Transportation headlines, Friday, September 20

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Art of Transit: from our Instagram page, the Gold Line’s Soto station.

Beverly Hills versus Metro (Beverly Hills Weekly)

Three stories in this pdf. The first, on page 2, describes a new complaint filed by the city of Beverly Hills in their ongoing lawsuit against Metro and the Federal Transit Administration that alleges the environmental study for the Purple Line Extension was not sufficient. The new complaint against the FTA alleges that seismic work done by Beverly Hills High School on their campus should have triggered a supplemental environmental review.

The second story on page 3 is about the Beverly Hills City Council voting to approve work permits for Metro to perform geotechnical work near the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega. At the meeting, Councilwoman Lili Bosse said that Metro’s requests for work permits are being handled differently than others who seek work permits in the city — i.e. Metro’s must be approved by the City Council, which is a very irregular arrangement. The article also quotes from a letter sent by Metro to Beverly Hills asking for a master agreement for work permits for the subway project. Councilman Willie Brien in the article also tells his colleagues that restricting hours could lead to project delays and lengthier construction times in the city.

The bigger story here is this: Metro is only seeking permits for the first phase of the subway project, which ends at Wilshire and La Cienega. This part of the route has never been in dispute and in the past Beverly Hills elected officials have maintained they support the project — they just don’t want the subway to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School.

The third article, also on page three, is about the hiring of a new law firm by Beverly Hills Unified School District to handle its lawsuit against the FTA over its approval of the subway project. The new firm includes former Senator Joe Lieberman, who is giving the BHUSD a 23 percent discount — he’s only charging them $924 an hour. BHUSD President Jake Manaster says that Lieberman will be used to talk to people who may not understand the school district’s position on the subway project.

Open thread: improving public comment at Metro Board meetings (L.A. Streetsblog)

Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois submitted a motion during the Board’s committee meetings this week asking County Counsel for a report on how public testimony can be maximized public input while providing the Board flexibility in how it conducts its meetings. Public testimony at Board meetings greatly fluctuates. When there’s a hot issue, dozens of people may testify to the Board. There are also a handful of people who frequently attend Board meetings and testify for many different items.

How a federal law trumps cost-effective transit (Governing)

Some handy background on a federal law that is difficult for transit agencies to meet without spending millions more than may be necessary. The law is intended to protect collective bargaining rights and other protections of workers. The article says that such “special interest” protections are no longer needed.

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