Here’s the letter that California’s Democratic House members sent today:
Lots of people are ready to get their Valentine’s Day on this weekend, but there are plenty of events happening that don’t require you to partake in that particular holiday.
Art, music and fish collide at Aquarium of the Pacific’s Night Dive on Friday night. Night Dive features DJs, musical performances and live art, as well as guest speakers who will talk about bizarre animal mating rituals. The soiree is for those 18 and up and starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14.95. However, everyone is welcome free of charge to visit the food trucks that will be outside the Aquarium. Food trucks that have already RSVP’d include the Grilled Cheese Truck and Tornado Potato, and they will start cooking at 4 p.m. (Metro Blue Line or Metro Bus Line 232 to Transit Mall Station.)
Saturday morning, head outdoors and do some bird watching with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society. Their monthly Bird Walk starts at the southeast entrance of the Wildlife Area in Woodley Park. Go by yourself, in pairs or with your family and get back to nature. A bird expert will be guiding the walk and imparting knowledge about the feathered residents in the area. The walk starts at 9 a.m. and lasts about two hours. (Metro Orange Line to Woodley Station, Metro Bus Line 164, 236 to Woodley/Victory.)
We’ve been tracking the progress of the latest multi-year transportation spending bill in Congress — a bill that includes funding for Metro and the nation’s other transit agencies.
The Obama Administration on Thursday backed the Senate version of the bill co-authored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California). As we’ve been reporting, there remains considerable opposition from transit advocates to the House version of the bill.
Here is the legislative alert from Metro’s government relations staff:
As we shared in a Legislative Brief yesterday, the Senate has voted to invoke cloture on Senator Boxer’s surface transportation bill by a margin of 85 in support and 11 opposed. By invoking cloture on the bill, the Senate cleared the way for the consideration of amendments to the measure. Shortly after the Senate invoked cloture on the Boxer bill, the Obama Administration issued a State of Administration Policy (SAP) outlining their support for S.1813, popularly known as the Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act. In part, the SAP outlined that “the Administration supports Senate passage of S.1813 to provide much needed certainty and funding for the Nation’s surface transportation programs. The reauthorization of the programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund is critical to the safety of the traveling public and the Nation’s ability to facilitate commerce and trade.”
And here is the White House statement:
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.
Sisterhood of the traveling bikes (ZevWeb)
Even as biking increases in popularity in the Southland, there remains a troubling and persistent gender gap among riders. A recent L.A. County Bike Coalition survey found a ratio of roughly 80 male riders per 20 female riders. But a new organization, Women on Bikes SoCal, has set about to empower more women to try cycling; specifically, the group wants to double the number of women riders in the next five years. Check out the Zev’s Blog for a great overview of some of the leaders in the movement to close the gender gap and their strategies for doing so. A key one: creating safe bike facilities so that you don’t have to be a “daredevil” to bike in L.A.
GOP House works to undo Reagan legacy on transportation (Transportation Nation)
Transportation legislation is heating up in Congress and the Republican-led House of Representatives has unveiled a plan that would remove dedicated funding for public transit, to the strong consternation of transit agencies and advocates. Transportation Nation reviews the 30-year history of Congress’ dedicating a portion of the federal gas tax to public transit projects and notes that it all started under President Regan, who pushed through a bill to raise the gas tax in 1982 by 125 percent and then dedicated 20 percent of that increase to transit.
After rolling out zip cars to urban locations in Hollywood last year, the company is moving west into another of SoCal’s walkable, transit-friendly cities. It’s great to see car-sharing expand beyond college campuses, because it’s one of many tools that make it easier to enjoy the benefits ($$$) of living car-free or car-light.
Reclaimed bus yard begins life as urban wetland (L.A. Times)
A former Metro bus yard in South L.A. has been reincarnated as a park and wetlands, thanks to water quality bond funds and various state and local grants. Community members can enjoy the walking paths and still-arriving wildlife, while “naturally occurring bacteria clean pollutants from the water, which eventually feeds into a storm drain.”
New historic streetcar line & bike sharing pilot planned for SF in time for America’s Cup
What does the America’s Cup yacht race have to do with transit? No, schooners aren’t pulling double-duty as ferries. Rather, San Francisco is ramping up public transit and bike-sharing investments in advance of the race, reports California Streets Blog. Of particular note, the city is hoping to roll out in time for the race its second historic streetcar line, the E-Embarcadero, which will run along existing tracks between the Caltrain terminal and Fisherman’s Warf.
Curitiba (Brazil) to solicit bids a for $1.31 billion subway line
Those who follow transit innovation probably think of bus-rapid transit when they hear Curitiba mentioned — the city pioneered BRT in the 1970s. To the BRT system’s credit, transit ridership has flourished in the city to the tune of 2.3 million daily transit trips — all on rubber tires — in a region of around three million residents. With the BRT system at full capacity, the city is now partnering with the state and national governments and the private sector to develop its first subway line. According to Business News Americas, the $1.31-billion line would cover 8.5 miles and serve 13 stations.
The Metro Regional Connector team held an open house last night in Little Tokyo to discuss the crucial Measure R project now that it has reached an important milestone: the release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (which you can find in its entirety here).
As regular readers will recall, the Regional Connector is a proposed 1.9-mile underground light-rail line in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the Expo and Blue Lines to the Gold Line. The Connector will allow one-seat transfer-free rides from Pasadena to Long Beach and Santa Monica to East L.A.
Three new subway stations — at Bunker Hill, Broadway and Little Tokyo/Arts District — will also make it considerably easier to travel between the north-south and east-west lines that will be formed by the Connector. Many riders will see their trips through the system shortened by as much as 30 percent as a result, the reason the line has “Regional” in its title. It will benefit many commuters across L.A. County. (Here’s a post from last month explaining many of the project benefits).
Project Manager Dolores Roybal Saltarelli noted during a presentation that the “locally preferred” alignment recommended by Metro staff grew out of discussions with the community over the last few years. In particular, Metro planners, the city of Los Angeles and downtown community members honed in on the fully-underground alternative in response to strong local support.
Looking ahead, this spring is chock full of important dates for the project. The Metro Board of Directors Planning and Programming Committee will review the FEIS/R next Wednesday, Feb. 15, and the full Board of Directors will then vote on whether to certify the FEIS/R and approve a package of mitigation measures — various procedures for reducing the impacts of construction — at its monthly meeting
on February 23rd in March [post updated Feb. 22, 2012].
If the Board approves the FEIS/R, Metro staff will then work with the Federal Transit Administration to obtain a “record of decision,” which would allow Metro to proceed with relocating underground utility lines and acquiring the property it will need to stage construction activities. Following that, Metro will apply for a “full funding agreement” from the FTA — a commitment of ongoing financial support for the project from the federal New Starts program that helps fund large transit projects.
If all goes smoothly, the Regional Connector team should finish preliminary engineering and begin final design in the fall, which would allow construction on the line to begin in 2013. The line is scheduled to open in 2019.
The presentation and poster board displays from last night are embedded below: