Transportation headlines, Monday, Dec. 13

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 blog.

Feds insist that first leg of bullet train reach Bakersfield (

The first leg of California high speed rail may now go as far as Bakersfield thanks to $1.2 billion in new funds from states that turned it away. Also, if the tracks make it to Bakersfield the project will qualify for an additional $616 million in federal money. There’s also hope that by reaching Bakersfield, a city of over 300,000, opponents may lose the “train to nowhere” argument.

Downtowns get a fresh lease (Wall Street Journal)

In the American battle between suburbs and central cities, suburbs have long been the reigning champ. But the recent economic downturn has show that maybe downtowns are on the way back. Office vacancy rates are way up in the ‘burbs and fairly stable in central business districts. A cultural shift may be responsible as young people choose the center over the fringe. Does transit play a part? Denver’s light rail line is mentioned:

In Denver, a light-rail system has contributed to a more vibrant downtown. Colliers International broker Brad Calbert, who helped arrange moves by energy companies SunCor Energy Inc. and Black Hills Corp. from the Denver suburbs to downtown, said, “There is a cultural transition going on.”

Finally, a draft bike plan that cyclists actually like (Streetsblog L.A.)

L.A.’s bike activists are notoriously hard to please, but it looks like their high standards have finally been met with the newest draft bicycle plan from the City of Los Angeles. Bike activist Alex Thompson says this about the document:

“The bike plan has turned around three times now, but this last one was a pirouette.  It’s a great document – this is what can happen when experts of all sorts get together and work it out.”’

Metro in talks to buy Union Station? (blogdowntown)

Blogdowntown noticed an item on the Metro Board of Directors closed session agenda last week that guesses at a possible deal with Union Station, currently owned by Prologis. According to blogdowntown, Prologis recently announced intentions to sell all of its non-industrial properties by early 2011.

Transit village will impair transit, residents say (Lookout News)

The Bergamot Transit Village Project planned near Phase 2 of the Expo Line has some Santa Monica residents speaking out against it. The main reason? Residents think the height and density of the project will make traffic unbearable. One interesting twist on this story of residents opposing development – a rather common story – is that residents are also opposed to increased parking spaces that will come with the project. A 1,900 car underground parking garage is planned, which residents say seems at odds with the whole “transit village” idea.