metro’s long-range plan although an undefined project linking the Orange Line to the Gold Line’s Del Mar station in Pasadena is a tier 2 unfunded project. The new motion included an amendment on creating a process to add projects to the long-range plan. Read the motion here.

San Francisco sets bond vote for aging transportation system (Bloomberg) 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors — i.e. their City Council — voted to send the $500-million bond measure to voters in November. The money, which would be borrowed, would be used to pay for upgrades to the local transit system that will be used, in part, to speed buses and trains. The measure needs two-thirds approval to pass even though it doesn’t involve raising taxes.

Proposal to allow state tolls on interstates hits roadblock (NPR)

With lawmakers pretty much refusing to consider raising the federal gas tax to keep the Highway Trust Fund in the black, President Obama is proposing to allow states to collect tolls on federal interstates to raise funds for road maintenance and other transportation projects. But there’s pushback, including from an array of corporations who say that tolls + gas tax = double taxation.

New York can’t afford to build the Second Avenue Subway, and it can’t afford not to (CityLab)

The problem is that the subway is costing more than $2 billion per mile to build, including three new stations. The two-mile first phase is due to be completed in 2016, but the remaining three phases aren’t funded and in total the project could reach a $20-billion price tag. The current subway line serving Manhattan’s Eastside is running at capacity, traffic is at its worst on the Eastside and New York is expected to add one million residents. FWIW, the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension — including three new stations has a budget of $2.77 billion. The Metro Board is expected to vote on a $1.6-billion construction contract at its meeting this coming Thursday.

Uber, Lfyt and a road map for reinventing the ride (New York Times)

Interesting piece in the Sunday Review section from last week about Uber dropping the cost of a ride in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles to try to encourage more volume and get more people in the habit of using Uber. The key quote:

“The whole point of price cuts is to get UberX pricing below the cost of owning a car,” Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, told me. “Let’s say you take three or four trips a day on average. If we can get the price of UberX low enough, we can get to where it’s cheaper to take Uber than to own a car.”

The article also mentions transit with the author pointing out that Uber may cost more than taking a train or bus for a routine errand, but would be faster and more convenient. My three cents: I don’t see Uber or similar services as much of a threat to transit, although they could certainly harm the existing taxi or car service industry. As for denting the sale of cars…maybe, although the costs of using Uber all the time could certainly rack up fast.

Perhaps it’s something in which a family could forgo a second car if living in a city with a variety of Uber-like services, a good transit system and neighborhoods that are walkable and bike-friendly. All those choices could mean — emphasis on could — families with fewer second cars.

Expect intermittent closures on I-110 9th Street off-ramp through August

Here’s the press relase from Caltrans:

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be removing debris, sediment and trash from the storm drain at the northbound I-110 9th Street off-ramp.  Construction crews will be working from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday leaving one lane open. This project is expected to be completed by mid-August. Intermittent closures should be expected.  Major delays are expected.

There will be no work between July 26 – July 30, 2014

Detours will be posted for motorist convenience.  United Storm Water, Inc. of La Puente, California is the contractor on this $80 thousand project.

Caltrans advises motorists to “Slow For The Cone Zone.”

Go Metro Weekends, July 18 − 20

Friday

Go Metro to the Masters of Ceremony Hip Hop Reunion tour, in L.A. this Friday for one night only at the Nokia Theatre at LA LIVE. The show features DMX, EPMD, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Naughty by Nature, and many more. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; ticket prices vary. (Metro Blue/Expo Line to Pico Station, or Metro Red Line to 7th Street/Metro Center.)

From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. it’s another Fusion Friday at the USC Pacific Asia Museum! Enjoy live DJs spinning in the courtyard, beverages for purchase, and a selection of food trucks in the parking lot. This month’s performance includes Korean drumming and gongs, a samurai reenactment, and a raffle for $100 to the museum store. Cocktail attire is encouraged. The event is free for members and $15 for everyone else. (Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station then walk 9 minutes south on Arroyo Parkway and east on Union Street, or various Metro and Pasadena buses serving Colorado/Los Robles.)

Saturday

Meet at SunCafe in Studio City this Saturday morning for a raw foods cooking class with head chef Ron Russell. Class lasts from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and is $25. (Metro Red Line to Universal City/Studio City Station then walk 9 minutes west on Campo De Cahuenga and east on Ventura Boulevard, Metro Rapid 750 to Ventura/Vineland, or Metro Bus 155 or 156 to Ventura/Fruitland.)

It’s a famous film locations of L.A. tour…on two wheels! Metro sponsors “Action! Close up on Downtown L.A.’s Film History,” a free bike expedition led by Downtown Film Festival L.A. and CICLE. Visit notable downtown film landmarks and finish at Angel City Brewery for a screening of American Cycle, part of the film fest’s closing night. The ride is about 7 miles and moves at a leisurely pace. To join, meet at the park at 1st and San Pedro Street at 5:30 p.m. (Metro Gold Line to Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, Metro Rapid 701 to Judge John Aiso/Temple, Metro Bus 30/330 and 40 to 1st/San Pedro.)

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Motion proposes further study of ExpressLanes for part of the 105 freeway

The above motion is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors this month — the motion seeks to launch environmental studies of adding ExpressLanes to the 105 freeway, with an initial segment between the 405 and 605 freeways. To be perfectly clear: the motion concerns more studies of the concept. A decision to go forward with such a project would come much later.

The 105 freeway, as you likely know, intersects with the existing ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway. The 110-105 junction includes exclusive on-ramps and off-ramps between the 110 ExpressLanes and the HOV lanes presently on the 105 — i.e. there’s no need for motorists to exit the ExpressLanes or HOV lanes when going between the two freeways.

The idea, at this time, would be to have two ExpressLanes in each direction. That would be done mostly by re-striping the freeway with some spot widening. Adding those extra lanes would require approvals from Caltrans, the state agency that oversees freeway operations.

Some background: the Metro Board in 2010 had asked Metro staff to study the possibility of adding ExpressLanes to the 405 freeway between the Orange County border and Los Angeles International Airport. At the time, Orange County was considering adding HOT lanes to the 405 but Orange County Transportation Authority officials have since rejected that notion and want to add a general lane instead to their portion of the 405. This Metro staff report explains the issues.

As a result, Metro has studied other alternatives and determined that adding ExpressLanes to the 105 and eventually the 605 would help provide an ExpressLanes corridor between Orange County and LAX. If that happens, it would be a phased approach and the Board is being asked to consider an initial segment on the 105 between the 405 and 605.

Contract to build first phase of Purple Line Extension moved to full Board of Directors

The Metro Board of Directors’ Construction Committee Thursday morning took up the issue of the contract to build the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega. The Metro staff report explaining the recommendation is above.

Staff has recommended that the $1.6-billion project be awarded to a joint venture of Skanska, Traylor and Shea. The Metro Board moved the item without recommendations to the full Board of Directors for their consideration at next Thursday’s meeting.

The Committee also asked Metro staff to report back next week on the reasons for a $288 million increase in the budget for the project, bringing the total to $2.77 billion — and how it will impact Measure R funding in the Westside/Central subregion of L.A. County. “We believe we can pay for the Westside Subway Section 1 cost increase of $288 million
directly from Measure R or, if necessary, incur additional bond debt to cover the cost
increase,” writes Metro staff in the above report (see appendix C).