Transportation headlines, Friday, July 15

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.

Carmageddon: Is all the hassle L.A.’s “carma”? (KCRW)

I wouldn’t normally be inclined to pile on with the 405 closure news, but I’m too big a fan of host Warren Olney to resist. Guests included County Sup. Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. Newton asked why there was so little coverage when there were major changes to transit services but so much when a few miles of freeway close. The answer likely rests in the fact that the vast majority of people in L.A. County are still getting around by car.

If work goes smoothly, 405 Freeway could reopen early (L.A. Times)

Woohoo! But, there’s a caveat: A lot of work needs to be done in a relatively small window of time. If I were planning a Monday morning commute through the Sepulveda pass, I would not expect to be able to get on the road until 6 a.m., the planned reopening time for the on- and off-ramps. Curious who’s been running this project all along? It’s Mike Barbour, notes the L.A. Times, in its profile of the man who supervises over 100 Caltrans and Metro employees and who will take the accolades or grief, depending on how smoothly the whole project goes.

Six reasons driving has peaked in U.S. cities (Infrastructurist)

Researchers from the U.S. and Australia have noticed an interesting trend that may bode well for public transit: From 1995 to 2005, per capita driving has fallen in many big cities across the developed world. In the U.S., “Atlanta fell 10.1 percent and Houston 15.2; even Los Angeles fell 2 percent.” Even L.A.? Try not to act so surprised, world. Some of the explanations include the seemingly obvious — gas prices have risen, probably for good. The less obvious: the aging of the Baby Boomer generation means a large percentage of the population is beginning to reach retirement age, and thus will not be commuting every day.

Los Angeles Metro kicks off ambitious plans for Union Station (Architects News)

Remember when Metro bought Union Station this spring? Well, Metro’s planning staff is moving forward with soliciting proposals for how to develop the site, with the goal of having a master plan in place by the summer of 2013. AN’s Sam Lubell summarizes the overarching aim: “The agency’s goals for the project…include accommodating future transit needs, creating ‘an iconic place of extraordinary design,’ improving connectivity to the city around the station, and maximizing the value of Metro’s investment in the project.”