Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Sept. 25

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 panorama of the 405 freeway during Carmageddon I, as seen from Mountain Gate. Photo by Asim Bharwandi, via Flickr creative commons.

Gearing up for a big vote on downtown Streetcar project (Blogdowntown)

This is it: property owners near the proposed four-mile streetcar line in downtown Los Angeles will be voting by mail in late November whether to tax themselves to raise $62.5 million for the project. L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar says that without the money, there will be no project — the local funds are needed to secure federal matching funds that are necessary to pay for the $125-million streetcar. Here’s the planned route.

Busy roadways and childhood asthma (Science Blog)

A study by USC and others published in Environmental Perspectives concludes that at least eight percent of 300,000 childhood asthma cases in Los Angeles County can be attributed to living within about 250 feet of a busy roadway. The relationship between asthma and proximity to freeways has, of course, been studied previously. This research attempts to better quantify the issue. I’m not sure these results are hugely surprising. I also think these numbers suggest there’s a bigger issue: air quality in our region is improved but often still lousy — perhaps the reason that so many kids have asthma who don’t live immediately adjacent to a busy roadway.

Would funds for high-speed rail be better spent on intercity rail improvements? (Wall Street Journal)

A good debate between two experts on a key piece of Obama Administration policy: the heavy investment in high-speed rail. On the one hand, bullet trains could be a game-changing move that transforms the way people travel between cities. On the other hand, those funds could be used to fund many useful fixes in today’s rail system. I hope this issue comes up in the presidential debates: it would be a chance for President Obama to defend his policies and it would provide Mitt Romney the opportunity to say if he favors any kind of government role in passenger rail travel in the U.S.

A history of BART (BART)

Nicely done video from the agency that runs regional heavy rail in the Bay Area.

New Apple iPhone and software to transit users: get a car!

We’ve known for several months this was coming: the operating system that runs the most recent iPhones and iPads (known as ios6) has been updated with a new maps application. Gone are Google Maps and public transit directions, replaced with a map app by Apple that kicks public transit to the curb, so to speak.

What happens in ios6 when you ask for directions using transit in Apple’s maps? You’re referred to a list of apps in the Apple store that may or may not have anything to do with transit directions in the part of the world where you live.

Sigh. Welcome to the “biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone!”

The photo above is Apple headquarters in Cupertino and its voluminous parking lots. Perhaps it’s not a stretch to suggest that transit directions are gone from the native map app in iPhones because a:) it takes a lot of time, effort and money to collect all the data from transit agencies and crunch it into useable software, as Google did, and; b) it doesn’t look like too worker/programming bees are taking transit to work at Apple HQ.

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Carmageddon's billboard campaign

Photo by Ned Racine/Metro.

Just in case anyone has forgotten.

Oh yeah: you’ll be seeing a lot more of these thanks to a digital billboard campaign by Clear Channel to make sure everyone knows about Carmageddon II. If you missed the announcement last week, the news release is after the jump.

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Pics from the Sunset Boulevard bridge full re-opening

Here is the video and a few pics from this morning, when the newly reconstructed Sunset Boulevard Bridge over the 405 freeway fully reopened:

The view about 8 a.m. this morning looking south with the new, wider bridge in the foreground. Photo by Ned Racine/Metro.

The last of the pylons being picked up on Sunset Boulevard early Monday morning. Photo by Dave Sotero/Metro.

The first car across the new bridge at 5:33 a.m. Monday. Photo by Ned Racine/Metro.

Metrolink adding service between L.A. and Chatsworth during 405 closure

Here's the news release from Metrolink, the commuter rail agency partially funded by Metro:

Los Angeles – Metrolink is adding seven round-trips on its Ventura County line, between Los Angeles and Chatsworth, to provide Southern Californians with more public transportation options during the second closure of Interstate 405. This service is in addition to regularly-scheduled trains on the Antelope Valley, Orange County, Inland Empire-Orange County and San Bernardino lines. Metrolink's popular $10 Weekend Pass provides riders unlimited system-wide travel privileges from Friday at 7 p.m. until the last train on Sunday night.

Special Ventura County Service will operate Chatsworth to Los Angeles Union Station, with stops in between at Glendale, Downtown Burbank, Burbank – Bob Hope Airport, Van Nuys and Northridge.

During the first closure of the 405, Metrolink experienced record weekend ridership and weekend pass sales. This year, there are even more reasons to ride Metrolink. Metrolink and Los Angeles World Airports have a partnership that allows Metrolink Monthly Passholders with a boarding pass to ride the Flyaway for free on the day of their flight. Additionally, Metrolink recently launched a retention program in line with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (Metro) “Eat, Shop, and Play Locally” theme that allows partnering businesses to offer discounts to Metrolink riders. This allows Metrolink to support local businesses, while rewarding the loyalty of valued customers. Please visit for a list of participating businesses.

Riders can also connect to Metro buses and light rail at no additional charge to access destinations along their extensive network. To view all of Metro's special destination discounts for the Carmageddon Weekend and other event information available, please visit

Metrolink's Carmageddon weekend schedule can be found below or online at


Transportation headlines, Monday, September 24

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.

The 405 during Carmageddon I. Photo by Paul Lovine, via Flickr creative commons.

New fears in Los Angeles as highway closes again (New York Times)

Actually the story goes to great lengths to contradict the alarmist headline, arguing that officials are worried about traffic during this year’s Carmageddon because last year’s went too well — and perhaps not so many people will leave their cars parked. It doesn’t help that this year’s closure of the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, beginning this Friday night (in case you’ve just returned to Earth) is in September as opposed to July, when L.A. tends to operate in a “lower gear.” Officials again repeat that the chance of the road opening early this year is not very good due to work that has to be done demolishing the north side of the Mulholland Drive bridge. If you’re going to Wilco Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl, please consider taking public transit or one of the bowl shuttles, please.

The 710: spine of the L.A. freeway system and its missing link (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

A very long story takes a more comprehensive look at the 710 freeway and issues facing it, including two Metro studies underway to improve traffic on the southern end by adding truck lanes and a study in the north end that seeks to improve traffic in the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. One big issue: how to cope with freight from the ports? Another issue: not everyone agrees there is a gap, with those opposing a potential tunnel saying it would be a freeway “extension,” not a gap closure. Putting aside arguments over semantics and facts — it’s a fact there is gap in the northern 710 — the real issue being debated is this: can we ever improve freeway performance or is it all for naught because new roads tend to quickly fill up with traffic?

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Metro, Kiewit complete major reconstruction work on Sunset bridge, reopen all lanes to Westside motorists

This is a nice kickoff to Carmageddon week. Here’s the news release from Metro:

Los Angeles, Calif. – Marking the first bridge delivery milestone for the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and its contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, have officially completed major reconstruction work on the Sunset Bridge over the I-405 in West Los Angeles, and today reinstated all traffic lanes to motorists.

The new Sunset Bridge is higher, longer and significantly wider at 120 feet — approximately 30 feet wider than before.  It features two additional traffic lanes and higher capacity on- and off-ramps to improve area traffic flows and reduce congestion on local streets.  Motorists will now enjoy dedicated turn lanes to access freeway ramps, and motorists traveling east/west through the bridge will be able to do so more quickly.

“The completion of the Sunset Bridge brings us one step closer to a faster, more efficient transportation network on the West Side of Los Angeles,” said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “The Sunset Bridge is a crucial connection to the 405 Freeway and these improvements will provide much-needed relief to the residents who travel in the area.”

A gateway to UCLA to the east and Brentwood and Santa Monica to the west, the Sunset Bridge typically accommodates between 18,000 and 22,000 motorists on an average weekday.  It is a critical, freeway-accessible segment of Sunset, a major east/west arterial for the Westside.  The reopening is anticipated to bring much-needed relief to local residents and commuters who have endured approximately two years of construction-related traffic impacts.

“The completion of major bridge work at Sunset will provide immediate relief to the many thousands of drivers who use Sunset Boulevard to traverse West Los Angeles every day,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member. “While this construction process has not been easy on anyone, the benefits are certainly worth it for anyone trying to negotiate the Sunset/405 interchange.  I’m confident these capacity improvements will better prepare the Westside for the traffic demands of tomorrow.”

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