Transportation headlines, Wednesday, August 22

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 tilt-shift view of Dodger Stadium and its mega-parking lots. Photo by Millerm217, via Flickr creative commons.

Gridlock has Dodger Stadium in a headlock (L.A. Times)

From his perch in the pressbox on Tuesday night, Times stylist/columnist Bill Plaschke rediscovers that traffic headed to big Dodger games is a bear. He writes that it’s unacceptable and proposes a solution: reducing the capacity at the stadium. The fewer the seats, the fewer the cars, so his argument goes.

A Dodger spokesman says the team is working with local transportation officials, including Metro, to improve the traffic situation. Not mentioned is that that Metro runs the Dodger Stadium Express only because state anti-air pollution money was secured by Metro to run the free bus service between the stadium and Union Station. The team doesn’t pay for it — they only help promote it.

Not discussed in the column is whether the stadium should remain in its current location. I’m not a Dodgers fan — sorry, grew up in Cincinnati in the 1970s — and I’ll once again repeat my strong opinion on this topic. The stadium is a relic of 1950s-era planning in which planning was done for cars as much as it was done for people. Yes, some other stadiums in recent years have reduced the number of seats to decrease unused inventory and increase demand. But the city and the Dodgers in the 21st century would likely be better served with a ballpark that is part of downtown proper’s many businesses and nearer the region’s growing and popular transit network.

Irvine Flyaway to cease operations (Los Angeles World Airports)

Due to bankruptcy of the bus company and very low ridership — an average of just 48 people a day during the 2011-12 fiscal year — the bus service between the Irvine Transit Center and LAX will likely stop running in mid-September. FlyAway service from Van Nuys, Union Station and Westwood IS NOT impacted by the decision.

Business leaders propose CEQA reform (California High-Speed Rail blog)

A Silicon Valley business group yesterday offered a list of reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act, the law that dictates how studies must be done of projects that could impact the environment. The group says that law is often abused with lawsuits over all sorts of things and, furthermore, many projects that comply with existing environmental regulations and that would be good for the environment — transit, clean energy, infill development — are often stopped by CEQA lawsuits. Excerpt:

3. Focus CEQA Litigation on Compliance with Environmental and Planning Laws

* CEQA lawsuits should focus on compliance with CEQA’s procedural and substantive requirements, including adequate notice, adequate disclosure, adequate mitigation of environmental effects not regulated by other environmental or planning law, adequate consideration of alternatives to avoid unmitigated significant adverse impacts.
* CEQA lawsuits should not be used to challenge adopted environmental standards, or to endlessly re-challenge approved plans by challenging projects that comply with plans.
* Environmental and other public advocacy efforts to enact environmental protection laws should not be affected by any CEQA reform, and refocusing CEQA on how compliance with standards and plans will reduce impacts can also inform advocacy efforts to revisit standards or plans.
* Finally, “real” environmental lawsuits – seeking to enforce true environmental objectives – can still be pursued against agencies that fail to make regulatory or permitting decisions in compliance with standards and plans. However, the current system of broad brush CEQA lawsuits that can be filed by any party for any purpose to challenge any or all environmental attributes of projects that comply with standards and plans are an outdated artifact of the “anything goes” environment of 1970, which now hinders both environmental improvement and economic recovery.

Draft environmental study released for Gold Line Foothill Extension between Azusa and Montclair

It’s important to note that while this project is in Metro’s long-range plan, it is not a fully funded project at this time and does not have a planned opening date. The draft study can be viewed or downloaded on the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority’s website.

Public comments are due by 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 and can be emailed to llevybuch@foothillextension.org.

Click above to see a larger image.

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Unlike New York, there will be no blasting to build subway in Los Angeles

Earlier today, something went wrong with construction of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway when a planned underground blast broke through the surface sending dirt and debris into the air and causing other property damage. Here’s coverage by the New York Times and the New York Daily News — the Daily News actually has photos of the blast.

This is certainly unfortunate and we will be watching as our colleagues in New York work to figure out what caused this accident. It’s worth noting that no blasting at all is planned here in Los Angeles as part of the construction of either the Regional Connector or the Westside Subway Extension, both of which require tunnels to be built.

In its cover story on this project earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine noted that geology is a critical factor in determining how tunnels and stations get built. The geology is quite different in Los Angeles than it is in New York.

We understand that there have been hundreds and hundreds of planned blasts for the Second Avenue Subway over the last year that have gone off without a hitch. This is the first time anything like this has happened. On the positive side, it appears that there weren’t any injuries from this accident and that the scene was cleaned up with streets reopened within an hour. We’ll keep monitoring this and pass along any relevant information.

About that bridge for the Expo Line

Just a quick heads up — I believe some erroneous info circulated in the media about this: The existing single-track railroad bridge over National Boulevard in the Palms area is not being demolished to make way for a wider Expo Line bridge.

The existing structure will be used along with a new Expo Line bridge built next to it. There was a bridge demolished — the old single-track bridge over Motor Avenue met the wrecking ball in July.

photo: Google Maps

@Metrolosangeles Twitter Tuesday, August 21 edition

Welcome to Twitter Tuesday, our roundup of the latest Metro related tweets. To get our attention, add the #MetroLosAngeles tag to your tweets and subscribe to our feed if you haven’t already. For specific complaints and customer service, please use the Customer Comment Form on metro.net.

If having problems viewing this post, please read part one and part two on the Storify website.

Many more tweets are after the jump!

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Safety First — but Fun a Close Second — for USC Trojan Home Games via Metro

Metro has just sent out a release on USC game day service. The release follows:

As the USC Trojans gear up for their first home game Sept. 1, Metro is preparing to carry thousands of new customers to assist the estimated 80,000 fans who crowd the games. The new Expo Line and Silver Line that stop just a short walk from L.A. Memorial Coliseum and USC, are the perfect transit to help Trojan fans avoid what can be massive parking and traffic issues before and after the games.

Metro is, of course, ramping up service and information distribution for the home games but of greatest importance is safety.

“It’s essential that Trojan fans have an easy and safe time making Metro part of their game and tail-gate party experience,” said Metro CEO and USC graduate Art Leahy. “But what we want most on game days is safety for our customers, for the students and for the fans who will be attending the games. We are doing everything we can to underscore that message.”  

More than 100 Metro event guides will be deployed to hub locations on USC home game days to answer questions, assist students and direct passengers to correct trains and stations. They will be dressed in T-shirts and baseball caps in USC colors. They also will be handing out maps and travel information and walking the route with Metro customers between the two nearest Expo stations (Expo/Vermont and Expo Park/USC) and the Coliseum, as well as between the Silver Line Station at 37th Street/USC Station and the Coliseum. Signage will also be set up in Exposition Park on game days, directing fans to the nearest stations.

Students and other Trojan fans are cautioned to look both ways when crossing the tracks; to avoid walking or riding bikes while wearing earphones near the tracks and to obey electronic crossing signals and directions issued by Metro and L.A. County Sheriff’s personnel.

The Metro website metro.net/usctrojans now includes travel tips and directions for getting to the game easily, particularly on the Expo Line to the Coliseum and the Metro Silver Line. It includes a printable map. It also links to Metro Destination Discounts to restaurants and food purveyors that can pack picnics or provide snacks for tail-gate parties at exclusive discounts to Metro riders.

Expo trains will run every 6 minutes before and after game time. Additional trains will be added to the Expo Line, as well as to the Red, Purple and Gold lines to make transfer connections efficient system-wide. There also will be additional service on the Silver Line on game days.

Passengers traveling to the games should purchase $5 Metro Day Passes at the stations where they are starting out. Or if they are riding only the Expo Line to the game (with no transfers), they can purchase a one-way fare when boarding. When they arrive at either Expo/Vermont or Expo Park/USC Station before the game, they should purchase the return trip fare, to avoid having to stand in line after the game.

For more information on USC Trojan games go to USC Trojans website. For more information on the easiest ways to get there via Metro, go to the Metro website.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, August 21

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 bus fight between Seal Beach and Long Beach (KCET So Cal Connected)

Long Beach Transit has proposed ending all bus service between Long Beach and Seal Beach – unless Seal Beach wants to subsidize one of those lines. Why the cuts? Long Beach officials say ridership is poor and have also said that Seal Beach residents don’t want “people” from Long Beach in their city.

Divide and conquer on the 710 big dig (L.A. Streetsblog)

Editor Damien Newton suggests that some of the less popular alternatives offered by Metro as ways to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap may be intended to show the public that a freeway tunnel is the best option. I honestly believe that the alternatives were an attempt to put everything on the table and not leave any stone unturned. Problem is, putting everything on the table is sure to mean putting some very unpopular — and perhaps unlikely — options out there.

The Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks. Photo by Scott Ableman, via Flickr creative commons.

East Coast ports eye expansion as Panama Canal expands (New York Times)

Several ports on the East Coast think business will boom because of new locks being built on the Panama Canal, which will soon be able to accommodate much larger cargo ships. The theory is the ships could bypass ports on the West Coast in order to bring freight directly to East Coast markets. Not so quick, says some experts, who point out that it will still likely be quicker to bring cargo to the West Coast and then truck it or put it on trains for markets to the east. Also, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles can already handle the big boats.