Purpose

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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Posted by Ana Rosa Meza Delat on Facebook, July 31, 2013

Dear Neighbors,

Please join the Avenue 64 Coalition's effort to promote public safety on Avenue 64 by signing our petition. Traffic violations that include speeding and other forms of reckless driving abound, causing threats to other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. Please find information and the petition at the following link and share it with your neighbors. Thank you!
 
 http://www.change.org/petitions/join-los-angeles-and-pasadena-in-creating-a-safer-avenue-64-for-everyone
 (Go to the website to sign the petition.)

Join Los Angeles and Pasadena in Creating a Safer Avenue 64 for Everyone

  1. Avenue 64 Coalition 
  2. Petition by
    1. Los Angeles, CA

    If you have traveled through the Arroyo Seco on scenic Avenue 64, you have noticed that it is a historically significant residential area, well-traveled by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike.  You may notice that traffic violations abound whether traveling north or south on the street.  The only existing traffic control intervention made jointly by the Cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena, namely the 4-way stop signs located at that intersection of Avenue 64 and Church Street, was completed in 2004 at the request of residents living in the vicinity.  Also in 2004, a request for crosswalks at the intersection made by the same community of neighbors was ignored completely by the cities.  Read about the old story here:  

     http://www.boulevardsentinel.com/12-2003.htm   The aforementioned intersection has not completely solved the safety concerns that exist along Avenue 64 in both cities. Speeding, tailgating, passing in the center lane, and ignoring stop signs all continue to endanger those who use Avenue 64 on a daily basis.  

    On July 7th, 2013, a community meeting was held at the Church of the Angels to discuss concerns related to public safety while traveling on Avenue 64.  The Avenue 64 Coalition was formed from this meeting, consisting of a core group of neighbors who reside in Los Angeles and Pasadena. Our mission is to ensure City Representatives will work collaboratively with one another and with us to change Avenue 64 into a safer street for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

    Avenue 64 is a public safety hazard and your support is needed to ensure collaboration between coucilmen Jose Huizar in Los Angeles and Steve Madison in Pasadena to address the issues effectively. Madison recognizes the need for improvement on Avenue 64 and has made it a priority in the service of his constituents to meet with an Avenue 64 Coalition representative, a meeting that has already taken place. Huizar is requested to do the same on behalf of his constituency, eliminating the middleman in order to personally address this urgent public safety issue immediately.

    Please join your neighbors in creating a safer Avenue 64 for everyone by signing this petition.
    Please forward the link to neighbors. We need your support!
    To:
    Supervisor Gloria Molina, 1st Supervisorial District, LA County Board of Supervisors
    Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, 5th Supervisorial Distict, LA County Board of Supervisors
    Paul Habib, Chief of Staff, Office of Jose Huizar, Councilman District 14, Los Angeles
    Takako Suzuki, Field Representative, Office of Steve Madison, District 6, Pasadena
    Jose Huizar, Councilman, District 14, Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles
    Steve Madison, Councilman, District 6, Pasadena, City of Pasadena
    Fred Dock, Director, Pasadena Dept. of Transportation
    Leon Borja, Deputy Mayor, Office of the Mayor, Transportation, Los Angeles -LADOT
    Jaime de la Vega, General Manager, LADOT District Office Los Angeles
    Doane Liu, Deputy Mayor, Transportation and Public Works, , Los Angeles
    Zenay Loera, District Director, Northeast Los Angeles, Office of Councilman Jose Huizar, District 14

    The Avenue 64 Coalition, residents and stakeholders of the Garvanza Neighborhood in Los Angeles and San Rafael Neighborhood in Pasadena, and The Highland Park Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee, support the installation of reasonable traffic control structures along Avenue 64 which would serve to decrease the frequency of speeding, traffic accidents, road rage, threats to pedestrians and cyclists alike and promote greater respect for this historic neighborhood shared by Los Angeles and Pasadena, and consequently improve the quality of life for those of us who reside here.

    Please know that even after the installation of the 4-way stop sign intersection at Avenue 64 and Church Street in 2004, hazardous conditions along Avenue 64 continue. Please read about conditions in 2004 here at this link: http://www.boulevardsentinel.com/12-2003.htm

    Poor traffic control design on Avenue 64 to the north in Pasadena promotes hazardous driving and speeding by motorists traveling on an incline south bound on Avenue 64 to Church street., making Church and Avenue 64 a hazardous intersection due to speed and the ignoring of stop signs by motorists. Select northbound and southbound motorists from Church and Ave. 64 and from Meridian Street to the south of it enjoy illegal passing on the left turn center lanes without fear of being ticketed by local law enforcement. From York Blvd and Avenue 64 to Church Street, speed is encouraged due to poorly regulated traffic lights and the obvious absence of stop signs where crosswalks are needed. Avenue 64 and Church Street is a resented stop sign intersection for motorists who feel entitled to speed through our residential neighborhood, especially as they find that no other traffic calming measures have been designed or erected for the area.

    We recognize the need for our respective Councilmen Huizar and Madison, and the Departments of Transportation for Los Angeles and Pasadena to act on our behalf. We wish to illustrate the nature of our concerns and to propose solutions relevant to the area. We request the support of our respective LA County Supervisors for District 1, Gloria Molina, and for District 5, Michael Antonovich. Your participation and vocal support for developing plans for a safer Avenue 64 is critical. Pasadena and Los Angeles must collaborate in specified stretches of Avenue 64. You will be informed by the Avenue 64 Coalition, a group of stakeholders, of the changes that are needed.

    In this endeavor to promote public safety and to improve the quality of life for all, change cannot occur until the representatives for the Cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena work collaboratively and with their constituents for the common good.

    As a resident and stakeholder of Los Angeles and Pasadena, I support the Garvanza and San Rafael Neighborhoods. I support the proposals for new traffic interventions along Avenue 64 which should be implemented as soon as possible in order to ensure public safety, traffic control, and an improved quality of life for all.

    Thank you in advance for your support.

    Sincerely,
    [Your name] 

     
     

San Rafael School Traffic ~ Meeting Tomorrow (Thursday) Night

Email from Carla Riggs, July 31, 2013

Dear Neighbors,
I received this email today, and it is short notice. However, we hope you'll be able to attend the meeting.  Neighbors by the school are very concerned about the traffic melee at the San Rafael elementary school every morning.  6:30 - 7:30 pm at the Casita del Arroyo Please do attend the meeting if possible. We need to let the council and others what we think of the mess at the south of our street.

This will be hosted by Steve Madison.

Cars hurry up and down San Miguel as they rush to drop their children off at school, and rush back up to Colorado and hurry to work. All this 'hurry' makes conditions ripe for a tragic accident! I've seen a Mother in a large, black SUV drop her small son off in the middle of the street. He opened the huge door, got himself out and then closed it again, while holding his things. I was shocked, and thought how unsafe this one.

Neighbors by the school find cars blocking their driveways, as parents park to go into the school with their children.

The street in back of the school curves around, making it very unsafe as cars are driving too fast. To save time, parents make turns in the middle of the street.  It's a very chaotic morning/afternoon, and dangerous for the elementary students.

The principal has simply said that it's not his job to speak with the parents, or attempt to influence them in any manner.

Hi Carla,

Mary Beth Bridges and Heather Tallman just met with Lt. Pete Hetama of the Pasadena Police Traffic Division and you can see Mary Beth's info below.  We find it disturbing that they won't try to work with us neighbors on the school traffic problem so we'll need to have many people at the meeting tomorrow to make our voices heard!  Please get your group going---we'll be there!

Just had the meeting with Pete H traffic enforcement.
He took notes drove around the streets.
Said we couldn't put in no u turn signs, parents are making Y turns and that is legal by law!
He would get together with transportation and have them look at changing signage.
Heather wants it all to be loading and unloading zone all around school.
The 3 minute loading and unloading can not be enforced because who is to say they are gone longer than 3 minutes??
My was no parking where there was no sidewalks on Hermosa and San Miguel.

He will enforce signs that are there for now.
He wants to know Rudy's traffic plan for drop off and pick up(none in my option but each school has to have one)

Meeting tomorrow night is for the death a few weeks ago on 64 and Church Streets, you see the white ghost bike on the fence.
Not closing of the bridge or school traffic. So we need to bring it up to get heard.

 
Steve Madison posted on Facebook, July 31, 2013:

Just a quick reminder that we'll be holding our San Rafael neighborhood Town Hall tomorrow night at 6:30 at La Casita del Arroyo (177 S. Arroyo Boulevard). Hope to see you all there! — at La Casita Del Arroyo.
 
 

So how come Burbank refuses to take a stand on 710?

https://semichorus.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/so-how-come-burbank-refuses-to-take-a-stand-on-710/

July 21, 2013

 

Ron Kaye has a good column today about how South Pasadena has for over 50 years refused to let the Highway Lobby ruin their nice little town with a totally unnecessary freeway.

South Pass has lots of allies now in this effort, but it wasn’t always so. For years they stood alone in opposing the project, with the nadir event probably being when Bill Clinton agreed to support it in return for a preferential vote from a local Democratic congressman on some bill or another. Those were very dark days for freeway opponents — it looked like the 710 extension was a truly done deal.
We remember it well. We also remember when Alhambra, in their arrogance, tried to blockade all of the streets into town coming from the north. What an embarrassment that was. This was in the late 90s.***

In fact, but for former Republican Congressman James Rogan, most of our state and local elected officials were absolutely enthusiastic in their support of this inane freeway scheme– which didn’t always involve a hidden tunnel, btw. Previous iterations had it going straight down Meridian Avenue after LA hypocritically balked about an Arroyo alternative that would have flattened half of the nicest parts of El Sereno. For years South Pasadena went it alone and in ridicule.

And speaking of hypocrisy, there’s no better word for Alhambra’s rabidly pro-freeway position. Any 710 extension would have situated this freeway on about 1/2 mile of their territory in total, and only in an old, worn out industrial section west of Fremont. The new freeway would then have veered directly into the center of South Pass.


Now Alhambra does have a legitimate gripe about the 710 dumping everyone onto Valley Blvd. But they refuse to acknowledge that most of this heavy traffic is local — almost all of it dissipates well before Fremont hits Main Street up ahead. This puts the lie to the popular PR claim that a 710 extension is vitally necessary. Fremont would be jammed with cars day and night if this were true, and anyone can see on their own that it is not.

But none of this political success is any thanks to Burbank. While every other local town has taken a stand on 710 because of environmental or traffic issues, Burbank has always refused to go on the record. Our council people have continually wimped out whenever they’ve had it on their agenda, with Dave Golonski in particular being a particularly evasive offender. He says we shouldn’t get involved.

We think this is because Burbank has actually been a closet ‘pro-growther’ from the beginning, but doesn’t want to admit it. That’s why they always quickly sweep the issue under the rug. Why else would they refuse to take a stand on 710?

BTW, Kaye doesn’t mention it, but a better example of the potential danger of tunneling under a town for miles is the Caldecott Disaster in the Berkeley Hills.

*** They just did it again, too. The main thoroughfare to South Pasadena. Some excuse for a party…

 

Panhandler Party--Very Funny Subway Video


L.A. to stop issuing tickets for parking at broken meters

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-parking-tickets-broken-meters-city-council-20130731,0,3007469.story

By Laura J. Nelson, July 31, 2013

 Parking meters

 The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to overturn a six-month-old policy that allowed vehicles to be ticketed for parking at broken meters.

Drivers will no longer get a ticket for parking at a broken parking meter in the city of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to overturn a policy that allowed vehicles to be ticketed when parked at broken or inoperable meters.

City officials had said the ticketing policy would discourage drivers from vandalizing meters and parking for free.
Since that time, ne
w parking meter technology has made such a law unnecessary, said Councilman Mike Bonin, who introduced the motion. The city’s new high-tech smart meters, which accept credit cards, send a text message to the city’s repair crew when a meter's coin slots or card readers jam.
The average response time to repair a meter is now about two hours, Transportation Department engineer Daniel Mitchell said. Since the start of the year, Mitchell said, seven of the city’s 34,000 parking meters have had the card reader and the coin slot simultaneously jammed.

“The meters have never worked better,” Mitchell said at a recent transportation committee meeting.
Other transportation officials at that meeting said repealing the law could lead to an increase in vandalism. One parking meter technician told the committee that drivers would go back to tying plastic bags around the tops of parking meters to avoid paying the fee.

The Transportation Department will report to the City Council in six months on the impact of the policy’s reversal, including whether meter vandalism increased.

The council, however, voted 12-1 to oppose, and to recommend that the governor veto, a state bill that would prevent cities from ticketing cars parked at broken meters. Council members said the bill, awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, intrudes on local authority to regulate parking.
“Why is our state legislature acting on how we park our cars?” Councilman Paul Krekorian said to the council. “This is an issue of local control.” 

Metro’s response to CityWatch article on problems with TAP cards

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/07/31/metros-response-to-citywatch-article-on-problems-with-tap-cards/#more-57871

By Steve Hymon, July 31, 2013

Matthew Hetz published an article at CityWatch today with the headline “The TAP card, discouraging mass transit one card at a time.” The article listed several issues that Mr. Hetz has had with TAP.
Here is Metro’s response to Mr. Hetz:
Dear Mr. Hetz:

Thank you for taking the time to evaluate the TAP system.  Here are answers to your concerns.

Expiring Cards
For two plus years there have been signs on buses and trains, web ads on metro.net, as well as 174,000 brochures distributed on the system to alert passengers to check their expiration of their TAP cards. Originally, TAP cards were designed to be good for three years, and  there are still three-year cards out there for sale.  With improved security we have now opened up the expiration period to ten years so the 3-year cards will eventually be sold and phased out.   TAP card expiration can be checked at a TAP Vending Machine, at one of our 500+ vendor locations or a bus fare box.   The expiration also displays on the screen when a TAP card is tapped on a gate, station validator or on your web account.

Improving the Website
The website is one of our top-ten high-priority projects.  There is definitely need for improvement.  Something easy to use like Amazon, is our goal.  In the interim we will also be making minor improvements where we can.

TAP not available at my Ralphs

Not all Ralphs sell TAP however over 500 vendors as well as four Metro Customer Centers in LA County sell TAP.   Vendors are listed by zip code at TAPTOGO.net and at Metro.net.  TAP has the largest vendor network in the country.


TAP Vending Machines
There is improved signage on TAP Vending Machines and nearby which provide step by step instructions with pictures on how to purchase a TAP card and fare.  Metro has many fare options:  stored value, 1-day pass, 1-ride, 7-day pass, 30-day pass, senior/disabled 1-ride off peak and peak.  All are available at the TVM.  Unfortunately, with many options does come some complexity.  We will be introducing new TVM screens in late summer or early fall that are more intuitive and helpful to the first time user.
Delay in Balance Protection Card Registration

We aware of this problem.  Our customers purchase about 100,000 cards each month.  This volume may cause delays at times.  Occasionally, cards purchased at TAP Vending Machines can take up to a week for the TAP Service Center to input the card numbers into the system.  We are working with to improve service.

Mr. Hetz, I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your concerns in more detail and to hear your suggestions on how we can improve the website and our service.  I would also would like to show you our redesign of the TVM screens.  Please let me know when you are available after the 19th of August.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
David Sutton, Deputy Executive Officer, TAP


Can Free Transit Work in a Real City?

http://streetsblog.net/2013/07/31/can-free-transit-work-in-a-real-city/

By Angie Schmitt, July 31, 2013


Today on the Streetsblog Network, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit points to the interesting case of Tallinn, Estonia, a city of 426,000 people that seems to be pulling off a feat that defies the conventional wisdom: operating a transit system that people can ride without paying fares.

People don't fit so neatly into the categories of "choice" or "captive" transit riders.

Most transit agencies are skeptical that a fare-free system can work. Researchers cited in a recent Next City article dismissed the viability of the idea, pointing to American cities that abandoned attempts to eliminate fares. Those transit operators contended that free transit attracted too many “problem riders” and didn’t lure people from their cars, but Walker says that conclusion might be based on a false dichotomy between “choice” and “captive” transit riders:
It sounds as though the authors were operating on the old binary model of choice-vs-captive ridership, under which additional ridership by people who don’t own cars is assigned zero value to environmental or traffic outcomes. In fact, the overall transit service offering (including its cost) is an important [factor] in many people’s choice not to own cars. The choice to not own a car is one of many complex possibilities that fries the circuits of algorithms (and experts) that rely on dividing all riders into boxes called choice (car owners who left the car at home) and captive or transit dependent. In fact, we’re all on a spectrum between choice and captive, and we are each in different situations that may make us responsive to small improvements in transit service or, in this case, cost. If that weren’t true, small changes in frequency or fare wouldn’t cause small changes in ridership, as they almost always do.

It is likely that in the US experiments, there were enough “problem riders” to be a problem, but the obvious solution to this is Tallinn’s solution, which is to require each free rider to use a smartcard, one that takes some effort to get and that can be revoked for bad behavior.

The problem with free-fare systems in big cities is not the “problem rider.”  The problem is that free fares cause such a huge ridership increase that no big-city US transit agency could possibly fund enough service to handle it.  It would not just require the purchase and operations funds for hundreds if not thousands of new buses (and new facilities for them to be housed and maintained).  It would also quickly require whole new rapid transit lines.  Most of our current modelling of rapid transit in the US assumes that fares will continue to hold ridership down.

So yes, free fares would be a big deal in big cities (though not as much for small ones).  They are a huge barrier to cross, especially for impoverished US transit systems in major cities.  They would require a transformative degree of new public investment.  All that must be debated.

But don’t let the “vagrants” scare you.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Review STL says poor land-use regulations in the greater St. Louis area are hindering transit-oriented development. Systemic Failure points out that even in these times of government austerity, Congress never faltered in its support for passenger aviation subsidy known as Essential Air Services. And Bike Delaware explains how Governor Jack Markell has been instrumental in the state’s progress toward bike-friendliness.

Would You Ride a Bike Superhighway?

http://mashable.com/2013/07/31/bicycle-superhighways/

By Elisha Jartwig, July 31, 2013





 Bike-sweden

As people become more concerned with conserving the environment and improving our health, bicycle superhighways seem to be the ideal panacea. Encouraging commuters to bike to work instead of drive in a car promotes personal well-being, a greener world and it can even encourage fresh thinking in the workplace.

Below, we outline three cities whose transit innovations are headed in the right direction, promoting healthier transportation options for both the planet and ourselves. Would you commute on a bicycle superhighway if you had one in your city? Let us know in the comments.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen's Cykelsuperstier is the perfect example of a successfully implemented bike superhighway. Aiming to connect residential areas outside of Copenhagen with educational facilities and job-laden areas, the local governments teamed up to build an expansive system of 26 new bike routes.

The first route opened in April 2012 and connects Copenhagen and Albertslund, a suburb about 10 miles outside of the city. Although more than 80% of Danes have bicycles, cycling habits in Denmark has actually decreased over the last 20 years. However, the cycling within Copenhagen's boundaries has increased — 36% of all trips to places of work or study are taken by bicycle. The goal is to have 20% more riders on the Albertslund route by 2015. If this is achieved, then motorized vehicles in the country would be driving one million kilometers less each year.

In order to entice riders, the developers of the bike superhighway designed a number of strategies to make commuting as easy as possible. Using what they term "green wave technology," a cyclist traveling at an average speed of 20km/h should be able to glide through a wave of green lights throughout the city during rush hour, without ever having to stop. That's right, the traffic lights are timed to suit bicyclists, not cars. Furthermore, the city provides footrests to lean on at traffic lights in case you do happen to get stopped, there are tilted garbage cans along the path for easy access to riders, and "conversation lanes" are being developed where two people can ride side by side and talk as they commute to work together.

The Cykelsuperstier is being financed by the Capital Region of Denmark, as well as the 21 local governments that will be connected by the superhighway. The 26 routes are budgeted to cost 413 million Danish kroner (approximately $73.35 million USD) for the basic plan, or 875 million kroner ($155.4 million USD) for the ideal plan. It will cost an average of about $1 million per mile.
The next route to be built will connect Copenhagen with Fureso, a town northwest of the capital, and the developers are experimenting with solar-powered lighting.

2. London, United Kingdom

BRITAIN-WEATHER-SNOW

 
The Barclays Cycle Superhighway, a passion project for mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL), is a way to provide safer, faster and more direct routes into the city from the surrounding suburbs. The first routes were launched in summer of 2010, with two others launching in summer of 2011. The first highway completed connected Merton with the London city center, and the second connected Barking to Tower Gateway, two of the largest employment areas in London.
Ultimately, there will be 12 routes connecting the London city center with other cities outside of London — and the entire project is estimated to be complete by 2015.
Cycle Highway Map

 
Along with the superhighways, government officials have installed safety mirrors at 39 locations in the city, which help drivers see cyclists in their blind spots. The highways are also marked in a distinctive blue color to facilitate safe riding. Other safety features include advanced stop lines at traffic lights, which help cyclists get ahead of motor vehicle traffic and reduces the conflict between bicycles and vehicles turning left.

The Barclays Cycle Superhighway is projected to cost 913 million GBP if the government grants and fares stay at a flat rate. The completed superhighway aims to increase cycling 400% by 2015, improving cycling conditions for those who already commute to school or work on bike, and encouraging new cyclists.

3. Malmö and Lund, Sweden

Cyclists wait at a traffic light in down

 
There's always room for improvement — and Swedish cycling cities Malmö and Lund are no exception. In Lund, Sweden, 60% of the population bikes or takes public transportation, and cycling rates have increased in Malmö 30% year after year for the last four years in a row. But the local government and Trafikverket (The Swedish Traffic Authority) wants to develop a superhighway connecting these two cities — the supercykelväg.

The proposed bicycle superhighway would have four lanes, two running in each direction. There would be exits off the superhighway, but no intersections, to avoid collisions. Further safety measures include two different types of wind protection, including low bushes and solid fencing along the highway. In addition, the Trafikverket plans for the route to run parallel to the railway tracks, which would make it easier and cheaper to build because right-of-ways are already established.

Cycling_Superhighway_Malmo_to_Lund

The supercykelväg is expected to cost 30 million Swedish crowns, or $7.1 million USD. The government of Malmö has committed $4.1 million dollars towards the construction of the superhighway. Now they're just waiting for the central government to foot the rest of the bill.

Kickstarter Bike Mount Turns Bicycles Electric

http://mashable.com/2013/07/30/kickstarter-bike-mount-rubbee-electric/

By Anita Li, July 30, 2013

  For a video: 

 http://bcove.me/w43os7hx



rubbee-electric-bike-converter



 
For cyclists who want to ride faster, but are reluctant to buy a pricey e-bike, the Rubbee bicycle mount may be a happy medium.

Once attached, the device converts your regular bicycle into electric bike that moves at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour (25 kilometers per hour). What's more, there's no need to pedal, as power is controlled with the throttle.attach-rubbee


Rubbee includes a "motor, bioelectronics and batteries in a single unit," with no tools or wires required for attachment, its creators say in a video on Kickstarter. Users simply mount the device on, and then release its handle and disconnect the throttle to take it off.

Rubbee's creators say e-bikes are not ideal because they're heavy and expensive, and if purchased, force users to ditch their old bikes. Similarly, conversion kits are cumbersome, and installing them requires advanced skills, they add.

So far, the device has raised more than £41,000 (US$63,000) of its £63,000 (US$96,700) goal on Kickstarter. The funds will go towards scaling up production.

Would you use the Rubbee bike mount? Tell us in the comments, below.

Image: Kickstarter, Rubbee
rubbee kickstarter bike mount

405 Freeway Construction Delays: Video by Joe Cano

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, July 31, 2013:


                                              405 Freeway

Proposal would let ride-sharing firms operate in California


The ride-sharing proposal for such services as Lyft and Sidecar, in which drivers use their own cars, will go to the PUC.


http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rideshare-puc-ruling-20130731,0,2414608.story

By Marc Lifsher and Salvador Rodrigues, July 30, 2013


 Proposal would let ride-sharing firms operate in California

 An LAPD officer guides traffic around City Hall in downtown Los Angeles as taxi drivers protest against the ride-share operators they say are hurting the taxi industry's business.



SACRAMENTO — Ride-sharing companies that connect passengers to drivers via smartphones should be allowed to continue operating in California if they comply with basic safety rules, state regulators proposed Tuesday.

The recommendation now goes to the five-member Public Utilities Commission as early as its Sept. 5 meeting. Commissioners can accept or deny the recommendations or offer alternatives for regulating such increasingly popular ride-sharing companies as Lyft Inc., Sidecar and Uber Technologies Inc.
The three companies provide transportation for a fee or donation, connecting paying passengers with drivers who use their own vehicles.

The proposed decision gives a "greenlight " for ride-sharing in California and should set an example for cities and states across the country to provide consumers with a new way to get around, said Sunil Paul, Sidecar's chief executive and co-founder.

"Today, we have a new roadmap for smartphone-enabled services like Sidecar that we hope will set the stage for transportation innovation nationwide," Paul said in a blog post Tuesday afternoon.
The proposal would be a victory for consumers if it becomes regulatory law, said James E. Moore, director of the transportation engineering program at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. "It reduces the barriers for entry into the market for transportation services and that's going to provide consumers with more options," he said.

Under the proposal, the PUC would have jurisdiction over ride-sharing under a new category of businesses called transportation network companies. The agency would also issue licenses to the services.

A decision, once endorsed by the commissioners, is expected to preempt efforts by California cities to oversee or even ban ride-sharing under their authority to license taxi cab firms.

Regulators would require drivers to undergo criminal background checks, receive driver training, follow a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol and carry insurance policies with a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage.

In its ride-sharing case, the generally ponderous PUC bureaucracy has moved with unusual speed to deal with a new industry. Controversy over ride-sharing comes as local governments seek to encourage new business models. Meanwhile, the highly regulated taxi industry is howling at the prospect of losing fares to new and typically cheaper competitors.

If the decision goes through as it is, it will hurt the taxi and limousine transportation industry, said William Rouse, general manager of Los Angeles Yellow Cab.

"We have a city-mandated price that we have to set," said Rouse, who also is president of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Assn. "They're undercutting our price by providing essentially the same service that we provide, so of course it's going to affect us."

He said regulations should be changed to level the playing field for cabbies. He also said that if the decision goes through as it is now, it will undermine local and cities policies and regulations.
The commission, by law, has jurisdiction over all intrastate charter-party and passenger motor vehicle carriers, though not cabs, which are licensed by cities and counties.

The PUC began enforcement action against these transportation companies in October 2010 when it issued a cease-and-desist letter to Uber Technologies. Similar orders went out to Lyft and Sidecar in August 2012. All three companies are located in San Francisco. Uber has operated since 2010, while Lyft and Sidecar launched last year.

In December, the PUC said it would begin evaluating "the safety of ride-sharing businesses that utilize the Internet, social media and location services to arrange transportation of passengers over public highways for compensation."

In late January, the commission reached a temporary operating agreement with the three companies, allowing them to operate while the rule-making process was underway. It also suspended previous $20,000 citations issued to each of the companies.

Lyft, Sidecar and UberX, a service by Uber Technologies, began operating in Los Angeles early this year. Things went smoothly until June 24, when they received cease-and-desist letters from the Los Angeles Transportation Department. The city accused them of violating codes and threatened drivers with arrests.

The next day, about 300 cabbies circled Los Angeles City Hall, honking in protest of what they called "high-tech bandit cabs."

None of the three services stopped operating, and argued that their agreements with the CPUC allowed them to operate across California.

Since then, the Transportation Department has backed off its threat to arrest drivers, saying it is working with Mayor Eric Garcetti to "address ride-sharing companies in the city."

"Companies with a state operating permit and utilizing state permitted charter vehicles and drivers can operate legally so long as they only offer pre-arranged trips and comply with state regulations," the Transportation Department said in a recent statement.

Debunking the Myths of Highway Tolling

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-d-jones/highway-tolls_b_3670598.html

By Patrick D. Jones, July 30, 2013

American drivers recognize that our iconic highways, from Los Angeles' 110 Freeway to the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C., are in immediate need of major overhaul or reconstruction. Many of our nation's major roads were built in the middle of the last century, so it's understandable that nearly a third of them would be ready for significant repair or replacement.

But there's a bigger structural problem beneath our crumbling roadways: our method of funding highway infrastructure is broken, and there is little political appetite for increasing the gas tax, which is the traditional method to fund roads.

Highway tolling is a proven, reliable funding method that is already delivering results in 34 states and Puerto Rico, but unfortunately, federal law prohibits states from using tolls to rebuild existing lanes of interstate highways.

Now is the moment for governments, at all levels, to embrace a wider toolbox of transportation funding options that includes tolling. The federal gas tax has lost much of its buying power since it was last increased 20 years ago, and the federal Highway Trust Fund has almost run dry. The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that the Trust Fund will be completely out of money by the end of 2014 unless drastic actions are taken to restore its solvency.

In its recent report card on America's infrastructure, the America Society of Civil Engineers delivered a D grade for our highways and a C+ for our bridges. They also pointed to the need for another $79 billion per year in new investment.

Below are the major myths surrounding tolling that is making it tougher for tolling to help fill our nation's infrastructure funding gap.

MYTH 1: Our Highways Are Already Paid For

There is a common misconception that our roads and bridges are already paid for. That's unfortunate because roads and bridges need regular upkeep and maintenance just like your home, or any other built infrastructure. And even with good maintenance, eventually they will have to be replaced. People see the roads and drive on them without realizing that the city or state that built the road raised taxes or incurred debt to build the road in the first place and regularly spends tax dollars to maintain the roads. But few, if any, states are prepared to absorb the cost of replacing 50+ year-old interstates and the federal government is in a poor position to help. That means that future toll revenues, or new tax levies, will be needed to build the roads we need for the next 50 years.

The reality is that there are no free roads. There are only toll roads and tax supported roads. The big difference is that you only pay for a toll road when you choose to drive on it. With tax supported roads, the taxes you pay on fuel, tires and other equipment, go to support roads throughout the state (and in the case of federal taxes throughout the country) that you may never use.

MYTH 2: Tolling Is Double Taxation

Tolls are a fair and precise way to pay for transportation facilities because there is a clear and direct link between use of the facility and payment for that use. A toll is a user fee, not a tax. If you don't use the facility, you don't pay for it. You only pay a toll when you choose to drive on a toll road for a higher level of convenience, reliability or safety. Toll customers, through the fuel they consume, also pay their share of local, state and federal taxes to fund non-toll roads that are open to all. There may be a double payment -- the toll pays directly for the trip you are taking, while the government gets the benefit of the tax for use on the roads you aren't using.

To meet their growing infrastructure needs, some states use both taxes and tolls to support their roads. This has benefits for motorists and those who haul freight. When a state supports some of its roads through tolling, it means that the taxes collected from all drivers are available for use on the non-tolled portions (toll roads typically receive no federal or state funding).

MYTH 3: Tolling Causes Delays and Congestion

In the old days, you paid a toll by stopping at a toll booth and handing your money to a person or dropping your coins in a basket. Paying a toll meant stopping and waiting. Not anymore. Today, most toll roads, bridges and tunnels collect tolls electronically. As your vehicle passes under a tolling gantry, you pay your toll at highway speeds using a transponder connected to your account. The added efficiency of all electronic tolling saves time. For many toll road users, time is money. All-electronic tolling (AET) also improves local air quality by reducing idling and congestion. The irony is that tolling used to be a barrier to mobility because you had to stop and wait to pay your toll. Today, the barrier to mobility is continued reliance on the gas tax and the inability of states to use tolls to rebuild their interstate highways.

MYTH 4: Tolling Technology Violates Drivers' Privacy

The purpose of electronic toll collection is to properly assess a toll to a customer based on the classification of the vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.) and the distance that vehicle travels on the toll road. The operator of the toll facility is not interested in any other information. In fact, toll facility operators comply with very strict guidelines to limit the amount of information they collect, and ensure that the information collected is used solely for the purpose of assessing the proper toll. Toll road customers on today's modern toll facilities can be assured that their personal information and privacy is protected by the toll agency.

MYTH 5: It Costs Too Much to Collect Tolls

Most transportation experts believe that collecting the gas tax is the cheapest way to raise funds to support highways. But all-electronic tolling is rapidly becoming a very inexpensive way to raise much needed funds for highways. And according to a 2012 Reason Foundation study, the cost of collecting tolls in a mature all-electronic tolling system may actually be cheaper than the cost of collecting the gas tax.

Cost data for some all-electronic tolling (AET) operations in the United States demonstrate that the net collection costs of an AET operation can be in the vicinity of five percent of the revenue collected for a $5.00 toll (or eight percent of revenue collected for a $2.00 toll). This suggests that toll collection costs can be (and are in some cases) similar, in magnitude, to the actual costs of collecting federal and state motor fuel taxes. Also, once you consider the opportunity costs of retaining motor fuel taxes in lieu of using tolls to manage congestion, tolls are clearly a more cost-effective option for generating revenue for our highway system.

America's highway network is incredibly diverse and no single funding mechanism is right for every circumstance. Tolls are one of the tools in the toolbox that should be given serious consideration by state legislatures and Congress. Federal law currently prohibits the use of tolling on the existing non-tolled lanes of the interstate highways. However, we would see steady improvement in our highways and bridges if Congress granted states the flexibility to choose tolling when it's the right option for their communities and constituents.

Vitter Seeks to Cut Environmental Reviews for Massive Road Projects

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/07/30/vitter-seeks-to-cut-environmental-reviews-for-massive-road-projects/

By Tanya Snyder, July 30, 013

Bridges are getting a lot of attention as senators add their two cents to the upper chamber’s transportation budget proposal for next year. The Senate transportation appropriations bill includes $500 million for “bridges in critical corridors” (BRICC), designed as a response to the recent bridge collapse along I-5 in Washington state — home of Senator Patty Murray, the chair of the Transportation and HUD Appropriations Committee. And in the amendment process, Republican senators have been lining up to mold the BRICC program to their liking.

Sen. David Vitter's amendment would further weaken environmental protections.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) got an amendment inserted that would prioritize spending that money on functionally obsolete or structurally deficient bridges. And Rand Paul loves the new BRICC program so much he wants to raid the very tiny, very popular Transportation Alternatives program to prop it up.

Both Paul’s and Portman’s amendments are aimed at the same thing: widening the Brent Spence bridge between their two states. The project is so high-profile that President Obama stood under the bridge to make his infrastructure push in 2011. While the Brent Spence Bridge is “functional obsolete” — in other words, congested — it is not structurally deficient. In fact, the bridge is perfectly safe. As of its last inspection in 2005, it got good ratings for deck condition, superstructure condition, and substructure condition.

Paul and Portman aren’t the only Republicans looking to put their imprint on BRICC. Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe wants to make sure at least 20 percent of that money goes to rural areas. And Louisiana’s David Vitter is pushing to waive environmental reviews for any project funded by BRICC.

Vitter’s amendment [PDF] would make all BRICC projects eligible for a “categorical exclusion” from the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act. That means they wouldn’t have to undergo scrutiny of their environmental and community impacts or any evaluation of alternatives.

If all bridge projects under BRICC were going to replace bridges with their exact replica, with no changes, then sure, NEPA reviews might be superfluous. But the amendment would exempt projects as massive as New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge replacement — which will nearly double the width of the existing bridge without adding any dedicated transit component – from environmental review.

And BRICC projects aren’t necessarily repair or replacement projects — they can be brand-new construction on Federal-aid highways.

The Vitter amendment would continue what Republicans started in the recently-passed MAP-21 — the evisceration of environmental review for transportation projects. The law weakened NEPA by excluding several types of transportation projects from environmental review. And even before MAP-21, only the biggest, costliest, and most complicated transportation projects — about 3 percent of all projects – triggered a NEPA requirement.

“Especially after MAP-21, the projects that are going to be reviewed are presumably the ones that really warrant review,” said Deron Lovaas of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They’re going to be the big ticket, potentially damaging projects that could really harm communities and the environment, and so should be subject to public scrutiny.” He added that Vitter’s measure is ”an extreme amendment that would undermine environmental reviews.”

The GOP seems to be trying to harness guilt about the dangerous state of the country’s bridges in order to push through all kinds of even more dangerous ideas, from de-funding active transportation to eliminating environmental reviews.

As the Senate picks the bill back up today, with an eye toward passing it before they adjourn for the month-long recess on Friday, advocates will be watching Vitter’s NEPA amendment — among others that Transportation for America is tracking.

Evaluating the environment for PPPs in Eastern Europe and the CIS – The Economist

http://infrapppworld.com/2013/07/evaluating-the-environment-for-ppps-in-eastern-europe-and-the-cis-the-economist.html

By INFRAPPP, July 30, 2013

This document presents the first Eastern Europe and CIS regional edition of a learning tool and benchmarking index that assesses country capacity to carry out sustainable PPPs. The index results discussed contain the key findings of an in-depth analysis conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit up to the end of 2012, focused on PPP policies and regulations, standards and practices, relevant country experiences and attitudes towards private participation in infrastructure provision.

The index that underlies this report compares countries across six broad categories, spanning the project lifecycle from project inception to implementation, oversight and termination. Country evaluations are meant to address questions around both the short-term, practical implementation of PPPs, as well as questions regarding the sustainability, quality, and efficiency of PPP projects.

PERRIS VALLEY LINE: Judge signs off on settlement

http://www.pe.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20130730-transportation-judge-signs-off-on-perris-valley-line-deal.ece

By David Downey, July 30, 2013


 
 Passengers get onto an early morning Metrolink train bound at the Downtown Riverside station in this file photo. A new leg of the commuter train system is in the works and will stretch 24 miles southeast to Perris.



A judge has approved a $3 million settlement in a suit that threatened to derail the Perris Valley Line, and transportation officials say work will begin this fall on the $247 million passenger railroad.

But a critical step remains: securing final approval for a crucial $75 million federal loan. Riverside County Transportation Commission leaders anticipate getting the nod from the Federal Transit Administration in August.

“I would hope to see (construction) in late October or November,” John Standiford, deputy executive director for the commission, said in a telephone interview Tuesday, July 30.

That would put the debut of Metrolink’s new service in early 2015, Standiford said.
The project is a 24-mile extension of Metrolink’s six-county commuter train system. The plan is to send trains already running on Metrolink’s 91 Line between Los Angeles Union Station and downtown Riverside farther east and south in Riverside County.

“That represents the first significant expansion of our system in a long time,” said Jeff Lustgarten, a Metrolink spokesman.

Indeed, the last expansion was in 2002 – on the 91 Line.

GRAPHIC: Perris Valley Line deal OK'd
Trains would arc around UC Riverside, then run along Interstate 215. Stations are to be built in Hunter Park in north Riverside, at March Air Reserve Base to serve Moreno Valley and in southern Perris at I-215 and Highway 74, near Menifee.

There also are plans to pick up passengers at the existing central Perris bus station.
“So when the Metrolink comes, the buses will already be there for the people to connect to other destinations,” Perris Mayor Daryl Busch said.

With four stops in all, Perris Valley Line trains are projected to give 4,000 rides a day.
Construction initially was to get underway this summer. Transportation commissioners selected Ames Construction, of Corona, to build the line in February.

But a small environmental group, Friends of Riverside’s Hills, sued the agency in August 2011. And this May, a Riverside judge agreed with some of the group’s contentions and tossed out the project's environmental impact report.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon J. Waters’ ruling sparked serious negotiations between the warring parties, culminating in a July 9 settlement. The deal provides hundreds of thousands of dollars for sound mitigation for those living near the tracks, and for trails and open space near UCR.

The judge last week gave her blessing, reinstating the crucial environmental study.
“Now we can move forward with building the line,” Busch said.

With litigation settled, agency officials anticipate receiving approval for the $75 million federal loan within a month.

Confident of approval, Standiford said agency Executive Director Anne Mayer intends to sign a contract next week with Ames Construction, setting the stage for breaking ground in the fall. The firm agreed to build the line and its stations for a maximum of $148.2 million.

The overall price of $247 million -- which has climbed $10 million this summer -- is for construction plus planning, engineering and environmental work. The commission is not buying train cars because ones transporting commuters via the 91 Line will simply travel farther than now.

Lustgarten, the Metrolink spokesman, said nine trains run on the 91 Line daily. He said several transportation agencies, including the Riverside County Transportation Commission, are talking with railroad owner Burlington Northern about adding six more, possibly in spring 2014.

5 Reasons California's High Speed Rail Is The Best Public Works Project In The United States

 http://www.carbonated.tv/news/5-reasons-californias-high-speed-rail-is-the-best-public-works-project-in-the-united-states
 
By Owen, July 29, 3013
 
 
 high speed rail, california, public works, train
 
 High speed rail could change the face of California.
 
 
 
California begins construction on a high speed rail line this summer in a project that has survived political battles and budget shortfalls. The rail will shuttle passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in three hours, with stops at various cities in between. This isn't just the best current public works project in the United States because it will one day make the author's life a lot easier, there are at least 5 big reasons:
 
1. 20,000 jobs a year for the next 5 years
 
The high speed rail project will create 20,000 jobs a year over the next 5 years, according to Inhabitat. That is welcome news to cities like Fresno and Merced, where the first 65 miles of track will be built, which have unemployment rates of 13% and 15% respectively.
 
2. Climate considerations make this a big win for the environment
 
The carbon footprint of California's high speed rail construction will be offset completely by a tree planting program. Tree planting is one of the most efficient ways we can reverse the increasing concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, and it has many other positive effects. As for the rail itself, it will run on electricity, and this will be provided by a mix of 45% geothermal, 30% wind, 20% solar and 5% biogas. In addition to all that:
 
3. High speed rail will take thousands of cars off the road every year
Driving from San Francisco to L.A. takes 5 hours at a minimum, and it ends up being more like 6 most of the time (ten if you are foolish enough to do the drive on the Sunday after Thanksgiving--that was a rough day). The drive can go by painlessly enough if you have some good podcasts, but it's not a drive anyone does for pleasure (highway 5 is hot and boring). While it's not known how much train tickets will cost, the drive takes a full tank of gas in a Prius and twice that in an SUV. Factor in time saved and comfort gained and many drivers will choose the train.

4. Many will choose the train over a plane as well

Flying is the most environmentally destructive action most of us do. The high speed rail line between L.A. and S.F. will be fueled by renewable power. The plane from SFO to LAX takes an hour and fifteen minutes to high speed rail's three hours, but rail will make some of that time back, assuming that passengers don't have to arrive an hour before their trip. A roundtrip plane ticket costs around $160. High speed rail will likely be cheaper.

5. High speed rail shows a willingness to think long-term
 
The project won't be completed until 2029, and while everyone wishes it would happen faster, it is worth noting that the California and federal governments are willing to invest time and resources in a project of this scale (the Federal Railroad Administration is kicking in $3.5 billion). It would be politically easier to restrict concerns to those that will show visible results by the next election, but these sorts of projects are needed to drastically change the transportation infrastructure of the nation's most populous state. If more money can be secured for the project, construction may speed up.

Will Bev Hills Complicate La Cienega Purple Line Work?

  http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/07/will_bev_hills_complicate_work_on_purple_lines_la_cienega_stop_1.php

By Neal Broverman, July 30, 2013

 

la-cienega-entrance2.jpg

 

 Beverly Hills is warring with Metro over the Century City station on the Purple Line subway extension, suing multiple times over a route under Beverly Hills High. But as the subway is beginning in phases and Century City is part of Phase II, the immediate concern is the Wilshire/La Cienega station, the last stop in the extension's first phase, just within Bev Hills city limits. Metro officials recently spoke at a committee meeting of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, saying they hoped to obtain permits for exemptions that would allow subway work during rush hour, evenings, and in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Beverly Hills Weekly reports (pdf, page seven). The Beverly Hills City Council is holding a "study session" on August 20 to discuss the permits--time is of the essence, as underground utilities need to start being moved around in January. As the city and Metro are not on the best terms right now, and BH is already suing over the subway's environmental impact report, and taking umbrage with work at the La Cienega station, it should be an interesting meeting. 


· Beverly Hills Weekly [Official Site]
· 90210's Way or the Highway Archives [Curbed LA]

President Again Talks Up Transportation Funding, and Fix-It-First

http://www.transportationissuesdaily.com/president-again-talks-up-transportation-funding-and-fix-it-first/

By Larry Ehl, July 30, 2013

President Obama signing MAP-21 into law. Image: White House website.








President Obama signing MAP-21 into law. 


President Obama used the backdrop of another transportation-related facility, an Amazon distribution center, to urge Congress to invest in infrastructure. Last week he appeared at the Port of Jacksonville to urge more investment in transportation. See our story about that speech: “What the President Did and Didn’t Say About Transportation Last Week.”

The focus of Tuesday’s long speech (over 3,000 words!) was initiatives to stimulate the creation of middle-class jobs. Basically,he’s proposing a small cut to corporate tax rates in exchange for investing in infrastructure and other job-creating initiatives, says Business Insider.

The President discussed increasing jobs in four areas (manufacturing; infrastructure; renewable energy, and exports. He also proposed a “grand bargain” that would cut corporate taxes in exchange for higher spending on job-training programs.

Below are the President’s transportation-related remarks from his speech. The President “snubbed” a local transportation project in need of federal funds, by not mentioning it in his speech, according to some folks. During his earlier speech at the Port of Jacksonville the President mentioned several important projects to illustrate the need to invest in infrastructure.

The White House provides a copy of the entire speech. Read accounts of the speech and proposal from the New York Times, or the Washington Times. Republicans essentially rejected the proposals outright.

What the President said about transportation:

“So today, I came here to offer a framework that might help break through some of the political logjam in Washington and try to get Congress to start moving on some of these proven ideas.  But let me briefly outline some of the areas I think we need to focus on if we want to create good jobs, with good wages, in durable industries -– areas that will fuel our future growth.”

“. . . . Number two — I talked about this last week — jobs rebuilding our infrastructure.  I look at this amazing facility and you guys, you don’t miss a beat.  I mean, you’ve got these packages coming out.  You’ve got dog food and Kindles and beard trimmers.  (Laughter.)  I mean, there’s all kinds of stuff around here.  But once it’s packed up, it’s got to get to the customer.  And how quickly and how dependably it gets to the customer depends on do we have good roads, do we have good bridges, do we have state-of-the-art airports.

We’ve got about $2 trillion of deferred maintenance here in this country.  So let’s put more construction workers back on the job doing the work America needs done.  (Applause.)  These are vital projects that Amazon needs, businesses all across the country need, like widening Route 27 here in Chattanooga — (applause) — deepening the Jacksonville Port that I visited last week.  These are projects vital to our national pride.

We’re going to be breaking ground this week at the St. Louis Arch.  Congress should pass what I’ve called my “Fix-It-First” plan to put people to work immediately on our most urgent repairs, like the 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare.  That will create good middle-class jobs right now.  (Applause.)  And we should partner with the private sector to upgrade what businesses like Amazon need most.  We should have a modern air traffic control system to keep planes running on time.  We should have modern power grids and pipelines to survive a storm.  We should have modern schools to prepare our kids for the jobs of tomorrow.  (Applause.)

Number three, we need to keep creating good jobs in energy — in wind and solar and natural gas.  Those new energy sources are reducing energy costs.  They’re reducing dangerous carbon pollution.  They’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  So now is not the time to gut investments in American technology.  Now is the time to double down on renewable energy and biofuels and electric vehicles, and to put money into the research that will shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.  (Applause.)”

Tried and True Approach Could be Path to Saving Time and Money on More Transportation Projects

http://www.transportationissuesdaily.com/tried-and-true-approach-could-be-path-to-saving-time-and-money-on-more-transportation-projects/

By Larry Ehl, July 30, 2013

 Minnesota's I-35W bridge, an award-winning design-build project. Image - Portland Cement Association.

 Minnesota’s I-35W bridge, an award-winning design-build project. Image – Portland Cement Association.

Faced with widespread opposition to a gas tax increase, many transportation stakeholders are looking for innovative ways to fund or finance transportation projects. Meanwhile, public agencies and the construction/design industry continue to look for innovations to deliver projects more quickly and less expensively.

There is at least one tried-and-true innovation in project delivery: design-build.  And its chief proponent, the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), is asking USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx to increase USDOT’s support for design-build. Other federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, Navy Facilities Engineering Command, and the Bureau of Prisons already use design-build for over 75% of their projects.

As of 2012, nearly 30 states had fully authorized design-build.

What is design-build, and why use it?

It is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. That can streamline coordination between the design and construction teams, and save time.  Also, scheduling considerations can be addressed up front between the primary designer and the contractor, which often leads to more efficient project implementation. And design-build can also promote innovation by utilizing the designer’s and builder’s separate strengths to develop new design and construction techniques and ultimately cut costs, speed implementation, or gain maximum benefit from any incentive programs.

Because of these factors, design-build delivery is often chosen for complex projects or when fast track implementation is a priority. Design build contracts are frequently awarded on a fixed-price basis, thus providing cost certainty at a relatively early stage of project planning.
Numerous transportation agencies successfully utilize design-build for the construction and repair of roads, bridges, rails and airports. Transportation is also the fastest growing design-build sector in the United States, with transportation design-build projects doubling in the past five years; both in quantity and value of projects.

Design-Build projects typically delivered 36% faster, 11% cheaper

DBIA cites research from the University of Florida’s College of Engineering showing transportation projects delivered through design-build have an average project completion rate that is 36% faster and 11% cheaper. A study by the Construction Industry Institute and Penn State University showed that design-build projects averaged a 6% lower cost, 12% faster construction time, and 33% faster project completion time (though it’s a 1999 report).

Examples of Successful Design-Build Projects
  • The replacement for Minnesota’s I-35W bridge that collapsed in 2007, which was completed in under a year and opened three months ahead of schedule;
  • The Colorado Transportation Expansion (T-Rex) project that was completed nearly two years early and $50 million under budget; and
  • The Mineta San Jose Airport outside of Silicon Valley that was completed a full year earlier than it would have been using the traditional design-bid-build delivery method, and was finished so far under budget that $50 million was returned to the city upon completion.
What DBIA is asking of Secretary Foxx

In its “open letter” DBIA tell Secretary Foxx:

“By vocally supporting design-build in transportation you can lead this nation into a future where transportation projects are finished early, not late; cost savings are regular, not rare; and oversight is simple, not complicated. You can make expedited project completion a high priority at the Department of Transportation, which would encourage the use of design-build for projects. You can also push Congress to re-authorize the use of design-build on new projects when MAP-21 is renewed next year.”

The request doesn’t come out of the blue for USDOT.  DBIA notes that an August 2011 Presidential Memorandum noted the Federal Highway Administration’s efforts to promote design-build as a way to shorten project delivery. “FHWA teams focus on facilitating interagency coordination,” the White House noted. “On the construction side, the agency is encouraging State use of acceleration techniques like design-build.”
And FHWA has been working on design-build issues with states for years.

Who is DBIA?

DBIA members “span the entire spectrum of design and construction professionals, including architects, engineers, specialty contractors, owners, consultants, lawyers, business development professionals, students and teachers.”  The organization “defines, teaches and promotes best practices in design-build.”