Understanding why the 710 gap is being studied and what is being considered

As many readers are surely aware, the ongoing studies to improve traffic in the area around the gap in the 710 freeway just finished their latest round of community meetings. Not surprisingly, the meetings got a lot of fur flying in some communities — the reason I wanted to post today to explain exactly what is being studied, why it’s being studied and what might come of it.

First, I want to be very clear about something and I’m going to put it in large, bold letters to emphasize my point: DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD FROM A FRIEND, NEIGHBOR, POLITICIAN, PERSON IN LINE AT THE COFFEE SHOP, ETC., NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE BY METRO OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCY TO BUILD ANYTHING. INCLUDING A TUNNEL. 

As someone who has watched this issue percolate for many moons, I am going to do my best to explain what is being discussed and studied by Metro:

WHY IS METRO STUDYING THE 710 GAP ISSUE?

In 2008, nearly 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase to help fund 12 transit projects and a long list of highway projects. Among those was a project to address traffic issues raised by the four-mile gap in the 710 freeway between Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and California Avenue in Pasadena. The project is set to receive $780 million in Measure R funding.

Measure R did not obligate Metro to build any particular 710 project, although its passage did obligate Metro to study the issue and determine if a project was warranted — just like every other project listed in the Measure R expenditure plan. To put it another way, Measure R obligated Metro to come up with possible project alternatives and then decide if any of the alternatives were worth pursuing — which is the lovely and fascinating process we have before you now.

WHO WILL MAKE THE FINAL DECISION ON A 710 PROJECT?

At the end of the day it will be up to Metro’s 13-member Board of Directors who oversee the agency; Board Members either elected officials or their appointees. There’s a good reason for this: elected officials are accountable by the public at the ballot box.

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Go Metro Weekends, Aug 17 – 19

Long Beach Funkfest 2011. Photo from LB Funkfest official Facebook

This Friday, get your hula on at the East L.A. Civic Center amphitheatre. The Kilohana Performing Arts Company will be there to teach the art of hula during this week’s J.A.M. Session. The free dance lesson starts at 6 p.m. and is open to all ages. A free outdoor movie screening follows at 8:30 p.m. (Metro Gold Line to East L.A. Civic Center Station, Metro Bus 258 to Mednik/3rd)

The Long Beach Funkfest takes place on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. The free event features dancers, vendors, a kids’ zone and live performances. Learn how to sustain your future through funk and enjoy a day out with the family. Go Metro and receive a 10% discount on festival merchandise. The festival takes place on the intersection of Pine and East Broadway in downtown Long Beach. (Metro Blue Line to Long Beach Transit Mall Station, check Trip Planner for connections to Long Beach Transit buses)

This year’s Grand Performances are winding down, so make sure to catch a show before they close up shop. This Sunday, visit California Plaza and to see The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs on stage at 8 p.m. The “monologue” will be read by Chinese, Mexican, Korean and Japanese American performers, emphasizing the influence of one man on the global marketplace. The event is free, and free bike valet is offered for those who ride to attend. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square Station, exit 4th/Hill, Metro Bus 84 to 4th/Hill)

Transportation headlines, Friday, August 17

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.

East L.A. sounds off at 710 meeting (EGPNews.com)

The proposed project that could widen the southern end of the 710 to handle more freight traffic from the ports didn’t get a great reception at a recent community meeting. Commerce residents and business owners feared losing properties and others said that widening the freeway would worsen air quality instead of improving it by helping traffic move better. The 710 south battle, in my view, is going to come down to this simple question: is the status quo acceptable?

XPressWest train likely to fail (Reason Foundation)

The Libertarian thinktank has kicked the steel wheels of the proposed bullet train between Victorville and Las Vegas and responds — surprise! — negatively. The big problem is that the project is seeking a $5.5-billion federal loan that the Reason Foundation believes is a risky proposition because of questionable ridership. In other words, how many people are willing to drive to Victorville and then board a train for the rest of the journey?

What’s the fastest way to travel along Wilshire Boulevard? (L.A. Streetsblog)

Four competitors decided to have a race on a section of Wilshire between roughly Bundy Drive and Beverly Glen. There was a cyclist, a guy driving his truck, a pedestrian and a passenger on the Metro Rapid bus. To see who won the gold, read the post — although I guessed the order of finish before I read it.

Aerial views of the new El Monte Station

Above are a pair of nice aerial photos taken earlier this week of the new El Monte Station, which is scheduled to open this fall.

Big Blue Bus service changes coming next week to better serve Expo Line

The idea is to better connect the Expo Line to both downtown Santa Monica and Westwood and UCLA. Here’s the news from the Big Blue Bus website:

Big News: Fall Service Begins August 26 & 27

Read all about new Rapid 12 and Rapid 20, and changes to Routes 2, 5, 11 and Rapid 10:

New! Starting August 27, use Rapid 20 to ride non-stop between downtown Santa Monica and the Expo Culver City station via the 10 Freeway for only $1 (regular cash fare; $0.50 for S/D/M)! Hop on at one of the three Rapid 20 stops:

Broadway at 6th St.

4th at Santa Monica Place

Robertson between Washington and Venice (just around the corner from the entrance to the Expo Culver City station)

New! Starting August 27, Super 12 becomes Rapid 12 for an even faster ride between Westwood/UCLA and the Expo Culver City station! Some stops are being eliminated (but will still be served by Local 12) and the Culver City stop is being relocated to northbound Robertson between Venice and Washington.

Route 5: Starting August 26, trips to Century City/Expo Culver City will be permanently rerouted in downtown Santa Monica due to Expo rail construction. Please board at either the stop on Arizona at 5th St. or at the stop on Colorado at 7th St. Route 5 will no longer stop on: 4th St. at Broadway, Wilshire or Santa Monica Blvd. or on Colorado at 4th St.

Maps and schedules are coming soon. Have questions in the meantime? Call customer service at (310) 451-5444 or send us an email.

 

Freeway and road signs to begin featuring warnings about Carmageddon II

LOS ANGELES: Over the weekend of August 18-19, 64 Changeable Message Signs (CMS) located on most Los Angeles County freeways will begin displaying information about the upcoming closure of the San Diego Freeway (I-405).

The closure, scheduled over the September 29-30 weekend, is necessary to replace the second half of the Mulholland Bridge as part of the northbound I-405 carpool lane construction project between the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) and the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101). When completed, this project will create a continuous carpool lane in both directions of I-405 in Los Angeles County.

Northbound I-405 will be closed from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101). Southbound I-405 will be closed from U.S. 101 to Getty Center Drive. The CMS notices will begin appearing the evening of Friday, August 17 and will be in effect every weekend until two weeks before the closure; at that time, the message will be displayed around the clock.

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EZ passes moving to a new home on TAP

Here’s a new Metro release on the move of EZ passes from paper onto TAP. The migration begins Sept. 1 but senior/disabled patrons have until Nov. 1 to apply for and receive their new ID cards. Application forms can be downloaded from the web but also are available at Metro Customer Centers and pass outlets all over the region.

The EZ transit pass — the monthly pass good for travel on 25 different public transit carriers throughout Los Angeles County — will begin the transition from paper to TAP cards Sept. 1, making it easier for customers to travel without transfers, renew their passes each month and replace their cards, should they be lost of stolen. The EZ transit pass is one of the last paper passes to transition to smart card technology.

The EZ transit pass will be electronically loaded onto the familiar blue TAP card for regular riders or the orange Reduced TAP ID card for senior and/or disabled riders.  A stamp with the month, year and zone designation will be affixed to the front of each card so that the card can be visually inspected on non-TAP systems.

To help customers with the transition, the new reusable TAP cards will be free for a limited time with the purchase of an EZ transit pass.

The move from EZ transit pass paper passes to TAP will continue until Nov. 1 for senior and disabled patrons to give them extra time to apply for and receive their new reduced-fare TAP ID cards. Applications can be downloaded from the web at metro.net/riding/fares/senior.  They also are available at all Metro Customer Centers and pass sales outlets.

The new EZ transit passes on TAP will make it easier to renew the passes each month. When an EZ transit pass expires, another pass can be loaded onto the card at a pass sales outlet, or at the official TAP website: taptogo.net. There will be no need to purchase a new TAP card each month because the card can be used again and again for up to three years.  Customers can protect their cards and their pass or stored value balance from loss by requesting balance protection by calling 1.866.TAPTOGO (1.866.827.8646).  The card and balance can be replaced for just $5.

EZ transit pass fares are $84 per month, or $35 for senior/disabled patrons. Although there is no extra charge for transfers between participating carriers, in some cases there are zone charges, which will be addressed as they are now, either by paying for a monthly pass with zones, or by paying the zone fare when boarding, either in cash or with stored value loaded onto the TAP card. (Bus operators will notify patrons, should zone charges pertain.)

EZ transit passes are sold at Metro Customer Centers and nearly 600 participating vendors  region-wide, including Nix Check Cashing, Continental Currency Services and selected Ralph’s markets. Search EZ transit pass outlets on taptogo.net to find a convenient location near you.

 

UPDATE: Here are the answers to three questions readers have been asking –

1. The EZ Pass sticker needed for your TAP card will be mailed to those who buy the pass online.

2. Because the EZ Pass needs a sticker, they are not available at Metro ticket machines.

3. The EZ Pass can be loaded onto an existing TAP card. You don’t need to buy a new card to get the pass.