Transportation headlines, Thursday, January 22

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Today’s rider profile by Zocalo Public Square: 7th Street to Wardlow Road.

Is MTA having second thoughts on Mariachi Plaza development? (KPCC)

Metro has three joint development plans along the Eastside Gold Line, including a 120,000-square-foot development that would include medical offices and retail at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Those plans have raised some community ire for its size, scale and need for a parking garage. Merchants on an adjoining parcel fear they’ll lose their buildings to the development.

Metro officials say they may have to rework or start over with new plans. A community meeting is being held tonight from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Puente Learning Center, 501 S. Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles. The Puente Learning Center is a .4-mile walk south on Boyle Avenue from the Gold Line’s Mariachi Plaza Station.

Advocates cheer State of the Union infrastructure focus (The Hill)

President Obama called for a “bipartisan infrastructure plan” during his speech Tuesday night, saying:

Twenty-first century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, and stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet.  Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this.  So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline.  Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.  (Applause.)  Let’s do it.  Let’s get it done.  Let’s get it done.  (Applause.)

There weren’t really any details (typical for a political speech) but the White House State of the Union web page links to the President’s Rebuild America plan to increase infrastructure investments by 38 percent. And here’s the American Public Transportation Association’s statement on the speech; they’d like to see public transit funding be a priority (shocker!).

As the Hill also notes, the President didn’t call for an increase in the federal gas tax to help pay for such a plan. Many transportation advocates say the federal gas tax is long overdue for an increase (it was last raised in 1993) and keeping it at 18.3 cents per gallon will bankrupt the federal Highway Trust Fund that supplies money for local projects around America. The latest financial patch to the Highway Trust Fund expires in May and it will be interesting to see what the President and Congress can agree (or can’t agree) to do about it.

This is a short article, perhaps a reflection of the fact that infrastructure and transportation were not really the focus of the President’s speech. The word “infrastructure” was used five times but the word “transit” was absent for those scoring at home. A NASA program to send astronauts to Mars was mentioned — and that might be pretty cool. But let’s face it: I’m guessing there are some readers here who would rather go on a different incredible journey: to the Westside and back on a train. 🙂

Some good news on that front: the extension of the Expo Line to downtown Santa Monica is forecast to open in the first half of 2016 while the Purple Line Extension to Wilshire/La Cienega is slated for 2023 with the second section to Century City looking at a mid-2020s opening. Meanwhile, the subway extension to Westwood still has a 2036 opening and the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project is slated for 2039 and in need of additional funds if the project ends up being an underground rail line.

All three of those projects are getting funding from the Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. The Purple Line Extension is also receiving a big injection of federal funds (the reason the federal funding mentioned above is Very, Very Important) and the Sepulveda Pass project will need more dollars from somewhere to become a rail line.

Quasi-related: I just finished reading “The Martian,” about a NASA astronaut who is stranded on Mars and who uses his engineering background and wits to survive until a rescue mission can be launched. As the benevolent President of This Blog, I’ll gladly give my paperback to the first reader who: 1) emails me; 2) who agrees to read some of the book while on transit; 3) who when done with the book gifts it to another transit rider, and; 4) who can meet me at Union Station in the next few days for the hand-off.

A view of Mars captured by NASA's Opportunity rover last year. Photo: NASA/JPL- Caltech.

A view of Mars captured by NASA’s Opportunity rover last year. Photo: NASA/JPL-

Lots of progress on Expo-adjacent TOD (Build LA)

A look at the 115-unit apartment building under construction at Washington and National, across the street from the Expo Line’s Culver City Station. The building will also include commercial space, a pool and an underground parking garage.

It’s nice to see some new development in Culver City near the Expo Line — and there certainly seems to be more opportunities that remain. The big empty lot at Culver Boulevard and Washington Boulevard (across from Trader Joe’s and the Culver Hotel) is still, well, a big empty lot after many years of being a big empty lot. Too bad as it’s a short walk from the train station.

Quasi-related: Recently had the excellent fried chicken and waffles dish at Public School at 9411 Culver Blvd. in downtown Culver City — about a 10-minute walk from the train and/or the Metro 33 Local and 733 Rapid Bus that runs along Venice Boulevard. Extremely tasty dish especially when paired with the bacon-cheddar tots as an appetizer.


Other transpo stuff: 

Cool light trails photo on 405 (L.A. Times)

A private high-speed rail line in Texas has eminent domain powers — here’s why (Dallas Business Journal)

Stuff to listen/watch on transit while wearing headphones: 

Larry Wilmore has very funny commentary on the State of the Union on his new (and good!) Nightly Show. Warning: adult language.

NPR’s ‘Pop Culture Happy Hour’ podcast has a good discussion about the film ‘Selma’ and taking dramatic license in films about historical events. The podcast crew, btw, has mostly very good things to say about the movie.

Want to recommend a book or podcast that you think will entertain your fellow bus/train/vanpoolers? Leave a comment or email me.


2 replies

  1. The problem with Obama’s suggestion,bipartisan infrastructure plan, instead of the Keystone XL Pileline is the pipeline is ready to go and any new infrastructure plans will only create jobs in an extended future. Get people back to work now and create jobs in the future also.