To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Thursday, November 15, 2012

California Supreme Court: Westside Expo rail project to continue


 Thursday, November 15, 2012

 Phase 2 of the Expo Project near Bundy Drive in West Los Angeles will continue.

 Phase 2 of the Expo Project near Bundy Drive in West Los Angeles will continue.

The California Supreme Court denied a motion late Wednesday to stop construction on Phase 2 of the Expo Project, a rail-connectivity construction project in West Los Angeles.

The motion to stop the construction was brought by Neighbors For Smart Rail (NFSR), a group of homeowners. NFSR has lost challenges in L.A. County Superior Court, the California Appellate Court and now the California Supreme Court.

Construction work on the $1.5 billion project is already underway along the entire Phase 2 corridor, including construction of multiple bridges and major structural elements, according to the Exposition Construction Authority.

"This decision preserves thousands of direct and indirect jobs just when our local economy is slowly starting to recover," said Expo Board Chair and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "At the same time, it keeps our efforts to build a modern transit system on-track."

 The project began construction in spring of this year. Phase 2 construction is expected to be completed in late 2015, according to the Authority.

"We're continuing to make significant progress in extending light rail from Culver City to Santa Monica and look forward to bringing congestion relief to the Westside," said Expo Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe.
PM 2.5 exposure

An email from John Cole:

    The 710 Project is designed to facilitate diesel trucking from Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors.  Since 1997, the EPA has regulated PM 2.5, a product of all diesel engines which kills after long-term exposure.    Persons with asthma, emphysema metabolic syndrome, and those over 75 are the most severely affected.  
PM 2.5 particles are so small that the normal filters in the nose and throat cannot stop it and it cannot be exhaled.    It can cause cardiac  arrhythmia.   It is also a short-term exposure killer.   The EPA, in both the New England Journal of Medicine and before Congress has said that there is no safe level of PM 2.5.
If the 710 is expanded the increase of both pulmonary and cardiac incidents among those living near the freeway will increase  greatly.   One can talk forever about tunnels and traffic, but don't forget that PM 2.5 comes with it.   There should be a very legitimate environmental health challenge to the expansion.   
Will keep you advised about this.   Remember, PM 2.5 is so small that it can't be filtered but can get in your lungs.
Report and Handout from the TAC Meeting - November 14

Information provided by:  Bill Sherman, TAC Representative for South Pasadena

Summary and Highlights of the TAC Meeting, Nov. 14

 TAC # 8

Some highlights:
1.    There is a 100 page Alternative Analysis report to be released in December.  It will go into more detail on Purpose and Needs.

2.    They will release a cost analysis with the Alternative Analysis.

3.    There is to be a Public Freight meeting sometime in the first quarter.

4.    They will use the RTP 2012 data for the Draft EIR.

5.    Hasan Ikrata the person in charge of SCAG spoke.  He said goods movement is not part of the Purpose and needs!  He denied ever making that statement and said no one in SCAG ever said the SR 710 was about Goods movement.  This is a Lie.  I heard him say it at the Move LA meeting at Union Station in March of 2012!  He said the “Missing Link” study should not be used as its information and conclusions are invalid!  He said whatever other studies say that the SR 710 is about Goods Movement SCAG says it is not.  He said the tunnel has been included in the RTP 2012, but if the Preferred Alternative is not a tunnel they will revise the RTP.

6.    The Draft EIR is to start in January.

7.    The discussion of why there will be no signifigant trucks from the port North of the I-10 and the 60 was explained and supported by graphs and statistics.  See the attached Power Point Presentation.

8.    Fact check.  See PP. I asked him who will provide the first response for a tunnel emergency.  He said State and local resources.  I asked who would provide for the training and equipment for these services.  No answer.  I asked if the Scrubbers would take out Ultrafine Particles of 2.5 microns.  He said the air scrubber would meet all existing State and Federal requirements.

9.    They had some guy talk about possibility combining some of the alternatives, but these have not yet been studied.  But they might study these.

10.    See the upcoming schedule of the study.  I asked if Caltrans is going to review the EIR before it is released to the public.  It was acknowledged that would be so.  They did not disagree with me when I stated that Caltrans must approve the EIR before its release.

Power Point Presentation

Are Antonio Villaraigosa and Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien Breaking Ground Too Soon for Westside Subway?



With Metro facing two lawsuits over the Westside Subway, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his apparent buddy Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien decided yesterday to break ground anyway for the controversial Subway-to-Brentwood -- once known as the Subway-to-the-Sea.

 It was an odd, even surreal, photo op that seemed to ignore all realities facing the troubled subway line, which includes that fact that Measure J was voted down last week and, as a result, there's a question if Metro will have enough money to finish the Westside Subway.

Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien, who's own city has filed one of the lawsuits against Metro to stop the Westside Subway from going underneath the Beverly Hills High School campus, seemed to be especially living in an alternative universe.

At a press conference with Brien sitting nearby on a stage, Villaraigosa touted that Los Angeles is building a "world-class" transportation system that will ease congestion on the gridlocked streets of the Westside.

It's a line Villaraigosa loves to push whenever cameras around, even though a Metro report found that traffic will barely be improved by the subway. But that's only one of oddities that took place on Wednesday.

The "groundbreaking" celebrated not the start of subway tunneling but the relocation of telecommunication lines at Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, where the first new Westside Subway station is planned to be built.

But even that minor construction project seems premature since the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have sued Metro, charging that the transportation authority violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

When those lawsuits go to court, a judge can find in the favor of the plaintiffs and order Metro to rewrite the Westside Subway environmental impact report. It would be a time-consuming process that could alter the route of the subway.

With such a possibility, legal and transportation experts we've talked with say that it would be most unwise of Metro to build anything until its legal problems are resolved. Otherwise, if Metro board members such as Villaraigosa and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky go ahead with construction and things need to be changed, they could end up wasting millions of taxpayers' money.

So why break ground for any kind of Westside Subway construction project now?

The other weird thing was the presence of Brien at Villaraigosa's photo op. With his city locked in a major legal battle with Metro, the Beverly Hills Courier justifiably takes the mayor to task.

The spunky newspaper writes: "Brien's appearance and remarks confirms The Courier's reporting
over nearly two years that Brien has worked against the interests of the City and its school district to support the project that will impair and threaten the Beverly Hills High School campus."

Then, in the pages of the Courier, Beverly Hills officialdom turns on Brien -- he not only sat on the stage with Villaraigosa but spoke in favor of the Westside Subway at the event.

Beverly Hills City Council member John Mirisch says that Brien's action was a "slap in the face."

Former Beverly Hills Mayor and City Council candidate Nancy Krasne says "anything that would undermine that combined voice is not acceptable."

City Council Candidate and Planning Commissioner Brian Rosenstein says he does "not believe that participating in the groundbreaking ceremony sends the message to Metro that our community is emphatically opposed to their current plan."

And Beverly Hills Unified School District President Brian Goldberg says, "Publicly praising a plan that is designed to disrupt the educational process of our students in Beverly Hills is not helpful and is contradictory to all of the public comments that the elected officials in Beverly Hills have made."

Wonder if Metro's lawyers will try to use Brien's appearance against the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District when all sides go to court? The Source, Metro's official blog, is already featuring Brien's remarks in a video, who said the groundbreaking was "tremendous," it was an "honor" for him to be at the event, and the subway is "so dearly needed for so many people."

He also added, "We're going to move this forward. This going to be a great line to the Westside, and I'm looking forward to visiting USC for my roots for football." He also promises to go to a UCLA basketball game with Villaraigosa, and they'll both take a subway ride over to Brentwood.


Some important questions clearly need to be put to Brien, who's long been reluctant to fight Villaraigosa over the subway. For example, did the Beverly Hills mayor ask city lawyers if his appearance was legally prudent? If so, what did they tell him? And who asked Brien to show up at the photo op? Villaraigosa? Metro? Did they tell him to say certain things? We smell a scandal brewing.

Obama’s New Cabinet Can Make Trains Run on Time


As President Barack Obama selects his second-term Cabinet, all eyes are on the big departments -- State, Treasury, Defense and Justice. Yet he can set the tone for his new term with changes in a less-likely place: the Department of Transportation.

The current secretary, Ray LaHood, is probably stepping down in 2013, and Obama’s signature transportation policy, a national high-speed-rail network, is in disarray. The president’s original goal was to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, but so far only California’s increasingly embattled system is scheduled for completion by then.

High-speed-rail lines in Wisconsin and Florida were canceled by the states’ Republican governors, and Amtrak’s $151 billion plan to bring real bullet trains to the Northeast corridor is a nonstarter.

With a divided Congress unlikely to finance any significant portion of Obama’s high-speed-rail projects, he has to nominate a secretary who cares as much about reform and good engineering as securing funding and undertaking flashy projects. A focus on efficiency over spending should please House Republicans, whose support the administration will need if it ever hopes to increase federal transit funding.

David Gunn, the president of Amtrak from 2002 to 2005, cited a lack of technical knowledge as the biggest problem at the Transportation Department, which he said has devolved into “an agency that just distributes money.”

Misused Money

“If you look at the Federal Railroad Administration and the Department of Transportation, they’ve never really had professional leadership,” argued Gunn, who managed most passenger trains on the Eastern seaboard at one point or another during his career. (Gunn was fired by President George W. Bush’s Amtrak board in 2005 after objecting to what he viewed as the administration’s politically motivated attempts to break up the railroad.)

Although most transit advocates view a lack of funding as American transit’s biggest obstacle, some, such as David Schonbrunn, a longtime San Francisco Bay area transit activist who is suing to change California’s high-speed-rail plan, agree with Gunn’s assessment.

“We’re spending our money in incredibly stupid and political ways,” Schonbrunn said, “and the only answer from the leaders of these agencies is ‘Give me more money.’”

Gunn was also critical of the way the Obama administration allocated the $8 billion in stimulus funds for high-speed rail.

“There are two groups that are absolutely critical to getting high-speed rail done: freight rail and Amtrak,” he said. Yet the administration went to state transportation departments and local politicians, who, Gunn said, don’t know what they are doing.

The administration has shut out the freight railroads and Amtrak California from its high-speed-rail plans, instead vesting power in the new California High-Speed Rail Authority, which has little operational experience and a barebones staff.

Another problem, Gunn says, is the silo approach that the Department of Transportation takes to financing air, highway and rail projects.

“They desperately need somebody who understands the interaction between modes,” Gunn said. He cited a costly O’Hare International Airport expansion in Chicago, where he says passenger capacity goals may have been better addressed by a high-speed-rail network for the Midwest.

Bad Projects

Right now, air, highway and rail interests frequently compete against one another to fill the same need. The government often finances projects to widen and build new highways parallel to new rail routes, depressing ridership and limiting the cost-effectiveness of transit.

David Schonbrunn had praise for Peter Rogoff, the current head of the Federal Transit Administration.

“Peter Rogoff made some really excellent comments about how we can’t continue to throw money into new projects without maintaining our current infrastructure,” Schonbrunn said. He credited Rogoff with canceling the federal contribution to a widely panned elevated-rail connector from the airport in Oakland, California, to a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.

But Rogoff also signed off on and defended federal appropriations for San Francisco’s controversial Central Subway under political pressure from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Transit advocates have roundly criticized the project for its high cost and limited utility.

Beyond spending existing funds more responsibly, the Transportation Department must make regulatory changes if Obama’s goals for high-speed-rail access are to be met.

The Federal Railroad Administration is already making progress on one long-overdue reform: rationalizing crash-safety rules for suburban and intercity passenger rail.

The agency’s current safety standards require trains to be bulked up to survive crashes, whereas regulators outside of North America allow lightweight trains, which are faster, cheaper and more efficient, on existing freight and intercity tracks. Crumple zones built into modern European and Japanese designs protect passengers during accidents, and advanced signaling technology makes such accidents unlikely to occur in the first place.

In June, federal safety regulators issued a waiver to a small Dallas-area commuter rail line to use lightweight Swiss railcars, and the FRA also indicated a willingness to grant more such waivers in the future. This first move toward modern trains was driven from within the agency, and reform could be sped up with political support from higher-ups in the department.

Another aspect of rail policy under the administration’s control is labor. The president nominates members to Amtrak’s board and could use this power to push for desperately needed staffing reforms.

California Success

One candidate whom Gunn said he could recommend for transportation secretary is Eugene Skoropowski, who made a name for himself managing California’s Capitol Corridor between San Jose and Sacramento via Oakland. During his tenure, ridership tripled and the number of trains scheduled per day quadrupled, turning it from a lowly intercity line into a bustling commuter system. And he did this without any additional state subsidies.

Because Capitol Corridor trains run on tracks owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, Skoropowski had to work with the freight carrier to achieve these ridership gains. Today he works for Florida East Coast Industries, a freight railroad that is starting private passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando, the first in more than a half-century.

Skoropowski’s history of cooperation with the freight-rail industry stands in marked contrast to the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s hostile relationship with the Union Pacific -- hardly the cooperative partnership that David Gunn suggested is necessary for high-speed rail to succeed in the U.S.

Other transit analysts, such as Joshua Schank of the Eno Center for Transportation, a research group, agreed that it might be time for a transportation secretary from a technical rather than political background. (The office is sometimes used for bipartisan gestures: LaHood, Obama’s first-term transportation secretary, was a Republican U.S. representative from Illinois, and Norman Mineta, who served under George W. Bush for five years, was a Democratic congressman.)

“With a technical nominee, you usually give them more leeway,” Schank told me in an interview.

Whomever Obama nominates, the administration should learn from the failures of its grand and expensive first-term ambitions. If the White House is willing to listen to the engineers and technocrats within the department, it might find some of its goals within reach.

As Gunn put it, “They need somebody that understands how you accomplish physical things.”

Who May be the Next Transportation Secretary?


 Posted By | November 15, 2012


As President Barack Obama begins his transition into a second term, transportation stakeholders and advocates are wondering who he'll tap to join his cabinet as the next transportation secretary.

About this time a year ago, Ray LaHood signaled that he would step down after the president's first term. But he hasn't discussed his future plans lately, leaving some in the transportation community to speculate about whether he's going anywhere.

Now, a favorite guessing game among transportation wonks has become who would be LaHood's replacement if he does, in fact, step aside. Governing takes a look at some of the candidates whose names have been bandied about and other officials who might be worth a look.
But the list should be taken with a grain of salt: LaHood, though familiar with transportation, wasn't considered a major player in the field before becoming secretary, and he initially was gunning for a spot as the secretary of agriculture.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
The Los Angeles mayor tops just about everyone's list of possible DOT secretaries. Villaraigosa has made transportation one of his priorities since assuming office in 2005. In addition to being mayor, he's served as chairman of L.A. County's transportation authority, and in 2008, he was one of the most vocal advocates for a landmark ballot measure in which county voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase for 30 years to pay for transportation projects. More recently, he was engaged in the discussion about the latest federal surface transportation bill and served as a leading voice for a proposal that was ultimately enacted to vastly expand TIFIA, the federal government's program for financing big infrastructure projects. As a charismatic Latino, there's also a political benefit to his selection. Villaraigosa is term-limited and ineligible to run for re-election next year, but if he's seeking higher office in California sooner rather than later, the timing may be off.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell
The former Pennsylvania governor focused on energy and infrastructure while in office. Since leaving Harrisburg in 2011, Rendell has become a co-chair of Building America's Future Educational Fund, a bipartisan group of elected officials who advocate for increased infrastructure investment. He's also stormed the country, speaking to journalists, politicians and just about anyone who will listen about the need for a serious commitment to infrastructure. In 2008, he was rumored as a possible candidate for the job and made clear he was interested in the post. The possible downside of his selection -- which Rendell himself has noted -- is that he's a big personality who can be difficult to control.


U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette
LaTourette is a moderate Republican congressman from Ohio who announced his retirement earlier this year. His appointment would be a nod to bipartisanship, similar to the appointment of LaHood, who was also a former GOP congressman. Though he's a Republican, he's been a big ally of the transit and biking community -- which should score him points with the administration -- and he knows transportation policy well after serving 14 years on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. LaTourette was a vocal critic of how his Republican colleagues pursued the new surface transportation bill this year, and by being a thorn in House leadership's side as the bill progressed, he helped force a rewrite of the bill in order to protect transit funding.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer
A liberal Democratic congressman from Oregon, Blumenauer is a passionate advocate for bicycles and transit, and he's popular in the smart growth movement. His name came up four years ago as a likely candidate for the position before it was given to LaHood.

Former U.S. Rep. James Oberstar
Obserstar, a former Democratic congressman from Minnesota, is held in the highest regard in transportation circles. He served as chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2007 to 2011 and was a constant figure on the committee for years before that. Few know federal transportation policy better than him, and his defeat in 2010 sent a shock through the transportation committee. Like Blumenauer, his name came up four years ago, but at 78 years old, his moment may have passed.

Peter Rogoff
Currently the head of the Federal Transit Administration, Rogoff isn't a marquee name, but his selection would signal the administration's ongoing commitment to transit as a priority. He's worked as staff in the Senate, where helped shape previous versions of surface transportation legislation. That background would come in handy, since Congress will need to start work on another surface transportation bill in less than two years.

Deborah Hersman
As chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Hersman already has a job that touches all modes of transportation. LaHood has made safety initiatives a priority during his term, so ostensibly, Hersman could help carry that torch. Her leadership in response to the collision of two D.C. subway cars in 2009 helped raise her profile and generate acclaim.

Jane Garvey
Garvey has impressive credentials. She previously served as head of the Federal Aviation Administration, director of Boston's Logan International Airport, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, and head of the transportation infrastructure investment practice at JPMorgan Chase.

John Porcari
Currently the number two at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Porcari previously served two stints as Maryland's DOT secretary under different governors. He's unique among state DOT leaders in that the role gave him the opportunity to oversee not just highways, bridges and tunnels, but also transit, aviation and ports.


Janette Sadik-Khan
Sadik-Khan has become a celebrity in the transportation community due to her critical role in transforming New York City while serving as its transportation commissioner. She, most notably, covered the city in bike lanes. She also worked to improve bus service, create pedestrian plazas, and make other "green" improvements, showing that a transportation official can have a role beyond shepherding automobile traffic. She knows her way around Washington, having previously worked for the FTA, and though she has a hero status in the smart growth community, some critics have said she has a brash style and that it's hard to imagine her overseeing a multi-billion dollar highway program.

Steve Heminger
Another official who was in contention four years ago, Heminger is the executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the transportation planning agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. In that role, he oversees the $6.4 billion construction of the new east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, one of the largest public works projects in the country. He also served on a federal commission that was tasked with examining the future of federal transportation policy and revenue. That experience would undoubtedly be useful as the feds chart the successor to MAP-21.

Will Kempton
Kempton has led California's Orange County Transportation Authority since 2009. Before taking the job, he was director of the California Department of Transportation, where he developed a reputation for delivering projects on time. Kempton also has credentials in the area of high-speed rail -- an Obama priority -- as chair of a state-appointed group of officials charged with evaluating the California High-Speed Rail Authority's work.

Gene Conti
Currently the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Conti could need a new job with a new governor soon to take over in the Tar Heel state. He's previously served as U.S. DOT's assistant secretary of transportation policy. He's touted the role of data-driven analytics, which could be important given the renewed focus on performance metrics in the transportation community.

Gabe Klein
Klein, like Sadik-Khan, is another darling of the smart growth crowd. He led the transportation department in D.C. until he was tapped by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year to take on the same role in the Windy City. In Washington, he helped develop a forthcoming streetcar system, implemented pedestrian safety programs, and oversaw the expansion of the Circulator bus system. In Chicago, he's helped implement bus rapid transit and a bike share program, among other initiatives. In the private sector, he's served as a regional vice president of the car-sharing service Zipcar.

Bruce Katz
Katz, a well-respected policy wonk, leads the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, which would compliment an administration that has previously signaled an appreciation for reviving cities. Katz helped lead the Obama administration's housing and urban transition team, and he was a senior advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan during the administration's first few months.

John Horsley
Horsley is about to retire from his position as executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which represents the country's state DOT executives. But he could probably be talked out of retirement for a cabinet position. Previously, Horsley has worked as an associate deputy secretary of DOT. Horsley might be a good pick for the job, but his selection would likely frustrate those who see AASHTO as an enemy of transit.

Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves
The former governor of Kansas is another Republican who could be a good fit if the administration seeks to continue the precedent it set with LaHood. He's currently the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations and was previously rumored to be considered for the secretary spot by the Bush administration when it was vacated by Norman Mineta.

Voters Approve Transportation Spending, AASHTO's New President and More


 Posted By | November 15, 2012


While infrastructure netted hardly a mention in this year's presidential campaign, dozens of state, city and county governments held elections related to highway, transit and water infrastructure. By and large, voters supported these efforts.

The narrative, infrastructure advocates say, is a familiar one, and the results aren’t unusual. Historically, state and local voters have more often than not supported funding local transportation projects.

The trend also illustrates a stark contrast to the state of affairs at the federal level. Congressional lawmakers have been wary of approving solutions that would generate new revenue for transportation projects. "I think the initiatives we saw that were successful [in states and localities] showed again that when people know what they're going to get, they're more likely to support it," said Kerry O'Hare, vice president and director of Building America's Future Educational Fund.

This article appears in our new, free Infrastructure e-newsletter. Click to subscribe.

Roughly 68 percent of measures that would extend funding for highways, bridges and transit were approved, according to The American Road & Transportation Builders Association. The projects tracked are valued at $2.4 billion. The American Public Transportation Association found a similar rate of success with the batch of transit ballot initiatives it tracked on Election Night.

Successful campaigns tend to have clear project lists, broad coalitions that grassroots activists along with the business community support, and an easily identifiable benefit to voters, said Jason Jordan of the Center for Transportation Excellence, which tracks transit votes.

"When you make a specific request of people -- 'do you want this kind of project, this set of transportation options in your community and are you willing to pay for it?' -- the data is pretty unambiguous," Jordan said. "Most of the time the answer to the question is yes."

Some of the most significant, successful campaigns are highlighted below:
  • By a 57 percent margin, Alaska voters approved a $453.5 million bond measure that will pay for a slew of major projects, including $50 million for the port in Anchorage and $30 million for a rail extension. The future of these two projects, however, is unclear amidst legal disputes. The bond will also help pay for several congestion-relieving highway projects. "We're a young state," said Acting Transportation Commissioner Pat Kemp. "We're trying to get our unique problems taken care of."

  • In Honolulu, the number one issue in the mayoral election was the fate of the city's elevated rail line, which has been viewed as integral to reducing congestion in the island city. The $5.1 billion project, which has been praised by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is projected to generate 116,000 trips each weekday. Kirk Caldwell, a supporter of the project, defeated former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who had pledged to stop it if elected and replace it with a less expensive plan that included bus rapid transit and other elements.

  • Michigan voters proved that money doesn't always win elections, defeating a proposed amendment backed by the state's wealthy Moroun family, which controls Detroit's privately-owned Ambassador Bridge. The family was threatened with increased competition -- and potentially a loss in revenue -- due to a new crossing backed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Canada is poised to front the costs of the toll road bridge project. About $28 million was raised to fight the project, nearly all of  which came from the Moroun's businesses. The ballot measure pushed for an amendment that would require a statewide vote on any new international bridge. Observers, including many of the state's major newspapers, said the campaign blatantly mischaracterized the international project. "People made clear in Tuesday’s election that they believe in Michigan’s future and support the governor’s vision of moving forward so we can grow our economy and create jobs," Snyder spokesman Ken Silfven said.

  • Other infrastructure wins: Arkansas voters approved a half-cent sales tax for highways, bridges and roads that would be used to fund a $1.3 billion highway improvement bond. Maine voters said yes to Question 4, a $51 million transportation bond primarily for road and bridge repairs, and Question 5, a $7.9 million bond for the state's water and wastewater revolving loan fund. Oklahoma voters approved up to $300 million in bonds that would give the state's Water Resources Board a reserve fund. Arlington County, Va., voters approved bonds of $14.6 million to help fund the D.C. regional transit agency, and $17.3 million for bike and pedestrian improvements along with road repaving. And Rhode Island voters approved bonds of $12 million for the state's wastewater infrastructure fund and $8 million for the drinking water fund. "The product we're promoting here is improvement ... caused by groundwater and wastewater pollution," said Anthony Simeone, executive director of the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency. "So it's something that makes perfect sense to our voters when they look at it, and there's a job creation aspect of it."
Below are highlighted some of the most significant ballot losses:
  • Memphis voters opted against a one-cent per gallon gas tax that would have been used to provide a dedicated funding stream to the area's transit agency. Supporters had hoped for a win, since the cost per driver wasn't particularly high -- less than $7 per year for an average motorist getting 20 mpg. But supporters also noted that voters in the area faced other tax hikes on the ballot, which might have hurt their cause. Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford Jr., an ardent supporter of the tax, says he views a strong transit system as an economic driver since it would help people get to work. "This is one tax that no one should have speculation over where the money will go," Ford said.

  • Voters in Los Angeles County overwhelmingly supported Measure J, which would have extended an existing half-cent sales tax for transportation projects for another 30 years beyond 2039, when the existing tax is set to expire. In the end, it wasn't enough. State law requires a two-thirds majority of votes to enact the tax, and the ballot only got 64.7 percent. Officials had hoped that by passing Measure J, the timetable for the expansion of subways, bus service and light rail would have been dramatically accelerated. The measure would have allowed the transportation authority to borrow more money now and pay it back with the future tax revenues

  • Arizona voters shot down Proposition 204, which would have renewed a one-cent sales tax set to expire next year. In its first year, the tax would have generated a projected $971 million, 10 percent of which would have gone towards transportation projects, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Opponents characterized the tax hike as unnecessary.

  • Other infrastructure losses: Hawaii voters said no to a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to issue revenue bonds to help dam and reservoir owners pay for safety improvements. Virginia voters passed a constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the use of eminent domain. Some observers believe it could spell trouble for infrastructure, since governments would now be on the hook not just for the value of the property they take, but for lost profits that result from it.

Q&A with Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director (RIDOT) Michael P. Lewis

The debut of this newsletter happens to come at the same time the country's state DOT directors are convening in Pittsburgh for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) annual conference. I caught up with RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis, AASHTO's new president.

What are your priorities for your new term?

We're coming up on the 100th anniversary of AASHTO in 2014. It's time to take stock of where we've been for the last 100 years. We're all collectively trying to figure out how we implement MAP-21. There are some obvious, groundbreaking new elements in the surface transportation bill, particularly as it relates to performance measurement and more discretion from states on how they spend federal money. But it's only a two-year bill. So while we're thinking about how to implement MAP-21, we're immediately thinking about MAP-22, and what the next bill should look like.

Our entire senior executive leadership is moving on. [Executive Director John Horsley, Director of Program Finance and Management Jack Basso, and Director of Engineering and Technical Services Tony Kane are all retiring in early 2013]. We're clearly in a transition year. I want to be very careful not to bring too many things in. I want to carry forward (outgoing AASHTO President and Michigan DOT Director) Kirk Steudle's emphasis on technology and ITS [Intelligent Transportation Systems].

What are your members going to be discussing in Pittsburgh this weekend?

A big effort is going to be the implementation of MAP-21 and ensuring we're all understanding what the goals are of the performance measures and the timing of it. As much as MAP-21 is great -- we have two years of commitment from the federal government -- it is level funded. Many of us look at that as a victory compared to the alternative. But we can't forget the fact that that's very much below what we need to be investing in transportation infrastructure in this country. So as much as we cheer the fact that we have MAP-21, we need to figure out how to best utilize our resources to cover as much as we need to cover with such a deficit in investment.

How soon are you going to start making your case and lobbying for the successor to MAP-21, which expires in two years?

We absolutely need to start talking about it. It takes that long to coordinate with the administration, the House and the Senate. It looks like we're going to have a new secretary of transportation, and there's going to be a new set of priorities. The House and Senate makeup will be different. All of that we're going to have to learn. We at AASHTO will have to step back and say, "Now that we have MAP-21 in place, what do we want to build on for the future?" I don't think it's ever too early to begin that discussion.

What do you like about MAP-21? What are your biggest concerns with implementation?

I'm a glass half-full kind of guy and look at this as a positive. I think some of the concerns that have been expressed about additional reporting are legitimate. But we also need to continue to learn to work smarter. When times are tough, it often produces more innovation. If it's not hard and things are coming easily, there's less incentive to innovate. I don't think we're every going to be in a position that we're flush with so much cash that we become lazy. I think that's a good thing.

Must Reads

  • Transportation Nation: A self-reported survey by the leaders of Denver's bikeshare program reveals that its members are nearly 90 percent white, and less than 1 percent are black.

  • Washington Examiner: The regional authority overseeing a $6 billion rail extension to Dulles airport -- one of the largest transportation projects in the country -- is rife with nepotism and mismanagement, according to a new report.

  • Bloomberg Businessweek: Meet Chris Couri, the man behind the cheekily named company, "We Do Lines," which specializes in the unusual field of parking lot painting.

  • Eno Center for Transportation: AASHTO finance guru Joung Lee explains five myths about TIFIA, the federal credit program that received a huge boost in funding under the new highway bill.

  • FastCoExist.com: See a slideshow of how workers removed hundreds of millions of gallons of salt water from the New York subway system in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

  • The Hill: President Obama's victory means Amtrak is unlikely to be privatized and transportation funding probably won’t be gutted.

  • Popular Mechanics: TSA could be more effective -- and less frustrating -- if it switched to a system that relied more on background checks and intelligence gathering.

Alert: Pasadena City Council to Consider NFL Use in the Rose Bowl

Pasadena voted NO to bring in the NFL, now our City Council is bringing it in anyway on a 'temporary' basis. This may last up to seven years.  Actually, who knows what will happen when they've made themselves at home here in our Rose Bowl.
Please, please let your council know how unhappy (furious?) you are for the complete disregard of Pasadena's vote. The council is there at our bidding, and they need to remember this.

For Immediate Release

 San Rafael Neighborhoods Association


6:30 PM

The Pasadena City Council is scheduled to consider the proposed amendment  to the Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for possible use of the Rose Bowl by the NFL during its Monday, Nov. 19 meeting at 6:30 PM in the Council Chambers, on the second floor of City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave.  
The  current Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance currently restricts large events at the stadium with 20,000 or more attending to 12 such large events per year.  The proposed amendment to the ordinance would allow up to 13 additional large events per year for 

The SRNA Board of Directors voted to OPPOSE the use of the Rose Bowl by the NFL and JOINS with our sister neighborhood association the Linda Vista Annandale Association (LVAA) and the East Arroyo Preservation Committee in opposing the use of the Rose Bowl by the NFL.  Similarly we support the motion of the West Pasadena Residents Association (WPRA) to OPPOSE certification of the EIR and any project approvals based on it. 

SRNA's position is  congruent with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) study in recommending AGAINST the use of  the Rose Bowl by the NFL.  

Depending on the outcome of the November 19 City Council meeting,  all further actions including legal action will be considered in tandem with other neighborhood associations.

A show of opposition to the NFL is crucial.  This item has likely been agendized  at the City Council meeting during a Holiday week in the hope that there will be low attendance.  Please show your support for making Pasadena livable and safe  by showing up at the Council Meeting to express your OPPOSITION to the NFL Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the proposed amendment to the Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance.

Please click on the link below and read Letter # 10 summarizing the concerns of the SRNA on the use of the Rose Bowl by the NFL.  
Key to our concerns is the  even more  severely compromised fire and paramedic coverage that residents of  west Pasadena would face with diversion of resources to  the NFL games .  

San Rafael Neighborhoods Association:

The mission of the San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA) is to enhance and maintain the character and quality of all San Rafael neighborhoods through advocacy and an activated community.  
Join SRNA--West Pasadena's newest and fast growing neighborhood organization dedicated to the San Rafael Neighborhoods Area. 

Member $20
Household $35
Sustaining $100
Patron $250
Benefactor $500

Contact us and send check by mail to:
San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA)
PO Box 92617
Pasadena, CA 91109
or join us at our website at
www.srnapasadena.org and click the tab "Join Us"

Credit cards accepted

In La Cañada Flintridge, a trip down memory lanes

Forty years ago, the Foothill (210) Freeway opened after a one-of-a-kind party



 The cover of the la Canada Valley Sun in October 1972, a month before the Foothill (210) Freeway opened in town, connecting Pasadena and the Glendale (2) Freeway.



Forty years ago, more than 1,000 La Cañada Flintridge residents set foot on the Foothill (210) Freeway for the first and likely only time, toasting the completion of the highway.

They danced, dined and drank on the roadway during the fundraiser hosted by the Assistance League of Flintridge. Decades later, those party-goers remember the freeway’s arrival as a major change to life in La Cañada – but mostly as a good one.

To build the stretch of freeway connecting the 210 at Berkshire Avenue on the east with the Glendale (2) Freeway and the 210 heading toward the San Fernando Valley on the west, Caltrans demolished 551 homes and the site of La Cañada Elementary School.

Bob Covey, who was 45 at the time the freeway was completed, remembers the route of the freeway as the subject of a heated political battle.

“Our big effort had been to keep it down south of Foothill [Boulevard], but of course that got gruesome,” he said. “It would have cut through some highly political homes.”

Those who attended the party, held near the Foothill Boulevard underpass, say it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“A lot of the people I went to school with were at the party,” said Bill Topping, who grew up in La Cañada and now lives in Prescott, Ariz. “It was a fun event, it really was, to be able to go down on a freeway and party. I think it’s a unique experience in life.”

Topping said that although the freeway may have changed the city, he thinks its impact probably was positive.

“I bet shop owners enjoyed it,” he said. “I know people that lived in town that were worried about traffic, but it probably eliminated some of the through traffic [to Pasadena]… My feeling is, you’re going to have change anyway.”

The Yeghiaian family has run Berge’s sandwich shop on Foothill since around June of 1972, four years before the city was incorporated and a few months before the freeway opened.

“It didn’t hurt us, didn’t help us,” said John Yeghiaian. “It’s lightened up the load on the roads, but it didn’t get us any new customers.”

No matter where locals stand on the impact of the freeway, they all agree it has been aggravating to wait for the long-promised sound walls to block out the noise of trucks heading through La Cañada.

“I had dual-pane windows installed, so I don’t hear the freeway,” said Sharlyn French, who lives near the Foothill Boulevard exit off the 210. “But I used to have to stop talking on the phone if a truck drove by while I had the window open.”

Construction on two sound walls in the Meadow Grove neighborhood, near the eastern edge of the city, is expected to begin in June of next year. But the rest of the city may have to wait until at least 2020 for the walls, as the city is still seeking funds to pay for them.

Despite the noise, French said the 210 provides an invaluable connection the rest of Los Angeles.

“My son didn’t feel like he grew up in a small town, even though he did, because he and his friends could go all over Southern California on the freeway,” she said.

French said she attended the party on the freeway and that the mood was one of elation that construction finally was complete.

Covey, who missed the party but took part in the fight over the route, said he has made good use of the freeway over the years.

“You can’t stop progress,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing.”

The 40th anniversary comes at a time when nobody is celebrating freeways and city leaders are battling a proposal for another nearby freeway, an extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway from Alhambra to the 210 in Pasadena. Of course, a lot has changed in 40 years.

Covey said back then the 210 “was like a private freeway. There wasn’t much traffic 40 years ago.”