Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Sept. 4

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.

Measure J examined (The Transport Politic)

Yonah Freemark takes a look at some of the pros and cons of the proposal by Metro to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax by 30 years, from 2039 to 2069.

Bus rapid transit in Chicago won't be so rapid (Chicago Tribune)

The Trib's transpo columnist takes a look at the Windy City's first BRT which mostly will not have its own lane or some other features usually associated with bus rapid transit projects.

Why do bike tires stink? (Grist)

The 'Ask Umbra' column tackles the question of why bike tires must be inflated much more often than car tires. Answer: it's the way the tires are manufactured and the phenomenon of high pressure — the air in bike tires really just wants to escape.

Obama Administration to states: get ready for more transit oversight (The Hill)

In a letter recently sent to 26 states with major transit agencies, federal officials said the recent federal transpo bill gives them the authority to set national safety standards for local transit operation. “Public transit remains one of the safest ways to travel in the U.S., and we intend to keep it that way,” wrote U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

What will it take for climate change to become an issue? (New York Times)

In days of yore — like 2005 — activists predicted that weather calamaties would finally focus the public's attention on the issue of climate change. Well, the world has seen plenty of wacky and (sadly) deadly weather in the past couple of years, but the presidential candidates are still treating climate change as if it's highly radioactive. It's gotten so bad that the League of Conservation Voters has started an online petition to ask debate moderator Jim Lehrer to force Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to talk about it during their first encounter next month.

Expo Line service to USC football kicks off with big crowds!

The new Expo Line did what it was designed to do this afternoon, carrying many USC fans to the Trojans’ football season opener against Hawaii. It is the first time in nearly six decades that there has been train service to a football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Extra service was added on the Expo Line and throughout the Metro system and up to now everything has been running smoothly. “It’s a great start for a new L.A.-Trojan-Metro tradition,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy.

Here are some photos taken this afternoon by Metro’s Marc Littman:

The last photo shows the command center that Metro is using near USC to monitor train service.

All structural work complete for I-210 bridge for Gold Line Foothill Extension!

Here's the news release issued today by the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, which is building the 11.5-mile line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border:

MONROVIA, Calif. – After more than one year of intense activity, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) announced today that all structural work has been completed on the I-210 Gold Line Bridge. This announcement follows the recent completion of post-tensioning activities (internal strengthening of the structure through tensioning of supportive steel bands) and grouting of all internal ducts – the last steps in the process to complete the structural elements of the 584-linear foot, $18.6 million rail bridge.

“The bridge can now stand on its own,” said Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian. “This is an important milestone in our progress to complete the bridge, and we commend Skanska USA for their hard work and ability to meet the project deadlines while providing excellent craftsmanship.”

With the structure now fully secure on its own, the temporary support structure will now be removed. The “falsework,” which was installed in a series of nighttime closures in February and March 2012, has supported the bridge while under construction. Up to 20 nighttime closures of the eastbound I-210 Freeway will take place over the next six weeks to safely remove this temporary structure.

“The removal of the falsework is even more challenging than the installation,” said Balian. “When Skanska installed the support structure there was nothing around. Now they need to work around the bridge, as well as over an active freeway.”

To safeguard the traveling public, full closures of the eastbound I-210 Freeway are planned. For each of these consecutive closures, the eastbound I-210 Freeway will be closed between Baldwin and Santa Anita Aves. from Midnight until 5:00 a.m. The first closures will occur starting late Tuesday, Sept. 4, and include closures on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Closures will continue the following week, starting late Sunday, Sept. 9, and continue through early morning Friday, Sept. 14. Additional dates will be announced as they are scheduled, with work expected to continue through mid-October.

“We understand that these closures can be inconvenient and we appreciate the community’s patience,” added Balian. “We encourage motorists and truckers who can use other routes to do so.”

When finished, the bridge will feature columns designed to resemble Native American baskets, in recognition of the first residents of the area – the Gabrieleno/Tongva Tribe. The baskets are under development now, and will be installed after the falsework removal process is complete.

The bridge is on schedule to be completed in December 2012. In addition to the upcoming basket installation, additional work to be completed on the bridge includes: concrete placement for the barrier walls on either side of the deck, building retaining walls on the ingress and egress to the bridge, landscaping and lighting. In December, the bridge will be turned over to the Construction Authority, and future work to add the utilities, track and other light rail features.

To learn more or receive construction alerts and project updates, sign-up at: http://www.foothillextension.org/ or follow the project on Facebook and Twitter. To receive text alerts about freeway closures, text from your cell phone “GOLDLINENEWS” to 888777.

About the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority)

The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1999 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment from Union Station to Pasadena and is underway on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Foothill Extension is a nearly $1.6 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments. The first segment, Pasadena to Azusa, is funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R and currently underway. The 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa segment will be completed in late 2015 and includes future stations in the cities of Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $500 million will be overseen by the Construction Authority to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment, including the $18.6 million I-210 Gold Line Bridge, awarded to Skanska USA in June 2010 and a $486 million contract awarded in July 2011 to Foothill Transit Constructors (FTC). The Azusa to Montclair segment is currently undergoing final environmental review.

For more information, visit: www.foothillextension.org.

 

September Metro Service Council meetings

Agendas have been set for September’s five Service Council meetings, though changes may be made prior to the meeting dates. For a listing of the dates, times and locations of all five Service Council meetings, click here. For more information about each service council, click on the name of the service council listed below.

All September Council meetings include a report from Metro Service Council Director Jon Hillmer providing monthly and year to date statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. In addition, a recent motion introduced by Director Antonovich for Regional Airport – Rail Connectivity Plan will be discussed, with Chris Haskell, a Metro Transportation Planning Manager, providing a brief report on the motion at all council meetings.

We wrote last month about corridor studies being conducted throughout the year by each Service Council. Councils will be discussing the corridor study in their area at their October meetings. We will feature an article on the various corridor studies each Council is involved with sometime in September.

Continue reading

Metro, Kiewet to open first two rebuilt Wilshire ramps three weeks early

Here's the news release from Metro:

Los Angeles, Calif. – The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and its contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, plan to open two key ramps — the Westbound Wilshire on-ramp to the Northbound I-405 and the Northbound I-405 off-ramp to Westbound Wilshire — on Friday, August 31 to L.A. motorists, approximately three weeks earlier than scheduled and just in time for Labor Day weekend.

The ramp closures, popularly known as “Ramp Jam” or “Rampture,” were originally scheduled for 90-day closures that officially began on June 22. They were originally scheduled to reopen September 22.

Kiewit benefited from built-in contract incentives to complete work early in efforts by Metro to reduce the duration of traffic impacts resulting from major construction activities. Work crews worked day and night to demolish and rebuild the ramps. Additionally, the project team scheduled the work after UCLA’s quarter ended in June, resulting in lighter local traffic conditions that allowed construction crews to take all needed lane closures and accelerate their work.

Continue reading


Your playbook for taking Metro to USC football

Tomorrow is a big — no make that huge — day for the Expo Line. The University of Southern California is opening its football season at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum as the number one ranked team in the country and the game against Hawaii is the first chance for Expo to take people to the game and avoid the usual traffic quagmire. (News release and video here).

Below you will find a very good guide put together showing how to take Metro trains and/or buses to reach the Coliseum from different parts of Los Angeles County (pdf here).

There is free or paid parking at a number of Metro Rail stations. Here's the link to parking info for each line. In addition, there are numerous public and private parking lots and garages near Metro Rail in Culver City (Expo Line), Hollywood (Red Line), Old Town Pasadena (Gold Line), Long Beach (Blue Line) and downtown Los Angeles (Red, Purple, Blue and Expo lines). There is also public parking at Union Station for $6 a day.

For those concerned that transit could put a crimp in their ability to tailgate, here's an idea: grab some food to go, arrive early and stake out a picnic spot in Exposition Park or on USC's campus. There's no eating or drinking on Metro trains or buses — it's the best way to keep them clean — but you can bring food in a bag.

Finally, give yourself a few extra minutes and load enough money to cover the cost of your fare on your way to the game; it will make leaving the game easier. It's obviously a big game for the Trojans for a whole lot of reasons and a huge crowd is expected. There will be significantly more trains running than usual, but there could still be lines, particularly after the game when everyone tries to head home at once. Metro will do its best to get everyone home safely and quickly.

Go Metro Guide to USC Football

 

Tech issues on metro.net today

As some of you may have seen by now, metro.net is having problems this afternoon and, to be perfectly blunt, isn't working. I think The Source is okay as long as people access the blog directly and don't go through the Metro website.

 

The tech team here at Metro HQ is working on it and hopefully everything will be back in working order soon. The agency apologizes for any inconvenience.