Transportation headlines, Monday, February 24

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It may be Monday, but maybe you’re already thinking of Friday. Take it away, Bruce Springsteen…

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Beverly Hills using petty bureaucracy to hold up Purple Line work (Curbed LA)

Some excerpts:

The city council decided last August that all permit requests from Metro related to the subway extension’s first phase—which is nowhere near the disputed Century City station or the much-fretted-about Beverly Hills High School—must be passed by the full council instead of just getting a staff approval, which is the normal procedure; staff work five days a week and the city council only gathers monthly or, at most, twice a month. That move is already proving to be a problem as Metro is waiting on two permits related to pre-construction activities (like utility relocation and groundwater and gas sampling). The council refused to grant the permits in January and asked for Metro to come back and provide more explanation on traffic and parking issues related to the construction. Metro did, but by then the council’s February agenda was already too full to add a vote on the permits, so maybethey’ll grant them at their March 4 meeting.


It doesn’t seem like a coincidence, though, that Beverly Hills ands its school district have four lawsuits pending over the placement of the Purple Line’s Century City station, which requires tunneling under Beverly Hills High. There are officials like Councilmember Nancy Krasne, who makes no bones that she’s sticking it to Metro just to be petty (she’s also the one that thought terrorists would use the subway tunnel to blow up BHHS), but you can’t heap all the blame on the politicians—they’re beholden to their constituents, many of whom read the histrionics and half-truths in the Beverly Hills Courier every day (Metro’s The Source blog has to correct them nearly every time they publish a story on the line).


Bryan Pennington, Metro’s executive director of engineering and construction, says that even if Beverly Hills approves the permits, the process could be very bad news for Purple Line construction:

“We are continuing to work with the City of Beverly Hills to obtain these two outstanding permits. We believe that we have provided the information they are seeking while we continue working to deliver this much needed project as it has been promised to the taxpayers and commuters of greater Los Angeles. Up until last August, we were able to work with Beverly Hills city staff for the permits we needed for street work. We have cooperative agreements with the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles that allow us to handle permit requests at the staff level. If Beverly Hills continues to require review of all permits by their Council, it could extend the construction schedule.

I recommend reading the entire Curbed post. There is a lot of additional information and important context I didn’t excerpt. Also, here is a recent Source post about the construction timeline for the Wilshire/La Cienega station. And here is a post from last fall about the construction timeline for the entire project and the importance of master cooperative agreements with cities along the subway’s route.

Four key executives leaving in shakeup of Metro’s leadership (L.A. Times) 

The departures are part of a reorganization effort designed to make Metro less top-heavy and reduce the number of executives reporting to the CEO’s office. The restructuring was recommended in an outside audit of Metro obtained by the Times. As the story points out, the changes come amid a project building boom but with the agency facing a budget deficit within a couple of years.

Federal authorities give state more time to raise cash for bullet train project (L.A. Times)

The feds have given the California High-Speed Rail Authority three more months to start spending on the project, meaning the state has to find the money given that bond sales — the planned source of funding for the project — are tied up in court.

Now what? City fears flameout after the games (New York Times) 

The Rosa Khotor ski area map. Looks fun but will anyone be skiing there in the future?

The Rosa Khotor ski area map. Looks fun but will anyone be skiing there in the future?

Most of the transit lines in the above map are new. Source: Sochi2014 website.

Most of the transit lines in the above map are new. Source: Sochi2014 website.

The Russian government isn’t saying exactly what was spent on bringing the Winter Olympics to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi but one media report puts the figure at $51 billion. The rough part: there is no apparent plan on how many facilities or improvements in the area — including a new rail line and new highway to new ski resorts — will be used in the future or how Sochi will see long-term benefit from the Winter Olympics.

Hmm. My first thought: I hope the ski resort helps introduce more Russians and other people who live in the region to the skiing sports. Russia — given its climate (at least for now) — should be good at skiing. It’s not, based on Olympic and World Cup results.

My second big thought is that we’re now three-and-a-half years away from the International Olympic Committee’s decision in 2017 on where to put the 2024 Summer Olympics. Los Angeles officials have said they will seek the Summer Games, meaning L.A. first has to earn the right to be America’s bidder from the U.S. Olympic Committee. IOC President Thomas Bach told NBC’s Bob Costas that an American bid would be welcome, given that in 2024 it will have been 22 years since the Games were in the U.S. (Salt Lake City in 2002).

I would love, love, love to see L.A. go for a three-peat when it comes to hosting the Games. And I hope the bid here, if it does emerge, is a rebuttal of sorts to the IOC’s love affair with demanding that Olympic host cities build new facilities and spend billions on the Games (exactly what the IOC loved about Sochi, according to the NYT). The strength of our bid could be that ongoing improvements here are being done anyway and will make it possible, and even easy, for the region to seamlessly host the Games without breaking the bank. And, of course, setting an example for future host cities.

Transit improvements, of course, could be a big part of our region’s pitch. Transit already serves or is near many existing facilities (Staples Center, Coliseum, Rose Bowl, Honda Center, Santa Anita Park, Long Beach Marina, East L.A. College, entire list of venues here) and ongoing projects are expanding the existing transit network. The two big projects to watch are the Airport Metro Connector, which is still in the planning stages and not scheduled to be complete until the late 2020s under Measure R. Same goes with the Purple Line Extension to Westwood, which wouldn’t reach there until 2036. Serving LAX and getting the UCLA campus (with several sports facilities and potential athlete housing) connected to rail would almost certainly be important for the Olympics.

The lovely thing about are ongoing transit expansion is that we’re doing it anyway, Olympics or no Olympics. The same goes in Denver, another city that could — and probably should — look to host the Winter Olympics, given its ongoing rail expansion and proximity to the Rockies.

And let me toss one other thought out there: given that the last two Winter Olympics took place in temperate climates (Vancouver and Sochi) along the coast, why not put the Winter Games in L.A. with the alpine events in the Sierra? (I’m not sure betting on big snow at the local resorts is a good idea given what happened to Vancouver). It would be different and challenging in that the Sierra ski resorts tend not to have the kind of terrain suited to modern alpine ski courses. But could it be done….

10 replies

  1. Beverly Hills NIMBYism is a perfect example of why more “local control” never works and just leads to more hassles with more bureaucracy with different cities within the same county that gets nothing done.

    LA County should just unify into one big LA City-County and every municipal city that existed should be downgraded to mere wards or districts.

  2. BH is acting like a selfish kid. The city members need to grow up and allow the subway to be built to Wilshire/La Cienega and let the court resolve the another issue.

  3. Beverly Hills has given Metro problems about building a subway under Wilshire Blvd in their city for years and years. I am afraid that by the time, if ever that Beverly Hills actually approves the permits it will by then be so expensive to tunnel for the subway that it may be cost prohibitive. I have an idea, if Beverly Hills does not want the subway under Wilshire Blvd; how about building it underneath Nancy Krasne’s house. And declare emmit domain that a station has to be built in that exact location. Lol.

  4. Hmm. Just looked up San Marino in Wikipedia. Looks even more elitist than Beverly Hills, and even more automobile-friendly/transit-hostile than my own home town of Fountain Valley.

    This whole sordid business of transit-hostility and elitism reminds me of an old ethnic joke involving a genie. (I’ll make it about Ruritania and Sylvania, to avoid any slurs). Ruritania and Sylvainia had been at war for generations, fighting over the most trivial of things, but mainly because Ruritania was relentlessly isolationist and xenophobic, as well as politically, socially, and technologically reactionary, while Sylvania was very progressive, and wanted to trade with everybody. And it just so happened that a Ruritanian and a Sylvanian happened to stumble upon an old bottle at the same time, and as they struggled over it, the cork flew out, and a genie appeared. Soon, they were fighting over who deserved to have his wish granted. Finally, the genie said, “Gentlemen, you both released me together, and so I suggest that I grant each of you a wish.” They then began arguing over who got to go first, until the Genie stepped in and settled it with the ancient game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” and the Ruritanian won the first wish.

    “I wish for an impenetrable mile-high wall around Ruritania, sealing out the rest of the world forever.” And the genie made it so.

    The Sylvanian thought for a moment, then asked the Genie if the wall was truly impenetrable, and a mile high, and was assured it was just so. “All right. Fill it with water.”

  5. It is absolutely apparent that Beverly Hills will never come around on the Purple Line, so in all likelihood the project will have to be redesigned – which will add years, as that will send the project back the the Alternatives Analysis phase. At this point, I am already assuming that Section 1 of the Purple Line Extension will never get beyond Wilshire/Fairfax – the currently planned Section 2 will almost certainly never see the light of day.

  6. Perhaps a re-route is in order that would skirt B.H. and delete any service within the city as well as developement above the stations.

    Are they allowing the Rapid Bus right lanes to be installed or have they opted out that as well?

  7. Color me unimpressed on the efforts for the US to get another Olympic games. Many of the cities in Europe that have bid, like Rome, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, etc., also have well developed transit and sporting infrastructure and would be more convenient and closer to the great majority of athletes competing. If the security situation in South Africa can improve to an Olympic level (as opposed to merely a World Cup level) then that would also be a viable option.

  8. James Lampert, I’m told San Marino tried to do that during the RTD days and a court ruled public streets must provide access for transit buses.