Transportation headlines, Thursday, Dec. 17

Warm-up your eyeballs. A lot of really good transpo stories out there today.

The L.A. Times’ Rich Connell reports that Metrolink and other commuter railroads sought and were granted a federal waiver more than a decade ago to bypass a rule requiring them to post speed limit signs in certain areas. State officials say the signs may not have prevented the Chatsworth crash, but that they were worth having.

This is just too clever: transportation planners in the Bay Area have created a smartphone app that tracks trips taken by cyclists around town, according to the City Fix blog. The idea is to try to gather data on something that has been elusive — getting good info on where cyclists go. If planners know that, the thinking goes, maybe they can create better cycling infrastructure in the future.

Speaking of planners, the Burbank City Council is unhappy with a city planning proposal to decrease the amount of parking that developers must provide with new buildings near mass transit, reports the Burbank Leader. It has become vogue in planning circles to cut parking requirements. The notion is that too much parking — particularly free or cheap parking — just gives motorists an incentive to keep driving. The political problem, of course, is that voters like to find cheap and free parking. The other thorny issue is that developers say that building too much parking greatly increases the price of construction, which ultimately is passed on to consumers.

An opinion piece in the Denver Post pokes fun at officials from four Western states who held a press conference to say they support high speed rail, yet couldn’t even get the basic facts right about population and density around the country.

And, finally, Infrastructurist thumbs its nose at the proposed 710 tunnel between Alhambra and Pasadena, saying it would give people a reason to stop taking mass transit — the Gold Line — and start driving again.

The rest of today’s headlines, compiled by the diggers at the Metro library, are after the jump.

The 4 [U.S.] Highway Projects That Would Be The Biggest Waste Of Money (includes California I-710 extension)

$8 Billion In High-Speed Rail Funds To Be Allocated – Soon
Popular Mechanics

California Transit Agencies Receive $29 Million In Homeland Security Grants
California Emergency Management Agency

Council Unhappy With Proposal: Members Tell City Planners To Focus On A Plan That Doesn’t Include Less Parking
Burbank Leader

CTA Opens Transit Data

Federal Highway Administration Revises Rules To Make Highways Safer: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Calls Updates Needed And Welcome
U.S. Department of Transportation

House Jobs Bill Answers Some Key Transportation Questions
LA StreetsBlog

House Jobs Bill Could Make General Electric’s Amtrak Wish Come True
DC StreetsBlog

Improving Environmental Efficiencies In Transit
Transport Politic

L.A. Metro To Operate Metro Orange Line All Night New Year’s Eve (in addition to all other rail lines)
Metro Press Release

Metrolink Got A Waiver To Not Post Simple Safety Signs: More Than A Decade Ago, The Commuter Rail Agency Bypassed A Federal Requirement That Was Intended To Help Avoid Accidents Like Last Year’s Deadly Chatsworth Crash
Los Angeles Times

The Next Internet Boom – Connected Cars: Users Expected To Amount to 55 Million In 2016
iSuppli Applied Market Intelligence

Opinion: West Can’t Support High-Speed Rail Scheme
Denver Post

Putting The Stimulus To Work
(graphic representation of top municipal recipients and to which sectors they’re funneling their funds)

Safe Routes To School, Putting Traffic Safety First: How Safe Routes To School Initiatives Protect Children Walking And Bicycling
(22p. PDF)
Safe Route Partnership

Secretary Napolitano Announces Grant Guidance For More than $250 Million In Fiscal Year 2010 Transit Security Grants
Department Of Homeland Security

Solar Panels Installed At Gold Line Station
Brigham Yen

Southern California’s Roadways Costly And Crumbling
Contra Costa Times

A Suite Of Solutions Necessary For Energy Efficient Transportation
Environmental Defense Fund Way2Go

Tracking Bicycle Trips
(smartphone app that allows cyclists to communication seamlessly with area transportation planners)
The City Fix
San Francisco County Transportation Authority Cycletracks for iPhone and Android page

Video: LaHood Visits “The Daily Show” To Talk Transportation
DC StreetsBlog

Wireless Parking (video: What if sensors on the street knew exactly which parking spots were free? San Francisco utitilizes real-time information as a smarter way to park)

With New Extension In Place, Light Rail Officials To Put Best Foot Forward For Rose Bowl, Parade
Pasadena Star-News