Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 27

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.

Metro Transportation Library and Archive a ‘mover and shaker!’ (Library Journal) 

A very nice nod to Metro librarian Kenn Bicknell for his work in developing the Metro library. Excerpt:

He has made the Metro Transportation Library a leader in deploying online tools and technology to bring library resources to users, says Matthew Barrett, Archives and Records Management administrator for the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Bicknell’s work at Metro has raised the library’s national profile and serves as a model for other small libraries and other cultural institutions in the Los Angeles region, Barrett says. [snip]

Use of the library’s online resources has exploded, in part because voters in 2008 approved a $40 billion upgrade to L.A. transit systems. Online access of the library’s collection grew exponentially, from 140,400 page views in FY07 to 4.3 million in FY11 (the latest available figures). “The numbers are so fast and so big, we know we’re doing something right,” Bicknell says.

The number of subscribers to Bicknell’s five-day-a-week blog digest with links to news on transportation and urban planning issues has grown more than 50 percent from 93,171 in FY09 to 140,993 in FY11. “It’s rewarding to feel like you’re driving the water cooler conversation,” Bicknell says.

Well said. My three cents: it’s pretty difficult to plan a future without some understanding of  the past. Many of the transit and road projects pursued by Metro have a long, rich history and the library has done an outstanding job of preserving it.

Los Angeles loses in first round of ‘Parking Madness’ tournament (D.C. Streetsblog)

In a stunning upset, downtown Los Angeles was ousted by downtown Dallas in the first round of the Streetsblog tournament to determine which American city has the most sprawling parking lots. The tournament began with 16 cities and so far Tulsa and Milwaukee have also advanced to the Elite Eight. Louisville holds a comfortable lead over San Diego in yesterday’s park-off and Cleveland versus Spokane was just posted. Go Cleveland!

How the Highland Park Transit Village will look from the street (Patch) 

The developers of an 80-unit building to be constructed on three city of Los Angeles parking lots in Highland Park brought some video renderings to a neighborhood council to persuade members that their project won’t be unsightly or overwhelm downtown Highland Park. I think it will be good for the area — businesses need residents to survive and thrive and it makes a lot of sense to build near transit. The parking lots are a stone’s throw from the Gold Line’s Highland Park station; it’s a 15-minute ride from there to Union Station.

High-speed rail’s strongest backers now express reservations (L.A. Times)

First, headline is a little misleading: as the story makes clear, there are other ‘strong’ backers of the project who don’t have reservations. Nonetheless, some project proponents have taken issue with the so-called ‘blended’ approach that would allow bullet trains to share tracks with commuter trains in Northern California. The concern is that will prevent trains from traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the state-mandated two hours, 40 minutes and that slower trains will need to be subsidized because they can’t compete with airlines.

Of course, there are probably many motorists and people who take planes who would be more than happy to take a train between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in five hours or so — instead of the 10- to 12-hour journey now required on Amtrak (when trains are on schedule). But the state Legislature chose to pursue the fast, most expensive option for high-speed rail, leading to the kind of controversies described in the preceding paragraph.

San Fernando Valley Council of Governments offers interesting list of transit priorities — check it out

Final Motion for SFVCOG March PP 2013

First, a caveat: don’t get too excited. The above list of projects recommended recently by the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments are just that — recommendations. And, as usual, funding is always an issue.

But I thought I’d post the motion because I know from reader comments and email there’s quite a bit of interest in some of the above. In particular, the idea of connecting Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport by transit is appealing; getting between Pasadena and Burbank by transit often involves a trip through downtown Los Angeles. I’m also a big fan of speeding up the long Metrolink trip (up to two hours, 10 minutes) between Los Angeles Union Station and Lancaster, which are about 70 miles apart.

By the way, Metro’s long range plan has a couple of similar projects, although both are in the tier 2 unfunded section (basically meaning they’re in the back of the line for funding for now). These include a Red Line extension to Bob Hope Airport and an undefined “transit corridor” between the NoHo Red Line station and the Gold Line’s Del Mar station in Pasadena.

One last note: it’s worth noting the four names on the motion for the Metro Board: Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, city of Los Angeles appointee Mel Wilson and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Interesting.

Guide dog puppies on a train!


Forty guide dogs-in-training and their handlers hopped on the Metro this past Saturday to give the puppies a taste of public transportation. The group left Union Station on the Gold Line around 10:30 a.m. and headed towards Pasadena for lunch.

Guide Dogs of America provides guide dogs and instruction in their use, free of charge, to blind and visually impaired men and women from the United States and Canada. Service dogs are allowed on all Metro buses and trains. And in some cases, they may even come work for Metro!

Foothill Extension Construction Authority approves route for Gold Line from Azusa to Montclair; project still needs funding

Click above to see larger version.

Click above to see larger version.

The Board of the Construction Authority on Wednesday approved the route, which covers 12.3 miles along an existing rail corridor from Glendora to Montclair with stations in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair.

The Gold Line is currently being extended from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border — that part of the project is being paid for by the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008. This is the second phase of that project, which is in Metro’s long-range plan. As the news release notes, funding will need to be found in order to build this part of the project.

It’s an intriguing project. If completed, the Gold Line could eventually run all the way from Montclair to downtown Los Angeles and then to Long Beach via the Regional Connector project (not to mention the other leg of the Gold Line from Union Station to East L.A. and eventually either South El Monte or Whittier). The trip from Montclair to Old Town Pasadena is estimated to take about 40 minutes — it would be an alternative to the increasingly congested 210 freeway. The trip from Montclair to downtown Los Angeles about 64 to 70 minutes depending on the station in downtown.

Here’s the final environmental study for the project. And below is the news release from the Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the independent agency that is planning and will build the project:

MONROVIA, CA – At their meeting last night, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) board of directors approved the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project from Azusa to Montclair. The 12.3-mile light rail extension includes future stations in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair; as well as two new grade-separated crossings (at Lone Hill in Glendora and Towne Avenue in Pomona). The project would extend light rail service between Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, terminating the line at the multi-modal TransCenter in Montclair where multiple bus lines from throughout San Bernardino County and Metrolink already connect. The proposed extension is planned to run mostly at street level and parking is planned at each station.

“This is an important next step in our effort to connect Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire by light rail and a very exciting milestone,” said Doug Tessitor, Chairman of the Construction Authority board of directors. “The Construction Authority is steadfastly committed to completing our mission of building the Gold Line out to Montclair, and hopefully further to Ontario Airport. Our decision last night allows us to move forward with designing the project as we seek funding to build the line east of Azusa.”

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Old Pasadena Happy Hour Week gets better with Metro

Save here when you go Metro! Photo via Bar Celona Official Facebook

Save here when you go Metro! Photo via Bar Celona Official Facebook

Old Pasadena Happy Hour Week started last Friday and continues until March 15. Head over after work for live entertainment and special deals on drinks and appetizers.

Want to save even more? Show your TAP card at Bar Celona to save 15% on your bill.

Bar Celona and all Old Pasadena restaurants are located near the Gold Line Memorial Park Station or off the Metro Rapid 780.

Gold Line Foothill Extension project awards third and final contract for construction of light rail line from Pasadena to Azusa


An abutment wall for the bridge at Citrus Avenue in Azusa. Photo: Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

The Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority issued the following news release on Friday. In the meantime, numerous bridges are under construction throughout the alignment and particularly in Azusa and Arcadia. Ground has been broken on the first at-grade crossings (at Highland Avenue in Duarte and Dalton Avenue in Azusa) and work continues on the Duarte Station. Other work, including grading and utility relocation, continues throughout the 11.5-mile alignment between eastern Pasadena and Azusa.

Construction Authority Board Awards $48.7 Million Contract to Webcor Builders

This Design-Build Contract will Complete the Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa Project

MONROVIA, Calif. – At their meeting last night [Thursday], the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) Board of Directors awarded the third and final design-build contract for the Foothill Extension light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa. The $48.7-million contract is for final design and construction of parking facilities for the future Gold Line stations, as well as enhancements at and around the stations to improve intermodal connectivity for train riders arriving by bus, foot or on bicycles.

“This was an important contract for the Authority,” said Habib F. Balian, CEO of the Construction Authority. “As the last design-build contract for the overall project, we now know that we are able to deliver the 11.5-mile light rail extension on time and on budget.”


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Metro to run expanded service on Gold Line for Masquerade Motel

Going to Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel? The music festival will take place March 8 and 9 at the L.A. State Historic Park, which is conveniently served by the Metro Gold Line Chinatown Station. The park is also just a short walk from Union Station.

Your Masquerade Motel ticket or printed ticket receipt gets you a free ride to and from the festival on Metro Bus and Rail. Take advantage of this deal to avoid the congestion and serious lack of parking in Chinatown. This is especially true for those attending on Friday, who will have to deal with the usual Friday evening rush hour traffic of those leaving DTLA offices.

Metro will be running expanded service on the Gold Line during the festival to accommodate crowds. And with Metro Rail open late on Friday and Saturday nights, getting home after the show should be no problem.

Here’s Live Nation’s monster news release on how to get there:

Go Metro to Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel L.A. concert by sourcemetro