December Board meeting wrap

In his remarks near the start of the meeting, Metro CEO Phil Washington provided updates to two Metro projects:

•Verizon earlier this week agreed to install cellular equipment in the Red/Purple Line subway. Verizon service is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016. Metro has already hired a contractor to oversee the installation of cell/wifi equipment in the subway. That contractor, InSite Wireless, must in turn come to agreements with the various major cell carriers. Negotiations continue with the other companies. Here’s our previous update from earlier this year.

•Washington also updated the Raymer-to-Bernson double track project, which he put on hold earlier this year to address community concerns in Northridge about noise and other issues. The project team has been working on some measures to reduce noise, Washington said, and there will be another public meeting with residents who live near the tracks on Jan. 13. The project seeks to add a second set of tracks in the northern San Fernando Valley to be used by Metrolink, Amtrak and Union Pacific freight trains.

•Metro continues to work on rules that would allow firms to make unsolicited proposals to Metro for a variety of tasks — project delivery, equipment, mobile operations, etc. The rules would allow Metro to evaluate such proposals and determine if they have financial and technical merit. Washington said such a rule would help the agency be more innovative.

As for items tackled by the Board, here are some of the highlights:

The Board approved increasing the budget of the Regional Connector by $131.8 million, primarily to deal with additional utility relocation costs. Here’s the staff report and here’s coverage earlier this month by by the L.A. Times.

•The Board approved a lease for Groundwork coffee to put a store in the North Hollywood Depot that neighbors the Orange Line and Red Line stations. Metro recently rehabbed the station, seen below in a photo from last year:



The Board approved the development guidelines posted below for four Metro-owned parcels totaling about 15 acres surrounding the North Hollywood Red Line and Orange Line stations. See this earlier Source post for more info about this project.

Pages 12 and 13 of the guidelines shows the zoning for the parcels — i.e. how many units are allowed and building height limits. With the guidelines now in place, Metro can move forward on releasing an RFP (request for proposals) on the project and potential bidders can start drawing up plans.

The Board approved programming $2.58 million for a project to build a new train platform serving Bob Hope Airport on Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line. The project’s budget is $8.44 million. Metro is one of the five county transportation agencies that funds Metrolink commuter rail service. Staff report

•The Board approved a fare structure for Metro’s downtown Los Angeles bike share pilot program, which is expected to begin next summer. Much more in this separate post.

•The Board approved performance criteria to evaluate projects for Metro’s ongoing long-range plan update and the potential sales tax increase/extension ballot measure in 2016. Results from the performance review are expected in March, when Metro will recommend to the Board an expenditure plan for the ballot measure. Here is the staff report and here are the performance criteria:

There was a bit of a discussion about criteria for the highway projects. Board Member Mike Bonin expressed skepticism that “vehicle miles traveled” wasn’t being used to evaluate potential highway projects, saying VMT is potentially a measure of whether projects would ease congestion. On the other hand, Board Member Diane DuBois said that highway projects remain vital to the local economy and help provide access to many jobs not well served by transit.

Metro staff is expected to provide the Board with a recommended expenditure plan in March. More on the long-range plan update and potential ballot measure in this earlier Source post.

•After conferring in closed session, the Metro Board directed the agency to delay the beginning of the closure of the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station until early January. The station was to be closed Friday night and remain closed through the end of February in order to build one of the tunnel entrances for the Regional Connector project.

Audio of the Board meeting will be posted to this page in the next few days. Look for the link in the top right corner.