OCTA gears up for Bike to Work day

Photo from Metrolink Official Facebook

Photo from Metrolink Official Facebook

Metro has a few great events coming up for Bike Week L.A., but the Orange County Transportion Authority has some plans of their own. Commuters in Orange County are invited to join OCTA for a bike rally on May 16, Bike to Work Day.

OCTA will be hosting a bike rally from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. Participants will meet at the Metrolink Orange Depot at 7:30 a.m. and join more than 50 cyclists for a 3-mile ride to OCTA Headquarters. In addition, Metrolink will be offering free train rides on May 16 to Southern California commuters who bring their bicycles on board Metrolink trains.

“Biking is an inexpensive and healthy alternative to driving and with more than 1,000 miles of bikeways and 700 more planned, Orange County is an ideal environment for biking,” said OCTA Chairman Greg Winterbottom. “We encourage the public to grab their helmets and join the bike movement.”

Groundbreaking held for another project to widen I-5 freeway between 605 and Orange County border

Public officials at the groundbreaking this morning including Metro Board Members Diane DuBois and Don Knabe in the center of the frame. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Public officials at the groundbreaking this morning including Metro Board Members Diane DuBois and Don Knabe in the center of the frame. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

The project that broke ground this morning will widen the 5 freeway for 1.2 miles between Shoemaker and Silverbow avenues by adding a general purpose lane and HOV lane in both directions. The project will also widen three bridges over the freeway — at Shoemaker, Rosecrans and Bloomfield. Metro is contributing $42 million of the $214 million cost of the project, with Metro’s money coming from Prop C (1990) and Measure R (2008) sales tax increases approved by county voters.

This is one of six projects that will add a general purpose lane and a carpool lane to the 5 freeway for seven miles in both directions from the 605 freeway junction to the border between L.A. and Orange counties. That border is a well-known bottleneck — Orange County has widened the 5 and added a carpool lane whereas the 5 remains three or four lanes north of the county line. The completion date for all of the projects is 2016.

Below is the program from today’s ceremony and a project map. The news release from Caltrans is posted after the jump.

groundbreaking program I5

Click above to see larger image.

Click above to see larger image.

Click above to see larger image.

And here’s a project map:


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Transportation headlines, Monday, April 9

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.


A view of Southern California that sums it up: subdivisions, Lake Elsinore, mountains and sunset, as seen Saturday evening from Highway 74. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

No high-speed rail to Anaheim (L.A. Times)

The revised business plan for the bullet train project released one week ago glossed over this not-so-small point: high-speed rail tracks will not be built between Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim in order to save the $6 billion. The media didn’t catch this — I didn’t either. Excerpt:

It is unclear under the new proposal if or when bullet train service would be extended to Anaheim. The $68-billion project is supposed to be completed by 2028.

It was partly the elimination of service from downtown’s Union Station to Orange County that helped slash the project’s price tag by $30 billion, said Lance Simmens, a spokesman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Until the recent revisions, the estimated cost of linking the Bay Area to Anaheim was nearly $100 billion.

The politically sensitive change had not been immediately evident Monday when the new plan was unveiled because the report did not explicitly state it. But a series of passages makes clear that the reduced budget would not cover costs of dedicated high speed tracks or electrical systems needed to operate bullet trains between Los Angeles and Anaheim. Other language in the plan suggests that an expanded future project or a second phase could reach Anaheim.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has on the new rail station proposed for Anaheim that comes with a $200-million price tag. It may also be a smart move. Bullet trains weren’t going to be that much faster in the L.A.-to-Anaheim corridor than regular trains and the tracks were going to dead-end at Anaheim with the bullet train route between L.A. and San Diego going through the Inland Empire to Riverside before turning south.

Sunday letters: changing our car culture (New York Times)

Fun and fascinating back-and-forth between Times readers on Americans’ driving habits and whether we should be driving less. Some favor a gas tax to help prompt more transit and discourage ‘let’s-drive-everywhere’ behavior. Others say cars are the only practical way to get around modern America.

What should I do with my old bike helmet? (Grist)

Advice columnist Umbra has several suggestions for using helmets whose noggin-protecting days may be over. Turn a helmet upside down and hang it from a beam and it makes a pretty nice flower pot, for example.

Hitch a free ride on Metrolink to Chinatown this Chinese New Year

For those living in Orange County, Metrolink is providing an easy way to travel to the Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown. The first 100 people to arrive at the Irvine Station at 8 a.m. on January 28 will get a free roundtrip Metrolink ticket to Union Station. From there, it’s a short walk or a one-stop ride on the Metro Gold Line to Chinatown.

Free food and entertainment will be provided at Irvine Station for those waiting to hop on a train to downtown Los Angeles. After the parade, feel free to stay for the Lunar New Year festivities, or take the opportunity to Metro somewhere else and make a weekend of it.

The Metrolink ticket will be good on the Gold Line to Chinatown, but if you want to pick up a free gift at the Chinatown BID event info booth, you’ll have to show a valid Metro Pass or Rail ticket. Follow the link for more information on Metrolink’s offer and train schedule, and I look forward to seeing you OC-ers there!

Groundbreaking held this morning for I-5/Carmenita Road interchange project

View Larger Map

Public officials held a groundbreaking on Wednesday morning for a project to improve the Carmenita/I-5 interchange. As the Google satellite view above shows, the bridge is two lanes wide at present. A new bridge will widen it to 10 lanes, according to Caltrans, with a scheduled completion date of 2015.

This is a key Measure R road project that is one of six projects that seek to widen the 5 freeway between the 605 and the Orange County line. As many motorists know, this stretch of the 5 in Los Angeles County south of downtown is often three lanes in each direction and then widens considerably in the OC. The Carmenita bridge has to be replaced in order for widening to take palce.

It’s good news that the project is getting started. But readers should also know this: if a state budget isn’t adopted soon, then it’s possible that a state bond sale scheduled for this fall won’t take place. Those bonds would help fund this project.

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Metrolink adds Angels Express trains

This is great news for Angels fans and those who enjoy American League baseball: Metrolink is adding round-trip special service between Union Station in Los Angeles and Angel Stadium in Anaheim. And the price is certainly right: $7 for a round-trip ticket — a good deal unless you really like sitting in traffic on the 5 freeway and burning through $4 per gallon gasoline.

Metrolink already has a stop in the parking lot at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, so it’s always been easy to reach the stadium via transit. But in the past, a lack of evening trains after the game made getting home a problem. Now, a new special train will depart from the stadium for Union Station 30 minutes after the end of Angels games.

All of the details are on the above flyer from Metrolink — the second page with schedules and info about how to get train tickets is after the jump. The new service begins April 8 with the Angels home opener against the defending American League West champion Texas Rangers. Metro, by the way, is one of five county transit agencies in Southern California that funds Metrolink. Continue reading