City of La Cañada Flintridge held sound wall dedication ceremony

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The City of La Cañada Flintridge held a sound wall dedication ceremony yesterday to celebrate the completion of three sound wall segments in the Arroyo Verdugo subregion along the I-210 freeway. The project cost $4.813 million and 95 percent of the funding was provided by Measure R. The sound walls will provide noise mitigation to nearby residents along the I-210.

The three sound wall segments are located:

  • South of I-210 – Foothill Boulevard eastbound on-ramp to Berkshire Place eastbound off-ramp
  • North of I-210 — Berkshire Place westbound on-ramp to Foothill Boulevard westbound off-ramp
  • Between Indiana Avenue and Union Street along the south side of Curran Street

Public meetings in November for East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project

This is a project that I know many people have been following. The aim of the project — which has some Measure R funding — is to improve transit on Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road between Ventura Boulevard and the Sylmar/San Fernando Road Metrolink station.

Here is the project’s web page on metro.net — which has tons of great info — and here is a Source post from last October looking at project. Among the alternatives being studied: the legally-required no build option, road and traffic signal improvements, light rail, bus rapid transit and a tram, a type of train easy to board from street level.

esfv_study_area

The news release from Metro is below with all the details on the public meetings:

Meetings to be held at locations along the corridor on November 6, 12 & 13.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will host a series of informational meetings beginning November 6, 2014 to update the community on the status of the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project.

The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project, a Measure R funded transportation project, will add a new public transit system along Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road in the east San Fernando Valley. Transit alternatives being considered for the line include: Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit in addition to the required No Build and Transportation Systems Management options.

Members of the public can participate in three informational meetings to be held in November at the following locations and times:

Thursday, November 6, 6–7:30 p.m., San Fernando Regional Pool Facility, 208 Park Ave., San Fernando, CA  91340

Wednesday, November 12, 4:30 – 6 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Room 1A, Van Nuys, CA  91401. This meeting will be available via live-stream and on-demand at http://ustream.tv/channel/eastSFV.

Thursday, November 13, 2013, 6 – 7:30 p.m., Pacoima Neighborhood City Hall, 13520 Van Nuys Blvd., Pacoima, CA  91331.

Special accommodations are available to the public at Metro-sponsored events. All requests for reasonable accomodations must be made three working days (72) hours in advance of the scheduled meeting date. Please call (818) 276-3233 or the California Relay Service at 711. Spanish language interpretation will be available at all meetings.

The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project is currently in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/R) stage of planning. Public meetings were held last year to begin the process and to provide stakeholders the opportunity  to provide input on the options originally proposed through the Alternatives Analysis (AA) process. As a result of comments received and additional technical analysis, the alternatives were refined to better meet the transit needs of those travelling in the East San Fernando Valley.

The project’s Draft EIS/R is expected to be completed in 2015 and will be made available for public review. Following a Public Comment Period, the Metro Board of Directors will be asked to select the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the project and authorize completion of the Final EIS/EIR. The Final EIS/R is anticipated to be completed in 2016.

$170.1 million of funding for the project has been identified in Metro’s 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). A portion comes from Measure R, the ½ cent sale tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

When finished, the project will run approximately 9.2 miles north-south along Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road through the communities of Van Nuys, Panorama City, Arleta, Pacoima and the City of San Fernando. This corridor is currently the seventh busiest bus corridor in the entire Metro system with more than 24,800 weekday bus boardings and in the San Fernando Valley is second only to the Metro Orange Line.

For questions, please call (818) 726-3233 or email eastsfvtransit@metro.net.

About Metro

Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines, a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and it is the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County.  Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region.  Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

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.

New study ranks L.A. metro area 3rd in U.S. in connecting people to jobs via transit

MinnesotaStudyMap

The darker the shade of orange and red, the more jobs that can be reached within 30 minutes using transit. Click above to see larger. Source: University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.

Los Angeles

Earlier this month, the University of Minnesota released a study that found that the Los Angeles metro area ranks third behind New York and San Francisco when it comes to the number of jobs reachable by transit within an hour’s time. The study looked at 46 of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States and Metro scored better than some older cities with established transit systems — places such as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

Here’s the top 10 according to the study through January 2014:

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Washington
  5. Chicago
  6. Boston
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Seattle
  9. Denver
  10. San Jose

I wasn’t surprised that the Los Angeles area was in the top 10. After all, we live in the nation’s second-largest metropolis and our region — despite is reputation for traffic — boasts a considerable amount of transit. Metro, for example, runs the nation’s second-largest bus system in terms of ridership behind only New York. That said, I was mildly surprised to see that our metro area ranked third.

I asked study co-author Andrew Owen, the director of the Accessibility Observatory for the University of Minnesota, if the results surprised him. The answer: not really. His main points were:

•The Los Angeles region has a ton of jobs — vastly more than many other metro areas in the U.S.

•Because of geography — i.e., mountains and oceans — we’re actually more densely populated across the metro area than (for example) a place such as Chicago, which
doesn’t have anything to constrain its sprawl.

•The Los Angeles region actually has a lot of transit (particularly buses) although that is often overlooked because of the region’s reputation for traffic. On that note, I’ll add this: Metro is just one of many bus providers in our region and Metro’s bus ridership alone is the second highest in the nation behind only New York City.

“Los Angeles has a lot of stuff — a lot of jobs and a lot of people,” Owen said. “Of course, it would be possible to have a city and a lot of people and none of them could get anywhere by transit. But look at downtown Los Angeles and the areas south and west. There are huge amounts of jobs that people can reach by transit because transit is run there. If transit wasn’t there or it wasn’t run frequently and didn’t connect people to jobs, this ranking would be far lower than it is.”

Owen also pointed to another interesting thing captured by the numbers: while our region ranked second in the number of jobs, it ranked third in terms of transit accessibility to them. That suggests that the L.A. area has some catching up to do in terms of reaching more jobs via transit. Still, Owen said, we’re already better off than a place such as the Atlanta region that ranked ninth in the total number of jobs and 30th in terms of accessibility.

I also asked Owen if about the map at the top of this post. It’s important to understand what it shows: the areas that are darker shades of orange and red are the ones that are closest to the most jobs via a 30-minute transit ride or less (it doesn’t matter whether it’s train or bus). That’s why the areas around downtown Los Angeles and the Westside — the number one and two jobs areas in our region — are so dark. They’re near a lot of jobs and there’s enough transit to reach those jobs.

The map also suggests that the Measure R-funded transit projects that Metro is building or plans to build are serving a real purpose — better connecting our region to jobs. Look at the “Under Construction” map after the jump.

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All 14 street crossings now complete for Gold Line Foothill Extension!

Photo: Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

The Foothill Extension crossing of Mountain Avenue near the Monrovia and Duarte border. Photo: Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

Here’s the news release with the good news from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the independent agency building the 11.5-mile project between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border:

MONROVIA, CA – On the heels of last week’s completion of all light rail track installation for the Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa, the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority (Construction Authority) announced today that the agency has achieved another major milestone for the project – completion of all 14 at-grade (or street-level) crossings for the 11.5-mile light rail extension. The final grade crossing work, at Mountain Ave., was completed this week – three months ahead of schedule.

Work began on the grade crossings in February 2013, and required long-term closures of each street. Each grade crossing received upgrades to underground utilities, the roadway, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, in addition to installation of light rail track, signals, and communications and safety equipment.

“Completing the at-grade crossings is an important milestone for the project, keeping us on time and on budget,” stated Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian. “We are now less than a year from turning the project over to Metro, and having the crossings complete means that most of the risk on the project is behind us.”

Construction took place at the following at-grade crossings:

•First Avenue and Santa Clara Street, Arcadia

•Mayflower Avenue, Monrovia

•Magnolia Avenue, Monrovia

•Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia

•California Avenue, Monrovia

•Mountain Avenue, Monrovia & Duarte

•Buena Vista Avenue, Duarte

•Highland Avenue, Duarte

•Virginia Avenue, Azusa

•San Gabriel Avenue, Azusa

•Azusa Avenue, Azusa

•Alameda Avenue, Azusa

•Dalton Avenue, Azusa

•Pasadena Avenue, Azusa

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Metro Board awards contract for Business Solution Center for Crenshaw/LAX Line

Here is the Metro staff report and below is the news release from Metro:

In another unprecedented step today the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors awarded a two-year contract for $646,462 to Del Richardson & Associates, Inc. (DRA) to operate Metro’s pilot Business Solution Center (BSC) to help small businesses impacted by Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project construction. The contract includes two one-year options for $349,682 for total of $996,144.

“We’re finally making desperately needed investments to our public transportation system in South Los Angeles, but construction simply cannot come at the expense of our businesses,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “This Business Solution Center will ensure that businesses along the Crenshaw Line will be able to thrive despite any temporary inconveniences to customers and employees.”

“Rail construction is always challenging and it’s particularly difficult for nearby businesses, that’s why we are committed to standing with these merchants during the whole construction process,” said Metro Board 1st Vice Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This Business Solution Center – while not solving all problems – is an important first step toward helping the local business community survive and thrive during the difficult days. We are happy that we could make this happen.”

The Business Solution Center is expected to open in November, 2014 and will be located at the Los Angeles Urban League, 3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

The Metro pilot Business Solution Center (BSC) will provide hands-on case management services for small businesses along the Crenshaw corridor between 48th and 60th streets.
Services will include marketing help, business plan development, financial planning, small business operations advice and legal assistance counseling. In addition, BSC will help small businesses apply for capital via existing loan programs. It also will help them gain certification as small, disadvantaged, disabled, veteran-owned, minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses.

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Alameda Corridor-East holds groundbreaking for Puente Avenue roadway underpass

Photos: Joe Lemon/Metro

The Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority broke ground today on a four-lane roadway underpass of Puente Avenue that will be built beneath a Union Pacific railroad line that runs along Valley Boulevard in the City of Industry. The $99.6-million project will support 1,780 jobs over four years of construction with completion scheduled for early 2018, according to ACE.

The Puente Avenue project will eliminate crossing collisions, vehicle queuing and congestion, train horn noise and reduce emissions from vehicles waiting for trains to pass through the intersection. Metro is the largest single financial contributor to this project, providing more than 50 percent of the program funding through Measure R sales tax and Prop C funds.

Here’s the press release from the ACE Construction Authority:

(City of Industry, CA) – Officials gathered today to kick off construction of a four-lane roadway underpass on Puente Avenue and Workman Mill Road that will be built beneath a Union Pacific Railroad line in the City of Industry. A railroad bridge and loop connector road between Workman Mill Road and Valley Boulevard will also be constructed.  The $99.6 million project will create 1,780 jobs over four years of construction with completion scheduled for early 2018.

“The Puente Avenue project will eliminate crossing collisions, vehicle queuing and congestion and train horn noise and reduce vehicle emissions,” said El Monte Councilwoman Norma Macias, Chair of the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority Board of Directors. “We appreciate the support for this project from our funding partners.”

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