Reconstructed Alondra Boulevard Bridge now open

 Photos: Mark Arroyo/Metro

Earlier today, Caltrans, Metro and the Federal Highway Administration opened the newly reconstructed Alondra Boulevard Bridge. It is the largest of three bridges rebuilt as part of the $110 million Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) Alondra Boulevard Bridge Project.

The 57-year-old Alondra Bridge was completely demolished in June 2013 and rebuilt within 14 months. The new structure meets modern design standards and has been expanded from four to six lanes. This will increase bridge capacity and improve safety and efficiency, eliminating northbound bottlenecks and improving access to regional transit and HOV facilities. The project is a significant milestone in the I-5 South Corridor Improvement Projects and will improve connections within Santa Fe Springs and to the cities of Norwalk, Cerritos and La Mirada.

The Santa Ana Freeway/Alondra Boulevard Bridge Project is funded by federal, state and local monies, including $72 million from Prop 1B, $14.5 million from state transportation funds, and $23.7 million from Metro’s Prop C and Measure R.

The press release from Caltrans is after the jump.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, August 25

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: The Blue Line headed south toward Compton. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Blue Line headed south toward Compton. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gold Line Eastside project environmental document released (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the release on Friday of the Eastside Gold Line Phase 2 environmental study.  As the article notes, the two light rail alternatives would extend the Eastside Gold Line from East L.A. to either South El Monte or Whittier. Metro staff at this time has not selected a preferred alternative — that will happen in November. Under Measure R, the project is not scheduled to be complete until 2035, but Metro is trying to accelerate funding for the project, including possibly through a sales tax ballot measure in 2016. Here’s our post about the study, with links to the document.

L.A. County Supervisor’s alternate bullet train route gaining traction (L.A. Times)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority seems to be considering a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains on equal footing with two earlier proposed routes along the 14 freeway — neither of which is very popular with communities such as Action, Agua Ducle and Santa Clarita. Bullet train officials say the tunnel-only option advocated by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich — which would require 18 to 20 miles — of tunnels may actually prove cheaper than the 14 freeway routes, which also require extensive tunneling anyway. If you want to dream about traveling from Palmdale to Burbank in 15 minutes, read the article. The usual bullet train caveat: securing funding for the project — which aims to eventually connect L.A. and San Francisco — remains a huge hurdle.

Fault lines in L.A. over new subway construction (Breitbart News) 

The city and school district in Beverly Hills are touting a new study from their consultants that claims that there are not any earthquake faults that would prohibit a subway station under Santa Monica Boulevard. Metro is sticking by its stance that active faults make building a station under Santa Monica Boulevard unsafe and it’s better from a safety and planning viewpoint to put the Purple Line Extension station in the center of Century City, under the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation boulevard. Beverly Hills officials want the station under Santa Monica Boulevard because it would not require tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. As you likely know, Beverly Hills has challenged the project’s environmental studies with a pair of state and federal lawsuits. The Superior Courts ruled in favor of Metro in the state case and Beverly Hills appealed. The federal suit is ongoing.

After earthquake near Napa, up to 100 homes labeled as unfit to enter (L.A. Times) 

The 6.0-magnitude temblor that struck early Sunday didn’t do much damage to major transportation infrastructure throughout the Bay Area — although there was certainly damage to homes and businesses and other key infrastructure.

Damage at the Lucero store in Napa. Photo by Matthew Keys via Flickr creative commons.

Damage at the Lucero store in Napa. Photo by Matthew Keys via Flickr creative commons.

Have Americans really fallen out of love with driving? (Fortune)

Consumer spending has risen steadily over most of the last decade — with a brief dip due to the Great Recession. But the number of miles driven by Americans has remained flat since late 2007 — even as the number of those with jobs has increased in recent years. What gives? The independent research firm Behind the Numbers suggests that driving less is a trend here to stay and is a combination of several factors including high gas prices, baby boomers growing older, millennials gaining in numbers (millennials are less interested in driving), more interest in transit and more desire by many to live in urban settings. Fortune is a little skeptical, saying that gas prices adjusted for inflation are not outrageous and millennials still don’t play much of a role in the overall economy.

My three cents: I’m certainly not a millennial (I’m 48) but I certainly don’t want to drive more or purchase more gasoline than is absolutely necessary. Nor do I like spending money on cars, which notoriously lose value very quickly. I think with good transit, biking and housing options in cities with good public spaces, driving will remain flat in America as along as it remains relatively expensive.

Here’s how easy it is to hack a traffic light with a laptop (Vox)

With permission from local authorities, hackers in Michigan were able to disrupt timing of traffic lights in an un-named city rather easily. Vox suggests that this is a security concern — and it is certainly illegal to tamper with lights. That said, in my neck of the woods (Pasadena), I’m not sure that the timing of traffic lights could be much worse, the reason other computer hacker targets inspire a little more fear.

 

Pics of overhead wires being installed on Gold Line Foothill Extension!

The folks at the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority sent over the above pics of the overhead catenary wires being installed along the project’s tracks. The wires, as you likely know, deliver the electricity that powers the trains.

The above images were taken on the stretch of tracks that run in the middle of the 210 freeway just east of the Gold Line’s current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Station in eastern Pasadena.

The Construction Authority, an independent agency, is building the 11.5-mile addition to the Gold Line that will extend tracks to the Azusa/Glendora border with stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, downtown Azusa and adjacent to Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University near the Azusa/Glendora border. The project, which also includes a rail car maintenance campus in Monrovia, is funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

Construction on the project is on time and on budget with work scheduled to be complete in about a year. The project will subsequently be turned over to Metro, which currently forecasts an opening in early 2016.

Draft environmental document released for Eastside Gold Line phase 2 project

Eastside Map

Metro released the draft environmental study today for a project that could potentially extend the Gold Line from East Los Angeles to South El Monte or Whittier. In addition, the study also looks at a Transportation Systems Management (TSM) alternative which identifies potential bus upgrades and the legally required no-build option.

Click here to access the entire draft study, which is also known as the Draft EIS/EIR.

Metro will conduct four public hearings during the 60-day formal comment period, each of which will include a 30 minute open house where the public can view the Draft EIS/EIR, see project displays, get more information on the project and talk to Metro staff. Meeting date and times are: 

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Pico Rivera Senior Center
9200 Mines Avenue
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
Open House: 9am
Public Hearing: 9:30am – 11:30am

Monday, September 29, 2014
Quiet Cannon Banquet Center
901 Via San Clemente
Montebello, CA 90640
Open House: 5:30pm
Public Hearing: 6pm – 8pm

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Uptown Whittier Senior Center
13225 Walnut Street
Whittier, CA 90602
Open House: 5:30pm
Public Hearing: 6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
South El Monte Senior Center
1556 Central Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733
Open House: 5:30pm
Public Hearing: 6pm – 8pm

The study process has been closely watched by communities along both potential light rail routes as an extended Gold line would provide an alternative to driving on the frequently congested 60 freeway or traffic in communities along the Washington Boulevard alignment. The two light rail options, shown above, would both begin at the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension’s current terminus at Atlantic and Pomona boulevards in East Los Angeles.

•The “SR 60″ Alternative would extend the Gold Line for 6.9 miles to South El Monte with four proposed new stations. The train would run adjacent to the 60 freeway, mostly on aerial structures, and include four new stations serving Monterey Park, Montebello and South El Monte.

•The “Washington Boulevard” Alternative would extend the Gold Line for 9.5 miles to Whittier with six proposed new stations. The train would follow the 60 freeway and then turn south, running on an aerial structure above Garfield Avenue until turning east on Washington Boulevard and ending near the intersection of Washington and Lambert Road. This alternative would serve Monterey Park, Montebello, Pico Rivera and Whittier.

Estimated ridership for the SR 60 alternative is 16,700 boardings each weekday with a cost estimate of $1.271 billion to $1.296 billion in 2010 dollars, according to the draft study. Estimated ridership for the Washington Boulevard alternative is 19,900 daily boardings per weekday with an estimated cost of $1.425 billion to $1.661 billion in 2010 dollars.

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Construction: Mountain Avenue & Duarte Road intersection closed this weekend

Below is the work notice from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the 11.5-mile project that will extend the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. The project, funded by Measure R, is currently scheduled to open in early 2016. The work notice:

WHO:  Residents / Commuters / Businesses in the Cities of Monrovia and Duarte.

WHAT: Construction of the new light rail street-level grade crossing at Mountain Ave just north of Duarte Rd will be completed this week, two months ahead of schedule. Crews will be transitioning work on Mountain Ave to the second phase, which will require a full closure of the southern half of Duarte Rd on Mountain Ave for approximately three months. The second phase of work is needed to realign the intersection to improve visibility for the traveling public and future trains, as well as install new storm drains, traffic signals, sidewalks and crosswalks.

To prepare the two streets for the second phase of work, a full weekend closure of the Mountain Ave/Duarte Rd Intersection will take place this coming weekend – Friday, August 22 at 9 p.m. through Sunday, August 24 at 9 p.m. (24-hours a day). The intersection of Mountain Ave and Duarte Rd will be fully closed to traffic in all directions during this weekend’s closure.

WHEN:

-        Full Weekend Intersection Closure:
Friday, August 22, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. thru Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 9:00 p.m.: The intersection of Mountain Ave and Duarte Rd will be closed to thru-traffic to reconfigure the traffic lanes and prepare for the second phase of work at the intersection. On August 24 at 9:00 p.m., the northern portion of the Mountain Ave/Duarte Rd intersection will fully re-open, as will one lane of traffic in each direction on Duarte Rd. The southern portion of the intersection will be closed, for approximately three months.

-        Three-Month Closure of Mountain Ave South of Duarte Rd:
Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. thru November 2014: Mountain Ave will be closed to thru-traffic from the center of Duarte Rd south through the intersection. Duarte Rd will remain open, one lane of traffic in each direction. The approximate three-month closure will be in place 24-hours per day, seven days per week. Crews will work extended work shifts from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Monday thru Friday, in order to expedite this work. Occasional work on weekends may be performed. Construction schedules are subject to change.

WHERE: Mountain Ave, at Duarte Rd in the cities of Monrovia and Duarte.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

-        Detour routes will be in place during the full weekend intersection closure and the following three-month closure of the southern portion of the intersection; signage will be posted to direct motorists.

-        Pedestrian access will be available thru a temporary pedestrian crossing adjacent to the work zone.

-        Another full intersection closure will take place at the end of the second construction phase to realign the traffic lanes in their final configuration.

-        Access to all local businesses on Mountain Ave and Duarte Rd will remain open at all times during the street construction.

-        Bus stops in this vicinity may be temporarily relocated. For information about:

o   MTA bus services call (323) GO-METRO (323-466-3876) or go to www.metro.net

o   Foothill Transit bus services call (800) RIDE-INFO (800-743-3463) or go to www.foothilltransit.org

o   Duarte Transit local services call (626) 358-9627 or go to www.accessduarte.com

o   Monrovia Transit local services call (626) 358-3538 or go to www.cityofmonrovia.org/planning/page/monrovia-transit

FOR MORE INFORMATION

-        Visit www.foothillgoldline.org

# # #

About the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority: The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment between Union Station and Pasadena and is underway on the Foothill Gold Line. The Foothill Gold Line is a nearly $2 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa segment is on time and on budget, and will be completed in late-September 2015 when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. It is fully funded by LA County’s Measure R. Metro will determine when the line will open for passenger service. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $550 million, are being overseen by the Construction Authority to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment. The Azusa to Montclair segment is environmentally cleared and is undergoing advanced engineering and design. It will be shovel-ready for a design-build contract in 2017. The $1 billion segment is currently unfunded for construction.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 21

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! 

Hello, Source readers. I was away for a few days doing the active transportation thing: backpacking into the Hoover Wilderness of the Eastern Sierra. It’s one of the great bargains in California: wilderness permits are free, as are the campsites. Okay, not entirely active transportation as getting to the trailhead requires a long, CO2-emitting drive from L.A., but such are the tradeoffs in life. Interesting factoid: California has 14.9 million acres of designated wilderness (14 percent of the state’s land area) where the only way of getting around is walking or by horse. That’s mighty cool, IMO. Quick Source contest: any Source reader who correctly identifies the lake in the photo below will be hailed as the Most Geographically Adept Source Reader of All-Time in tomorrow’s headlines and on Metro’s social media.

Hint: the lake shares the name of a former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Hint: the lake shares the name of a former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Guest editorial: dreaming big about rail lines, grand boulevards, bus rapid transit and Measure R2 (StreetsblogLA)

The activist group MoveLA’s Denny Zane and Gloria Ohland opine in favor of a new half-cent transportation sales tax increase being put to Los Angeles County voters in 2016 to fund transportation improvements. While they say that rail expansion should be the centerpiece of any such ballot measure, they also propose that five to 10 percent of the funds be used for a grand boulevards program “to invest in reviving and reinventing several-mile, multi-community-long stretches of maybe 15-20 arterials around L.A. County as transit-oriented boulevards that promote economic development as they pass through more than one community.”

Zane and Ohland also propose that some of the grand boulevards money be used as a competitive grant program for cities that want to build housing along these streets. The idea, in short, is to bump up bus service on these streets while also adding housing and potential transit riders. Obviously not as sexy as a rail line, but an intriguing idea because it’s a way to bring better transit into more corners of the county — including neighborhoods and communities that may be beyond the reach of rail.

As regular readers know, Metro staff is exploring the possibility of a 2016 ballot measure that could possibly extend the half-cent Measure R sales tax (which expires in mid-2039) or another half-cent sales tax that would help fund new projects. Metro has also asked cities in L.A. County for a wish list of projects they would want funded by such a ballot measure. As Metro CEO Art Leahy has already said publicly, the list of projects is a long one and not everything could be funded. It will be very extremely super interesting to see how this evolves.

An underwhelming sidewalk repair day at L.A. City Hall (StreetsblogLA)

Joe Linton’s take on the sidewalk summit held at City Hall can be boiled down to one word: “yawn.” The gist of it: city staff is working to figure out how to spend $27 million in this year’s budget to fix bad sidewalks around the city of Los Angeles while also exploring long-term options for sidewalk repair.

UCLA’s Donald Shoup also penned an op-ed in the L.A. Times arguing that a point-of-sale program that requires homeowners to fix sidewalks at the time they sell their properties would be a good way to get thousands of miles of L.A. sidewalks fixed. The reason: properties tend to turn over on average once every dozen years, meaning that such a program could result in quicker gains than waiting for the city to have funding available.

Road and sidewalk repair has been an ongoing issue at L.A. City Hall for years. I recall writing a very short sidewalk repair story for the Times back seven or eight years ago that got buried even deeper in the print edition than most of my articles and I still got more readers response than most other stories. So it’s a big issue — and another item that could surface in discussions about Measure R2.

The 10 commandments of transit (transitcommandments.com)

These are great. My favorite: “thy shall keep their shoes on.” There are also helpful suggestions about giving up a seat for those in need and about the appropriate place to break bread (or some drippy mess from Carls Jr.). That place, in case you haven’t guessed, is at home and not the bus or train.

Supporters of closing Santa Monica Airport lose round in court (L.A. Times)

A Superior Court judge upheld a ballot measure that would require voter approval to close the controversial airport. But is this really a loss? I suspect a vote in Santa Monica on closing the airport would be close. I suspect that anyone who lives near the airport would rather it be gone (disclosure: I lived under the flight path for seven years and really disliked the frequent jet noise), but I also could see people voting to keep the airport out of fear that closing it would result in more commercial and/or residential development taking the airport’s place. FYI: the airport is about one mile south of the future Expo Line station at Exposition Boulevard and Bundy Drive. The Expo Line extension, funded by Measure R, is scheduled to open in early 2016.

Why your LA-to-Vegas commute just got slower (vegas seven)

A Caltrans project is underway to improve the 15-215 interchange at the base of the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County. It includes widening the 15 and a truck bypass. But until the project is done, expect delays. Of course, some of you may have no interest in taking the 15 to Unlucky Town, but may have their sights set on other joys further up the 15, such as Zion National Park.

VIDEO: U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez tours Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Construction Site

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez toured the construction site of the Crenshaw/LAX Line on Monday, as the above video shows.

Perez was welcomed by Walsh/Shea Corridor Contractors (WSCC) workers LeDaya Epps and James Martinez. After a meeting with elected officials, executives from WSCC and Metro and community members, Secretary Perez was showed the ongoing work at Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road.

In the run-up to Labor Day on Sept. 1, Secretary Perez is on a nationwide tour of important public construction projects. Los Angeles was his first stop. For more information on the tour here’s the link to Tuesday’s post.