Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 20

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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Subway makes tracks toward Westwood (ZevWeb)

The article provides a detailed look at the routing of the subway through Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s district, which includes Beverly Hills and Century City. The piece also looks at the seismic issues involved and considers the controversy over a Century City station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars — a location opposed by some Beverly Hills officials as it would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. Excerpt:

But last year, a panel of high-profile scientific experts convened by Metro said that active earthquake faults make the Santa Monica Boulevard location too dangerous for a subway station. These experts, including Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey and Caltech, found instead that a station could be safely built at the Constellation site, which has no evidence of active faults. In addition, they said that tunneling under the high school property could be accomplished safely with state-of-the-art equipment and techniques even through earthquake zones and ground with large concentrations of methane gas.

Beverly Hills hired experts of its own to review Metro’s scientific conclusions. Those experts argue that more research is needed, particularly around the Constellation site and on the high school campus. (The city’s website has links to those reports, as well as other information on Beverly Hills’ position on the subway.) In addition, the Beverly Hills school board recently commissioned widespread trenching studies on the high school campus to determine whether seismic hazards are present; a report on that is expected soon.

Metro officials say the final environmental documents released today make it clear that it will be safe to build a subway station at Constellation, but said they will be studying the Beverly Hills reports carefully. (Updated: The Beverly Hills School District’s attorney, Kevin Brogan, issued a statement criticizing Metro for releasing the final environmental documents before receiving the results of the trenching studies. His statement is here.)


Batik-influenced designs cover the side of Kereta Api's executive-class Argo Gede train line at Bandung, Indonesia's main station. (Photo credit: Jakarta Globe)

Plans to build Indonesia’s first high-speed rail line gather steam (Jakarta Globe)

Indonesia has moved closer to building its first bullet train with a pledge by the Japanese government to pay part of the $6.5-billion construction bill. Japan is also funding a feasibility study that could take two years to complete. This would push the railway’s completion date to 2017 or 2018. The Indonesian government plans to build two high-speed trains, one connecting Jakarta and Bandung, and a second route connecting Jakarta and Surabaya.

LaHood: America is “one big pothole” (Transportation Nation)

In comments at the Hoboken, N.J. train station, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood again called on Congress to pass the Senate’s version of the federal surface transportation bill. Speaking at the iconic New Jersey rail station, the transportation secretary said the House version of the bill is inferior to the one just passed with 72 votes by the U.S. Senate. That bill would fully restore the transit tax benefit and employ 54,000 New Jersey workers. LaHood said. Calling on Congressional Republican leaders to act quickly, the former Republican congressman added “America is one big pothole, we need this.”

The roots of sprawl: why we don’t live where we work (KCET)

KCET considers whether L.A.’s endemic sprawl stems from a combination of well-intentioned, and sometimes racially discriminatory, efforts to segregate residential areas from industrial ones. As Mark Vallianatos of Occidental Collge’s Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (EEP) explains, “This was a fear of the kind of crowded, dark, dank, polluted cities of the 19th century.” L.A.’s Residence District Ordinance and the Industrial District Ordinance were, for a time, the area’s most comprehensive zoning ordinances prohibiting “nuisances” such as laundries, slaughterhouses and mortuaries in residential areas. Vallianatos adds, “People had a sense that when it came to land use of the city, we could spread out, we could avoid some of the problems of the East Coast industrial cities. But in the end, it’s a shame. We went too far in the other direction, too much toward cars, too much toward sprawl. We’re still repairing that today.”

Streetcar chugs toward environmental review (Los Angeles Downtown News)

Later this week, the final downtown streetcar proposal still standing will be presented to the Metro Board of Directors. The receive-and-final report to the Board clears the way for the project to begin its draft environmental review stage — the next step in the process. Alternative 7, as the route is known, would travel along Broadway, Figueroa Street, Hill Street, Grand Avenue and either 7th or 9th streets. Here’s a recent post with a map of the proposed route.

Vehicle registration fee eyed to generate cash for transit services (Vancouver Sun)

Drivers in metropolitan Vancouver may face a vehicle registration fee aimed at generating $30 million for regional transit projects. The proposed fee would help stave off the need to raise property taxes. The Vancouver Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation has asked the B.C. transportation minister to introduce legislation for a possible vehicle levy or a regional carbon tax. The proposals are described as “short-term” funding options that would generate money for transit projects such as the Evergreen Line and rapid bus projects south of the Fraser. Vancouver area mayors have already approved a gas tax increase of two cents per liter. The tax is expected to raise $40 million annually for transit projects.