Transportation headlines, Wednesday, December 11

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ART OF TRANSIT: Sunset this past Saturday at Eaton Canyon in Altadena. There’s a nice one-mile hike along the Eaton Wash that connects to the Mt. Wilson Fire Road. And it’s transit accessible. From the Gold Line’s Sierra Madre Villa station, take the 264 Bus to the stop at Altadena and Washington and then walk one block north and turn right into the entrance of the Eaton Canyon Natural Area. The trail begins at the end of the parking lot. The 264 Bus runs about once an hour, so plan accordingly. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Advisory: seating area in Union Station now open only to Amtrak and Metrolink passengers (The Source) 

As expected, this item posted yesterday is getting a lot of eyeballs. Excerpt:

Union Station is owned by Metro and agency officials say the change was prompted by an increased number of homeless individuals who have been using Union Station as shelter — an average of 135 per night in recent weeks (numbers were higher over the summer). That, in turn, has at times created extremely unpleasant sanitary issues in the seating area that in some cases posed a health threat to passengers using the station.

A lot of interesting comments from readers on this one.

O.C. officials vote to widen 405 freeway without toll lanes (L.A. Times)

Missed this one earlier in the week. On Monday the OCTA Board voted 11 to 4 to widen a 14-mile stretch of the 405 freeway by one lane in each direction, thereby avoiding an alternative that would have put two toll lanes in each direction. The state could override the decision in an attempt to speed up traffic in the existing carpool lanes. One official says that congestion pricing lanes could be added in the future. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

I-5 widening will connect L.A. to Orange County in a bigger way (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

A good look at the construction work underway to add two lanes in each direction to the 5 freeway between the 605 and the Orange County line. The current freeway only has three lanes in each direction, the reason why speeds are often 25 mph or lower, according to Caltrans. Metro is using some Measure R funds to help pay for the project, which is expected to be complete in late 2017 or early 2018. Will it help traffic? I think so — this section of the freeway is old and outdated.

Two options for the new Arts District park design (Curbed LA)

That parking lot immediately south of Urth Cafe in downtown Los Angeles? It’s going to be a half-acre park! Great idea! L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar’s office shares two potential designs; I like them both. I think the Arts and Industrial districts are going to be very different places in 50 years — more like the Pearl District in Portland than the existing setup here in L.A. So it’s good to see parks on the way. The other big question involves transit — I still think a case could be made in the future for building a streetcar on the eastern half of downtown.

Semi-related: Curbed also has an item on a new one-third acre park in Highland Park at York Boulevard and Avenue 50. The 83 Bus, btw, runs down York Boulevard on its extremely circuitous route between Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles.

One more Curbed item: love the idea for the duck boat tours of the Los Angeles River from Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Mitch O’Farrell.

How the Big One would destroy Southern California’s infrastructure (Daily News)

This editorial was triggered by a recent speech that USGS seismologist Lucy Jones gave titled “Imagine America Without Los Angeles.” The gist of it: a big earthquake here may not  kill as many people or knock down as many buildings in the past. But it could, Jones says, still absolutely cripple all sorts of older infrastructure not built to withstand big temblors. The Daily News says that’s a message we should be heeding while rebuilding the building blocks of our region. Hard to argue with that.


2 replies

  1. Union Station has become an overloaded operator. It’s an historic site, it’s another film shoot location, it’s where trains from Texas arrive five hours late… oh, and almost by accident, it’s where the Gold, Red, Purple lines meet (but there are no free transfers).

    The Patasouras bus platforms (and tsouris is the right word for it) and subway portion of the station should be rethought: table seats in the rotunda, food vendors, news stand. It’s a multiodal station that is almost inaccessible by foot from the downtown it wants to serve. It’s an island — and now an island with food vendors but no seating.

    So you can’t really leave when you catch a bad gap. You can’t wait at the platform because obviously only vagrants take the subway, and you can’t wait to get back to your car and never experience this again.

    Imagine how this must feel for foreign visitors to our city, already confused about the $7 bus from LAX to a part of downtown slash Chinatown that isn’t where they want to go. They need a meal but they still have their bags. Now one of LA’s Finest can’t wait to demonstrate bill club skills because Wetzel’s Pretzels has no tables.

    Metro has been good about listening to customers and fixing things, far better than lots of transit agencies. Let’s hope this is a temporary step. Let’s hope that by bringing up the poorly-implemented solution that it will force some new answers.

    Seriously: start imagining that non-drivers coming to our city are not mendicants. That’s how all the big other cities do it.

  2. I am angry at Metro giving into the powers that be that forbid Metro riders to sit at the seats at Union Station.

    During my course of the day, the food and drinks at Famima is the only time I have for breakfast or dinner. I want a place to sit and relax for the few minutes that I have in the day, not forced to stand because Amtrak and Metrolink wants those seats.

    If Amtrak and Metrolink wants those seats, they can build their own designated waiting areas for their passengers right at the platforms where their train comes, just like the rest of Metro Rail riders who wait at the platform!