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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rosemead Is Told That Metro Will Give Them $6,000 for Their Support of the 710 Tunnel

Our Measure R taxpayer money at work! Were we voters informed that the paying for a city's public relations work for a project that that city supports but neighboring cities do not support would be where Measure R money would end up? The city of Rosemead has been told this by the 710 Coalition. Where in Measure R was this spelled out? What is Metro saying if they are giving out this money: agree with us and you will get a handout; don't agree with us and you get nothing? Is Metro paying the dues of the other city members of the 710 Coalition, and if they are, is this just another extension of Metro's public relations outreach program to promote a coverup of the real reason for the 710 Tunnel--as part of a Goods Movement Route that will simply pollute the atmosphere of Los Angeles County more than it is already polluted by cars and trucks?

Rosemead approves participation in pro-tunnel 710 Coalition

On Tuesday the Rosemead City Council voted 4-0, with Mayor Sandra Armenta absent, to approve the city’s participation in the 710 Coalition.

The Coalition is advocating for the completion of the 4.5-mile 710 Freeway gap from its current terminus in Alhambra to the Interstate 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

According to the staff report, the Coalition is requesting membership dues in the amount of $6,000 a year to be paid through Measure R monies.

Rosemead will participate in the 710 Coalition with the nearby cities of San Gabriel, San Marino, Monterey Park, and Alhambra.

Members of the 710 Coalition asked that Rosemead join its efforts to help advocate for the “freeway alternative,” currently being considered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as one of five options in its Alternatives Analysis project.

Metro is currently considering several alternatives, including the dual-bore freeway tunnel, bus, light rail, traffic management solutions, and “no build” options.

Participation in the coalition will require an annual financial contribution of $6,000 from Measure R funds to fund strategic planning and outreach efforts aimed at promoting the completion of the Interstate 710 extension, according to the report.

The 710 Coalition’s proposal, submitted for the Rosemead City Council’s consideration, states that funding for participation in the 710 Coalition would be paid through Measure R monies – revenue generated by the sales tax initiative approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

Measure R established a one-half cent sales tax to be used for public transportation purposes, ending in 2039.

Among the benefits from joining the Coalition, the City of Rosemead will be able to work closely with other members to determine and develop public messaging in support of the I-710 Extension project, according to the staff report.

Councilman Steven Ly made an additional motion at the Jan. 22 meeting to re-establish the city’s Transportation Working Group, a task force that would inform residents on the 710 project, while advocating support for it.

“I think our Working Group needs to work on what kind of outreach we’re doing – are we engaging with our residents on this issue? The city does have an official position on this, and I think we can do a better job of getting our residents, or our stakeholders, at these (Metro community) meetings … to really advocate for that,” said Ly, whose motion passed 4-0.

Another key advocacy factor listed as part of the Coalition’s scope of services is its goal to attend and arrange for project advocates to attend public hearings and meetings and provide testimony on the record where the I-710 Extension project is scheduled for consideration.

Metro’s Alternatives Analysis project is attempting to bridge the gap in the Interstate 710 Extension Project with the aim of reducing traffic congestion in areas between State Route 2 and Interstates 10, 210, and 605, according to the staff report.

After completion of the analysis, work will begin on an Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Impact Statement, which is scheduled for public release and comment in February 2014, according to Metro officials. The final document is planned to be completed in spring 2015.

For more information on the Coalition and its objectives, visit them online at www.710gap.com.

Opposing the 710 tunnel option is the “No 710 Action Committee,” whose online site is at www.no710.com.

The Committee is an association of cities, organizations and local residents who perceive the tunnel plan to be an unacceptable alternative toward addressing regional transportation problems.

The No 710 Action Committee is also calling for transit authorities to operate with transparency and honesty in regards to the concerns and interests of the impacted communities.

Metro is also hosting community meetings to discuss the next phase of the environmental study for the 710 Gap Closure Project.

Upcoming meetings include 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24 at San Marino Community Church, 1750 Virginia Road, San Marino; and 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 in the Golden Eagle Building at Cal State Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles.

For more information on the studies, visit www.metro.net/projects or call

Options for 710 Freeway:

Metro and Caltrans to Discuss Options with CSULA


By Destinee Cordeiro

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 16:01

 Metro and Caltrans are exploring options to further develop the 710 freeway.  If you want your two cents to be heard, come to the open house being held here on campus in the Golden Eagle Ball Room on Saturday, January 26th, from 9am – 11am.

 In Los Angeles, there are quite a few residents who are unaffected by traffic and gridlock. Traffic continues to worsen yearly, and in 2008, two-thirds of Los Angeles County voted to soften their traffic nightmare by choosing to have Metro focus on solutions to assist transportation and traffic relief. One of the projects which has been proposed is an environmental study of the State Route 710, which runs directly next to the CSULA campus.

This study aims to focus on ways to make transportation from Los Angeles to Pasadena more convenient, with an emphasis on the environmental impact of the proposed changes. Currently, there are four alternatives to the proposed expansion of the 710 freeway. One option is not building.  Another involves a bus rapid transit with refinements from East Los Angeles to Pasadena.  Another is a light rail transit with refinements from Los Angeles to Pasadena.  The final option is a freeway tunnel which would connect the north and south terminals of the 710 freeway.  The project will be funded by Measure R taxes, a half-cent sales tax increase voted upon on 2008, which will provide $780 million dollars to the SR-710 project.

Both Metro and Caltrans are reaching out to the community for any ideas regarding this project by hosting various meetings within the 710 freeway expansion area. On January 26th, from 9am to 11am, the committees will be hosting an Open House event here at CSULA in the Golden Eagle Ball Room.

The expansion or alternatives utilized for the SR-710 project will have a direct impact on the students here at CSULA and their means of transportation to and from the university. Students are highly encouraged to attend and participate in this event, which will discuss the expansion and it’s four alternatives.

Salt Lake City being smothered by smog: What it could mean for city


 January 25, 2013

(CBS News) When you think of smog, Los Angeles or Phoenix probably come to mind. But right now, the worst air in the country is actually hovering over Salt Lake City, and it could mean big changes for life there.

The Utah city known for its clear skies and white capped mountains is now choking on a heavy blanket of smog. The Environmental Protection Agency says this month Salt Lake City has the worst air quality in the country. Dr. Ellie Brownstein, of Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, a civic organization, said, "If you can see it you probably don't want to breathe it. We've had a long string of this. It really doesn't give our lungs a chance to heal and do well."

The problem is caused by what's called a temperature inversion. When the valley surrounding Salt Lake City is colder than the sunny mountain areas above it. That warm air aloft acts like a lid, trapping the cold air and pollution over the city. Soot from car exhaust and industrial emissions creates the toxic smog.

The EPA cutoff for clean air is 35 micrograms of pollution per cubic meter. Salt Lake City hit 130 micrograms Wednesday last week.

More than 100 Utah doctors are calling on state leaders to declare a public health emergency. They want to lower highway speed limits to 55 and shut down incinerator-based businesses that cause industrial pollution.

Brownstein said, "If mass transit were free throughout the winter so people would be encouraged to use that we'd have less cars on the road, if we had a wood-burning ban in effect, that would be a huge amount less particulate matter that doesn't sit in the valley."

The Utah Governor's Office sent out a statement saying, "While the current air quality does not meet legal criteria to declare an official public health emergency, we should all be actively doing our part to minimize emissions."

For now, doctors are telling people not to exercise outdoors to avoid breathing the air.


Hitting home

Private eye posts ‘incriminating’ mailing address as DA investigates District 3 candidate’s residency 



By Andre Coleman, Kevin Uhrich, January 24, 2013 




Recently, people began talking about a private investigator who’d come to town and was secretly snooping into the backgrounds of certain people.

Not long after that, a Pasadena City Council candidate’s estranged wife complained about her mail being tampered with.

But as all that was happening, operatives for one candidate started claiming their political nemesis lied about his residency. That’s when the District Attorney’s Office began taking a keen interest in what has been going on.

What sounds a little bit like a storyline from a Lifetime or USA Network melodrama, or an example of Nixon-era campaign dirty tricks, is actually a condensed update of what’s been happening in the red-hot race for the City Council District 3 seat between John J. Kennedy, Ishmael Trone and the Rev. Dr. Nicholas Benson. The three men are competing to replace former Councilman and now state Assemblyman Chris Holden in the March 5 municipal election.

On Thursday, LA County Deputy District Attorney Anne Ingalls confirmed her office is looking into a complaint filed against Trone, alleging he lied about his residency when he filed papers at City Hall to run for the seat left vacant by Holden, and that Trone is actually living in Altadena with his wife, from whom he is legally separated.

“There is an inquiry regarding Mr. Trone’s residency,” Ingalls told the Weekly Thursday. “We will look into it and review whatever we need to review.”

Ingalls would not tell the Weekly whether Trone had been notified of the DA’s probe or what charges he would face if found to be lying about his residency. “I can’t go that far,” Ingalls said. “We don’t know if we would file charges. I can’t really talk about that at all.”

Trone expressed shock when told by the Weekly he was being investigated by the DA’s Office, but said he was not worried.

“Well, where the hell am I sleeping every night? That’s where I am every night. I have not heard anything about this from the District Attorney’s Office.”

During an interview with this newspaper, Trone provided several years’ worth of utility bills listing him as residing at a four-plex he purchased in 2000 which also houses his business at 83 E. Orange Grove Blvd., home of F&M Financial, a bail bonds and tax business started by his mother, Madelyn, and his stepfather, Felix, in the early 1970s.

City Clerk Mark Jomsky told the Weekly Trone used that address on nomination papers and on an affidavit of eligibility to vote in the district. According to the state Election Code, candidates cannot run for a council seat unless they are able to vote in that district. They sign the official documents when completed “under penalty of perjury.” The maximum penalty for perjury is one year in jail, according to the California Penal Code.

Said Trone, “I understand that I signed the forms under penalty of perjury; I read it. There is nothing more I can say. This is getting ridiculous.”

Actually, it is not as ridiculous as it is extreme, with Torrance-based gumshoe Jan B. Tucker, who owns and operates the Web site “The Detective Diary,” now playing a role in the campaign. On his Web site, Tucker calls Trone, who has the support of Holden, part of “The Holden Machine.” A blog listing on that site shows copies of mailers and letters addressed to Trone at an Altadena home that he purchased with his wife.

It was unknown who may have solicited the services of Tucker.

“Legally I can’t say if I have been hired or working a case on this,” Tucker told the Weekly. The private investigator also would not reveal if he had gone through Juanita Trone’s mail to scan or copy the pieces posted on his blog.

Tucker is loosely connected to Pasadena Unified School District school board member — and Kennedy supporter — Ramon Miramontes, through membership in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Miramontes said he knows Tucker, but did not hire him.

Although Ingalls declined to say who wrote the complaint about Trone, and no other newspapers have reported on the DA’s inquiry, Miramontes seemed to know all about the investigation, according to a series of text messages he sent to his friend, local restaurateur Robin Salzer, a former District 1 candidate rumored to be considering a mayoral run in two years.

According to Salzer, who also supports Trone, Miramontes wrote “Ish is going to lose dude.” Another message from Miramontes reads “The DA is going after Trone. There is an investigation on him for not living in the district. I’m no longer backing U for mayor and NW [Northwest] Latinos will not back you.”

Miramontes said he knew nothing about the DA investigation and said he was not working with Tucker, whom he described as a “well-known private investigator.”

Miramontes also refused to say whether he sent any text messages to Salzer, who shared them with the Weekly.

In his candidate interview, Kennedy said Miramontes is not working for his campaign, a point which the school board member himself confirmed. Miramontes did tell the Weekly, however, he believed Trone was working with Martin Truitt, a well-known political consultant who works mostly with politically conservative candidates.

“If I was working for John Kennedy, I would expect him to tell the truth and be proud of it,” Miramontes said. “Unlike Ishmael Trone, who is not being truthful about Martin Truitt being his consultant.”

Truitt did not return phone calls, and Trone has, on several occasions, denied having any involvement with Truitt.

Kennedy denied any connections to Tucker or the DA’s investigation.

“I am not responsible for it, and no, I am not aware of an investigation,” Kennedy said. “My goal is to discuss the issues that are important to the residents of District 3, and that is what I have been doing by knocking on doors and talking to the residents about the real issues that impact their lives on a daily basis. Dr. Benson and Mr. Trone have every right to talk about the issues as well.”

Wall panels removed in Boston tunnel


January 9, 2013


Some 26 loose panels have been removed from inside the Sumner Tunnel in Boston, US, in late December following an inspection, local news reported recently. Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is ordering replacement materials for the tunnel, with repairs to come in weeks.

Each enamel-coated metal panel measures 4ft by 9ft (1.2m by 2.7m) and weighs approximately 100lbs (45kg). About three dozen workers performed pull tests on all 2,400 panels lining the Sumner and found that 26 were loose because the stainless-steel bolted connections holding them in place were corroded, MassDOT told local press.

The inspection of the Sumner tunnel was triggered by findings inside the Callahan tunnel, which runs parallel to it. The Callahan was shut down on 21 December after a single panel fell that day. There are 2,800 panels in the Callahan. No commuters were injured in that incident.

The weakened bolting systems in the Sumner were not found in clusters but throughout the tunnel. More advanced deterioration was seen in the Callahan, with rusting extending to the framework that holds the panels in place. Replacement of the Callahan tunnel is expected to start later this year and is estimated to cost USD 10M to USD 12M and will also include resurfacing the two lanes of the Callahan, which carries eastbound traffic from downtown Boston and Interstate 93 toward East Boston and Logan International Airport.

World’s largest diameter TBM gets a name


January 15, 2013


The world’s largest-diameter tunnelling machine, which will begin boring the SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle next summer, now has a name, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced recently. Following a competition to name the machine, the winning entry was Bertha.

Bertha's name was chosen as part of a contest for kindergarten through 12th grade students. Proposed names had to be female and have significance to Washington state heritage, life, nature, transportation or engineering.

"This project is about breaking new ground," said Charley Royer, former mayor of Seattle and a contest judge. "Like the SR 99 tunnelling machine, Bertha Knight Landes was one of a kind. It's only fitting that the machine bears her name."

The winning name was submitted by two entrants: Darryl Elves' fifth-grade class at Poulsbo Elementary School and Elijah Beerbower, a second-grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Hoquiam. All of the winners will be invited to Bertha's dedication ceremony in Seattle next summer. They will also receive special t-shirts and the honor of having the name they chose painted on the side of the machine.

WSDOT added that crews in Japan are putting the finishing touches on the machine. They recently installed its 57.5ft (17.5m) diameter cutterhead. Bertha will officially become the property of WSDOT's contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, in late December. She'll then be disassembled and loaded onto a ship scheduled to arrive in Seattle next spring. Tunnelling will start next summer to the west of Seattle's stadiums, where crews are currently building the massive pit down which the machine will begin its underground journey.

Seoul hit for wasting budget on tunnel


January 22, 2013


The amount of money Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has to pay a private investor in compensation for losses of a toll tunnel in southern Seoul has doubled, although the toll was increased to KRW 2,500 (USD 2.35) from KRW 2,000 (USD 1.9), according to a report released on 14 January 2013.

This is because a city-affiliate research institute incorrectly estimated traffic volume, and this is making the SMG spend taxpayers' money in recompensing the investor.
According to a report the city government submitted to city council member Jang Hwan-jin, the city has to pay KRW 5.5bn (USD 5M) to Woomyunsan Infraway, the constructor and operator of the Mt. Umyeon tunnel, for losses the investor suffered last year.

The amount of compensation is about double the KRW 2.8bn (USD 2.6M) paid for losses in 2011.
Woomyunsan Infraway built and opened a three-kilometer tunnel linking Seocho-dong and Umyeong-dong in January 2004, with Macquarie Korea Infrastructure Fund being the largest shareholder. The firm will operate it for 30 years before handing over the operational rights to the city.

The compensation follows a minimum revenue guarantee (MRG) agreement between the city government and the company, under which the former compensates the latter for losses if the real traffic volume is below 79 per cent of the estimated figure.

Based on the institute's study, the two sides expected 37,840 cars would use the tunnel per day between 2004 and 2012, but the real traffic volume was 55.8 percent of the estimate.

Although the reality was far lower than expectation, the volume kept rising, from 40 percent in 2004 to 67.1 per cent in 2011, so the amount of money the city had to pay kept reducing from KRW 10.5bn (9.8M) in 2004 to KRW 2.8bn (USD 2.6M) in 2011.

However, the growing tendency reversed in 2012 after the toll was hiked by KRW 500 (USD 0.47) in December 2011. The traffic volume last year was 60.9 per cent of the estimated figure, and the city has to pay KRW 5.5.

"It is common knowledge that if a price rises, the demand decreases. But the city and the company neglected this basic logic, expecting the volume to rise to 41,174 in 2012 from 2011's 40,299. It shows how poorly the city estimated the figure and made the contract," Jang said.

As the agreement says the toll will rise to KRW 3,000 (USD 2.8) in 2015, the city will have to pay a larger amount of money if the demand drops more.

City officials said they haven't paid for the losses since 2010 and have been talking with the company to change the agreement.

"Since 2004, we've already changed the contract five times, lowering the MRG ratio to 79 percent from the original 90 percent. Change will not be easy, but we are again negotiating with the firms so that we won't have to spend taxpayers' money," an official said.

Snagging tax-saving transportation benefits

Employers can set aside more pre-tax dollars for commuters

January 24, 2013




Our friends in Congress have granted some nice tax breaks for transportation-related employee fringe benefits. Several of these breaks are intended to encourage us to give up our evil, gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing vehicles when commuting to work. If your employer offers these tax-favored benefits, you should probably take advantage of them by signing up. What you need to know:

Favorable Tax Treatment

The employer-provided benefits I’m about to explain are treated as tax-free fringes, within limits. That means their value won’t be included in your taxable salary. Therefore, you won’t owe any federal income tax, state income tax (if applicable), Social Security tax or Medicare tax on the value.

If your company is unwilling to pay for these fringes, it may allow you to instead set aside part of your salary to pay for them yourself. This is a so-called salary-reduction arrangement. It works the same way as salary-reduction contributions to your 401(k) plan. The amount of salary set aside for transportation fringes is subtracted from your taxable income. Therefore, you won’t owe any federal or state income taxes or any Social Security or Medicare taxes on the amount you set aside. In effect, the salary-reduction arrangement allows you to pay commuting costs with pre-tax dollars rather than with what’s left after taxes. While a salary-reduction deal isn’t nearly as good as having your employer pay, it still helps you out by cutting your taxes.
Now for the specifics on tax-favored transportation fringes.

Transit Passes and Van Pooling

Through the end of this year, employer-provided mass transit passes for train, subway, and bus systems are tax-free up to a monthly limit of $245. The fiscal cliff legislation increased the tax-free limit from $125 to the current $245. It’s scheduled to fall back to around $125 in 2014, but I expect Congress will decide to extend the current higher limit through at least next year. Fingers crossed! 

Employer-provided van pooling is also tax-free, up to a monthly limit of $245 for the rest of this year. This benefit was more common a few years ago, but the concept never really caught on, because it’s inconvenient for the riders, and employers have to comply with some burdensome tax rules. If your company still offers van pooling, and it works for you, I say go for it.

If your company doesn’t pay for these fringes, it might offer a tax-saving salary-reduction 
arrangement instead. For example, say you set aside the maximum $245 per month to pay for train passes with your own money. If you are in the 25% federal income tax bracket, you could save up to $960 a year in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes. You might reap state income tax savings too.

Parking Allowance

Employer-provided parking allowances are also tax-free, up to a monthly limit of $245 for the rest of this year. You can be given this fringe on top of the tax-free $245 a month for transit passes. For example, you could get $245 per month to pay for the train plus another $245 to pay to park at the station. Or you could simply drive to work and get $245 in tax-free bucks to help cover parking near the office.

Once again, if your company doesn’t pay for these fringes, it might offer a salary-reduction arrangement instead. Say you set aside $245 per month for train passes and another $245 for the park-and-ride lot. If you’re in the 25% federal income tax bracket, you could save as much as $1,920 a year in federal taxes. Not bad for turning in a form to the company.

Bicycle-Commuting Allowance

Last and least, your employer can give you up to $20 a month tax-free to cover buying, repairing and storing a bicycle that you regularly use to commute to work. Not much, but better than nothing if you’re a cyclist.

However, you’re not allowed to receive the bicycle-commuting fringe for any month that you receive 
any tax-free employer-provided transit passes, van-pooling services or parking allowances. Finally, you can’t use a salary-reduction arrangement to pay for bicycle-commuting costs with pre-tax dollars.

The Bottom Line

If your company pays for transportation fringes, that’s great. Take advantage. If not, I hope you can at least sign up for a salary-reduction deal that cuts your taxes. One more thing: The favorable tax treatment of these transportation fringes is available to all employees, regardless of how much you make. The higher your tax bracket, the more you can save by signing up.

Ending the Federal Surface-Transportation Program Might Be Crazy in a Good Way


By Reihan Salam, January 24, 2013

So far, the most attractive realistic proposal for reforming federal highway expenditures is “Fix It First, Expand It Second, Reward It Third: A New Strategy for America’s Highways” by Matthew Kahn and David Levinson, which calls for the following:
First, all revenues from the existing federal gasoline tax would be devoted to repair, maintain, rehabilitate, reconstruct, and enhance existing roads and bridges on the National Highway System. Second, funding for states to build new and expand existing roads would come from a newly created Federal Highway Bank, which would require benefit-cost analysis to demonstrate the efficacy of a new build. Third, new and expanded transportation infrastructure that meets or exceeds projected benefits would receive an interest rate subsidy from a Highway Performance Fund to be financed by net revenues from the Federal Highway Bank.
But now Rohit Aggarwala of Bloomberg Philanthropies has called for a more radical approach, which might garner bipartisan support while forcing believers in competitive federalism to “put up or shut up.” The proposal closely resembles an idea floated by Christopher Papagianis, my erstwhile Economics 21 colleague. Aggarwalla calls for abolition of the federal gasonline tax and the devolution of responsibility over surface transportation to state governments:

Getting rid of the tax would force a serious discussion in each state about how, and how much, to fund roads and transit. States could choose to reimpose the same tax, or they could set a different rate based on their desired level of transportation spending. They could choose to raise other kinds of revenue to pay for roads and transit — such as sales taxes, property taxes, local taxes or tolls. Or they could simply reduce their transportation spending.

Intriguingly, Aggarwalla argues that his approach has the potential to yield significant environmental benefits on the grounds that: (a) the federal gasoline tax is too low to have a significant impact on driving habits, but it is politically extremely difficult to raise it to a level high enough to make a difference; (b) voters in the most automobile-dependent states are, for obvious reasons, particularly likely to oppose increases in the federal gasoline tax, yet these voters derive disproportionately large benefits from federal surface-transportation spending as it is currently structured. So abolishing both the federal gasoline tax and (most) federal surface transportation spending would force a reckoning: state governments in automobile-dependent regions would have fewer dollars devoted to surface transportation in their states, which would either yield large increases in the efficiency of infrastructure spending or support for increased transportation spending and the revenue to pay for it, which would other come from new taxes or from other programs.

State-level conservative elected officials in particular should be eager to run with Aggarwalla’s plan, as it will allow them to demonstrate whether or not they can do a better job with scarce transportation dollars. The idea also resonates with Michael Greve’s critique of intergovernmentalism.

I think I’m into this idea, though of course it leaves many questions unanswered.

Caltrans to unveil draft rail plan that incorporates California's high-speed project




January 25, 2013

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will host a series of open-house meetings in February to solicit public input on a state rail plan.

Caltrans officials will present a draft of the plan, which aims to establish a statewide vision, set priorities and develop strategies to enhance passenger- and freight-rail service, department officials said in a prepared statement.

The state rail plan will be the first planning document to fully integrate California's planned high-speed rail system with existing and proposed conventional rail systems, Caltrans officials stated on the department's website. The plan will serve as the basis for federal and state investments for high-speed and intercity passenger rail in California.

"It will be a critical document for successful development and implementation of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's 'blended system,' which will combine high-speed rail and improved conventional rail," they said.

The plan will describe existing conditions of the rail systems' infrastructure and service levels, needs and deficiencies; the role rail plays in key markets; the blended system concept for high-speed, conventional intercity and commuter rail planned for a 2018 implementation; and economic and environmental benefits of freight- and passenger-rail improvements. It also will incorporate plans from other California commuter-rail authorities.

Caltrans will make the draft plan available for public review starting Feb. 8 and will accept public comments online until March 11.

Move LA’s annual conference at Union Station next Friday, Feb. 1


Steve Hymon, January 25, 2013



The transit advocacy group Move LA has seen increasingly larrger crowds for its previous four annual conferences. This year’s conference is Friday, Feb. 1, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the old ticketing area at the front of Los Angeles Union Station (i.e. the Alameda Street side of Union Station, which The Source officially recognizes as “the front.”

The first panel discussion of the day deals with a topic that is probably on the mind of many of you: where might money come from for transit projects in the wake of the narrow loss of Measure J at the polls last year? Among the panelists: Metro CEO Art Leahy and Metro Board Member Richard Katz.

The afternoon panel discussion on “The DNA of Transit Corridors” also looks intriguing given that development around some of the region’s heaviest used transit lines has been sporadic. The panel is mostly comprised of officials from the city of Los Angeles or Metro so it will be interesting to see if there are diverse views on how our region is faring — or whether everyone just agrees we’re doing swell.

Move LA — which does receive some financial support from Metro — is headed by Executive Director Denny Zane, the former Santa Monica Councilmember and Mayor. He’s been a regular presence on the L.A. transit scene for a number of years now and was one of the major advocates who pushed for the passage of Measure R in 2008. Denny will be leading the morning panel discussion on transportation funding and my best guess is he may drop an opinion or two.

The entire agenda for next Friday’s conference is after the jump. Click here for registration information.

Avancemos! – Move LA forward! 
Registration (8:00 am)
Welcome (8:30 am)
Marlene Grossman, Move LA Leadership Board Chair
Invocation: Rabbi Diamond (invited)
Denny Zane, Executive Director, Move LA
Borja Leon, Deputy Mayor for Transportation

Morning Keynote (8:45 am)
Robbie Hunter, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California

Lessons from LA’s Transit Revolution for Sacramento
Morning Topics

Post Measure J:  Big Picture Politics of Money for Transportation (9:10 am)
Denny Zane, Move LA – Framer & Moderator
What’s the next step to accelerating Measure R?
  • How real are the federal opportunities: America Fast Forward Bonds? National Infrastructure Development Bank?
  • With the State in the black, are there new opportunities: 55% voter threshold? Vehicle License Fee surcharge? Cap & trade funds?
  • What about CA High Speed Rail?
Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, Los Angeles
Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer, LA County Federation of Labor
Richard Katz, Metrolink Board Chair, LA Metro Board
Art Leahy, CEO, LA Metro
Mary Leslie, President, LA Business Council
Adriano Martinez, Staff Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
Ron Miller, Executive Secretary, LA & Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council Tracy Rafter, LA County Business Federation
Gary Toebben, CEO, LA Area Chamber of Commerce

Making the Transit Revolution Real and Fair (10:20 am)
Beth Steckler, Move LA – Moderator
  • What are the tools we need to make the transit revolution real and fair in LA County and how do we get them?
  • What are the strategies to increase housing opportunities for core transit users, to facilitate walking and cycling, and to pay for bus and rail operations?
Rye Baerg, So. California Policy Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Autumn Bernstein, Exec. Director, ClimatePlan
Raffi Hamparian, Director of Federal Affairs, LA Metro
Madeline Janis, National Policy Director, LA Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)
Joan Ling, Real Estate Advisor and Urban Planning Policy Analyst
Hilary Norton, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic)
Kevin Ratner, Forest City
Tunua Thrash, West Angeles Community Development Corporation
Michael Turner, State Affairs, LA Metro

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (11:30 am)
Keynote: Big Lessons from LA’s Transit Revolution
Lunch (noon)

Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (12:30 pm) 
Keynote: Sacramento’s Contribution to LA’s Transit Revolution 

Dr. Robert Cervero (1:00 pm)
Lessons for LA from Successful Cities around the World & LA’s Potential
Afternoon topics
Gloria Ohland and Denny Zane, Move LA – Moderators

William Roschen, President, LA Planning Commission (1:30 pm)
The “DNA” of Transit Corridors 
Presentation and Dialogue of Priorities for the Mayor’s Transit Corridors Cabinet
Michael LoGrande, Director LA City Planning Department
Mercedes Marquez, General Manager, LA Housing Department and Deputy Mayor for Housing
Jaime de la Vega, General Manager, LA Department of Transportation
Valerie Lynn Shaw, LA Board of Public Works Commissioner
Mel Wilson, LA Metro Board
Cal Hollis, LA Metro
Cecilia Estolano, ELP Advisors
Paul Habibi, Habibi Properties/UCLA Anderson School of Management
Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director Program for Environmental & Regional Equity (PERE), USC
Thomas Yee, Little Tokyo Services Center
Amanda Eaken, NRDC
Comments from audience

Adjourn to Reception in Honor of LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.  (3:30 pm)
Fred Harvey Room.

MTA outreach meeting on '710 gap' proposals draws strong crowd


 Mercedes Aguilar, Times Community News

January 25, 2013

 The gap between Pasadena and Alhambra, as shown from the Pasadena side.

 The gap between Pasadena and Alhambra, as shown from the Pasadena side.

Roughly 100 people turned up in San Marino Thursday for a public meeting on the final list of options for addressing the so-called “710 gap” between Pasadena and Alhambra.

The analysis by the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority focuses on five options, including a “no build” option, better managing street traffic flow, bolstering rapid bus transit, light rail transit and constructing a controversial tunnel to connect the 210 and 710 freeways.

Representatives for the MTA and the California Department of Transportation were at the open house at San Marino Community Church to answer questions, but the minds of many residents – as with most of the stakeholders in this controversial issue – appeared to already be made.

San Marino resident James Okazaki said that not only was he in support of the freeway tunnel, but the light rail and bus transit system enhancements as well.

“I like the elements of all,” he said. “You got to have a balanced approach to solving the overall mobility [issues].”

Though a supporter of closing the 710 gap, Okazaki said he also understood why other residents were concerned, which is why he hoped the MTA would look at every issue on hand.

“They are talking fast and moving fast, but I hope they take everybody’s input,” he said.

San Marino, San Gabriel and Alhambra are among the cities supporting the extension, while residents in La CaƱada, Glendale and South Pasadena and Pasadena strongly oppose the connection.

Frank Beyt -- a Montrose resident and regular attendee at the MTA meetings since the project resurfaced back in 2011 -- said the 710 Freeway tunnel expansion was not the best option.

“I am very, very much opposed to this tunnel issue,” he said.

Though the meeting provided background information, he pointed out that his specific questions on costs, traffic and health issues still remained unanswered.

MTA officials said answers to those concerns are expected to come from the pending draft Environmental Impact Report and urged residents to continue using the comment card sections at the meetings.

The draft EIR is expected to be completed in spring 2014, said project manager Michelle Smith.

Southern California rain: car crashes, cliches, complaints


Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer

 Posted:   01/24/2013 05:07:09 PM PST
Updated:   01/24/2013 07:53:05 PM PST

 Filiberto Baez, 23, rides across the intersection of E Street and Baseline Road in San Bernardino on Thursday. Showers are in the San Bernardino area forecast through Saturday, with highs in the mid-60's.
When it rains, it pours cliches in Southern California. And some are tired of hearing them.
With a low-pressure system dropping rain across the region Thursday, one man's tweet from Azusa summed up what many think about those who wax long about beautiful dark clouds:

"`Overcast and rain is like my favorite weather' - everyone from Southern California. Shut up."' - Jared Hoeniges.

The 19-year-old graphic- design student at Azusa Pacific University is not the biggest fan of rain. He moved from Seattle three weeks ago.

"That's part of the reason I came to Southern California," Hoeniges said. "After 10 months of (rain) it's not good. I let them know you may like it for a day, but I come from where it's like that 24/7. It would get old if you (lived there)."

The weather system dumped a tenth to a quarter-inch of rain below the foothills, a quarter to a half-inch in the foothills and a half-inch or more in the mountains, according to meteorologist Mike Watkins of the National Weather Service office in San Diego.

Watkins said Southern California will see similar rainfall into the weekend.

"The moisture that is pulling up is out of the south, from the tropics," Watkins said.
Drivers in Southern California didn't fare well Thursday.

By noon the California Highway Patrol reported hundreds of accidents from the 15 Freeway in Barstow to the 5 Freeway in Santa Clarita.

The CHP's Southern Division  said there were 342 crashes reported in Los Angeles County between midnight and 9:30 a.m.

There were 80 crashes reported during the same time Jan. 17 when the weather was clear and sunny and temperatures were in the 70s.

In Ontario, a tractor trailer overturned at the Milliken Avenue offramp of the westbound 10 Freeway just before 11 a.m. The offramp was shut down for more than two hours. No injuries were reported.

Although the speed limit is 65 mph, motorists need to slow down in the rain, said Rick Quintero, a CHP spokesman for the division.

Quintero advises drivers to leave early for their destinations in order not to rush on rain-slicked roads.

"When you're rushing, you tend to speed," he said. "Allow some extra time. Consider alternate routes."

Freeway drivers should avoid the outer lanes because that is typically where water tends to collect, Quintero said.

He also said motorists should increase their distance from other vehicles, and use extra caution on cloverleaf exit ramps.

Some drivers Thursday were forced to navigate around debris on the road.

Highway 18 near Big Bear Dam saw several rocks in the road, causing members of the online forum socalmountains.com to alert one another.

Mountain roads have been somewhat hazardous in recent days, according to those who posted on the site:

"Cold, frozen snow on the ground + rain = landslides on arctic circle. It always has. The rain melts the ice that's holding the rocks in place. In these conditions we've always chosen another route due to the risk of being hit by falling rocks!!" - BootsNBridles.

"Yeah, that's why we had all the rock slides over the past week, especially on hwy 38, snow's melting from the warmer temps and stuff is giving way..." - Benny (N6BWX).

"Yeah, 38 has been iffy too! We've been up and down it a few times lately and it's like playing dodge the rocks!" - BootsNBridles.

Governor Brown's State of the State

Governor Brown talks about Transportation and High Speed Rail.  In his speech he said:

In the years following World War II, California embarked on a vast program to build highway, bridges and roads.
Today, California’s highways are asked to accommodate more vehicle traffic than any other state in the nation. Most were constructed before we knew about climate change and the lethal effects of dirty air. We now expect more.

I have directed our Transportation Agency to review thoroughly our current priorities and explore long-term funding options."

For entire speech:


A statement by the Sierra Club: We are encouraged that the governor has asked the Transportation Agency to review how transportation planning and funding align, including his acknowledgement that Californians today have a different perspective on transportation and the environment from when his father was building highways. 

 Statement on Governor Brown’s State-of-the-State Address


January 24, 2013

 Today Gov. Brown presented his 2013 State-of-the-State Address, during which he commented on three issues directly addressing the environment: Delta water conveyance, California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and climate disruption, and transportation’s alignment with environmental needs.

We join the governor in congratulating the legislature and voters for passing Proposition 30, which helped bring us to the healthiest budget in a decade. Sierra Club California supported Proposition 30. The governor deserves high praise for his leadership in introducing and pushing that measure through. Thank you, Gov. Brown.

We also appreciate the governor’s continued leadership on addressing climate change and moving ahead to meet the state’s goals on greenhouse-gas pollution. Californians are united in wanting to take a lead on reducing that pollution, and we are all benefiting from the shift to cleaner energy for our electricity and our transportation.

We strongly disagree with the governor’s approach to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Giant tunnels or a peripheral canal are both out of order and won’t solve the water problems we face.

Creating infrastructure that will literally suck the life out of a vast ecosystem on which the fishing industry, regional tourism, local farms, and California’s complex natural environment are all dependent is an outdated idea that needs to be deep-sixed.

A more rational approach makes more sense for the economies of northern and southern California, for the environment, and for the people who will need water if and when a massive earthquake strikes. That includes helping plug the leaks in the aging water-delivery infrastructure in California’s cities and towns; focusing on water conservation and reuse more intensely all over the state, including in the industrial and commercial sectors; fixing the crumbling levy system; and generally reducing Californians’ dependence on hundreds and hundreds of miles of quake-vulnerable aqueducts.

Californians have shown time and again their willingness to change and innovate to improve their lives and protect the environment. The governor has proven more than once that he is an innovative thinker. That’s why the notion of addressing our water challenges with an outmoded big building project that won’t deliver a better economy, better environment or more reliable water delivery, is so perplexing. It isn’t innovative, it won’t protect the environment, and it won’t solve the problem.

We are encouraged that the governor has asked the Transportation Agency to review how
transportation planning and funding align, including his acknowledgement that Californians today have a different perspective on transportation and the environment from when his father was building highways. We hope that this review will consider cleaning up our highly polluting goods-movement system. It would also be good for that agency to bring a broad range of stakeholders to the table, including representatives of communities that have suffered the most from the old ways of doing transportation planning.