Tests simulating crossing gates on the Eastside Extension of Gold Line set to begin next week

At the time the Gold Line to East Los Angeles opened in 2009, the Metro Board of Directors asked about the possibility of installing crossing gates at some intersections along the light rail corridor.

Metro officials say such gates may “increase awareness” of trains for both motorists and pedestrians. On street-running segments, the trains — like vehicle traffic — follow traffic signals, a typical arrangement for light rail lines here and abroad. Testing is set to begin next week on how gates may work. Here is the news release from Metro:

Metro begins testing period to simulate how quad gates will work along Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension on 3rd Street in East Los Angeles

A testing period simulating how rail crossing quad gates will work and interact with motorists and pedestrians at selected intersections along the Metro Gold Line on 3rd Street in East Los Angeles will begin on Wednesday, May 11, 2011.

The testing will be conducted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in coordination with the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) during two-weeks, from Wednesday, May 11, to Tuesday, May 24.

It is part of an environmental study to determine the feasibility of installing crossing gates on the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension (MGLEE).

The simulation will include changes to the traffic signal timing, temporary installation of “No Right Turn on Red” traffic signs, and temporary installation of temporary warning bells.

During the simulation period, traffic signals at these intersections will go to an “all-red” traffic signal phase when trains are detected as approaching the intersections to simulate the train pre-emption timing that would occur with the installation of rail crossing gates.

Drivers are advised that possible traffic delays are expected at the following locations during the simulation period:

  • 3rd Street and Civic Center Way
  • 3rd Street and La Verne Avenue
  • 3rd Street and Woods Avenue and Beverly Blvd.

Metro will have rail safety ambassadors at each intersection to observe and collect traffic and pedestrian data. LASD motorcycle officers will be on-site throughout the simulation period to ensure public safety

For more information about the traffic simulation or the MGLEE Quadrant Gate Project please visit Metro’s website at metro.net/eastside, call the project hotline at (213) 922-3011 or send your  comments or questions by e-mail to quadgatecomments@metro.net

17 replies

  1. Actually the MTA did NOT make any of the final decisions for the current Gold Line to Pasadena. It was the Blue Line Construction Authority created by San Gabriel politician and business interests.(it became a model for all future rail construction) The MTA dropped plans to construct light rail into Pasadena (along with other proposed rail lines) with the economic downturn. San Gabriel Valley politicians and “civic leaders” really wanted this line, but MTA did not have the money. So SGV interests created the Blue Line Construction Authority by state legislation and became 100% responsible for for the construction and route of the line. Only after complete construction was the line to be handed over to the MTA for operations.

    The BLCA used one of the least preferred alternatives and began slashing amenities–no marque signs for YEARS after construction–shorter platforms than originally planned, eliminating grad separation where ever possible, turning Highland Park into street running, and that awful decision to go down the median of the 210 Fwy to avoid the opposition of merchants along Green Street to the Transit Mall concept or even in any way accommodating the LRT on Greeen Street.

    The BLCA did essentially contract with the MTA for construction, but MTA had absolutely NO say in final decisions. It was all BLCA. The wanted the line quick and cheap. In my view, while there were many compromises, there are 2 really bad legacies of the GL to Pasadena: no stop nor access AT Colorado Blvd. and running in the median of the 210.

    Sorry, MTA does not get the blame for this one. In fact, the whole idea of the BLCA was to take the MTA OUT of any of the decision making due to the Hollywood Blvd. collapse and other less spectacular bad press the MTA was getting at the time.

    Please, the bells would have been going on and off all day and NIGHT long as they would have to be activated for trains in both directions at 6-7 minute head ways for an average of loud noise every 3 minutes at its peak. Dismissive attitudes toward real people who live just steps away from the rail just shows utter insensitivity for some of our lower income residents who always seem to get the freeway or projects with concomitant noise or air pollution SHOVED in their neighbor hoods. Let’s try imagine ourselves in their place, shall we.

  2. Bobby McGee

    If Gloria and the rest of the board did their homework their are crossing gates that ring only when the gates come down and up and stay silent for the duration of the passing train. As for light rail not being built to where it would make sense to build well that’s not a suprise ever since RTD became MTA commen sense went out the window just to save a few dollars and not hurt traffic when correct me if I’m wrong the enemy and is why trains are being built in the first place?

  3. Warner, I think Gloria Molina was being responsive to her district as the residents did not want the clanging bells all day and night, and I can’t blame them as homes are just a few feet from the ROW. The Blue Line Construction Authority is to blame for not box tunneling this portion as I believe the MTA had originally planned, along with axing the Green Street preferred alternative. That cheapskated “fast track” to avoid lawsuits move has really HURT the Gold Line’s value to those who most need it: students at PCC, along with many I know who won’t take the Gold Line to Pasadena because their destination is downtown Pasadena between Raymond and Hill street NOT the 210 Fwy.

    This is just one example of why so many people–including many on this site–are constantly trying to figure out why our light rail lines seem NOT to directly serve some common sense and popular destinations such as PCC, most of downtown Pasadena, the heart of East LA on Whittier Blvd. the STUPIDITY of not having a station under Colorado but on either side of it that makes transferring to buses on Colorado a PITA, and we all are dying to get to those destinations several blocks NORTH of Colorado next to the 210 Fwy (sacasim :)).

    The irony is I have come to LOVE the eastside Gold Line extension for the very same reasons I have assailed: a cheapskated line, NOT serving the primary blvd., but aligned for reasons of cost and least impact on traffic, and this has cause the Eastside Gold Line to be hardly used by anyone and not serving where most people want to go. I love how I NEVER have to sit next to anyone and it is so quiet because 8 people in one car really can’t make more noise than the Breda A/C, except for the occasionally crying baby.

    Oh, the irony. How I love the Unpopularity of the Eastern Gold Line for my selfish reason, but, in my heart, would really prefer a line that truly served the masses.

  4. The reason Quad Gates can make sense on the proposed test area is that there is only ONE through street, a VERY small through street with little traffic that intersects with E 3rd at the tri-point of Beverly, & E. 3rd, which is just at the end of the terminus platform at Atlantic. beyond that intersection there are NO through streets on the NORTH side of E. 3rd (It is the large Civic Center complex of Sherrif’s staion, public park, library, courts, and Roybal CH Clinic), only access ways to the amenities and parking for the Civic Center.

    Meanwhile the very few and very small and light trafficked residential access streets on the SOUTH side of E. 3rd have no THROUGH access beyond E. 3rd as they T intersect and have to wait to make a turn onto E. 3rd any way. In other words, this stretch of E. 3rd has limited access as it is with most of the traffic merging INTO E.3rd from Beverly or Atlantic and E. 3rd with NO traffic able to CROSS E.3rd between the terminus and Mednik (essentially T-intersected), with only very few cars turning right or left onto E. 3rd. in the quad gate test area.

    This makes it an excellent candidate for quad gates that will have virtually NO IMPACT on current auto traffic. What we are seeing is Metro doing every thing it can to SQUEEZE every last minute it can from running times just as they have been doing for the last few years with improvements to northern section of Gold Line and even running just a tad faster on the bridge over the 101 less than a year after opening the Eastern Gold Line. I am in vary of this every little bit counts approach because if they attack what is reasonable to enhance in several places, it really does add up to several minutes that really do make a difference.

    Obviously, don’t look for quad gates to appear everywhere, but perhaps along streets with similar, and unusual, configuration as E. 3rd between Beverly and Mednik.

  5. I gotta say though that as slow as the marmion way section in highland park is (I believe only 20 mph) it does seem to have consistent signal preemption because Ive never seen it wait at lights there so the slowness is less noticeable to riders for that 0.5 mile stretch. It seems to move along there slowly but steadily thanks to the signals. But yeah I think increasing to 30 mph would be reasonable and safe.

    And what is the deal with the ultra slow speeds on the 101 flyover, it is really that risky to at least increase it to something more reasonable like 20 or 25 mph? And why is there no mention of adding gates/preemption to the section between the 101 elevated tracks and the subway portal at mariachi plaza? Those areas are just as bad for stopping at lights. Its a joke how slow that section is. These are the kinds of things that can change a rail line from seeming like a local streetcar to an actual rapid transit line which is what LA desperately needs more of functionality wise.

  6. Quad gates should be placed on all lines street running. It’s a SAFTEY FEATURE and should be MANDORTORY when building any rail line. For testing on East L.A. is a feat. Speeds could be maintained and accidents with vehicles could be greatly reduced and fences installed along the R.O.W. wthi the fence inbedded in the K-rail along all street running Gold and Blue. Also add fencing on the 210 fwy running so cars dont land on the R.O.W. and for also passengers dont get hit by flying debris from accidents such as tires!. Also the reason for the slow street running in the Highland Park area is becuase of Gloria Molina it’s her District. Trains aren’t dangerous people who dont pay attention are!

  7. Having these gates will allow the train time to be much faster. Also, I know the current speed limit is 35 mph on the surface, but it seems like they still go slower than that, and they don’t speed up much in the subway. What gives? Also, the article states that its most common for light rail to be subject to traffic signals abroad. I don’t think this is true especially in Europe where actually signal preemption or priority is common practice for light rail. In any case LA is too spread out to be having rail lines be subject to traffic lights especially because of the less then local distances people often travel which is why we need true uninterrupted transit. I hope there are plans to prioritize the signals that may not be getting the gates, otherwise this will only improve a hand full of intersections while having many others where the trains still have to wait. But adding these gates ought to be the main way we design and build at-grade rail from now on since it guarantees signal preemption for the trains and therefore making transit a more attractive alternative and not frustrating to riders.

  8. Places I would put quad gates

    Temple & Alameda
    1st & Alameda

    The Little Tokyo Station is sort of in Private ROW (station and tracks located to the side of the street instead of the middle) This would help trains entering and exiting the station. Also might speed up the trains while traversing the curves.

    1st & Indiana
    3rd & Indiana

    Same as Little Tokyo. Station Located off the street. Will assist operationally in getting the trains in and out of the station.

    The other portion should have strong signal priority/preemption.

  9. Im not sure if quad gates are ideal for street running, will have to wait and see how the EIR plays out. But I did find on the internet a report by LADOT on how to give signal priority to the blue line in Washington. Simply it entails extending green light times or accelerating signal phases from red to green to ensure that the trains never or very rarely encounter red lights. This might be more ideal than stopping all traffic just for the train to pass.

  10. Right, Spokker. And I forgot to add that some trains trying to depart Civic Center for Atlantic have to wait a rather long time for a red light at the end of the plafrorm. The phase there is really long. Also, some trains headed for Pasadena have to wait at Mednik for a red light just at the end of the platform, for a fair amount of time, as well. However, no quad gates planned for Mednik. Still this short stretch is among the most negatively affected by street running. There is, at times, another long red on East 3rd just west of the 60, but the rest of the street running runs pretty well–for street running.

    What we really need on the Gold Line is the elimination of street running in Highland Park. However, I believe the residents were against having to live with the constant ringing of the bells all day and into the night. That leaves only expensive engineering solutions that will probably never happen. Sad the Blue Line Constuction Authority built this segment on the cheap, also abandoning the Green Street alignment. Now Metro Gold is not nearly as accessable to Downtown Pasadena and Pasadena City College as it would have. I know people who really would take Gold Line to PCC or destinations east of Glen Arm, but find the current bus and shuttle services to be to inconvenient and opt to use a car instead.

  11. Every minute possible needs to be shaved off this section of line, especially if it is going to be extended out towards the 605 freeway. Kind of also my fear with the gold line heading out to Azusa and then eventually running to LB. Could be very slow unless good gates and lights etc. East LA line if it runs to Santa Monica will also need both ends of the line as fast as possible. If the pedestrians now have fences on the ELA line, time for the cars to have gates. I have seen few gates on Expo I which is good..

  12. I don’t think the trains would run at higher speeds. The benefit is that they would not have to stop at red lights.

  13. Will the gates allow the trains to run at higher speeds? It makes sense since there is more safety, the trains could move faster to cut down on transit times.

    Currently the street level portion of the Eastside Gold Line is excruciatingly slow for a rail line. Please use this opportunity to improve it.

  14. Ah! This is the infamous stretch of 3rd Street from the terminus at Atlantic to Mednik, right next to the Roybal Comprehensive Health Clinic. As a regular user of the Gold Line on this stretch, I have observed how SLOW the last few blocks to the terminus are with trains encountering red lights. Also, when one is at Civic Center station waiting for the Pasadena bound train, one can see the white headlights of the train on its way for a VERY LONG time as it has to stop for red lights. Although this stretch of track is really short, the impacts of the current street running really can blow several minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised it this does become a reality as much as 5 minutes can be shaved of the timetable.

  15. Um, why are gates needed? Are red lights not enough? Put in a red light camera, and you’re set.

    Why is rail so much more work than the tens of thousands of signalized intersections in the city?

    Imagine if every intersection in the city had 15mph speed limits. Imagine if to increase that, every intersection required quad gates.


  16. Quad gates and “No Right Turn on Red” traffic signs coupled with pre-emption timing would speed up the trains to more realistic levels!

    Perhaps, this approach should also be considered for the Expo Line?!!