How We Roll, Jan. 20: 710 North project, transit versus climate change

Art of Transit 1: 

Art of Transit 2: 

For those who like to play the ponies or attend other events at Santa Anita Park, a reminder that the new Gold Line Arcadia Station -- which opens March 5 -- is a short stroll from the track. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

For those who like to play the ponies or attend other events at Santa Anita Park, a reminder that the new Gold Line Arcadia Station — which opens March 5 — is a short stroll from the track. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

News flash!: The Metro Board of Directors’ Finance, Budget and Audit Committee will be discussing trends in ridership — Metro and otherwise — at their 1 p.m. meeting. You an listen to the meeting live or later; a link will appear here when the meeting begins.

Service Alert!: Three Blue Line stations — Grand/LATC, San Pedro and Washington — will be closed this weekend for track and weatherizing report. Bus shuttles and Expo Line will replace service. More here.

Notableness From Twitter: 

(Reminder: Transit Accessible pro hockey is available at the Blue and Expo Lines’ Pico Station).

(Reminder: Transit Accessible pro football is available at the Expo Line’s Expo Park/USC and Vermont Stations this fall).

710 freeway tunnel included in report’s top boondoggle projects (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The advocacy group U.S. Public Interest Research Group says the freeway tunnel alternative for the SR 710 North project “would be the most expensive, most polluting and least effective option for addressing congestion problems.”

Attentive readers know that the project has studied five alternatives for improving traffic around the gap in the 710 between Alhambra/El Sereno and Pasadena (click to see fact sheets on each): traffic signal and intersection improvements, light rail, bus rapid transit, a freeway tunnel and the legally-required no-build option.

Caltrans and Metro released a draft environmental study was last March, public hearings were held in spring and summer and agency staff are now reviewing and working on responses to public comments. Staff will eventually recommend an alternative.

A cost-benefit analysis was released for the project last summer and is posted below. As for the USPIRG’s contention above, the freeway tunnel alternative is the most expensive. The analysis also found that the freeway tunnel alternative would result in higher emissions than other alternatives but would result in greater time savings for commuters and would result in fewer car crashes as traffic shifts from surface streets to the freeway.

This is a big, complicated project — if you have time, I encourage you to look through some of the reports, including the draft environmental study (extremely long) or its executive summary (much shorter). There’s a lot to digest and some big issues on the table, namely the public policy question of whether some of the better-known freeway gaps in our region should be finished or whether there are other alternatives that may be better. Also, there’s a lot of info on the project home page for those who want to peruse.

As for the U.S. PIRG, who wrote the new report, it’s worth knowing that transportation is one of their key issues. From their website: “The Driving Boom is over, yet we’re still building massive highway expansion projects based on outdated driving projections. We’re putting a spotlight on these projects, and calling on our policymakers to rethink our transportation priorities.”

They are certainly not the only ones advocating for more transportation options. That said, as regular readers know, I’m not quite sure I’d feel comfortable saying the driving boom is over given that about 86 percent of Americans either drive alone or carpool to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, while the number of estimated miles driven by Americans dipped in the wake of the Great Recession, the number of miles driven appears to be climbing again, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

2015 was hottest year in recorded history, NOAA and NASA say (NYT)


Credit: NASA.

Credit: NASA.

Precisely, that means that last year was the warmest year since 1880, when global records were first available, according to NOAA and NASA. The previous global record was set in 2014. In the U.S., 2015 was the second-warmest year on record. We certainly had a warm year here in Southern California and it was striking to see spring-like temperatures on the East Coast before the recent winter holidays — and not surprising that Dec. 2015 was the warmest December on record since 1880.

It will take a few more years to know for certain, but the back-to-back records of 2014 and 2015 may have put the world back onto a trajectory of rapid global warming, after period of relatively slow warming dating to the last powerful El Niño, in 1998.

Politicians attempting to claim that greenhouse gases are not a problem seized on that slow period to argue that “global warming stopped in 1998” and similar statements, with these claims reappearing recently on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

Attentive Source readers know that studies have found that generally speaking, one way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions is to take transit instead of driving alone.

Four competing visions for 1st & Broadway Civic Park (Urbanize LA)

One of the renderings from AECOM. Urbanize LA has a ton of renderings with their story.

One of the renderings from AECOM. Urbanize LA has a ton of renderings with their story.

This is the vacant property that has defied development for years, sitting more or less between the L.A. Times and L.A. City Hall, as if it was taunting these two civic institutions. The site is also next to spiffy Grand Park, meaning the city is going to get a nice boost in green space.

That’s great news, of course, and like Grand Park, the new park will certainly be a transit-accessible site with many bus lines stopping nearby, as well as the Red/Purple Line and the new 2nd/Broadway underground station being constructed as part of the Regional Connector project.

This raises the question whether the other big project in the area — the residential and commercial development across from Disney Hall — will ever get built. There has been a considerable boost in residential units in nearby Little Tokyo and the Arts District and me thinks it would be great to have some new residents in the Civic Center neighborhood, too.

From the Dept. of Remembrance:

Recent How We Rolls: 

Jan. 16: Expo Line tracks handed over to Metro, four interesting ideas for transpo in our region.

Jan. 15: big cars, electric cars and self-driving cars.

Jan. 14: A look at Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles’ attempt to do something about traffic and more on the Rams move to the Coliseum and then Inglewood.

Jan. 13: The Rams aren’t here yet but concerns over game day traffic are. Plus concerns over getting to the APU/Citrus College Station in Azusa.

Jan. 12: more on the relationship between rail transit and pro football.

I’m on Twitter and have a photography blog. Questions or ideas for How We Roll? Email me.



2 replies

  1. Since it seems the idea of connecting the 710 to the 134 and 210 won’t die, how about a compromise? We dig the tunnel, but only electric powered freight trains from the port can use it. The trucks can pick up their containers somewhere away from major population centers. Then with the money saved (and there will be lots), we could build the light rail between Pasadena and East L.A.