Public meetings in November for East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project

This is a project that I know many people have been following. The aim of the project — which has some Measure R funding — is to improve transit on Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road between Ventura Boulevard and the Sylmar/San Fernando Road Metrolink station.

Here is the project’s web page on metro.net — which has tons of great info — and here is a Source post from last October looking at project. Among the alternatives being studied: the legally-required no build option, road and traffic signal improvements, light rail, bus rapid transit and a tram, a type of train easy to board from street level.

esfv_study_area

The news release from Metro is below with all the details on the public meetings:

Meetings to be held at locations along the corridor on November 6, 12 & 13.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will host a series of informational meetings beginning November 6, 2014 to update the community on the status of the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project.

The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project, a Measure R funded transportation project, will add a new public transit system along Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road in the east San Fernando Valley. Transit alternatives being considered for the line include: Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit in addition to the required No Build and Transportation Systems Management options.

Members of the public can participate in three informational meetings to be held in November at the following locations and times:

Thursday, November 6, 6–7:30 p.m., San Fernando Regional Pool Facility, 208 Park Ave., San Fernando, CA  91340

Wednesday, November 12, 4:30 – 6 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Room 1A, Van Nuys, CA  91401. This meeting will be available via live-stream and on-demand at http://ustream.tv/channel/eastSFV.

Thursday, November 13, 2013, 6 – 7:30 p.m., Pacoima Neighborhood City Hall, 13520 Van Nuys Blvd., Pacoima, CA  91331.

Special accommodations are available to the public at Metro-sponsored events. All requests for reasonable accomodations must be made three working days (72) hours in advance of the scheduled meeting date. Please call (818) 276-3233 or the California Relay Service at 711. Spanish language interpretation will be available at all meetings.

The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project is currently in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/R) stage of planning. Public meetings were held last year to begin the process and to provide stakeholders the opportunity  to provide input on the options originally proposed through the Alternatives Analysis (AA) process. As a result of comments received and additional technical analysis, the alternatives were refined to better meet the transit needs of those travelling in the East San Fernando Valley.

The project’s Draft EIS/R is expected to be completed in 2015 and will be made available for public review. Following a Public Comment Period, the Metro Board of Directors will be asked to select the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the project and authorize completion of the Final EIS/EIR. The Final EIS/R is anticipated to be completed in 2016.

$170.1 million of funding for the project has been identified in Metro’s 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). A portion comes from Measure R, the ½ cent sale tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

When finished, the project will run approximately 9.2 miles north-south along Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road through the communities of Van Nuys, Panorama City, Arleta, Pacoima and the City of San Fernando. This corridor is currently the seventh busiest bus corridor in the entire Metro system with more than 24,800 weekday bus boardings and in the San Fernando Valley is second only to the Metro Orange Line.

For questions, please call (818) 726-3233 or email eastsfvtransit@metro.net.

About Metro

Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines, a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and it is the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County.  Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region.  Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

Expo Line Construction Notice: Full closures of Barrington Avenue between Olympic and Tennessee

Two full weekend closures will be required in order to complete track work and roadway improvements on Barrington Avenue for the Expo Line project. Here’s the construction notice from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the independent agency building the six-mile project between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica.

expo barrington closure expo barrington map

The Source turns five years old: how are we doing?

I glanced at the calendar this morning and realized five years had suddenly rumbled by. It was on Oct. 20, 2009, that The Source debuted on Metro’s website. At the time, I wrote this:

Local media has taken more than a few hits (I was one casualty although I prefer to look at it as the long-awaited liberation of my soul ). At the same time, the Internet has provided government a way to directly speak to taxpayers without having to go through the media. No longer can government complain the middleman got it wrong or wasn’t interested in doing a story.

Readers will naturally wonder if an agency can honestly write about itself. Here’s what I can tell you: The agency still very much wants and needs press coverage and invites and needs outside scrutiny. As for the Source,  I’m not here to invent some new form of propaganda, nor am I the agency’s new inspector general. The goal is to honestly and fairly explain how Metro works.

As I write this, we’ve had 7,333 posts, more than 26,000 reader comments and have been viewed on more than one million different computers. As far as I can tell, we’re certainly one of the most frequently updated government blogs out there — the result of a lot of teamwork and hard work on the part of my colleagues at Metro — and a lot of us have come to believe that providing info on the blog and Metro’s social media is an essential service.

Since five years is a significant milepost, I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk a little bit about the blog (don’t worry–I’ll be asking for your feedback in a sec). A few thoughts:

•I’ve done my best to avoid the “everything is awesome” approach to the blog. While the blog is certainly not independent media, we’re not traditional PR either and I hope that readers find the information on the blog to be credible. We try to include outside viewpoints about the agency — i.e. the daily headlines linking to media stories about Metro, some positive and some bit — and point readers to staff reports that include a wealth of information about Metro’s projects and programs.

•I do hope that The Source has proven helpful for journalists, even if it’s just calling attention to an ongoing issue or upcoming project that makes for a good story. I sense there’s an uptick in coverage of the agency. Some of that is because there’s a lot going on with so many transit and road projects under construction. Some of that (I think) is because the agency has been proactive about getting the word out via social media and traditional media channels.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, October 28

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.  

ART OF TRANSIT: The turkeys are out, but it's not even holiday yet. Hmm. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The turkeys are out, but it’s not even holiday yet. Hmm. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gold Line lays final tracks in Azusa, project 80 percent complete (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the completion of track work for the Measure R-funded 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border. The article provides a nice overview of the project and its long history along with a look forward:

Monrovia is betting that $25 million in Metro and state funding for a transit plaza, a promenade for live music and food trucks, and a new park with an amphitheater will connect the south part of town and Gold Line station to its vibrant north Myrtle Avenue location.

Duarte, not to be outdone, has plans for a hotel and a movie theater, said Mayor Liz Reilly, both amenities Monrovia has had for years. “We will be closer to the Gold Line station than they (Monrovia) are,” she said.

The Duarte station lies across the street from its largest employer, City of Hope, a nationally known research and cancer treatment hospital that employs 4,300 people, many of whom she hopes will take the train to and from work.

But as the mountains sat down at the mouth of San Gabriel Canyon, the tracks reached APU/Citrus College station at the doorstep of the 1,250-home Rosedale planned development. It may be the first suburban housing project built train-station ready with a plaza to be built within walking distance.

Go get ‘em, Duarte! :) The Monrovia Station will be interesting as the tracks are on the south side of the 210 and the city’s very nice downtown sits about a mile away on the north side of the freeway. It’s not a crazy long distance between the two, but it’s a walk or bike ride through a more commercial area. It will be very interesting as the years go by to see what kind of linkage develops.

One other note: the views of the San Gabriel Mountains from the Foothill Extension tracks should be crazy good. Metro is currently forecasting an early 2016 opening for the line.

How commute times stack up (L.A. Times) 

The graphic compares 2013 median commute times to the previous year’s times (I think), with much of our region hovering around the national average of 25.4 minutes. Any readers care to hazard a guess why more centrally located Alhambra and East L.A. have greater average times than Santa Clarita, a northern ‘burb?

An accompanying story on the annual Texas Transportation Institute rankings for traffic delays, says our region has climbed back to the No. 2 position behind only the Washington D.C. area. I’m not a huge fan of such rankings — which seem to suggest that city dwellers should expect blissful quick commutes all the time — but an accompanying article has some interesting observations:

The good news, in the long view: Annual congestion-related delay for Greater Los Angeles is still below the peak of 79 hours per motorist reached in 2006, when gas prices were low and the economy was booming. The rise in average commute times is only a few minutes more than in 1990.

Wachs said it’s likely people are adjusting their work and travel habits to avoid commuting during rush hour. They work at home, change hours, move closer to their jobs and otherwise try to travel during off-peak periods.

Brian Taylor, an urban planning professor at UCLA, agreed with Wachs and Pisarski but cautioned that rising commute times may involve factors beyond street and highway congestion.

For example, longer travel distances and greater use of bicycles and public transit can increase trip times. Such a shift might be underway in the Los Angeles area, where the portion of those driving to work has dipped by as many as three percentage points since 1990.

 

My own three cents: most of my friends and acquaintances have pretty normal commutes whether driving, taking transit or walking and/or biking. The folks I know with the really long commutes tend to take Metrolink to travel from outlying ‘burbs to downtown L.A., although I have one friend who has a long-ish drive between Claremont and Riverside. Whereas in the ’90s I knew some people driving crazy long distances (San Juan Capistrano to DTLA, for example) on a daily basis, many people I know seem to be giving more thought to their commutes and transit that may be available when picking places to live, work and play.

New York MTA told it must focus on repairs, not growth (New York Times) 

Some back and forth between the New York MTA — which operates the busy New York Subway system — and the watchdog Citizens Budget Commission. The agency says its capital plan includes money for improvements that riders want, along with a second phase of the Second Avenue Subway (the first phase is under construction). The group points to increasing ridership on the subway and says modernizing the system and maintenance should be the first priorities.

The lost navigator (High Country News) 

Touching essay by Jane Koerner on her father succumbing to Parkinson’s Disease.

After church, he took us on drives into the country, navigating the gravel roads by instinct and the position of the sun. No street signs for guidance, acres and acres of plowed prairie the color of daylight, an occasional farmhouse with a bleached barn — nothing like my mountainous Colorado home. Dad never needed to consult a road map…He was fascinated by trains. From the comfort of his easy chair, with the TV chattering nearby, he’d plot a course across the Western United States and Canada, using the railroad timetables and histories that crowded his bookshelf.

Today’s fun, easy article to read on transit that doesn’t involve transit: Why fast food chains’ love (and deny) having secret menus (New Yorker) I knew about In-N-Out’s animal style fries but I really didn’t know about the 3×3. Which now I want. And certainly don’t need.

Shoe shine stand opens in Union Station

The first shoe shine stand at Union Station in decades opened Monday, as the stand’s attendant Marco Ramirez and his team began working their magic earlier this morning. Among the stand’s first customers were Metro Board Member and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Metro CEO Art Leahy.

The shoe shine stand is located at the west end of the Union Station passageway near the Famima convenience store. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A shine costs six dollars. Customers will be seated in a beautiful four-seat historic replica of an early 20th century shoe shine stand while their scuffed and dull shoes are buffed, brushed, polished and rejuvenated.

The opening of the shoe shine stand is emblematic of the revitalization of Union Station as a major transit hub, and is one of a growing number of amenities for the 60,000 commuters that travel through the station each day.

Most recently, T&Y Bakery opened near the Amtrak ticketing area. The Metro Board of Directors has also approved leases for Café Crepe, two food and beverage kiosks in the East Portal, and a gastropub in the Fred Harvey Room that will be managed by downtown restauranteurs Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman.

Mr. Ramirez, a U.S. Army veteran, has shined shoes at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in downtown Los Angeles for 31 years and also manages the shoe shine stand at the U.S. Bank Building. He will run the stand in Union Station along with his colleagues Filemon Ruano, Kevin Dixon and David Trejo.

Metro Presents: Invisible Cities to perform acoustic opera at Union Station

Invisible Cities opera took place at Union Station in 2013. Photo courtesy of Alissa Walker.

Invisible Cities opera took place at Union Station in 2013. Photo courtesy of Alissa Walker.

Last year, Invisible Cities performed a haunting “silent” opera at Union Station. This Wednesday, Metro Presents brings you a free acoustic concert performance of the award-winning opera in the Union Station Historic Ticketing Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. and seating is first come, first served. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Union Station is accessible via Metro Rail, Metro Bus and several municipal bus lines. Use the Trip Planner for routes and connections. Car and bicycle parking are also available on site.

Transportation headlines, Monday, October 27

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.  

Art of Transit: 

Bicycle traffic deaths soar; California leads nation (L.A. Times)

Sobering news from a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Assn.: bicycle deaths across the U.S. rose 16 percent between 2010 and 2012. California led the nation with 123 deaths; California, of course, is the nation’s most populous state. For perspective, 2,816 motorists were killed in California in 2012.

Perhaps one of the most notable trends bicycling-wise is that adults 20 or older are now most often the victims compared to the 1970s, when most victims were 19 or younger. Alcohol and not wearing a helmet continue to be major factors in bike accidents these days. Experts also say there may be more bike commuters these days.

Does this mean that biking is unsafe? Of course not — plenty of people use their bikes every day with no incident. As with most other things in life, there are some good safety precautions worth taking. Please see the bike page on metro.net, which has plenty of commuting and safety tips and links to other sites. It’s especially important as daylight savings time ends this weekend, meaning it will be getting dark out during many peoples’ afternoon commutes.

Niall Horan took London Underground and his fans can’t handle it (BuzzFeed) 

The One Direction singer takes a selfie on a train. Most of the people around him seemingly fail to notice or care or experience a life-changing moment. On social media…it’s a different story.

Our highways’ toll on wildlife (New York Times) 

Spring and fall are usually the time when most animal-vehicle collisions occur, owing to wildlife migrations. This op-ed offers some useful advice — be careful, especially on two-lane roads in rural areas — and argues that more specialized wildlife crossings (i.e. bridges and tunnels) should be built to get critters across the road. Caltrans and the National Park Service are talking about a wildlife crossing under the 101 to help mountain lions and other animals migrate between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills — although lack of funding will be a big challenge.

Obviously we have our share of wildlife, often living in or near the L.A. metro area. So please be careful driving on mountain and suburban roads where everything from deer to raccoons to coyotes may be common. I was hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains on Sunday and came around a curve (slowly!) near Dawson’s Saddle and encountered a pair of bighorn sheep, one of which is shown below:

Photo by Steve Hymon.

Photo by Steve Hymon.

Quasi-related: The Angeles Crest Highway, shown above, may not offer transit service but there are plenty of trails and hikes reachable via transit in our area. In fact, we did a series of “Trailhead Hunter” posts in the past about this. Check ‘em out: Griffith Park, L.A. State Historic Park (currently closed while being renovated) and Temescal Canyon. Also, you can reach Eaton Canyon Nature Center by taking the Gold Line to Sierra Madre Villa Station and transferring to the Metro 264 Bus and exiting at the intersection of Altadena Avenue and New York Drive. From there, it’s a relatively short walk to the Nature Center, which includes trails and access to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road.

Dubai: gold prizes offered for public transport users (BBC)

One million dirham in prizes (equivalent to about $272,000) are being given away as part of a promotion to entice residents to take transit. Included in the prizes are nearly nine pounds of pure gold. The BBC says car ownership rates in Dubai are some of the highest in the world at 2.3 vehicles per family. That said, car ownership rates in the U.S. overall are far higher than in the United Arab Emirates.

Cars remain king and barrier to economic opportunity (Brookings Institution)

The think tank crunched Census Bureau numbers and found that in many metro areas, zero-vehicle households are still driving to work, often in great numbers by borrowing cars or carpooling. Excerpt:

Our work has found that nearly all zero-vehicle households live in neighborhoods with transit service, but those routes only connect them to 40 percent of jobs within 90 minutes. On the flip side, the Urban Institute found vehicle availability can improve economic outcomes for housing voucher recipients, especially in terms of neighborhood choice. Little wonder then that many car-less commuters find a vehicle to get to work.

The big goal for policymakers at all government levels is to improve access to jobs, for all workers and across all transportation modes.

Brookings also notes the recent work by the University of Minnesota that ranked large metro areas by access to the most jobs via transit. The Los Angeles metro area fared well, ranking third in the country. Hard to argue with Brookings’ conclusion that improving mobility across all modes is a worthy goal — the more options, the better, I think.