On Transportation: March 7 column

An amazingly bad photo I took of an Expo Line test train heading south at the junction while a Blue Line train in the background heads north. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

EXPO LINE JUNCTION: I spent some of last Thursday evening watching some Expo Line test trains run through the junction of the Expo and Blue line tracks at Washington and Flower in downtown L.A. This is an extremely important junction because the two lines merge there and then share two tracks to the current end of both lines at the 7th/Metro Center station.

The junction has to be able to handle trains running in both directions at very close intervals; the Blue Line already is running every six minutes during peak hours. Needless to say, that junction needs to work flawlessly for reasons of both efficiency and safety.

I know a lot of people are asking when the Expo Line will open. The short answer: No date has been set yet as testing of the line and the Automatic Train Protection system at the junction continues. To repeat: It can’t just work great. It has to work flawlessly.

EXPO LINE BIKE PATH: Speaking of the Expo Line, it’s nice to see some progress being made on the bike path running on the north side of the tracks in Culver City. The path should offer an easy way for areas residents and workers to reach both the Venice/Robertson and La Cienega stations.

It will also be interesting to see how cycling commuters get to the job rich Hayden Tract, which is south of National Boulevard and the train tracks. The challenge is that the bike path is on the north side of the tracks, which effectively seal the path off from the Hayden Tract.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 7

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.

Expo Line right of way, Santa Monica (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Nearly 200 U.S. mayors press for passage of federal transportation bill (The Sacramento Bee)

One hundred eighty eight mayors have signed a letter urging the House and Senate to pass the next federal transportation spending bill. Noting that cities generate over 90 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and more than 85 percent of the nation’s jobs, the letter expresses the mayors’ strong opposition to a pending House bill that proposes to shift gas tax revenues away from public transportation. Excerpt from letter:

“As mayors we urge adoption of final bipartisan legislation that provides adequate funding, at least at current levels with an adjustment for inflation, to help us invest in needed transportation infrastructure and preserves the fundamental elements of current law.”

The mayors also warned of the projects that would be halted and the jobs that would be lost through Congressional inaction.

The right way to fund transportation (Politico)

In an opinion piece in Politico, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell argues that failure to invest in America’s infrastructure undermines the country’s productivity, undercuts American competitiveness in the global economy and is a huge pass on the best chance the country has to expand employment by the millions. Rendell’s piece quotes New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has written that flying from the Hong Kong airport to New York’s Kennedy Airport is “like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.”

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Map gets into the details of the High Desert Corridor project

Click on image to try out Metro's new High Desert Corridor Interactive Map.

Click on image to try out Metro's new High Desert Corridor Interactive Map.

Metro has just released the “High Desert Corridor Interactive Map,” a Google-based map that invites the communities and all interested to get into the details of the High Desert Corridor (HDC) Project. Once there, you get to share your comments and leave photos of specific areas of interest, such as the alternatives and variations and proposed on/off freeway ramps.

The HDC project proposes construction of a new east-west freeway/expressway linking State Route (SR)-14 in Los Angeles County with SR-18 in San Bernardino County. The project area extends 63 miles over two counties, five cities and several communities.

Check it out! Here’s how:

It's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

It's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

 

ExpressLanes video: carpool loyalty program

Metro’s ExpressLanes is gearing up for the fall debut of the HOT lanes on the 110 freeway between Adams Boulevard and the Artesia Transit Center. That will be followed next year by the arrival of HOT lanes on the 10 freeway between Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles and the 605 freeway.

The project has made a series of videos explaining how the ExpressLanes will work. This one answers questions that many of you have had about enforcement — how the CHP will monitor who should and shouldn’t be paying a toll.

Here are the links to the first four videos:

ExpressLanes: It’s about time

ExpressLanes: how it works

ExpressLanes: explaining congestion pricing

ExpressLanes: rules of the road and enforcement

The project will allow single motorists to use the carpool lanes on the 110 and 10 in exchange for a toll that will rise and fall depending on how much room there is to sell in the lanes. There’s a ton of useful information on the project web page, including this FAQ, and the videos also do a good job explaining how the project will work.

Creating complete streets: It starts with a measure of equity

Pedestrians, bikes, buses and cars, all getting along on a complete street.

Urban planners, transportation experts and public health officials convened last Friday for a daylong event focusing on complete streets – that is, streets that meet the needs not just of motorists, but also of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

The panelists at UCLA-hosted event covered a lot of bases including:

  • How to create great public spaces along our streets — places you’d want to hang out at, chat with a friend, grab a coffee or wait for a bus;
  • The political hurdles to implementing complete streets;
  • And the public health benefits of creating safe places for people to walk and bike to their destinations, among other topics.

L.A. Streetsblog’s Lindsey Miller provides a good overview of the excellent keynote talks, but I was drawn to a panel discussion on one issue in particular: how we measure traffic and the performance of our streets in general. It’s an issue that doesn’t generate a lot of ink, but one that has a profound impact our streets.

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Angels Flight Railway to increase fare; Metro passholders ride for half-price

Here’s the news release from Metro:

Beginning Monday, March 12, 2012, the one-way fare on the historic Angels Flight® Railway in Downtown Los Angeles will increase to 50 cents. However, holders of valid Metro Passes still will be able to ride for just one quarter.

“In December, Angels Flight® celebrated the 110th Anniversary of its 1901 opening,” said Railway president John H. Welborne. “When Colonel J.W. Eddy originally opened Angels Flight®, a ride cost only a penny, and the fare has been 25 cents per ride since 1996. For the past eighteen months, we have been contemplating raising the fare to 50 cents, and that increase will become effective on Monday, March 12.”

Welborne said that revenues from the fare box have never covered completely the annual operations and maintenance costs and that the nonprofit Angels Flight® Railway Foundation has made up the difference through charitable fundraising in support of the Railway.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 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 or RSS feed.

Sunset Triangle Plaza (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Los Angeles seeks pedestrians (The Atlantic Cities)

Angelenos who care about public space and making LA a more livable city had reason to celebrate on Sunday. That is when a coalition of Silver Lake residents, city agencies, public space advocates and others, welcomed to L.A. a new pedestrian plaza in Silver Lake. Advocates hope that Sunset Triangle Plaza will be the first of many such L.A. parks and public spaces.

MTA’s long-planned restoration of historic North Hollywood train depot set to begin (North Hollywood-Toluca Lake Patch)

It has been nearly 50 years since a Pacific Electric Red Car trolley left the San Fernando Valley bound for downtown L.A. Now, Metro is beginning a long-planned restoration of the historic train depot at Lankershim Blvd and Chandler Blvd in North Hollywood. The Patch looks at this significant piece of North Hollywood and L.A. history.

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