Art of Transit Construction: a couple pics from a staff tour on Friday of the Regional Connector project under DTLA. The Connector is trying together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines to speed up light rail trips to and through DTLA.
•Recent op-ed in the LAT by Mehmet Berker carried the headline “Metro is hemorrhaging riders. It needs to stop studying obvious fixes and start acting.” The focus is on all-door boarding with Mehmet opining that ADB is a best-practice type of thing that should be a lot more common than it is on Metro, which currently uses ADB on the Orange Line, Silver Line, the 720 and 754.
Fair enough. I do think Metro will consider expanding it but on our end staff are also consumed currently with the NextGen Bus Study to restructure the bus system and the New Blue project to modernize the Blue Line (bus shuttles are filling in for rail service on parts of the line). We also think that NextGen will yield some real positives for riders in terms of travel time. Your thoughts?
•Also in LAT, a smart piece about long-distance travel by electric car, specifically a Tesla. As reporter Chris Erskine points out, the extended charging times — instead of gas-up-and-go — may encourage folks to linger in rural towns they would otherwise blow through.
•As expected, the Federal Railroad Administration cancelled a $929-million grant for California’s bullet train project, with the FRA citing inaccurate work schedules and budgets.
State officials believe there’s still enough funding to get trains running between Merced and Bakersfield. But that could be threatened if the FRA tries to reclaim a second grant of about $2.5 billion.
•Urbanize LA takes a quick look at four corridors listed in a recent Metro staff report as possibilities for a pilot bus lane project with the city of L.A.
Urbanize also notes that the Van Nuys Boulevard suggestion was quickly unpopular with two members of the L.A. City Council as a Metro light rail line is already planned to run down the middle of part of the street (north of the Orange Line). Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2021.
Other possibilities could be Florence Avenue, Olympic Boulevard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The item ended up getting pulled from the Metro Board’s Operations Committee.
•There’s a Metro staff report on the agenda for the Metro Board that looks at the development of a financial plan to complete four mega-projects (Green Line Extension to Torrance, Eastside Gold Line Extension to South El Monte or Whittier, light rail between Artesia and DTLA and the Sepulveda Transit Corridor) in time for the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics. Bottom line: it won’t be easy.
•The city of San Marino is considering returning $32 million to Metro that would have been used for traffic improvement projects — in particular widening parts of Huntington Drive, adding turn lanes and synching traffic lights, according to the SGV Tribune.
The funds come from the 710 North project to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap. Residents are concerned about a loss in quality of life and — says one — turning Huntington (which is already three lanes in each direction) into a freeway. San Marino was one of the cities that wanted the 710 gap filled.
•A state bill that would have pre-empted some local zoning laws to allow more density near frequent transit lines — including in some single-family neighborhoods — was shelved for the year in the Senate’s Appropriations Committee. Although the bill was certainly popular in some quarters\ it was also controversial and it’s not exactly shocking that for the second straight year it failed to pass muster Sacramento.
In the LAT, an editor notes that all but one of nearly three dozen letters received were against the bill. Excerpt:
It’s been said that Los Angeles is a changing city, one where automobile dependence coexists with a rail transit boom and where density is increasing in an urban area created by sprawl. And yet, coverage in the L.A. Times on measures to speed along these transitions, whether it’s about so-called road diets or more recently SB 50, almost always prompts a backlash.
My take on the bill: I like the passion for building more housing to help reduce prices for renters and owners. That’s admirable. Building near transit makes sense. But…being politically provocative is not the same thing as being politically successful and a dead bill doesn’t help any housing get built. The single-family neighborhood issue will remain a tough one as long as people have their nest eggs wrapped up in their homes.
One other nugget for the sake of discussion: Pasadena has managed to add an estimated 2,200 housing units between 2010 and 2017, according to this city report. As far as I can tell, most of that has come by changing zoning on commercial corridors and major streets near transit. It doesn’t seem to be very controversial.
Things to read whilst transiting: A WaPo story from last year on the giant audience that watched the MASH series finale in 1983 — a heck of a lot more people than watched Game of Thrones, FWIW.
Categories: Transportation Headlines