Transportation headlines, Monday, June 11

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.

Expo Line: making South L.A. more accessible (Intersections South LA)

Photos show the current state of the present four westernmost stations on the line, with the post indicating that change around the stations is likely. We’ll see. Some rail stations in L.A. County have seen quite a bit transit-oriented development while others have not. At this point, Crenshaw seems the best candidate, with some developments in the works as well as the future Crenshaw/LAX Line.

Environmental objections in the path of bullet train (L.A. Times)

The state bullet train project certainly demands scrutiny because of its size and expense, not to mention some of the promises made by officials. The article takes a look at some of the possible impacts of construction and ponders whether those impacts would result in a net gain or loss for the environment, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley. Excerpt:

The California bullet train is promoted as an important environmental investment for the future, but over the next decade the heavy construction project would potentially harm air quality, aquatic life and endangered species across the Central Valley.

Eleven endangered species, including the San Joaquin kit fox, would be affected, according to federal biologists. Massive emissions from diesel-powered heavy equipment could foul the already filthy air. Dozens of rivers, canals and wetlands fed from the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada would be crossed, creating other knotty issues.

Fair enough, if somewhat over the top when it comes to the fear-mongering. Many impacts, of course, can be mitigated. If you are interested in the issue of greenhouse gases and construction of public transit projects, I highly recommend reading this FTA study. The gist of it: even when greenhouse gases created by construction are factored in, public transit still usually results in less overall greenhouse gases being created than if nothing was done and everyone drove everywhere.

Can our smart phones get us to walk more? (The Atlantic Cities)

There’s data showing Americans tend to walk a lot less than those in other countries, but what to do about it? Some people suggest that smart phone apps that provide directions to places such as transit will help, while others (read: me) think that lazy people will be lazy people with or without a smartypants phone.

5 replies

  1. Not everyone that don’t walk are lazy. There are also people who cannot walk. Not everyone has healthy legs; try living with a shattered bullet in your leg from Vietnam.

  2. I’m not one to rip on alleged bias or get overly wound up by the LAT, but it’s hard to argue Ralph V. has played this one fair (from the beginning). I think most people turn to established media outlets for context and analysis these days, not just the facts selectively reprinted. This time around Ralph copied and pasted the negative effects from the various studies and tossed in dramatic lines like:

    “Children in the valley carry inhalers with their books and lunches. On bad air days, emergency rooms see a significant increase in residents having asthma attacks, according to district figures. Hospitalizations, lost work days and premature deaths, among other effects, cost $5.7 billion annually, a 2008 Cal State Fullerton study found.”

    Ok….but…why? No context. Only the insinuation that the train will make it worse.

    He does toss in a quote that makes it sound like HSR is about to give everyone in the Valley asthma, though:

    “What about the people who will live next to this temporary activity for the next five years?” said Sandra Celedon-Castro of Fresno, a member of the environmental justice advisory board to the air district. “Once your health is affected, how are you going to fix that? Once you have asthma, that is not temporary. We have always been overlooked.”

    Why does the Valley currently have such terrible air quality? Were there EIRs done on the construction of the 5? He doesn’t say. What is the short term impact compared to the long term impact? He doesn’t say.

    I get that he’s embraced his role as the ‘skeptical reporter’, but in doing so he’s neglected to provide context and consistently given the voices of 100 people on the Peninsula and some very rich farmers out-sized influence.

    Last note, perhaps the most interesting part of this is the role of these EIRs. It fits with a theme you’ve been hitting, Steve, which is that somewhere along the way they’ve gotten out of whack. I guess it’s amusing to see left-leaning people struggle to accept that tools they often champion are now being turned on projects they also champion. But with all of the legislative exemptions and tweaks it seems like even Dems are starting to realize we might have boxed ourselves into a corner. Or at least Ralph is showing us what that corner looks like.

  3. Those environmental objections would mean more if farmers actually cared about saving endangered species, if Fresno included mass transit with its highway expansion (yes, even light rail), if Amtrak were taken more seriously, etc. etc.

    There’s a lot that the San Joaquin Valley can do to fix its own smog/ environmental problems.