New video: Metro awarded more than $20 million in TIGER funds

As Steve posted Friday, Metro is the recipient of two TIGER grants and this is a pretty big deal, since there were 800 applicants and TIGER grants are based on merit. The gratitude and celebration continued Saturday morning, as Washington D.C.-based U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez flew in to make the official announcement.

The announcement was made at the Blue and Green line Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, which will benefit with enhanced connections between rail and bus, bicycle and pedestrian as a result of the grant. (The other grant is for the Little Tokyo/Arts District 1st and Central Station on the Regional Connector, which began construction earlier this year.)

Secretary Mendez was joined by Mayor and Metro Board Chair ERic Garcetti, U.S. Congresswoman Janice Hahn; U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas.

A video of the event is posted above. As you can see, even in the heat … everyone was happy.

Metro awarded $22 million in two federal TIGER grants to improve station access

 

Two projects to improve access to Metro Rail stations were awarded “TIGER grant” funding this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation:

•The Eastside Access Improvement Project will receive $11.8 million to help create a network of sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists to access the Regional Connector 1st/Central Station in Little Tokyo.

Proposed improvements include an enhanced network of crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists, improved pedestrian lighting, planting and street furniture along nearby streets. The above renderings show some of the possible improvements.

The Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo Lines in downtown Los Angeles and is forecast to open in 2020. The Connector will allow Eastside Gold Line riders to take the train directly into the heart of downtown without first having to travel to Union Station and transfer to the subway.

•Metro also was awarded $10.25 million to fund a series of improvements for the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station that serves the Blue Line, Green Line, six Metro bus lines and other muni bus providers. The station sits under the 105 freeway, meaning it can be noisy, cavernous and dimly lit — all impacting the “passenger experience,” as Metro’s grant application noted.

Among the improvements to be funded by the grant money: increasing station capacity by lengthening the Blue Line platform and, according to Metro, “enhancing connections between rail, bus, bicycle and pedestrian facilities to create safer access to the station from the surrounding community.”

Metro continues to pursue a larger project that could include a new bus center, sheriff substation and pedestrian plaza. More funding will be needed for those improvements.

Please click here to see the news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation and here’s a nice USDOT map showing TIGER grants awarded around the country. Metro officials said they especially appreciated the support of Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in securing the grants — the two largest awarded to agencies in the state of California.

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.

Continue reading

Four-week street closure along 2nd Street between Spring and Broadway beginning August 23

More Regional Connector utility relocation work will start this Saturday, August 23. The work will require 2nd Street between Spring and Broadway to be fully closed for four weeks. Here’s the press release from Metro:

As part of advanced relocation of utilities to pave the way for the construction of station boxes and tunnels to begin on the Regional Connector Project, 2nd Street between Spring Street and Broadway will remain closed for a 4- week period beginning Saturday, August 23.

The closure is necessary so utility crews can install electrical vaults on 2nd Street to support the construction of the 2nd Street/Broadway Station for the Regional Connector. Because the vaults are the width of the street, a 4-week full closure is needed for this work. The closure will be in effect 24-hours a day.

Anticipated hours of construction work are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Barriers will be placed to separate the work area from traffic and during the closure, saw-cutting, excavation, conduit and vault installation work will be performed.

Access to the Los Angeles Times 2nd Street Corporate Garage will be maintained during the

4-week closure and access to Joe’s Parking Lot will be maintained via Spring Street and Broadway. Pedestrian access will also be maintained outside the construction zone. Metro bus service should be maintained along both Spring Street and Broadway. No Metro bus service operates along 2nd street in the closure area.

During the closure, westbound 2nd Street traffic will be detoured right on Main Street, left on 1st Street, left on Hill Street back to 2nd Street. Eastbound 2nd Street traffic will be detoured right on Hill Street, left on 4th Street, left on Main Street, back to 2ndStreet.

The $1.427 billion Regional Connector light rail project will complete a 1.9 mile gap connecting the Metro Gold Line with the Blue and Expo lines by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2ndStreet/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles. The Regional Connector Project is an important rail connection project overwhelmingly approved by the voters and funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax for LA County transportation improvements.

The Regional Connector, expected to be completed in 2020, will attract nearly 17,000 new daily riders and provide access to more than 88,000 passengers saving commuters up to 20 minutes off their daily commutes. It will provide a one-seat, one fare ride for commuters from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without the need to transfer between rail lines for major east/west and north/south trips.

The new Metro Rail extension will offer an alternative transportation option to congested roadways, provide significant environmental benefits and spur economic development throughout Los Angeles County. Through improved connectivity, riders will be better able to use the entire Metro Rail system, municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services.

Construction notice: 2nd Street partial closure on Saturday in DTLA for Regional Connector work

CN_ Power_2nd_Spring-Broadway_One Day Full Closure (08-16-14)

It’s just a one-block closure, but please take note if you’re planning on traveling around the Little Tokyo and Civic Center area on Saturday or live/work in the area.

The Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo Lines, allowing a one-seat ride for most riders through downtown Los Angeles. The project is partially funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008. The project began construction this year and is currently scheduled to open in 2020.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 7

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: A cyclist on the bike path adjacent to the Orange Line -- this is the stretch just east of Hazeltine. More Orange Line stock photos free for anyone that needs them on our Flickr site. Just click above. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A cyclist on the bike path adjacent to the Orange Line — this is the stretch just east of Hazeltine. More Orange Line stock photos free for anyone that needs them on our Flickr site. Just click above. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

$11 billion later, high-speed rail is inching along (New York Times) 

The top of the story:

WASHINGTON — High-speed rail was supposed to be President Obama’s signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China.

The article goes on to explain that most of the money was spent on building or planning to increase train speeds on relatively short sections of track around the country. It would still take $15 billion and 26 years to bring the northeast corridor tracks between New York and Washington up to Japanese bullet train speeds, the Times reports. The article also notes that California’s high-speed rail project recently won a key legal ruling but has been controversial.

Bedbugs found on at least three N Line subway trains (New York Daily News) 

Three trains in New York City were yanked out of service and sent to maintenance yards for immediate fumigation. This 2008 article in the New York Times discusses whether bedbugs can survive in transit stations. Short (and unfortunate) answer: yes.

Time to tie pay to Muni’s on-time performance (San Francisco Examiner) 

Fares are soon increasing a quarter on Muni trains and buses to $2.25 and this Examiner editorial proposes two responses: 1) tie the salaries of Muni executives to Muni’s ability to meet a goal of having buses and trains on time 85 percent of the time (it was 57.2 percent in 2013), and; 2) Enforce a 1993 ballot measure that required politicians who oversee Muni to ride it twice a week.

California’s slow ride to transit (San Francisco Chronicle) 

In this op-ed, Ethan Elkind complains that transit projects across the state are taking far too long to plan, bid and build — and he proposes some solutions. Metro’s Regional Connector is one of the examples he uses, comparing it to the time and expense of building a streetcar tunnel in downtown in 1925. Hard not to agree that the environmental review process in California and elsewhere takes far longer than necessary.

Passengers help free man trapped between train and platform (ABC News)

Watch the video from Australia. And let it serve as a reminder that being around things such as train platforms and busy streets — in L.A. and around the globe — demands your full attention. Put down your phones for a moment, people!

*****

And a little mid-day music courtesy of Spoon, which is playing the Hollywood Forever cemetery on Friday night. For those who want to take the bus to the show, use the Metro 4 Line that runs along Santa Monica Boulevard. The stops at Santa Monica/Gower and Santa Monica/Bronson are both close to the cemetery’s entrance. Red Line riders can transfer to the 4 at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station.

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, August 1

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: Nice pic taken last month on the Blue Line. Photo courtesy Matthew Grant Anson, via Flickr.

ART OF TRANSIT: Nice pic taken last month on the Blue Line. Photo courtesy Matthew Grant Anson, via Flickr.

The value of fast transit (Transport Politic)

As our very own Joe Lemon recently noted after a visit to the Twin Cities, the new light rail line connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul is a crawler, taking 48 minutes to an hour to travel 11 miles. Yonah Freemark, in this new post, writes:

Of course, the Twin Cities are hardly alone in their predicament. Recent transit lines elsewhere in the country feature similarly leisurely travel times. The new Houston North Line, for example, is averaging 17 mph. Los Angeles’ Expo Line is slightly quicker at 18 mph. Bus rapid transit and streetcar projects popping up virtually everywhere are often significantly slower. Only the Washington, D.C. Metro Silver Line, which will extend that region’s subway deep into the Virginia suburbs, will speed commuters along at an average of 32 mph. It will do so while only stopping at 5 stations, all of which will be located in the middle of expressways.

With speeds like those light rail lines or services like the Silver Line, it’s little wonder that it’s so difficult to convince people to get out of their cars in so many places. The fact of the matter is that services like this often do not provide much mobility improvement over the bus services they replace. That’s particularly true for large regions where too many destinations are simply too far away to be accessible by transit that averages such slow speeds.

The post goes on to note, very correctly, that the problem is that fast transit usually means putting transit on bridges or underground and that makes it prohibitively expensive at a time when there is only so much help the federal government in the U.S. will provide. As a result, less expensive and slower versions of transit get built.

Meet the worst transit project in America (Vox)

Writer Matthew Yglesias wags his finger at a streetcar line in Washington D.C. that’s under construction. Not only will it share a traffic lane with cars, the streetcar will likely block faster buses. This kind of slow transit project, Yglesias writes, not only harms the low-income riders who most rely on public transit (i.e. they’re stuck on transit instead of doing something else useful), but also creates a backlash against expensive transit projects that turn out to be of little use to motorists seeking an alternative to driving. Concur.

The missing link: exploring the Regional Connector transit corridor (KCET)

Nice summary of the neighborhoods and sights along the future Connector’s 1.9-mile route through downtown Los Angeles between Little Tokyo and the 7th/Metro Center Station. The Connector, as the name implies, will connect the Gold Line to the Blue Line and Expo Line. That will allow trains to run straight through downtown and should allow for faster rides and fewer transfers for most riders.

L.A. is working on a major zoning code revamp (L.A. Times) 

Good primer on efforts to revise the citywide code and, more importantly, the community plans that really dictate how neighborhoods look and what kind of development is allowed. This has been in the works for quite some time and looks like there are several years to go. At the end of the day, these plans will decide what gets built near transit.

Does Eric Garcetti have a big enough vision for L.A.? (Governing)

Very interesting profile on the mayor of Los Angeles, who is also the Chair of the Metro Board of Directors for the next 11 months. Garcetti makes a persuasive case that a back to basics approach is the best way to persuade people to believe in government again. Not much on transportation until the final graph. Excerpt:

Eric Garcetti wants to win big — he just believes that the way to do it is to bring the city’s fundamental management processes under control as a first step. Not until 2016 do most observers expect to see Garcetti himself put a controversial proposal before voters: That’s when he is expected to back an updated version of Measure R, the 2008 sales tax initiative that jump-started construction of the so-called Purple and Crenshaw subway lines.

 

The Metro Board has been discussing the possibility of a ballot measure in 2016 and the agency has asked local cities for their input. Nothing has been decided yet, including whether Metro would ask voters to extend Measure R or seek a new sales tax increase in order to accelerate projects and fund new ones. This is obviously one of the big storylines this blog will be following for the next two years.