Transportation headlines, Tuesday, October 28

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.  

ART OF TRANSIT: The turkeys are out, but it's not even holiday yet. Hmm. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The turkeys are out, but it’s not even holiday yet. Hmm. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gold Line lays final tracks in Azusa, project 80 percent complete (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the completion of track work for the Measure R-funded 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border. The article provides a nice overview of the project and its long history along with a look forward:

Monrovia is betting that $25 million in Metro and state funding for a transit plaza, a promenade for live music and food trucks, and a new park with an amphitheater will connect the south part of town and Gold Line station to its vibrant north Myrtle Avenue location.

Duarte, not to be outdone, has plans for a hotel and a movie theater, said Mayor Liz Reilly, both amenities Monrovia has had for years. “We will be closer to the Gold Line station than they (Monrovia) are,” she said.

The Duarte station lies across the street from its largest employer, City of Hope, a nationally known research and cancer treatment hospital that employs 4,300 people, many of whom she hopes will take the train to and from work.

But as the mountains sat down at the mouth of San Gabriel Canyon, the tracks reached APU/Citrus College station at the doorstep of the 1,250-home Rosedale planned development. It may be the first suburban housing project built train-station ready with a plaza to be built within walking distance.

Go get ‘em, Duarte! :) The Monrovia Station will be interesting as the tracks are on the south side of the 210 and the city’s very nice downtown sits about a mile away on the north side of the freeway. It’s not a crazy long distance between the two, but it’s a walk or bike ride through a more commercial area. It will be very interesting as the years go by to see what kind of linkage develops.

One other note: the views of the San Gabriel Mountains from the Foothill Extension tracks should be crazy good. Metro is currently forecasting an early 2016 opening for the line.

How commute times stack up (L.A. Times) 

The graphic compares 2013 median commute times to the previous year’s times (I think), with much of our region hovering around the national average of 25.4 minutes. Any readers care to hazard a guess why more centrally located Alhambra and East L.A. have greater average times than Santa Clarita, a northern ‘burb?

An accompanying story on the annual Texas Transportation Institute rankings for traffic delays, says our region has climbed back to the No. 2 position behind only the Washington D.C. area. I’m not a huge fan of such rankings — which seem to suggest that city dwellers should expect blissful quick commutes all the time — but an accompanying article has some interesting observations:

The good news, in the long view: Annual congestion-related delay for Greater Los Angeles is still below the peak of 79 hours per motorist reached in 2006, when gas prices were low and the economy was booming. The rise in average commute times is only a few minutes more than in 1990.

Wachs said it’s likely people are adjusting their work and travel habits to avoid commuting during rush hour. They work at home, change hours, move closer to their jobs and otherwise try to travel during off-peak periods.

Brian Taylor, an urban planning professor at UCLA, agreed with Wachs and Pisarski but cautioned that rising commute times may involve factors beyond street and highway congestion.

For example, longer travel distances and greater use of bicycles and public transit can increase trip times. Such a shift might be underway in the Los Angeles area, where the portion of those driving to work has dipped by as many as three percentage points since 1990.

 

My own three cents: most of my friends and acquaintances have pretty normal commutes whether driving, taking transit or walking and/or biking. The folks I know with the really long commutes tend to take Metrolink to travel from outlying ‘burbs to downtown L.A., although I have one friend who has a long-ish drive between Claremont and Riverside. Whereas in the ’90s I knew some people driving crazy long distances (San Juan Capistrano to DTLA, for example) on a daily basis, many people I know seem to be giving more thought to their commutes and transit that may be available when picking places to live, work and play.

New York MTA told it must focus on repairs, not growth (New York Times) 

Some back and forth between the New York MTA — which operates the busy New York Subway system — and the watchdog Citizens Budget Commission. The agency says its capital plan includes money for improvements that riders want, along with a second phase of the Second Avenue Subway (the first phase is under construction). The group points to increasing ridership on the subway and says modernizing the system and maintenance should be the first priorities.

The lost navigator (High Country News) 

Touching essay by Jane Koerner on her father succumbing to Parkinson’s Disease.

After church, he took us on drives into the country, navigating the gravel roads by instinct and the position of the sun. No street signs for guidance, acres and acres of plowed prairie the color of daylight, an occasional farmhouse with a bleached barn — nothing like my mountainous Colorado home. Dad never needed to consult a road map…He was fascinated by trains. From the comfort of his easy chair, with the TV chattering nearby, he’d plot a course across the Western United States and Canada, using the railroad timetables and histories that crowded his bookshelf.

Today’s fun, easy article to read on transit that doesn’t involve transit: Why fast food chains’ love (and deny) having secret menus (New Yorker) I knew about In-N-Out’s animal style fries but I really didn’t know about the 3×3. Which now I want. And certainly don’t need.

Metro will send a speaker to your class or organization this fall

Members of the Metro Speakers Bureau are available this fall to talk to your group or classroom.

Whether it’s about bike paths or rail lines, clean air or jobs at Metro, the Metro Speakers’ Bureau has it covered.

Where future jobs are concerned, Metro employs a vast array of professions and specialties, including bus and train operators, mechanics and maintenance people, clerks, bus and rail transportation and maintenance supervisors and security guards. Speakers can also address issues such as Measure R, rail construction around Los Angeles, bus lines, urban planning, security aboard buses and rail and even marketing and media relations.

If you have questions or would like to request a speaker for your organization or school, contact us at metrospeaks@metro.net.

Updates on Crenshaw/LAX Line construction work near Expo/Crenshaw and Leimert Park

expo pile

Starting now through October, there will be intermittent street closures to Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Place due to construction work related to the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The construction notice is posted above, view it in Spanish here.

Work will also begin on the construction of the underground Leimert Park Station. Most of the work will be conducted underground, but expect long term traffic reconfiguration on Crenshaw Boulevard to support the construction of the station and tunnel. Construction of this station is expected to take four years. You can see the anticipated schedule here or at the Crenshaw/LAX Line project page.

 

Century Crunch final update: Aviation/Century intersection on track to open 2 a.m. Monday

The intersection reopened at 1:30 a.m., four-and-a-half hours ahead of schedule.

The intersection reopened at 1:30 a.m., four-and-a-half hours ahead of schedule.

Work on the demolition of the old railroad bridge and the bridge abutments remains ahead of schedule. The intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards is on track to reopen at 2 a.m. Monday, four hours ahead of the original schedule. 

Traffic congestion on the roads around Los Angeles International Airport was either light or manageable for most of the weekend thanks to the public taking heed of warnings to avoid the area, use the appropriate detours and/or take FlyAway bus or transit.

“The successful completion of ‘Century Crunch’ shows that when we all plan and work together, we can avoid undue burdens as we build the transit and airport infrastructure necessary to reduce congestion in the long-term,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti.

Over the weekend, the old railroad bridge and its abutments on the north and south side of Century Boulevard were removed. Traffic lanes on Century Boulevard were also reconfigured on Sunday to allow for construction of the new aerial Aviation/Century Station that will be part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

The light rail line will run for 8.5 miles between the Green Line and Expo Line and include two rail stations near the airport — one serving Century Boulevard and the other, at 96th Street, that will allow passengers to connect to a people mover that will carry them to LAX terminals. The project is funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The demolition work on the bridge began early Saturday morning add was completed by early Sunday afternoon. Crews commenced to clean the streets and install new street signal posts at the Century/Aviation intersection — the old traffic signals were mounted on the bridge.

Below are a pair of time-lapse videos taken of the demolition work. The first one covers Friday night through Saturday morning and the second shows the work done Saturday to topple the bridge.

“Notice to Proceed” granted for construction of Regional Connector project!

map_corridor_reg_conn_eng

It’s official: there are now four Metro Rail projects currently under construction after the Metro earlier this week gave its contractors — the Regional Connector Constructors, Joint Venture — the official “notice to proceed” on building the line. Until recently, Metro never had more than two rail projects underway at the same time.

The Regional Connector will be a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue Line and Expo Line in downtown Los Angeles. With a scheduled opening of 2020, the Regional Connector will allow trains to run directly between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles on an east-west line and between Azusa and Long Beach on a north-south line.

That should pass along several benefits to Metro Rail riders: faster and more frequent trains through downtown Los Angeles; fewer transfers for most riders; three new stations in Little Tokyo, Civic Center and 2nd/Hope, and; eliminating the need to turn around every Blue Line and Expo Line train at 7th/Metro Center, where both lines currently dead end.

Utility relocations and other advance work on the project began last year.

The three other Metro Rail lines under construction are a 6-mile extension of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica, an 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border and the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line that will run between the Expo Line and connect to the Green Line south of the airport.

The Expo Line and Gold Line Foothill Extension projects are currently scheduled to open in early 2016. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is scheduled to open in 2019; it will eventually connect to a people mover to be built by Los Angeles World Airports to connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line to terminals at the airport.

The Metro Board is also scheduled to consider awarding a construction contract later this month for the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway between the existing Wilshire/Western station and Wilshire/La Cienega. When work begins, there will be five Metro Rail projects under construction.

All five of these projects are receiving funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by two million Los Angeles County voters in Nov. 2008. Measure R included funds for 12 transit projects and a number of highway projects, as well as money for operations and funds for smaller transportation projects in cities in Los Angeles County.

Metro staff recommend contractors to build Purple Line Extension’s first phase

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This another step forward for the 3.9-mile Purple Line Extension project and puts the subway addition closer to construction. Utility relocations and some other prep work have are already underway.

Three rail projects that are receiving Measure R funding are already under construction — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Regional Connector is ramping up for construction after the awarding of a construction contract earlier this year.

There will be more details on the Purple Line Extension contract later in the month when the staff report is released. The Metro Board is scheduled to consider the contract at its meeting later this month.

The news release from Metro:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) staff today recommended awarding a $1.636 billion contract to design and build a 3.9-mile extension of the Metro Purple Line subway from Wilshire and Western to Wilshire and La Cienega to a joint venture composed of three of the world’s top construction companies.

At its July 24 meeting the Metro Board will consider the recommendation to award a contract to the firms of Skanska, Traylor Bros. and J.F. Shea, a Joint Venture (STS). The Metro Board’s Construction Committee will first review staff’s recommendation on July 17.

The procurement process has been extensive and altogether has taken nearly two years to reach the point where the Metro Board this month will consider a contract award for the first phase of the subway extension.

The contract calls for building twin subway tunnels on a 3.92-mile alignment that includes three new underground stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. It also includes train control and signals, communications, traction power supply and distribution, and fare collection systems that will be integrated with the existing Metro Rail system. Construction activities could begin later this year depending on when the contract is awarded. The contract requires completion in October 2024. The contractors have proposed an early completion schedule saving 300 calendar days.

Combined, these three construction firms have more than 300 years of experience.    Traylor Bros., Inc. has a track record that features more than 110 tunneling projects including the Metro Gold Line Eastside project that connects downtown Los Angeles with Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. That project was completed in 2009 on time and within budget, and Traylor Bros. achieved 4.5 million work hours without incident and zero ground loss during construction.

Skanska is building the extension of the Expo light rail project from Culver City to Santa Monica, scheduled to open in early 2016. The project is on time and within budget.  The company also worked on the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa, also scheduled to open in 2016 and is on time and within budget.

Skanska and Traylor Bros. are the team building the Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile underground light rail project in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo lines.

Shea is part of a joint venture building the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, which will connect the Metro Expo and Green light rail lines in the Crenshaw and Inglewood corridors.

Shea and Traylor worked on the large City of Los Angeles Northeast Interceptor Sewer tunnel.  

Continue reading

New Purple Line Extension presentation provides construction timeline, other key info

The Purple Line Extension held a meeting with the Phase 1 advisory group last week. The Powerpoint presentation given by Metro is posted above with a ton of information on ongoing utility relocations, future construction activity and mitigation plans to keep noise at a minimum, as much as is possible, for those who live and work near the future subway [pdf here].

I’ve also pulled a few key slides to show below (but please see the entire presentation!!!). In particular, I know several readers asked for a construction timeline after Metro and the Federal Transit Administration last month signed a deal providing $2.1 billion in federal grants and loans to help fund the building of the project’s first phase, which is also funded by the half-cent Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008.

The first phase of the Purple Line Extension will run for 3.9 miles between the existing Wilshire/Western station and Wilshire/La Cienega. There will be three new stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The project’s second and third phases will extend the Purple Line to downtown Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and the VA Hospital.

Timelinejpg

 

The following slides describe the basic construction activities that will be taking place over the next nine years.

PileInstallation

Decking

Excavation

StationConstruction

TunnelBoring

Hauling:Staging

There are also 10 slides on noise mitigation strategies. A couple of the key ones are below — but I highly encourage you to look at the entire presentation above for more info about this topic. Metro officials have emphasized to me time and again that while they are seeking extended work hours to get the project open in 2023, they are committed to keeping as much noise as is possible to a minimum, performing the most noisy tasks during the day or early evening and being respectful of surrounding neighborhoods.

Metro officials really want people to understand that a lot of the construction activity will be occurring below street level and out of view. The most disruptive activity is that which happens at street level — at the new station locations and Wilshire/Western where Metro has to open the ground to retrieve the tunnel boring machine and the extension must be connected to the existing Purple Line tracks. Those activities will be restricted by time and location.

As we’ve stated previously, Metro is seeking extended work hours in order to wrap up the surface work as quickly as can be done and then most of the station construction will occur below ground, beneath concrete decking.

Noise1 Noise2 Noise3

There is a wealth of information about the Purple Line Extension on the project’s home page on metro.net. You can receive updates on the project via Facebook and Twitter.