Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 10

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Today’s Zocalo Public Square profile of a Metro rider: Where do they think they are going?, Colorado Boulevard to Cesar Chavez

Art of Transit:

Stakeholders debate next phase of the 710 freeway expansion proposal (KPCC Airtalk)

Larry Mantle does a segment on the release of the draft environmental study for the SR-710 North Study. One of the alternatives studied is to build a freeway tunnel to fill the 710 gap; the others are a light rail line, a bus rapid transit line, intersection and traffic signal improvements and the no-build option. The segment features Alhambra Councilmember Barbara Messina, La Canada Flintridge Mayor Pro Tem Donald Voss and questions from listeners. Warning: if you’re looking for closure on the issue, you probably won’t find it here.

Are cars driving into the sunset? (Zocalo Public Square) 

In the run-up to Wednesday night’s Zocalo forum “Is Car Culture Dead?,” the Public Square asks several experts for their opinions. None of the four online panelists think cars are going anywhere, although some think they’ll be used differently. Perhaps most controversial, USC Professor James Moore — a long-time skeptic of some efforts to expand rail transit here — says that millennials like to drive as much as anyone else and suburbia is hardly declining. I also don’t think cars are going anywhere, but I also think building better transit networks to serve as an alternative to driving makes sense.

Legislator sees safety in adult helmet law; cyclists see mostly harm (L.A. Times)

And the dispute rages between State Sen. Carol Liu — who introduced a bill requiring adult cyclists to wear helmets — and cyclists who say helmet laws appear to make biking seem more dangerous. And that, some cyclists say, could interfere with efforts to build better cycling infrastructure. Interesting arguments on both sides. Complicating matters: a paucity of data on how much helmets really help improve safety for adult riders.

Expo, City Hall in dispute over station property (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

The dispute involves how much the Expo Line Construction Authority should pay the city of Santa Monica for a 34,000-square-foot plot of land being used for the downtown Santa Monica Station. The city apparently turned down a $14.4-million offer, according  to the Daily Press. The $1.5-billion project is scheduled to open in the first half of 2016 and, of course, should provide a good alternative for those trying to reach traffic-addled SaMo.

Apple Watch displays your digital world, at a glance (New York Times) 

State of the Art columnist Farhad Manjoo takes a look at the new devices, which are expected to hit the shelves in April. He cuts to the chase in the final paragraph:

But because the watch needs the phone for connectivity, it’s hardly liberating you from that device. It’s just giving you less of a reason to look at it. Should you really spend hundreds of dollars, let alone thousands, on a gadget to free you from the inconvenience of accessing your $650 smartphone? That remains the deepest unanswered question about the Apple Watch. For now, at least.

Well put. That said, I can see how a digital watch with real-time bus/train arrival info and transit directions might be useful for a transit rider. If, that is, the watch didn’t have to be tethered to a nearby phone.

Richer and poorer (New Yorker) 

Good article on income inequality in America — a stubborn problem that has grown worse in recent years and is worse in the U.S. than many other democratic nations. As noted by reporter Jill Lepore, inequality has generated a lot of talk amongst pols and journalists but has failed to generate much in the way of ideas.

Transportation and transit aren’t part of this conversation. But I like to think that providing good mobility is something the country can do to better connect people to jobs, culture, education and all manners of activity that might shape a person and their income potential.

Twin Peaks trolley tunnel (Prelinger Archive)

A few minutes of silent film showing the opening of the 2.27-mile tunnel under Twin Peaks in San Francisco. It’s still in service and is used today by San Francisco Muni light rail trains. For those interested in the schools-above-rail-tunnels debate, West Portal Elementary — as its name suggests — sits above the west portal to the tunnel.