Transportation headlines, Monday, Oct. 24

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.

Fault findings break new ground (ZevWeb)

USC Earth Sciences Professor James Dolan talks about the seismic work done in the Century City area to determine the best location for a subway station. As a result of that work — Dolan was part of the team of researchers involved — it was discovered that the West Beverly Hills Lineament, a previously known fault, is actually a northern extension of the well-known Newport-Inglewood Fault. As Dolan puts it, such discoveries may spark concern, but it’s better to know as much as possible about the area’s underlying earthquakes — the alternative is, of course, not knowing. The website for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky — who is also a Metro Board Member — also had a very detailed story on last week’s seismic reports. Give it a read.

Van Nuys congestion spurs new transit dreams (Daily News)

A brief look at the Van Nuys Rapidway Project studies that are now underway; public meetings begin tonight in Panorama City. Metro officials say everything is on the table for now in terms of adding transit to Van Nuys Boulevard between Ventura Boulevard and the 210 freeway. But one prominent transit activist says the agency is being shortsighted and should be studying a rail line between Sylmar and the Expo Line. The big issue with the Van Nuys Boulevard project is funds — Measure R sets aside $68.5 million, which is not enough on its own for a rail line. I know there’s a lot of interest in this project, so please keep in mind that Metro is studying Van Nuys Boulevard as one project; a separate Measure R project would link the Westside to the San Fernando Valley via the Sepulveda Pass. The planning for that one is just getting underway.

California bullet train: the high price of speed (Los Angeles Times)

Another bullet aimed at the bullet train project. The story looks at mounting opposition to the high-speed rail project that would require the destruction and/or relocation of many homes and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley — in particular in the Bakersfield area . The train would even pass on a viaduct through the campus of Bakersfield High School, which doesn’t please the locals. High-speed rail officials say the project will enhance the overall quality-of-life in the state; the above video of the train passing through Bakersfield is from the Authority. Excerpt:

Across the length of the Central Valley, the bullet train as drawn would destroy churches, schools, private homes, shelters for low-income people, animal processing plants, warehouses, banks, medical offices, auto parts stores, factories, farm fields, mobile home parks, apartment buildings and much else as it cuts through the richest agricultural belt in the nation and through some of the most depressed cities in California.

Although the potential for such disruption was understood in general terms when the project began 15 years ago, the reality is only now beginning to sink in.

The potential economic, cultural and political damage may be an omen. The Central Valley, where construction could start next year, is expected to be the politically easiest and lowest-cost segment of the system, designed to move millions of passengers between Southern California and the Bay Area. The project’s effects could be even greater in more populous places like Silicon Valley, Orange County, Burbank, San Francisco and downtown Los Angeles.


9 replies

  1. It appears that Timothy Buresh, So CA reginional director overseeing the planning of the CA High Speed RAil Authority may need to clarify the following – Per Mr. Buresh it is NOT OK to build a subway tunnel 50 to 70 feet below Beverly Hills High school that Metro states will have NO IMPACTS. YET THIS ARTICLE STATES THAT THE CA HIGH SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY PLANS TO BUILD AN ABOVE GROUND ELEVATED TRAIN TRACT ABOVE BAKERSFIELD HIGH SCHOOL. Is it politics or money? The children of Bakersfield need the same protection as those in Beverly Hills.

  2. Beverly Hills High School, Bakersfield High School… Both have NIMBYs opposed to a much-needed rail project… given their history of oil, BH High should have the mascot “Drillers”

  3. I would had been thrilled to have a train pass by my school. It’s only been a few years since High School, guess what? i knew that you shouldn’t go near railroad track. Trains are safe. The viaduct will be safely implemented just as the Westdie subway will be because trains are built by school ALL over the world. I don’t want to hear about sound. How many schools are near highways? Mine was. I didn’t hear a thing inside.

    Opposition to the High Speed Rail plan doesn’t make sense. We need the capacity. We need the speed. We need the jobs. Build it now.

  4. There’s no money, public sentiment, desire, need or reason for a bullet train.

  5. Who do we need to contact to make sure the Van Nuys corridor and Sepulveda Pass get studied jointly? These corridors should NOT get built to use different modes. That would be ridiculously short-sighted. Obviously the corridor is a straight shot from the Van Nuys Metrolink south to UCLA, the future Westwood subway stop and the Expo Line. That’s enough to justify merging the study areas, let alone the potential for an extension to LAX in 2197. Regardless of construction funding, the planning should be done looking at the big picture. Imagine the ridership demand for a single seat from that Metrolink through the mountains to the Westside, passing the Orange, Purple, and Expo lines along the way. An unnecessary bus to train transfer in Sherman Oaks will put a serious kink in ridership. Ridership tends to drop off after the second transfer. Metrolink to a Van Nuys bus to a Sepulveda train to the purple or expo lines, that’s three transfers, highly unmarketable. Don’t let Metro neuter the possibilities by relying on arbitrarily drawn lines on study area maps.

  6. The main rationale by the conservatives on why they don’t want high speed rail is simple. It’s the misconception that it’s a tax waste that will not earn a single money back. It’s viewed much like Amtrak and public transit in the US; that it’ll be forever a burden on taxpayers instead of being seen as an investment.

    The only way to break away from this misconception is to break loose of that stigma. In order to prove the conservatives wrong, we must first change our “taxpayer subsidized” view of public transit and transform it to become a more profitable, revenue earning business. In these tough time, we cannot make the conservatives’ heads nod in agreement without showing proof that there is money to be made in public transit.

    Besides, we must remember that we are NOT a socialist society where we can force a person to be for high speed rail whether they like it or not.

    We’re not China or the former Soviet Union; we don’t send people to gulags or re-education camps just because they don’t like the idea of high speed rail. There’s a perfectly great, capitalist, American way to make the high speed rail antagonists change their minds: show them hard actual data that it can make profit for them. We are a capitalist society driving with the success of earning capital gains. Why not show it to them?

    My suggestion is to semi-privatize public transit, give Angelinos stock shares in Metro, and transform Metro from a 9:1 tax-to-revenue model into at least 5:5 tax-to-revenue model. If that means ditching the flat fare and going to a distance model, it has to be done, pronto. If that means to start charging for free parking and the park and ride lots, that has to be done too. If it means easing bureaucratic red-tape to bring more commercialization to our stations, that needs to be done as well.
    By making Metro into a self-sufficient for-profit-business, we can change the conservatives’ misconception that there is money to be made in public transit and they will change their stance in no time. If they see data from the success of LA Metro that if the $1 billion in investment they plunk down would come back as $5 billion several years later, they will be for high speed rail in no time.

    But so long as public transit remains a burden to taxpayers, high speed rail will only be seen as a “boondoggle” in the eyes of conservatives.

  7. “…opposition to the high-speed rail project that would require the destruction and/or relocation of many homes and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley — in particular in the Bakersfield area.”
    That’s the only issue with HSR people are having that I can sympathize with. This ideally should not be necessary as we have plenty of ROWs that already exist that are largely straight through the San Joaquin valley. CA-99 and railroad ROWs would do the job just fine (and I believe most of the central valley segment uses these anyways). As far as I know, the RR ROWs directly hit every downtown of the cities that are planned to have stations. Don’t get me wrong, I support this project very much, I just feel that the eminent domain issues could have been avoided. As for the high school, it should not be an issue since it does not involve seizing the property and plus its a public (government) school anyways so that’s just more NIMBYism. This project needs to happen, but the issue of eminent domain only will embolden the opposition unfortunately and I don’t want to see this whole thing get axed when a few alignment adjustments could be made to avoid some of these issues.

    As for the Van Nuys corridor, well, I completely agree with everything John said. Well stated.

    • Hi Connor;

      I think the HSR project bypasses Visalia completely and stops way outside of town. It’s not a tiny town and has worked very hard to restore its downtown. Seems like the kind of city HSR should serve. I think the issue of having to take so many properties raises a lot of questions about the planning and why existing ROWs are not being used.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. Hi Steve,

    Good point, I forgot about the Visalia/Tulare/Hanford stop. I assumed that the station would be in whichever downtown of those three cities was most feasible, like say, Tulare. But after looking at the area around Visalia in more detail, I think one way to route HSR into downtown Visalia along mostly existing rights of way (it might skirt some farmland a bit, so it could be elevated) is to run up the Santa Fe trail starting in Tulare, continue up Santa Fe avenue which parallels the row, continue into downtown, then curve west to run along the row next to Goshen ave. to then meet back up with the main ROW. This alignment would probably require mostly viaducts though especially where it loses the row in spots like downtown and some areas further south, and may in fact require the use of a viaduct along this whole alignment. So it would add cost but may make sense if Visalia is willing to pay for some of that extra cost.