Today’s Metro rider profile from Zocalo Public Square: ‘Talking to Strangers Was My Job.’
Clearing the air on the SR 710 North (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
The opinion piece argues that the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena is not just a local problem but a regional issue due to traffic on local streets, extra pollution caused by congestion and the number of accidents on the nearby 5 freeway, which some motorists use as an alternative to the 710.
With the upcoming release of the SR 710 North’s draft environmental study by Caltrans and Metro, the three op-ed authors (Gary Toebben of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Hilary Norton of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic and Cynthia Kurtz of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership) argue that everyone in the area should get involved by reading the document, participating in public meetings and commenting on the study.
There are five alternatives considered in the study: the legally-required no-build option, a freeway tunnel, light rail between East L.A. and Pasadena, bus rapid transit between East L.A. and Pasadena and road, traffic signal and intersection improvements on local streets.
On the subject of clogged freeways, recent data from the Texas Transportation Institute shows the worst freeway tie-ups are local with the stretch of the 5 freeway between the 710 and 605 getting top honors and the 405 through the Westside nipping at its heels.
There is an ongoing widening project by Caltrans (and partially funded by Metro) on the 5 between the 605 and the Orange County line and Caltrans says it would like to add a carpool lane to the 5 by 2025 between the 710 and 605.
Other bad bottlenecks in our region: the 405 through Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley, the southbound 101 in the San Fernando Valley, the 60 freeway in Montebello and the 170 in Valley Village (perhaps owing to an incomplete exchange with the 101).
Transit as an alternative? Metrolink offers service between Los Angeles and Orange County that roughly follows the 5 and the Orange Line/Red Line combo can be used to travel south from the SFV to Hollywood and DTLA.
An extension of the Eastside Gold Line — a Measure R funded project — is presently a third decade Measure R project and would get the train to Montebello and there is an ongoing technical study about two alternatives under study — one that would follow the 60 freeway to South El Monte, the other which would go to Whittier.
At present, there’s only enough Measure R money to build one of those, but some activists are pushing Metro to seek funding to build both. Stay tuned.
New developments reshaping Koreatown (Building LA)
A good look at several high-rise buildings that are under construction in K-Town, all near Wilshire Boulevard. That means they’re either close to Purple Line subway stations or stops for the Metro 20 Local Bus or Metro 720 Rapid Bus, both which can be used to connect to the subway.
The failed dream of the easy commute (New Yorker)
A wide-ranging essay about the Metro North accident last week in which a commuter train hit an SUV sitting on the tracks at a rail crossing in suburban New York. Sam Tenenhaus writes that the accident, in some ways, is a symptom of a bigger problem: growing suburban congestion, the failure of transit to get more riders and crumbling infrastructure that has been little updated since it was built in the 1920s and ’30s.
Dry January means more drought across the West (High Country News)
Not directly transit-related, but we like to keep an eye on weather and climate. Unless things change in the second half of winter, it looks like our region’s ongoing drought will continue and that will likely have implications on such things as development, landscaping and the cost of other infrastructure.
Which leads me to this mild suggestion: it would be great if our local schools added an Infrastructure 101 class that explained to kiddies where we get or how we do all the things that we depend on — ranging from electricity generation to water to transportation.
One of our fave advice columnists — Umbra — tackles a great question from a reader: is it better to buy a Prius despite its manufacturing footprint or would it be better to hang onto an older, beat-up pickup? Her answer: over its lifetime, the Prius (and other hybrids) emits far less carbon dioxide, although there are a lot of variables.
You could juice the numbers in your favor by buying a used hybrid, which has already made its manufacturing impact on the planet. But in the end, Mike, it’s up to you, your mechanic, and your bank account to consider these factors and make the best call for you.
Now, if you’re dying for an unequivocal answer about the greenest car choice to make, here it is: Scrap your truck and commit to car-lessness. Between biking, walking, public transportation, and car shares, you’ll save buckets of carbon. With that kind of behavior, you’ll even be able to justify the occasional pickup rental, for old time’s sake.
That last graph is a really good point that I’d like to amend a bit. I don’t think it’s realistic for many people in our area to go car-less (at least not yet). I do, however, think that it’s very possible to use walking, bikes and transit as a way to put far less miles on your car — thereby getting the car to last longer and costing you less in the process.
I also think a greatly expanded transit network here may make it possible for some families to lower the number of cars that they need to own.
Of course, life isn’t perfect. Hanging onto an older car probably means keeping one around that pollutes more than newer models. That said, most of us can only afford to replace a car so often — so perhaps it does make sense to keep the car, run it into the ground and keep it parked a lot of the time. That’s my plan, at least 🙂
Categories: Transportation Headlines