Transportation headlines, Wednesday, October 30

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A Metro local near the intersection of 7th & Hoover in Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Metro local near the intersection of 7th & Hoover in Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

L.A. Mayor meets with President Obama, lobbies for federal funding (Daily Breeze) 

Two Metro Board Members — Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin — were in Washington D.C. earlier this week to push for federal support for a couple of big projects: connecting Metro Rail to LAX and revitalization of parts of the Los Angeles River. Garcetti and Bonin are pushing for a plan that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX and Green lines to a new airport Intermodal Transportation Facility, where passengers could transfer to a people mover to airport terminals.

A couple of related posts: In a video shown at the Mobility 21 conference yesterday, Garcetti mentioned the possibility of a new transportation ballot measure in L.A. County and said the airport connection was among his highest transit priorities. Also, here is a post from earlier this month that explains the many issues involved with the Airport Metro Connector project.

L.A. Airspace — the Los Angeles Newspaper Group blog on aviation — also has a new article on the project, noting some of the challenges for Metro and LAX.

Does downtown L.A. need a streetcar? (L.A. Times) 

The Times’ editorial page says the streetcar project proposed in downtown Los Angeles could be an attractive addition to the area. But the editorial also says it is concerned about potential cost over-runs and calls the streetcar a “novelty” that is not as important as a subway line or freeway.

One question maybe a reader can answer: the city says that utility relocations could cost up to $165.8 million for the project. Huh? What exactly has to be moved to build a four-mile rail line that runs entirely at street level?

Amid debate, Turkey opens rail tunnel under Bospurus (New York Times)

A view of the Bospurus. Photo by  Aschevogel, via Flickr creative commons.

A view of the Bospurus. Photo by Aschevogel, via Flickr creative commons.

The 8.5-mile, $4-billion rail tunnel runs under the Bospurus, the waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara — also the waterway considered as the divide between Europe and Asia. While the tunnel should speed commutes into Istanbul, some critics say it won’t be seismically sound and that the tunnel faces security threats. Officials say the tunnel was built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake and that it will be the safest place to be during a temblor.

Reverse commutes now often a daily slog, too (NPR)

Suburban job growth coupled with an increasing number of people who want to live in the city proper has resulted in outbound commutes that can rival the ‘burbs-to-downtown commutes that have long been congested. In Chicago, for example, more people are choosing to live near rail lines that head to the ‘burbs, according to the Census Bureau and NPR. This phenomenon can certainly be seen in L.A. County: try the westbound Santa Monica Freeway any given morning!

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Hey — the new Arcade Fire album is out today! Woot woot! In the meantime, here’s some of Arcade Fire plus Bruce Springsteen tackling a track from his “Nebraska” album. Sweet.

11 replies

  1. Utility mitigations can mean more than water and sewer lines. In Minneapolis the electric utility spent about $20 million to relocate one very large underground transformer vault away from the light rail ROW.

  2. Steve Hymon: Well, again, I’m not a utility expert, so I don’t know what the requirements are for manholes. But if the manholes need to be directly above the utility tunnels, then simply moving manholes suddenly becomes moving entire utility tunnels.

    Deep-bore subways really only need to worry about that around the station box, but a streetcar needs to worry about that over its entire length.

  3. LA29298,

    Depends if you a home owner or a renter too.

    Renters make up a large portion of residents in LA. And renters are more likely to have more sporadic commutes ranging in either direction or even within their own specific area.

    A Koreatown resident for example where a large majority live in apartments, may have an eastbound commute to DTLA or a westbound commute to West LA, or an intra-Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire commute.

  4. Westbound is the default commute here I think. Traffic flows from inexpensive real estate to expensive real estate. Therefore, almost always west->east and north (valley) -> south

    • Hi LA29298;

      Good point about traffic flows being correlated with real estate prices; I don’t recall ever hearing it put that way. I like it.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Regarding utility relocation for an all-street-run trolley line, well, (1) there could be utility lines close enough to the surface that just setting track into the street would disturb them, and (2) there might be overhead utilities that would impinge upon the proposed alignment (are there? I, for one, have barely glanced at it on a map, and I certainly haven’t walked it, at least not knowingly.)

    At any rate, San Francisco’s MUNI Metro J, K, L, M and N lines have long segments of their alignments on streets, often going for miles with only the most primitive of station facilities (e.g., a “car stop” sign and a yellow stripe across the track), as does the entire Market Street portion of the MUNI “F” heritage line (running PCCs and Italian-made Peter Witt cars). The cable car lines are all street-run with only signs and stripes to indicate stops. And anybody who has spent time in downtown SF knows that the locals do indeed ride the cable cars (as well as the F cars and the Metro cars); they just don’t usually do so during prime tourist hours, and they all have passes. So I don’t think we need to worry about whether a downtown streetcar will draw more passengers than a bus on the same alignment; think about it: what would you rather ride?

    Some months ago, I took Metro to Beverly Hills, to visit a cleric friend who’d taken an assignment at a church there., while my back was out (or “vacationing in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lumbago,” as I like to put it). It was a 3-seat ride each way: Blue, Purple, and bus. There is no question that the roughest parts of the rail segments were a smoother ride than the smoothest parts of the bus segment (and about dead-even with the drive in from Orange County to Long Beach). So I say again: which would you rather ride? Bus or trolley?

  6. The classic suburban commute would be on some of the outer freeways that get traffic all day long, such as the 605 and the 91.

    Now as for the utility relocations it depends on the depth of the rails, but if you go more than a couple of feet into the pavement you start running into gas lines, water mains, storm drains, etc. Relocation of them is very expensive and time consuming, as shown in theRegional Connector. But you will need go more than a few feet below existing depth, because thousands of pounds of streetcar and passengers are centered on the contact point between the wheel and the rail. I’m sure this is a worst case scenario, but the disruption that utilities can create – plus the fact that you have to work around their schedule, since they dictate how they want their utilities moved – causes costs to shoot up. Much more so than just paving a road.

  7. I’m just guessing here: Maybe the utility relocation means moving manholes, etc? I would guess that’d be a big deal to move them, as you can’t really have rails going through the middle of the manhole covers, and it’s probably not optimal to have to shut down the entire system to do any kind of utility work.

    • Hey Robb;

      Good point about manhole covers — I’m sure that’s an issue. I guess the question is whether it’s a $100-million issue!?

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. I know all about reverse commuting. I live in the Bronx but work in Yonkers. No matter how I get to my job, whether taking a subway and a bus (2 Train + Westchester County’s Bee-Line Bus 25) or using commuter rail (my preferred mode of transit–Metro-North); the trains & buses are crowded. Metro-North has many passengers going from Manhattan and the Bronx to Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, White Plains and beyond. The saving grace is that Metro-North trains are consistently on time–consistently at 95% or better.

  9. I wouldn’t call LA to SM a reverse suburban commute. There is no suburb in LA County anymore, all it is one huge massive metropolitan urban area spanning the entire LA County with multi-family homes and businesses scattered throughout the southland.