House committee to hold hearing on proposed federal courthouse in downtown L.A.

The proposed site of a new federal courthouse in downtown L.A. Image by Google Maps.

Familiar with the big, empty block between 1st and 2nd streets and Hill and Broadway? The plan for years was to build a federal courthouse there. That’s the plan, anyway. But the project is getting increased scrutiny in Congress, which has yet to release the money to pay for a new building, which would be across the street from the 2nd/Broadway station for the Regional Connector and near an existing Civic Center subway station entrance at 1st/Hill. Here’s the details from Metro’s government relations team:

House Transportation Committee to Hold Hearing Next Friday in Los Angeles on Planned Federal Courthouse

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, under the leadership of its Chairman, California Congressman Jeff Denham (R-19), is scheduled to hold a hearing in Los Angeles on August 17, 2012. The hearing is entitled, “LA Courthouse: GSA’s Plan To Spend $400 million To Create Vacant Space.” The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 17, 2012 at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse located at 255 East Temple Street in the City of Los Angeles. According to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s website, “Subcommittee Chairman Denham and Full Committee Chairman Mica are leading Congressional efforts to eliminate waste in our government by reducing our federal footprint and better utilizing federally owned assets.” According to the website, “The L.A. Courthouse project is a prime example of runaway government spending that will cost taxpayers in excess of $400 million.”

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard (D-34), a member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations and a strong advocate for our agency in Congress, praised the General Services Administration for issuing a new proposal – for the long planned federal courthouse in Los  Angeles. In a press release issued by her office, the Congresswoman shared, “This new plan will create even more construction jobs for our community and is a win, win, win for the courts, federal employees and the people of Southern California.”

All aboard Expo for the dinosaur train

Want to take your kids to a fun, educational and air conditioned event? Go to the Natural History Museum this Saturday, August 11 and celebrate BIG BIG Dinosaur Day.

The event kicks off the start of DINOSAUR TRAIN’s BIG BIG Dinosaur Week on PBS Kids. You’ll get to meet Buddy the T. Rex, explore the NHM’s Dinosaur Hall, watch the premiere of a BIG BIG Dinosaurs episode and see series creator Craig Bartlett and his band perform songs from the show live.

The day starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Go Metro and get a discount on admission. The Natural History Museum is right next to the Expo/Vermont Station off the Expo Line, so hop on board and go have an adventure!

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Aug. 7

Photo by Anouralus via Flickr

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.

A month into all-door boarding, Muni reports faster lines (S.F.StreetsBlog)

As pointed out by our astute former colleague Carter Rubin, this story from San Francisco has meaning to the Southland. As transit agencies try out systems to keep buses moving faster, offer more service and keep fares low, San Francisco Muni is experimenting with all-door boarding and finding that it seems to be speeding up the passenger boarding process, at least on a couple of lines. Worth noting is that the bulk of the cost of running a bus line is paying the driver so anything that speeds up buses also can save the agency money — and, of course, time for commuters. But will fare evasion be effected?

L.A. ports cut emissions half or more since 2005 (Green Car Reports)

The cuts are the result of a multi-pronged Clean Air Action Plan that survived several court battles. According to the Journal of Commerce, the program imposes new requirements on shippers, freight haulers and the port’s own operations. It appears to be working big time.

Public transit moving smoothly at Olympics (Treehugger) 

Before the Olympics started there was anticipatory hysteria over whether the aging subway system could handle all the tourists to the Olympic sites, as well as commuters to work. So far the system has performed magnificently, albeit with a few glitches.

Hottest neighborhoods in Los Angeles (Fix and Flip)

One of the best things about Culver City, the story says, is that it’s becoming, and will surely be, a major hub for public transportation in Los Angeles. The Expo Line opened its Culver City station in June and already boardings are more than 16,000 on weekdays.


The art of transit

photo by Warren Morse

We see lots of photos of cars and buses, trains and trucks but not so many of ducks … especially not riding motorcycles. But in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — actually, all over Vietnam — motorcycles are the transit of the people and in the cities bike traffic jams look like Sunset Boulevard during rush hour. From families of four on a single cycle to huge stand-up freezers propped precariously, motorcycles carry anything that needs transporting. This photo was taken out of a car window with a Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS,with a 6.2 – 18.6mm zoom.

To submit a photo for the Art of Transit, post it to Metro’s Flickr group, email it to sourcemetro@gmail.com or Tweet it to @metrolosangeles with an #artoftransit hashtag. Many of the photos we’ve featured can be seen in these galleries on Flickr.

Recap of today's Metro Board meeting

The Metro Board approved amendments to the Measure R ordinance and its extension, which included the motion by Director John Fasana to allow for the transfer of funds between the transit capital and highway capital subfunds within the same subregion.

Board members voted 10 – 1 to approve the Fasana amendment and to integrate the amendment into the existing Measure R Extension Ordinance, with Board Chairman Antonovich voting against and Director Mark Ridley-Thomas abstaining. The remaining portions of the item to place the amended Ordinance on the Nov. 6 ballot passed 9 – 3, with directors Antonovich, Knabe and Ridley-Thomas voting no. Mayor Villaraigosa was absent from today’s proceedings.

The amendments will be considered by voters with the Measure R extension language on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Board Chairman Antonovich proposed that members consider items 4 and 5 together within the context of a reevaluation of safety procedures. Here are links to the individual items:

  •  Update on the Expo Line / BLue Line junction, regarding Metro and CPUC investigation of an alignment issue on the junction at Washington Boulevard and Flower Street, where the Blue and Expo Lines merge. The report from the Metro Inspector General is still in progress and should be completed in the fall. 
  • And the Yaroslavsky motion to convene a Metro Blue Line Task Force to examine safety procedures and strategies for the Blue Line operation.

Directors approved the Yaroslavsky motion as amended by Director Mark Ridley-Thomas to establish public information protocols to report accident and service disruption information when incidents occur and regularly report the information to news media and via social media.

I-710 Corridor Project draft EIR/EIS statement released

CALTRANS has just released the Draft EIR/EIS 710 Corridor project for public review, including a schedule of related hearing times and locations. (Note that the first hearing is tomorrow.) The project is studying the I-710 Freeway between the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and the Pomona Freeway, looking for ways to ease traffic and improve air quality along the busy corridor.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the Gateway Cities Council of Governments, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Interstate 5 Joint Powers Authority have released the Draft EIR/EIS on the I-710 Corridor Project for a 60-day public review.

The environmental review is looking at proposals that would improve Interstate 710 (I-710) in Los Angeles County between Ocean Boulevard and State Route 60 (SR-60).

Major elements addressed in the Draft EIR/EIS include widening the I-710 freeway up to ten general purpose lanes (five lanes in each direction); modernizing and reconfiguring the I-405, SR-91 and a portion of the I-5 interchanges with the I-710; modernizing and reconfiguring most local arterial interchanges along the I-710; and looking at a provision of a separate four-lane freight corridor to be used by conventional or zero-emission trucks.

Caltrans and Metro will hold a series of public hearings in August to update the public on the Draft EIR/EIS and the potential effects this project may have on the environment. Those hearing dates are:

·        August 7, 2012 (6 – 9 p.m.) – Progress Park, 15500 Downey Ave., Paramount, Calif.

·        August 8, 2012, (6 – 9 p.m.) – Silverado Park Community Center, 1545 W. 31st Street, Long Beach, Calif.

·        August 9, 2012 (4 – 8 p.m.)  – Rosewood Park, 5600 Harbor Street, Commerce, Calif.

Electronic versions of the Draft EIR/EIS on compact disc also are available for review at public libraries throughout the I-710 corridor. The Draft EIR/EIS may also be viewed here.

In addition, copies of the Draft EIR/EIS are available for review at Caltrans District 7 Office, 100 South Main Street, in downtown Los Angeles; at Metro’s Dorothy Grey Transportation Library, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles; at Gateway Cities Council of Governments, 16401 Paramount Blvd., Paramount; at the City of Commerce Public Library, Bristow Park Branch, 1466 S. McDonnell Ave., Commerce; County of Los Angeles Public Library, 12000 South Garfield Ave., South Gate; the East Rancho Dominguez Library at 4205 East Compton Blvd, Compton; the Main Long Beach Public Library at 101 Pacific Ave, in Long Beach; and the Bret Harte Library at 1595 West Willow Street in Long Beach.

The public is encouraged to review the Draft EIR/EIR over the next 60 days and plan on attending the upcoming public hearings in August. The public is asked to assess whether or not the potential impacts have been addressed and provide any information that should be included in the final document. The public can submit written comments until August 29, 2012 to Ronald Kosinki, Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 South Main Street, MS 16A, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Transportation headlines, Monday, Aug. 6

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 orRSS feed.

Special Metro Board meeting discussing Measure R amendment (StreetsBlog LA)

The Metro Board meeting is currently underway. Under discussion today is a Measure R amendment that could allow a highway/transit funding swap. 

Slow road to Pasadena? (Daily News)

Caltrans wants to reduce the speed limit on the Pasadena Freeway from 55 to 45 mph. The goal is to make it safer and to “green up” the surrounding areas. Are safety and environmental concerns good enough reasons to slow us down a bit? What do you think? 

New late-night service gets a gold star from customers (Whittier Daily News)

A couple of comments on Metro’s new 2 a.m. late-night weekend service that went into effect July 27: “I’m ecstatic. This will make a huge difference. I’ll take the train a lot more.”  “It will help Old Pasadena for sure. It will entice a lot more people to stay later.” And “This one move I guarantee will cut the number of DUIs in half.” Wouldn’t that be great. 

Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe draws thousands to Coliseum (L.A. Times)

Tens of thousands gathered at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum yesterday to honor the symbol of the Catholic Church in what organizers called “the largest celebration of the Virgin Mary in a generation.” And many took the new Metro Expo Line, which stops nearby.