Last year was a little busy around here, ‘little’ being a vast understatement. I’m guessing 2015 won’t be much different. Metro is in the midst of a $14-billion capital program — thanks to Measure R — and, of course, the agency is running one of the nation’s largest transit systems.
A few things on the slate in the year ahead:
•The scheduled completion later this year of two rail projects, the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Once work is done, the respective Construction Authorities building the projects will begin the process of handing them over to Metro. Both projects are forecast to open in the first half of 2016.
•With Metro CEO Art Leahy announcing his departure earlier this week, a new chief executive will need to be hired. Art is planning on staying until April 5.
•On the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the tunnel boring machine to be used on the northern section of the line will be lowered into the ground. The machine was delivered last year.
•The draft environmental document for the SR-710 project is scheduled to be released later this winter. The project aims to improve traffic caused by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.
•The new Division 13 bus maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to Metro headquarters is scheduled to be completed.
•Work continues on the I-5 widening project between the 605 and the Orange County border. Caltrans is the lead agency; Metro is a major funder of the project.
•Also ongoing work on other transit projects, including the pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim to make it easier to transfer between the Orange Line and Red Line in North Hollywood and the bridge over Lankerhshim between the Red Line’s Universal/Studio City Station and Universal Studios.
•The Metro Board will likely consider a contract for a firm to run a pilot bike share program in downtown L.A.
•Work on the Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus lanes project is scheduled to be completed later in the year. When done, there will be 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes between Wilshire & Centinela (the border between the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles) and Wilshire & Valencia, just west of downtown L.A. with buses running in regular traffic lanes in the Condo Canyon section of Wilshire and Beverly Hills.
•On the TAP front, Big Blue Bus is scheduled to start accepting TAP cards in March. Also, new screen prompts will debut on Metro ticket machines and a new regional TAP website is scheduled to premiere.
•Work is soon to begin on the installation of equipment that will allow for wifi and cell phone access in underground rail stations, with initial work in the Red/Purple Line in downtown L.A.
•Delivery of the first completed new light rail vehicles being built by Metro contractor Kinkisharyo.
•And the first delivery of new electric 40-foot buses built by BYD for Metro.
•Metro and the Metro Board will likely be discussing and possibly deciding whether to go forward with a ballot measure for November 2016 to accelerate or fund new projects.
•The Metro Board will have to consider contracts for policing the Metro system. The current contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department expires at the end of this fiscal year (the end of June).
•Metro and the Federal Transit Administration will continue to negotiate a federal grant and loan to help build the second section of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/La Cienega and Century City. The FTA recently gave Metro the go-ahead to enter into the engineering phase of the New Starts program, a positive sign for Metro’s grant/loan application.
Again, this is basic list of things-to-expect-in-2015. I’m probably missing a few things. We’ll certainly try to chronicle it here on the blog and Metro’s social media streams on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Check back often please for the latest updates!