Regional Connector design-build contractor recommended by Metro staff

Metro staff recommends a $927.2-million design/build contract with Regional Connector Constructors (a Joint Venture between Skanska USA Civil West California District, Inc., and Traylor Bros. Inc.) to build the Regional Connector project. The staff report is above.

The 1.9-mile underground rail line, forecast to be complete in 2020, will connect the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo lines and allow trains to travel directly from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica. This should speed trips through downtown and reduce the number of transfers for most riders.

The project is partially funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The Board of Directors will consider the contract recommendation at their Construction Committee meeting on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. in the Board Room at Metro headquarters, adjacent to Union Station. The full Board is scheduled to consider the contract at its meeting on Thursday, April 24, at 9:30 a.m.

After the contract is awarded, the Regional Connector will be the fourth rail project now under construction, joining the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Purple Line Extension contract is expected to be awarded this summer and it will be the fifth rail project in Los Angeles under construction because of Measure R. In addition, Metro has begun receiving the first of 550 new state-of-the-art buses and is spending $1.2 billion to overhaul the Metro Blue Line, including the purchase of new light rail vehicles.

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Service Alert: Major morning delays on the Gold Line due to continuing repairs

Metro crews working on repairing the Gold Line on Thursday morning. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro crews working on repairing the Gold Line on Thursday morning. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

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Unfortunately, major delays continue on the Metro Gold Line due to damage to the overhead power supply system that occurred Wednesday morning between South Pasadena and Highland Park stations. Commuters are advised to plan ahead and allow for extra time if traveling on the Gold Line, or use alternate routes. Park and ride commuters, please consider Metrolink or driving today.

Trains will be running every 15 minutes, but may hold temporarily along the line in order to avoid congestion caused as trains share one track through the problem area. Please be advised, all trains in both directions will board on the Pasadena-bound track at Highland Park Station. Nearly all Gold Line trains running this morning will be three-car trains, which means customers can use the entire platform when boarding.

For those commuting from the Highland Park area, alternative bus options include Metro Bus 81 and 83. Both bus lines travel through Highland Park to Downtown L.A. See more alternate bus lines for the Gold Line here.

Metro would again like to apologize for the inconvenience and thank everyone for their patience as we work to make repairs as fast as possible. For those who need delay verification because of this morning’s Gold Line delays, please call 213.922.6235 or fax 213.922.6988.

Service Alert: Gold Line delays today due to overhead power issue

UPDATE 7 P.M.: The technicians repairing the downed wire on the Metro Gold Line have confirmed that their work will extend through this evening. Consequently, trains will continue to run every 15-20 minutes with temporary holding as trains approach the Pasadena/Highland Park area.

Metro will provide updates on the status of Gold Line repairs and service levels as they become available, and thanks all Gold Line customers for their patience today.

UPDATE 5 P.M. Unfortunately, delays continue on the Metro Gold Line due to damage to the overhead power supply system that occurred this morning between South Pasadena and Highland Park Station. Trains are currently arriving every 15 minutes, but may hold temporarily along the line in order to avoid congestion caused as trains share one track through the problem area.

Please be advised, all trains, in both directions, board on the Pasadena-bound track at Highland Park Station. Additionally, nearly all Gold Line trains running at this time are three-car trains, which means customers can use the entire platform when boarding.

At this time there is no firm estimated time of repair, meaning delays may last through this evening’s rush hour. Metro would again like to apologize for the inconvenience to Gold Line customers, as we work to make repairs as fast as possible.

UPDATE, 2 P.M.: Gold Line continues to run limited service between South Pasadena and Highland Park. Trains are running every 20 minutes in each direction in the area. Metro will start using three-car trains to accommodate afternoon/evening commuters. Bus shuttles have been cancelled.

UPDATE, Noon: The Gold Line has resumed limited service between South Pasadena and Highland Park. Expect significant delays as trains must share the northbound track between South Pasadena and Southwest Museum station, with trains running every 20 to 25 minutes in each direction in the area. Bus shuttles used earlier this morning are now on standby.

Please be advised that trains are not completely following the regular timetable today as repairs are underway. Expect delays, especially between Union Station and Pasadena. As we get closer to the afternoon rush hour, I’ll update this post again. 

Gold Line service was disrupted this morning between South Pasadena Station and Highland Park Station due to a sagging power line above the tracks, as seen in the above photos. About 1,000 feet of wire was damaged in the area around the Pasadena Avenue and Monterey Road rail crossing. Repairs are underway and are expected to take several hours to complete — crews are trying to complete the work before the evening rush hour.

The Monterey/Pasadena crossing is closed due to low wires. Police are on scene to help guide vehicle traffic.

The issue began about 8:20 a.m. One train was stranded between South Pasadena and Highland Park stations and about 300 passengers were evacuated and placed on another southbound train at approximately 9:30 a.m.

For frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter or check the home page of metro.net.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 8

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. Pick your social media poison! 

Art of Transit: two different types of two-wheelers at the top of Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Art of Transit: two different types of two-wheelers at the top of Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Metro to repair cracks in Gold Line freeway overpass (L.A. Times) 

The agency found some cracks — which it calls cosmetic — in the supports for the bridge over the 101 just south of Union Station. Trains are being slowed to eight miles per hour (from the usual 15 mph) until repairs are made, which Metro says will happen very soon.

After troubling audit is leaked, Washington Metro defends reforms (WNYC) 

The FTA audit found “[Washington] Metro approved millions in no-bid contracts, broke federal contracting rules, played favorites with vendors, and overbilled the FTA for reimbursements after completing rebuilding projects.” The agency accepted the findings and executives said they have been working to reform the grant program for several years.

Afraid it was missing the boat, Arlington tries the bus (Texas Tribune) 

The famously transit averse city has started a commuter bus pilot program in hopes of providing mobility to the car weary and those who don’t have access to their own vehicles. Critics say transit would be a waste of money in a sprawling, low-density Dallas ‘burb and that most people don’t have any idea how expensive it is to run a transit system. Sounds like something Hank Hill would say.

Urban Instagram photographers you should follow (The Guardian) 

Cool stuff from around the world for shutterbug and city enthusiasts. Here’s one from S.F.:

 

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 18

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. Pick your social media poison! 

Is transit winning the transport battle in the U.S.? (Crikey) 

More reaction to the recent news from the American Public Transit Assn. that Americans took 10.7 billion rides on transit last year, the most since 1956. Alan Davies takes a closer look at the numbers and reports:

Without New York’s MTA, there would’ve been no increase in public transport patronage in the US between 2012 and 2013. The agency carried an extra 123 million passengers by rail and bus combined; more than the total national net increase in patronage of 117.2 million trips over the period.

Outside of New York, there was no net growth in public transport. A number of other cities certainly experienced some growth, but their increases in aggregate were offset by those cities that suffered falls in patronage.

He also points out that there were certainly some rail systems in the country that did see ridership increases — including Metro’s light rail and subway. He concludes with this graph:

As I’ve noted before many times (e.g. see herehere and here) getting travellers to shift out of their cars in significant numbers will only occur if cars are made less attractive compared to public transport. Making public transport more attractive is very important, but policy-makers also need to give much more attention to taming cars.

I haven’t double-checked his numbers but I think the point he makes is fair. There are a few places that are accounting for a lot of America’s transit rides. And while those numbers are pretty strong, there’s no getting around the fact that the vast majority of Americans are still using cars to get around.

Should we be making driving more onerous as an incentive to walk, bike or take transit? I don’t think there is a black-and-white answer but a combination of incentivizing walking/biking/transit and asking motorists to pay their fair share of the transit network (i.e. the thousands of miles of road) built and maintained for them.

Californians grow less reliant on cars, Caltrans survey finds (L.A. Times) 

Missed this interesting article, published last week and relevant to the article above. Between 2010 and ’12, the survey estimates that the percentage of all trips made by walking, biking or transit rose to 22 percent. That number was 11 percent in 2001.

The story’s lede nicely sums it up and puts the findings in perspective:

Californians aren’t depending quite as heavily on cars for commutes and errands as they did a decade ago, according to a new survey by Caltrans.

Although driving is still by far the most dominant mode of transportation across the state, accounting for about three-quarters of daily trips, researchers say a decrease in car usage and a rise in walking, biking and taking transit indicate that Californians’ daily habits could be slowly changing.

What is happening in California mirrors a nationwide decline in driving, experts say: The number of car miles driven annually peaked about a decade ago, and the percentage of people in their teens, 20s and 30s without driver’s licenses continues to grow.

 

4.4 quake a wake-up call on L.A.’s unknown faults (L.A. Times) 

The earthquake’s epicenter was on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains near Sepulveda Boulevard on a fault the Times calls “little noticed.” The article points out that some recent large quakes have also occurred on faults that were unknown at the time. Of course, the known faults — i.e. Santa Monica, Inglewood, Newport, Hollywood — also pose the threat of big quakes in the future, too.

Paris car ban stopped after one day (The Guardian) 

Smog hanging over Paris as seen from an airplane on Sunday. Photo by F.Clerc via Flickr creative commons.

Smog hanging over Paris as seen from an airplane on Sunday. Photo by F.Clerc via Flickr creative commons.

In an effort to combat air pollution, officials only allowed license plates ending with odd numbers to drive — others were hit with fines of 22 Euros (ouch!). The ban only lasted a day, as officials said that most residents complied and that weather and air conditions were improving.

Los Angeles State Historic Park gets an overhaul (KCET)

Rendering by California State Parks.

Rendering by California State Parks.

Nice explanation and collection of renderings of the park that is adjacent to Chinatown and the Gold Line — the park has been open for several years but will be undergoing a dramatic overhaul in the next year. The plans look great and the completed park will continue the trend of nice new open spaces in DTLA, joining Grand Park and the Spring Street Park. Of course, it remains important that the park is tied to the Chinatown train station and Broadway, the heart of Chinatown.

They moved mountains (and people) to build L.A.’s freeways (Gizmodo) 

Great article by Nathan Masters on the amount of earth and people moved in order to build Los Angeles’ sprawling freeway system. Excerpt:

In mostly uninhabited Sepulveda Canyon, only the mountains could complain. But many Southland freeways bludgeoned their way through heavily urbanized areas, inflicting the same degree of trauma not to landscapes but to communities.

No area was more affected than L.A.’s Eastside, where transportation planners routed seven freeways directly through residential communities. Starting in 1948, bulldozers cleared wide urban gashes through the multiethnic but mostly Latino neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and East L.A., demolishing thousands of buildings and evicting homeowners from their property. And the freeways didn’t just displace people and businesses. They balkanized the community, making strangers out of neighbors and discouraging urban cohesion. A freeway can be an intimidating thing to cross on foot.

Residents did fight back, flooding public meetings and picketing construction sites. But unlike the mostly white and politically powerful neighborhoods that killed plans for a Beverly Hills Freeway, L.A.’s Eastside couldn’t stop the bulldozer. By the early 1960s, all seven of the planners’ freeways crisscrossed the community.

Five of them tangled together at the East Los Angeles Interchange. Built to provide northbound motorists with a bypass around central Los Angeles, this imposing (and for drivers, often confusing) complex of 30 bridges occupies 135 acres of land—including part of once-idyllic Hollenbeck Park. At the time of its completion in 1961, it was the largest single project ever undertaken by the state’s division of highways. Yet somehow, despite its grand scale and enormous cost, the interchange—like much of the freeway system—is often paralyzed today with traffic, as a procession of trucks and automobiles crawls along the old urban scars.

In some ways, it makes you appreciate the relative smallness of rail construction compared to large swaths of land consumed by freeway building. Definitely check out this post and the many historical photographs accompanying it.

And here’s the FTA news release on the funding agreements for the Regional Connector

Public officials with a rendering of the Full-Funding Grant Agreement for the Regional Connector. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

From left: Former Metro Board Member Richard Katz, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Santa Monica Mayor and Metro Board Member Pam O’Connor, L.A. Councilmember and Metro Board Member Paul Krekorian, Metro Board Member Jackie Dupont-Walker, FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan, Duarte Councilmember and Metro Board Member John Fasana, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Vice Chair Eric Garcetti, Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas, Lakewood Councilmember and Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois, Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles Councilmember and Metro Board Member Mike Bonin and Metro CEO Art Leahy. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

From our friends at the Federal Transit Administration:

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today celebrated the signing of a $670 million construction grant agreement to help build the Regional Connector light rail transit line in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The two-mile rail segment will connect three existing transit lines, offering thousands of area residents more efficient and convenient access to jobs, education, and other ladders of opportunity. FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan took part in the signing event along with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and other state and local officials.

“LA’s Regional Connector will help make this city and region a better place for tens of thousands of Angelenos by ensuring that public transit not only works for everyone, but that it works better than ever,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This Administration is committed to ensuring that every American has access to ladders of opportunity that lead to success—and access to public transportation is essential to making that happen.”

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) will use FTA’s grant funds to build an underground connection between the existing Metro Gold line in Little Tokyo and the Exposition and Blue light rail lines, which currently terminate at Flower and 7th Streets. The grant also includes four new light rail vehicles to augment the existing fleet. The project will reconfigure Metro’s three existing LRT lines into two lines, one primarily running north to south, and one east to west. The project reconfiguration will eliminate the need for riders to make cumbersome transfers from light rail to the Metro Red or Purple Line subway system, and then back onto light rail, to reach their destinations.

“The Regional Connector will improve the quality of LA’s light rail service by offering a one-seat ride that cuts travel times from Long Beach to Azusa and from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Santa Monica,” said FTA Deputy Administrator McMillan. “The traffic gridlock of Los Angeles has been the roadblock for many residents who need better, more reliable access to the jobs and educational opportunities offered across the metropolitan area, which is why we are proud to be a partner in the greater transit vision for the future of the Los Angeles region.”

LACMTA estimates the Regional Connector will open in 2020 and initially handle roughly 60,000 trips or more each weekday. In addition to the $670 million that FTA has committed to the project through its Capital Investment Grant (New Starts) Program, LACMTA will receive $64 million in other U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) funds and a loan of up to $160 million from the DOT’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovative Action (TIFIA) loan program. The remainder of the roughly $1.4 billion project will be funded with state and local resources.

In addition to the Regional Connector, the FTA is advancing two other major transit expansion projects in the Los Angeles metropolitan area: the Crenshaw/LAX light rail transit corridor project and Section I of the Westside Purple Line Extension. The $2 billion Crenshaw project, which broke ground in January, is funded in part with a $545.9 million TIFIA loan and approximately $130 million in other FTA and DOT funds. DOT has approved a TIFIA loan of up to $856 million for the Westside project, which is also in line to receive funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program later this year.

Federal government approves $670-million grant and $160-million loan for Regional Connector

Officials from Metro and the Federal Transit Administration signed a pair of agreements Thursday that will provide a $670-million federal grant and a $160-million federally-backed loan for the Regional Connector light rail project. The total budget of the project is $1.37 billion.

A media event with public officials is being held at 10 a.m. next to the Gold Line’s Little Tokyo station. We’ll post photos and video later today.

In practical terms, the agreements clear the way for construction to begin later this year on the 1.9-mile underground light rail line in downtown L.A. that will tie together the existing Blue Line, Expo Line and Gold Line with tracks between 7th/Metro Center and Little Tokyo. When the project is complete — forecast for 2020 — passengers on those lines will be able to travel through downtown without having to transfer to another line.

The project will also allow trains to run more frequently through downtown. Blue Line and Expo Line trains currently must turn around at 7th/Metro Center, a time-munching maneuver.

Utility relocations on the project are already underway with construction expected to begin later this year after the Metro Board of Directors selects a contractor to build the line. Metro already has three light rail projects currently under construction — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The first phase of the Purple Line Extension of the subway is also expected to sign funding agreements with the federal government later this year, allowing the Metro Board to select a contractor to build that project.

That means that within the next calendar year, Metro could have an unprecedented five rail projects being built simultaneously that will add about 29 miles of rail to the existing 87-mile Metro Rail network. All five projects are also receiving significant funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The Connector is the first Metro project to receive a federal New Starts grant since the Eastside Gold Line, which opened in 2009. New Starts is a federal program designed to help local transit agencies build expensive transit projects.

The loan is coming from the federal TIFIA program, which helps local areas secure low-interest loans that are cheaper than loans found on the open market. The TIFIA program is part of Metro’s America Fast Forward initiative that was expanded in the most recent federal multi-year transportation bill. Metro is seeking to have the program renewed and expended in the next bill, which Congress is expected to debate this year.

The Connector was originally envisioned as a rail project that would run at street level through downtown. Public opinion, however, swayed Metro to put the line underground, which increased costs but will also provide faster travel speeds and eliminate the need for a rail undercrossing at Alameda Street. The increased cost is the reason that federal funding is crucial for the project.

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The news release from Metro is after the jump.

Continue reading

On the ground photos of construction work on the Gold Line Foothill Extension

The folks at Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority hosted a media tour Thursday of the light rail project that will extend the Gold Line for 11.5 miles from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border with new stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa and a sprawling light rail maintenance campus in Monrovia.

The project is halfway finished and Metro’s latest forecast calls for an opening in early 2016 (the Construction Authority will turn the project over to Metro, which will operate it and determine the date of opening). Already station foundations are poured, the BNSF tracks east of Duarte have been moved to accommodate freight trains, rails for the Gold Line are either in the ground or being moved into place and bridges are complete or work is finishing up.

In other words, it’s starting to look like a light rail line (check out the aerial photos of the project we posted last week and this article in the Pasadena Star News featuring the back of my head!). When both this project and the Regional Connector are complete, there will be continuous light rail track for 45 miles from Azusa to Long Beach, not to mention the Expo Line to downtown Santa Monica. Amazeballs!

A couple of observations on the Foothill Extension project:

•With parking available at the new stations, I’m guessing the Gold Line will be a lot more convenient for riders who live east of Pasadena and who had to cope with the always-constipated traffic on the 210 freeway and then compete with spaces at the Sierra Madre Villa station parking garage. It should also be a quick train ride for many; the Foothill Extension, for example, is completely grade-separated between Sierra Madre Villa and the Arcadia station and there are other stretches of track with few, if any, street crossings.

•There are going to be some awesome development and redevelopment opportunities along the Foothill Extension, which is following old freight tracks that mostly went through industrial areas. There will be stations in downtown Arcadia and downtown Azusa and the city of Monrovia has been planning improvements, open space and development near their station for quite some time — it’s important because the tracks are about a mile south of Monrovia’s eminently pleasant downtown. Check out the renderings above.

As with any new rail line in our area, it remains to be seen how the rail-community interface comes together (I can easily write the same thing about any of the rail projects thus far in L.A. County). What’s important right now, I think, is that the rail side is coming together right now, courtesy of the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008.

Many thanks to the Construction Authority for the tour last week and the tip about Canyon City Barbecue, which I nominate for an appearance on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Also, here’s a screen grab of the latest interactive construction map from the Authority; click on the map to visit the interactive version.

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Watch construction work on Gold Line Foothill Extension and ‘Get Lucky’ at the same time!

Seven minutes of awesomeness from our friends at the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the 11.5-mile project between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border.

I’ll be touring the project next week — I’m looking forward to seeing all the work done. The project is about half complete and is forecast for an early 2016 opening at this point. The project also includes a large maintenance campus in Monrovia for light rail vehicles — it’s the large construction site just west of the Home Depot on the south side of the 210 freeway

Sign up for e-updates from the Construction Authority here.

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RELATED POSTS:

Gold Line Foothill Extension project continues to take shape; check out the photos of the bridges and canopies

Another big bridge rising for Gold Line Foothill Extension

Gold Line bridge over eastbound 210 freeway is complete! Check out the slideshow

Transportation headlines, Monday, February 3

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. Pick your social media poison!

Super long waits for a train (New York Times)


There was a single New Jersey Transit commuter train line serving the Meadowlands and Super Bowl 48 on Sunday. It worked before the game when 28,000 train-going fans had all afternoon to get there. After the game? Well, there were lines and waits of two hours or more for some. I felt just a little bit sorry for the fans — having to sit through a boring second half after paying all that money, not to mention sitting through endless commercials and then a long wait for a train.

What would the lines be like if the Super Bowl was ever again played at the Coliseum or Rose Bowl? Hard to say. The Expo Line serves the Coliseum for USC football and the Gold Line serves a bus shuttle to the Rose Bowl. But I don’t think either has ever had to serve anywhere close to 28,000 football fans at one game. I think you would need as many trains as could safely run on either line (the Regional Connector will help with number of trains that could run) plus a lot of supplemental bus service. And patience.

As for the next NFL season, I think the 49ers will knock off the ‘Hawks and Saints in the NFC — if San Francisco can overcome its turnover woes in big games. The AFC is a muddier picture but I wouldn’t be shocked if it comes down to the Steelers, Patriots, Colts or Broncos if Denver can manage to protect Peyton Manning. The Bengals have a ton of talent but I could probably find a Nepalese goat herder who could better manage a game than their coaching staff.

Speaking of the NFL, here’s the L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik on the news that the owner of the St. Louis Rams has purchased a 60-acre site in Inglewood adjacent to the Forum Hollywood Park. The Rams will likely threaten to move there if St. Louis taxpayers don’t agree to spruce up the Edward Jones Dome to the tune of $700 million. Hiltzik says it’s an empty threat given the NFL’s recent history with L.A. — the league really just wants the threat of teams moving here in order to leverage new stadiums or stadium improvements back in cities already with teams.

In the extremely unlikely event the Rams move there, it looks like the stadium would be a 1.2-mile walk from the future Crenshaw/LAX Line station at La Brea & Florence.

When pedestrians get mixed signals (New York Times) 

Transportation writer Tom Vanderbilt writes about Los Angeles’ recent crackdown on jaywalkers in downtown. Excerpt:

Thus a familiar pattern reasserts itself: The best way to reduce pedestrian deaths is to issue tickets to pedestrians. A similar dynamic can be seen in recent weeks after a spate of pedestrian deaths in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has endorsed more aggressive enforcement by the New York Police Department against jaywalkers.

Enforcement against jaywalking varies between states, but it is an infraction in most, even a misdemeanor in some. The international picture is mixed: Crossing the road at other than a designated spot is also an offense in Canada, Spain, Poland and Australia, among other countries. Singapore is especially harsh — jaywalking can earn a three-month prison sentence. As you might expect, Scandinavian countries are less punitive. In Britain, the term is rare, and the presumption is that crossing the road safely is a matter of personal responsibility.

But neither enforcement nor education has the effect we like to think it does on safety. Decades of graphic teenage driving safety films did not bring down teenage driving deaths; what did was limiting the age and conditions under which teenagers could begin to drive. Similarly, all the “awareness campaigns” on seatbelt usage have had a fraction of the impact of simply installing that annoying chime that impels drivers to buckle up.

If tough love will not make pedestrians safer, what will? The answer is: better walking infrastructure, slower car speeds and more pedestrians. But it’s easier to write off the problem as one of jaywalkers.

Well put, Tom.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times’ Steve Lopez writes about pedestrians versus the city of Los Angeles’ sidewalks, which has resulted in millions of dollars of legal settlements with people who have been injured in falls due to bad sidewalks in recent years. Excerpt:

A $3-billion bond measure city officials hope to put on the November ballot would pay only for street repairs as currently conceived, though it’s possible sidewalks could be added to the proposal. Either way, the measure, which would add about $200 a year to the property tax bill of a home assessed at $500,000, wouldn’t begin to fix all the city’s streets and sidewalks. Should we be doing more?

Downtown’s huge Metropolis project could start construction next month (Curbed LA)

The project includes five buildings on 6.3 acres, with the owner — the Shanghai-based Greenland Group — wanting to begin work on the first two buildings (19 stories and 38 stories, respectively). Works for me; downtown Los Angeles needs the density and its skyline, while nice, is still on the sparse side.

Below is a photo I took Friday afternoon at sunset. I was planning on taking it from the Los Angeles City Hall observation deck, except after arriving at City Hall I learned the deck is only open on weekdays until 5 p.m. (I shot it from Grand Park instead). That means that Angelenos can’t visit the deck to watch the sunset when sunset occurs after 5 p.m., which happens to be the vast majority of the year. Hmmm. And in case you’re thinking ‘someone should tell Tom LaBonge about this, I already did :)

Photo by Steve Hymon.

Photo by Steve Hymon.