Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 23

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.

Is West L.A. ready for its Expo Line? (CityWatch)

Over at CityWatch, Ken Alpern asks if West Los Angeles — with its expired community planning document — is ready to take full advantage of Expo Line Phase 2. This will be an important issue to discuss going forward, not only for West L.A., but for all L.A. County neighborhoods that will be home to new transit projects. Whether it’s transit-oriented development or improvements to bike infrastructure, there are a variety of ways that cities can maximize the positive impacts of new rapid transit. At this point, Alpern concludes that West L.A. is not doing enough.

The end of the road: saying goodbye to freeways (NPR)

Across the country, several cities have removed aging freeways in order to revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Several more, like Cleveland and New Haven, are considering following suit. For some cities, removing freeways has helped stitch together formerly separated neighborhoods. After a 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, the city’s waterfront Embarcadero Freeway was so damaged that it needed to be demolished. However, instead of replacing it with another freeway, the city went for a ground-level boulevard with a streetcar line and opening access to the waterfront and spurring investment in the community.

$4 per gallon gas – are we ready? (Planetizen)

While much of the talk of reducing gas consumption has focused on driving fuel efficient cars, Scott Bernstein argues we need to focus on making our neighborhoods more “location efficient” in the long run. Looking at his hometown of Chicago, Bernstein finds that residents who live close to destinations — meaning they drive less — tend to be more financially resilient to shocks in the price of gasoline.

City’s design, transit system can ease gas costs (USA Today)

Picking up on that theme, USA Today reports on a study published by CEOs for Cities that examines how cities will cope with higher gas prices. The authors conclude that cities where residents have alternatives to driving are better positioned to thrive in an era of $4 gasoline. According to Edward McMahon of the Urban Land Institute:

“Most trips in a car are not back and forth to work…Most trips — 80% to 85% — are lifestyle trips to the movies, the grocery store, taking the kids to school, and so on. What we found is if you live in a community where you can walk, ride a bike, take a short trip, those savings start to add up really quickly.”