Metrolink to operate special holiday service on July 4

Reminder: If you’re making travel plans for Friday, July 4, please consider that Metrolink will only be operating two special round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line. Regular service will resume on July 5. Here are the details from Metrolink:

In observance of Independence Day, Metrolink will not operate service on Friday, July 4, with the exception of two round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line. The special Metrolink service will run from Lancaster to Los Angeles Union Station and back.

Antelope Valley Line train 262 will depart Lancaster at 8:55 a.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 11 a.m., while Antelope Valley Line train 268 will depart Lancaster at 2:25 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m.

Making the return trip to the Antelope Valley will be train 263, departing Los Angeles Union Station at 11:40 a.m., while train 269 will depart LAUS at 5:25 p.m. The trains will reach Lancaster at 1:50 p.m. and 7:25 p.m., respectively.

The four trains will make all stops at the 11 stations along the Antelope Valley Line.

Regular service will resume system-wide on Saturday, July 5.

New video advocates for High Desert Corridor project

The above video was recently released by the High Desert Corridor [HDC] study team. For those new to the project, the HDC proposes to construct a new 63-mile east-west freeway between the 14 freeway and State Route 18 in the Antelope Valley.

A rail link parallel to the new road is also being studied as a way to connect California’s bullet train project to the proposed XpressWest, a private venture seeking to build a high-speed train between Victorville and Las Vegas. It should be noted that XpressWest needs a multi-billion dollar federal loan in order to be built and the U.S. Department of Transportation recently decided to stop processing that loan.

As for the High Desert Corridor, the idea behind the project is to relieve traffic on the 138 (the Pearblossom Highway), which is partially two lanes, often congested and can be very dangerous. A lot of truck traffic from the San Joaquin Valley area uses the 138 (and other roads) to reach the 15 and 40 freeways, the two big eastbound links for freight traffic headed from California to other parts of the U.S.

The ongoing environmental studies for the HDC were funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. The project, however, remains unfunded. One possibility to help pay for the project is to use a public-private partnership to fund part of the corridor as a toll road to help pay for construction.

City of Lancaster, Caltrans, and Metro celebrate new Avenue I/SR-14 interchange improvements

Photo by Metro

Photo by Metro

Commuting in the City of Lancaster just got a little bit better with the recent opening of the Avenue I/SR-14 interchange.

Here’s the press release from the City of Lancaster:

Today, the City of Lancaster, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) officials commemorated the recent opening of the new Avenue I/State Route 14 interchange.

“With The BLVD transformation downtown, as well as the addition of new hotels and entertainment venues along the Front Row Center complex near Lancaster Municipal Stadium, the need for an improved freeway interchange at Avenue I became very apparent,” said City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “This new interchange paves the way for continued development in these areas.”

The fourteen-month construction project increased the capacity of the interchange, solved previous safety and visibility concerns, and provided easier access to popular destinations.

“To enhance mobility for commuters, reduce congestion and improve air quality for the residents of the Antelope Valley, Metro has committed over $5 million to the SR-14/Avenue I interchange,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Michael D. Antonovich.

A collaborative effort between the Los Angeles County Metro, the City of Lancaster, and Caltrans, the $12 million project involved the widening of Avenue I to three lanes in each direction, while providing dual left turn lanes onto State Route 14 from both the eastbound and westbound directions. The project also replaced the problematic stop-sign controlled southbound off ramp with a new loop ramp which now intersects with Avenue I at 23rd Street West.

“The City of Lancaster is experiencing tremendous growth in population and in the movement of goods, so Caltrans and its partners have designed an interchange that accommodates this growth, enhances safety and improves mobility to improve access to State Route 14 at Avenue I and to the surrounding communities of the Antelope Valley,” said Michael Miles, District 7 Director for Caltrans.

Metro to hold public hearings on unmet transit needs in North County and City of Avalon

Metro will be holding a series of Transportation Development Act (TDA) Article 8 public hearings for the use of TDA Article 8 funds in the North County and the City of Avalon.

The TDA Article 8 funds are for those areas of Los Angeles County that do not have Metro service because they are located outside Metro’s service area. These areas include Antelope Valley (Palmdale & Lancaster), Santa Clarita Valley and Santa Catalina Island (City of Avalon). These hearings will determine TDA Article 8 budget funding allocation for FY 2013-14 for the North County and Avalon.

This year the hearing board consists of Michael Cano, representing Supervisor Antonovich’s office, Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist, Palmdale City Council member Steve Hofbauer and Julie Moore representing Supervisor Don Knabe’s office.

The following is a list of upcoming TDA Article 8 hearings scheduled in March and April.

  • Monday, March 18, 2013, (2 p.m.) Newhall Public Library, Community Room, 24500 Main Street, Santa Clarita.
  • Tuesday, March 19, 2013, (2 p.m.)  American Heroes Park Building, 701 West Kettering, Lancaster.
  • Tuesday, March 19, 2013 (4:30 p.m.) Larry Chimbole Cultural Center, Lilac Room, 38350 Sierra Highway, Palmdale.
  • Tuesday, April 16, 2013 (7 p.m.) Avalon City Hall, 410 Avalon Canyon Road, Avalon.

Those unable to attend the meetings and would like to comment can do so by sending their comments to: Metro Article 8 Hearing Record, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012, Mail Stop 99-24-1, Attn: Armineh Saint or email sainta@metro.net. Comments must be received by April 30, 2013.

Study looks at ways to improve Metrolink's Antelope Valley Line

Looking toward the mountains from Metrolink's Antelope Valley Line. Photo by Spokker Jones, via Flickr creative commons.

Below is a fascinating report below by Metro’s staff on improving Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line that serves Burbank, Sylmar, Sun Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster. Metro is a major funder of Metrolink.

The report is in response to a motion last year by Supervisor and Metro Board Member and First Vice Chair Mike Antonovich, who has been seeking ways to improve travel times on the line. It’s up to a two-hour trip between Lancaster and downtown Los Angeles on the train, with speeds averaging 40 mph — owing to steep mountain grades, tight turns, single track sections and numerous at-grade crossings along the route.

The Metro report focuses on a variety of improvements that could be made along the line to cut some travel time and improve capacity along the route, which is shared by freight traffic and Amtrak. Parts of the corridor may also be served by high-speed rail, which in its new “blended” approach will depend on Metrolink to connect to Union Station from the bullet train’s Palmdale station.

Metro staff are now going to flesh out a plan to move forward on some of the more affordable upgrades, with Measure R and high-speed rail bonds two possible funding sources. Director Antonovich on Wednesday introduced a motion seeking to speed that process and asking for further information about potential Metrolink upgrades, including a Bob Hope Airport station for the Antelope Valley Line, seamless train travel between the Antelope Valley and San Diego and Ventura and Indio. The motion is posted after the jump.

Here’s the report:

Antelope Valley Line

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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!

 

Motion by Supervisor Antonovich seeks to preserve high-speed rail route through the Antelope Valley

I suspect one of the most interesting discussions at Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors will involve a non-Metro project: the California high-speed rail project between Anaheim and San Francisco.

County Mayor/Supervisor and Metro Board Vice Chairman Mike Antonovich has authored a motion asking the Board to support a high-speed rail route that travels through the Antelope Valley between L.A. and Bakersfield — with a station in Palmdale. That was, in fact, the plan for the state agency building the line. But earlier this year the agency — beset with funding woes — decided to reopen studies of an alternate route along the 5 freeway that would be shorter and cheaper to build.

It will be intriguing to see if the Metro Board at this stage wants to throw its weight behind a particular route, given that the entire high-speed rail project is in such a tenuous state. The 5 freeway corridor between Bakersfield and Santa Clarita has relatively few people living near it, whereas Lancaster and Palmdale have a combined population of about 300,000. The Antelope Valley also lacks Amtrak rail service and is presently a two-hour journey to L.A. Union Station via Metrolink.

Earlier this year, Antonovich and Board Member Ara Najarian authored a motion — approved by the Metro Board — asking Metro to work with Metrolink to develop a master plan to greatly speed up train trips to the Antelope Valley. It’s clear that Antonovich has concerns about keeping the northern part of his district connected to the rest of the state and metropolitan area. The motion – which also seeks to have a So Cal representative on the high-speed rail board — is below.

Click above to see a larger image.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 20

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 blog.

Rosendahl pushes anti-harassment law for cyclists with social media (L.A. Streetsblog)

The L.A. City Council today is scheduled to consider an ordinance that would make it easier for cyclists who are harassed to pursue damages in civil court, where there’s a lower burden of proof than in criminal cases. It’s the first of its kind law in the nation — so many cycling advocates across the U.S. are closely watching — and Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents parts of the Westside, is courting victims of harassment via YouTube. The ordinance has also been widely promoted by the city’s LADOT Bike Blog, which offers this good summary of the law.

Will local cyclists use the ordinance, assuming it passes? Will local motorists change their behavior because of it? On those counts, I’m not sure. It seems like a good tool to have available, but I’m not sure it’s any substitute for traffic police actually cracking down on motorists who harass cyclists or flout the rules of the road.

Investigation continues into Art Walk death (L.A. Times)

Police continue to seek info about the incident in which a man trying to park a car jumped a curb and hit a parking meter that, in turn, that killed an infant in downtown L.A. last week. The man didn’t have a driver’s license and wasn’t given a sobriety test. Meanwhile, a petition has been started to make the wildly popular Art Walk events car-free. Judging from the media coverage of Carmageddon, there seems to be an appetite for more carless events and perhaps this one — in downtown — would be a good place to start.

Very rich pro athlete parks Beemer in not one but two disabled parking spaces (NBC4)

On the off chance you didn’t hear the news, NBC has video of Lakers player Andrew Bynum parking his BMW in two disabled parking spaces at a Playa del Rey grocery. Bynum is not disabled, wasn’t cited and isn’t answering questions. Am I the only one surprised that he actually buys his own groceries?

Palmdale seeks injunction against high-speed rail study of Grapevine route (L.A. Weekly)

The Antelope Valley city doesn’t want the California High-Speed Rail Authority to spend money studying a route between L.A. and Bakersfield that would follow the 5 freeway. The Authority had seemed intent on building the line from L.A. to the Antelope Valley and then to Bakersfield but because the Grapevine route is shorter and may be cheaper to build, the agency wants to revisit the route to see if it’s possible.

Transportation headlines, Monday, May 2

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 blog.

Despite a rough road for transit, there are positive signs (Boston Globe)

In an interview, William Millar — the chief of the American Public Transportation Assn. — says that ridership suffered in the past two years as a result of a dismal economy, high unemployment, declining revenues and service cuts. He also defends transit as something worthy of government subsidies:

The same critics don’t usually say, “Well, the local street network ought to pay for itself, the police department ought to pay for itself, the schools out to pay for themselves.’’ Public transportation is a public service. Yes, it has a direct benefit to users, and that’s part of why fares are charged, but the benefits of people using public transit accrue to the entire society whether you ever use it or not.

More headlines are after the jump.

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Metro Board lifts peak hour bike restriction on Metro Rail; action also taken other issues

The Metro Board of Directors are currently finishing up their regular monthly meeting here at Metro headquarters in downtown L.A. Here is the agenda and below are a few key issues they tackled:

•(Item 22) The Board approved lifting the ban on bringing bicycles on Metro trains during peak hours effective immediately. Although the rules have been loosely enforced, many bike advocates told the Board that this would help increase ridership because many people would use bikes to make short trips between their homes and work and rail stations.

Here is a previous post explaining the lifting of the rule. Metro staff are also planning to remove some seats on trains to accommodate more bikes. The Board on Thursday also approved a motion by Board Members Don Knabe and Diane DuBois asking for more information about passenger crowding on trains before seats are taken out.

DuBois said her specific concern is whether it’s a good idea to increase the number of standing passengers on trains. Metro staff told the Board that they had decided not to remove seats on the Blue Line and instead encourage cyclists to use the ends of each car.

Metro CEO Art Leahy also told the Board that that frequency of Red Line and Gold Line trains may be increased and that more trains will likely mean less standees. Leahy also said that many people forced to stand don’t have to do so for entire trips.

•(Item 14). The Board the Arbor/Vitae site as the locally preferred alternative for a maintenance yard for Crenshaw/LAX Line trains. The site is in the city of Los Angeles. Here’s a Google map showing the location. An attorney for the one current owners of the land told the Board that there are several issues involving impacts on the site, which must be purchased by Metro. Excerpt from the Metro staff report on the issue:

This site is adjacent to other industrial uses with no immediate adjacent residential uses and is compatible with the surrounding area. The potential significant environmental impacts associated can be entirely mitigated. Based on public comment received to date on the SDEISIRDEIR, few comments were received on this site. The cost of developing this maintenance facility is estimated to be $280 – $290 million, which is cost-effective compared to the other sites studied.

•(Item 15) The Board received and filed a Metro staff report analyzing whether the Crenshaw/LAX Line should be built underground between 48th and 59th Streets in the Park Mesa Heights area. The report concluded the train can safely be built down the middle of Crenshaw Line in this segment. In a presentation, Metro staff also noted that the Yellow Line Cars once ran down the middle of Crenshaw Boulevard. See below:

Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Library and Transportation Archive's Flickr page.

•(Item 1) The Board approved a motion to develop a plan to improve the Metrolink Antelope Valley Metrolink line. Among possible improvements: double tracking to possibly speed travel times between Palmdale and Lancaster and downtown Los Angeles. Metro Board Member Mike Antonovich said that he would like to see train travel between the Antelope Valley and downtown L.A. reduced to an hour. It’s about a two-hour trip at present between Lancaster and downtown L.A.