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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Channel 4 Video: Residents, Officials Clash on 710 Freeway Extension Plan

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Residents--Officials-Clash-on-710-Freeway-Extension-Plan/188519601

 Those for and against a plan to extend a freeway through Pasadena clashed at a meeting on Saturday. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2013.

Go to the website above to view the video.
Things to Know About the Proposed 710 Freeway Extension 

Posted on Yahoo Groups, Jan. 25, 2013


In this set of posts Tom Williams described very well who the politicians are who are pushing the 710 tunnel, and the discrepancy of some of the stats provided by Metro.   This is a complex subject, so I suggest you join the many e-mail distributions, web sites and Facebook groups dedicated to the No710 tunnel issues.   Without our opposition Metro et al will push this through.     Thanks,     Jane



No710extension Group on Facebook

No710Avenue 64 Group on Facebook.

www.wpra.net – West Pasadena Residents Association

www.no710.com - No 710 Action Committee


 The LA Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) plans to build two 4.5
mile-long tunnels that will extend the 710 Freeway into the heart of Pasadena.
The tunnels would bring as many as 180,000 trucks and cars through Pasadena each
day, producing unacceptable levels of traffic, noise and pollution, destroying
the quality of life in our neighborhoods and City.

The 710 Freeway would connect Pasadena neighborhoods directly to the
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and hundreds of factories, warehouses, and
other industrial complexes. Metro says the 710 Freeway will “complete the
natural goods movement corridor” between these industrial areas and destinations
north and east of Los Angeles, bringing to Pasadena an endless stream of trucks,
pollution, and noise.


The tunnels would not reduce congestion, but instead would simply move it to
Pasadena.

The tunnels would divert existing traffic from the 5, 10, and 605 Freeways
onto the 210 and 134 Freeways. They also would encourage more driving and
longer commutes, thus further burdening the 210 and 134 Freeways.


Past predictions of less congestion have been wrong. Although Metro and
Caltrans said it would ease congestion, when they extended the 210 Freeway east
into San Bernardino County, it made congestion in Pasadena far worse, turning
the 210 into a parking lot for hours each day. Extending the 710 Freeway will
make things even worse.


The tunnels would increase traffic on our City streets and make it harder to
get around Pasadena.


The tunnel would close the Del Mar and California entrances and exits on
the current 710 stub. This means that traffic going between the 210 and 134
Freeways and Old Pasadena, Huntington Hospital, and the 110 Freeway would be
forced onto surface streets, including Lake, Los Robles, Fair Oaks, Orange
Grove, and Avenue 64. Businesses will suffer, and a new wave of “cut through”
traffic will invade our neighborhoods.


The first places where 710 tunnel traffic could exit the freeway would be
at Lake Ave., Mountain Ave., and San Rafael Ave. This will result in
significant traffic increases at and near those exits.



The tunnels will increase Pasadena's air pollution. Metro admits that the
tunnels will increase pollution. They will vent all of their pollution at their
ends, so concentrated pollution from 4.5 miles of tunnel would be expelled into
Pasadena through exhaust portals erected next to Huntington Hospital and
schools. Increased traffic on the 210 and 134 Freeways will increase pollution
throughout Pasadena.



The tunnels may be dangerous to build and operate. The tunnels would cross
four known earthquake faults and punch through two major aquifers. They would
be accessible only at either end, with no intermediate entrances or exits. It
is unclear how injured or handicapped persons would be able to exit the tunnels
in case of an accident, fire, or collapse in the tunnel.



Tunnel construction would bring a decade of disruption and bad health
impacts. Construction of the tunnels would take anywhere from 9 to12 years.
There will be NO reimbursement to businesses due to loss of trade.


Construction would require removing and then later rebuilding bridges
along Del Mar Blvd., Green St., Colorado Blvd., and Union St., thus isolating
much of west Pasadena for years. The Rose Parade could not use its traditional
route with the Colorado Blvd. bridge over the freeway removed.


Construction will require removal of 200 million cubic feet of dirt,
filling 450,000 truckloads. That means 128 truckloads of dirt transported
through our area every single day, 7 days a week, for 10 years.


Construction will be very noisy and dusty for those living, working, in the
hospital, or going to school near the construction site or along the routes
taken by trucks full of excavated dirt.


The tunnel project will be extremely expensive. Official estimates of the
cost range from $1 billion to $14 billion (more recent estimates around $5-6
billion). Part of these costs may be recouped through tolls of up to $20 per
trip, with the rest being paid by taxpayers. Other toll roads in Southern
California have gone bankrupt or have needed public bailouts.


What should be done instead of the tunnels?



For moving people: Light rail and bus improvements can be achieved for a
small fraction of the cost and negative impacts of the tunnels. In fact, Metro
could complete every transit alternative that it is considering in far less time
and for far less money than the tunnels will cost.



For moving cargo: Long-haul trucks do not belong on our urban freeways
and neighborhood streets. Instead of bringing more trucks into Pasadena, Metro
should increase the efficiency of the Alameda Corridor and complete the Alameda
Corridor East and other port and rail projects.
 
Replies

With all due respect, what are you guys smoking?  This tunnel will never be
built, and the fear-mongers saying it will are just doing it for their own
profit and thrills.  It would cost billions to put something like this in.Â
The money is not there, folks.  Relocating the Colorado Bridge?  Why don't
they just say they are going to demolish the Eagle Rock and bulldoze Mt. Wilson
while they are at it?

 When they look at it through their glasses all they have to do is justify it all
the cheap side and then go to the standard phrase that since we have started it
and spent th $700+M of Measure R we need to find the money to finish it and we
will increase the tolls for port trucks and those 80K commuters that need to get
from LaCrescenta to Commerce or Bell...

Too many people will keep their jobs or get transferred out of Caltrans to the
new "Tunnel Management Authority" for both the SR710 and I-405 tunnel projects
then they can also get funds from the revenues for the I-405 and the I-5
"ExpressLanes"...they will find ways to justify the costs or squeeze more
revenue from other sources ==== Measure J shall return...


 The last major freeway project in LA County was the 105 freeway that took 10
years to build between 1985-1995.  The political repurcussions are still
affecting the 1000's of displaced residents there.  No one has the political
will or capital to take on the well organized Pasadena, South Pas, and NELA
residents. Someone is yanking your chains, folks.

Who is profiting from this hysteria?  Follow the money, folks, follow the
money.


  "No one has the political will or capital to take on the well organized
Pasadena, South Pas, and NELA residents. Someone is yanking your chains, folks.
>
> Who is profiting from this hysteria?  Follow the money, folks, follow the
money."



Who is making the money - simple METRO and Caltrans staff who keep their jobs....keep their consultants well funded and available for future employment....
 
Then 
 
Barbara and Alhambra are keeping their consultants available and operating = $$$$$
 
These are millions of dollars 
 
I am making my flyers on backsides and in B&W for Wed/Thur/Sat and may get copies made at $0.04/copy x 1000 = $40
I am retired and worked for Parsons for 20yrs, URSCorp 6+yrs and lots of others so I know the games that are being played...
 
So where are you coming from??? going to???
 
 This could very well become like proposed routes for freeways in the mid 1950's.  The State of California became a landlord for hundreds of homes that were bought by eminent domain in central north to central south Los Angeles.  The State continued to be the landlord for "temporary" renters for a couple of decades (my estimate).  There was a section of Nornandy between Melrose and Beverly Blvd that was part of the "planned freeway extension" and where I had friends living and paying rent to the State.  That was in 1960 and the rented homes are still there.  I am sure that at some time in the last 50 years since then the property was put back on the market, as those are very nice 1920's era family homes.
 
 Bring your snow plows or frontend loaders it is going to be deep and either
white, brown, or red.....

Some real issues to ask

What are the quantified purposes and needs for the 710 North Project??

Trucks or No Trucks - how can they compare alternatives when only one
alterrnative is designed to carry trucks??

How many vehicles, trucks, and/or cars will be carried by the alternatives??

Will the project be constructed as a Deisgn/Build or PublicPrivatePartnership??

Are the costs given in the report for comparable capacities for tunnel, LRT,
BRT??

Will air pollutants be treated to equal or lower levels than ambient levels for
Pasadena or will they be treated for the highest levels of particulate/PM2.5,
NOX, and  CO requireed by AQMD??

Has any road tunnel of this size and design been built in a seismically active
area and crossing known active, moving faults??

What provisions are included for the costs and design to prevent and deal
with Terrorist Soft Target attempts...2-4 vans with 55gal drum of gasoline and
road flares, one in each roadway section??

For those who say the 710 tunnel will never be built…I hope you’re right.  However, Metro and Caltrans are spending a ton of  Measure R money “studying” all the alternatives to put something through El Sereno, So. Pas. and Pasadena to connect the 710 to the 210.   The politicians who are in favor of the toll tunnel are falling all over themselves trying to get the tunnel built, even to the point of playing dirty politics to try to oust Councilman Ara Najarian from the Metro Board because he is asking about the cost and purpose.   Metro is even going so far as to submit hundreds of pages of reports with questionable stats.   If you are opposed to such a boondoggle, a toll tunnel that will cost billions, and only increase traffic congestion and pollution, then please write and call your city and state representatives and ask them to oppose this tunnel.

Specifically, what politicians are falling over themselves pushing for this?  What elected officials in the path of the tunnel are in favor of this?
 
I have more than a passing history with politics, and things like these are often floated when a lot of money emerges, a lot of consultants make tons of money, but nothing ever happens.
 
So, who is the face behind the tunnel?
 
 Can someone explain what false stats Metro is submitting and what are the
correct stats.
 
 Specifically, what politicians are falling over themselves pushing for this?Â
What elected officials in the path of the tunnel are in favor of this?
> Â
> I have more than a passing history with politics, and things like these are
often floated when a lot of money emerges, a lot of consultants make tons of
money, but nothing ever happens.
> Â
> So, who is the face behind the tunnel?
 
 
Specifically, what politicians are falling over themselves pushing for this?
 
Measure J supporters
Holden - Pasadena
Messina and Alhambra City Council members
SanMarino and MontereyPark City Council - support for Caltrans and Metro
  = Keep traffic on Valley and Main/LasTunas rather than on Huntington and reduce bus lines N-S thru SM
  = bigger CallForProjects budgets and improved appearance of existing interchanges and more soundwalls
Mike Antonovich for his High Desert Corridor
G.Molina for jobs in east LA
Knabe to get the trucks through and out of his district
AntonioV/JoseH/JimmyG/KevinD for construction trade unions
Need anymore

The City Councils of those cities could pass resolutions supporting Apple Pie
and Motherhood too-it doesn't matter one bit.  They have no funding power.  What
state officials are for this, and please show me how they are for it. The local
state assemblymembers and state senators have always opposed this.
 
What do these things have to do with the SR710 North Extension??
Yeah Beverly Hills killed the original SR2 Freeway Gap closure from Alvarado to I-405 - it is still SR2 along Santa Monica just like Rosemead in San Gabriel Valley is also SR19 which was to parallel I-605 and I-710
 
So there are real examples of Freeway Gaps never being filled
 
BUT SR710 is here and now and on our front steps - now in the backyards...
 
The 710 Corridor renters have been treated like rats by Caltrans etc.......but lets deal with what the western San Gabriel Valley and NE/E LA City needs for transport:
Commuters
NOW - Bus Rapid Transit with 15 minute headways on
   SanFernando Rd-EagleRock-Colorado
   Broadway-Mission-Huntington
   Alameda-Main-Valley (Bus 76)
   Chavez-Mission-Huntington (Buses 78-79)
   Chavez-Mission-Garvey (Bus70-71)
BRT and its feeders - DASH -
    extend DASH routes for maximum walk of 2-3 blocks
 
Then Commuter Congestion/Destination pricing =
1.   ParkRide at LACity boundaries with  BRT to Downtown
        ExpressArteries FEE for East LA boundaries to Downtown -
           say from boundaries or LARiver bridges
2.   Free Curb parking for 2-3 hrs and
       $25fee/car space for all day parking
 
EXtend/EXpand freight on the Alameda Corridor Rail Systems
from Chevez and Mission to SanLuiisObispo and to Palmdale
 
These will work alot better and serve more tons and people than SR710 but doesnt employ so many METRO and CalTrans staff and their consulltants...
 
 The Glassell Park Improvement Assoc. had a forum with the candidates running for
CD1. Gil Cedillo said that he was for the 710 going through Pasadena but not
through the alternaye routes. All other three candidates said they were against
it period.
 
How would the 710 reach Pasadena if not through or under one of the NELA
communities?
 
 


 
 

'There's just too much traffic;' Metro hosts open house to address 710 Freeway options

 http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/01/26/35768/theres-just-too-much-traffic-metro-hosts-open-hous/

Ben Bergman, January 26, 2013, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

 

 








 Metro's forum included stations with maps and 
 posters where residents could learn more about options for extending the 710 Freeway.



The Metropolitan Transit Agency hosted the last of three public forums Saturday at Cal State LA, addressing whether to extend the 710 Freeway or create other transportation options in the area.

L.A. voters approved Measure R in 2008, a half-cent sales tax increase which funds, among other things,


$780 million for 710 Freeway environmental studies and improvements.

Transportation officials have long-sought to close the so-called “missing link” between where the 710 Freeway abruptly ends in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

“Twenty-percent of the cars that pass through this area start outside this area and end outside this area, and if we don’t do anything it’s going to be one in four cars,” said Frank Quon, Metro’s executive officer for highway programs. “I think you’re starting to hear the community say ‘There’s just too much traffic.’’’

Metro presented options at the forum for how to alleviate congestion, which include doing nothing, improving traffic management systems, adding more buses, adding light rail, and building a tunnel to expand the 710 Freeway north.

“We’ve narrowed it down to five alternatives and we really want to get more input,” Quon said.

The forum included stations with maps and posters where interested residents could learn more about each alternative, but many who attended expressed skepticism that they would really be heard.

“It seems like their decision is already made,” said Yolie Garcia, who lives in the El Sereno neighborhood in Northeast LA. “They want the 710 extended.”

Most of the stations were empty, except for the one displaying maps where a four-mile tunnel connecting the 710 and 210 freeways would be built.

Residents — some of whom have opposed the 710 Freeway expansion nearly as long as officials have wanted to build it — crowded around the table, including Maria Miranda.

She worries about increased pollution from cars and trucks and that she and her El Sereno neighbors could be uprooted when construction begins.

“If this goes through, most of the tenants are going to lose their homes,” said Miranda. “It’s almost like Chavez Ravine. We’re going to be thrown out on our butts.”

The L.A. City Council unanimously adopted a resolution last year opposing the extension of the 710 Freeway.
Metro officials insist all options are still on the table, and will be carefully reviewed.

A final environmental impact study is expected in two years.
 
 
A quick report on METRO's Open House at Cal State LA today:

Sylvia Plummer, January 26, 2013


The crowd was about the same as the Pasadena Open House.  Most attendees were against the 710 tunnel.  There were others that came to learn and as they left told us that they didn't like the cost of the tunnel or the idea.  Of course there were a few who wanted the tunnel, included Harry Baldwin (The guy who took over Nat Read's position as a lobbyist for the 710 Coalition - hired by Alhambra).  The parking was free, but the lot filled up early.  

Media in attendance:  NBC Channel 4, 89.3 KPCC Radio and Eastern Publications Group (EPG)

Following the Open House I spoke to Charles Miller. He told me he had interviewed with each media group during the Open House.  Tune in to NBC Channel 4 News tonight at 6 p.m. to watch his interview.   Be prepared to hear both sides.

Early News About the 710 Metro Meeting This Morning at CalState Los Angeles

Posted on Facebook, January 26, 2013

Via Charles E Miller from the 710 Metro meeting in CalState Los Angeles, he had a series of interviews conducted by Eastern Publications Group (EPG), KPCC 89.3 and Channel 4 News today. Watch his interview TONIGHT, it will be aired tonight @ 6:00PM ON Channel 4 News.

Moving Freight Into The Future

 http://www.freightshuttle.com

 Go to the website for videos of the freight moving system.

 

 

 

The Freight Shuttle was initially designed at the Texas Transportation Institute for the sole purpose of finding a low-emission alternative to moving freight and to relieve congestion created by trucks in heavy freight/travel corridors. The Freight Shuttle moves truck trailers and containers via transporters (think people-movers/monorails) in the medians of highways or other rights-of-way over distances of up to 500 miles on emission-free, electric-powered guideway systems. There is no new "gee whiz" technology involved.  The privately funded Freight Shuttle is based on a patented application of existing technologies. Freight Shuttle International has assembled an impressive team of designers, guideway/bridge builders, transporter engineers and construction contractors to create the first cost-effective, energy efficient, environmentally friendly freight transport system.

 The Freight Shuttle System is patented technology based upon proven concepts in transportation. Similar linear induction systems have been used successfully in airport passenger transports at New York’s JFK as well as in Beijing and Vancouver.  A novel combination of technologies results in an innovative method to move freight in a cleaner, greener and more efficient way than is currently available. The system is composed of three primary components—electrical single-unit transporters, elevated guideways and convenient terminals—all linked together by an intelligent command, control and communications network.  The system provides reliable, predictable point-to-point delivery of freight with zero emissions and no interruption of traffic.

Transporters

Freight Shuttle transporters are driverless electric vehicles engineered to operate as independent units. They are powered by linear induction motors, with traditional steel wheel technology that reduces friction and results in exceptionally efficient use of electric power.  The system can draw from any available source of energy including solar, wind and biofuels. Transporters are designed to easily accommodate either containers or semi-trailers which are loaded quickly, depart immediately, travel to their destination on elevated guideways at 60 MPH and arrive as scheduled every time. Freight Shuttle transporters will optimize cargo movement efficiency 24 hours a day.

Guideways

Transporters will travel along guideways built in the medians of existing highways and other rights-of-way. Dual tracks allow continuous operation in two directions.  There are no delays due to surface traffic congestion because the entire system is elevated with no at-grade crossings. The elevated design also means operation will be extremely safe because passenger traffic and pedestrians never interact with the system.

 State-of-the-art overhead construction techniques ensure that no roads will be closed and no drivers inconvenienced while the guideway is being erected. Precast sections and components greatly reduce construction time. The guideways are designed to be aesthetically appealing with a slender superstructure that creates minimum impact on the surrounding environment.


Terminals

A series of terminals create entry and exit points along the guideways. Terminals are designed for maximum efficiency, reducing time delays in loading and unloading of containers and trailers. Pickup and delivery times are predictable so truckers can be more cost-effective.  Terminals are designed to be modular so lanes and capacity can be easily added as demand increases.

 The system includes specialized terminals in select locations, such as ports and borders, where cargo can be scanned for security without disrupting the movement of freight. This concept allows for 100 percent screening of trucks and containers as opposed to the minimal security scanning in use today.


Operation

The Freight Shuttle System is designed to operate smoothly and efficiently. An automated, dedicated, closed-loop system with custom-designed terminals and reliable scheduling will result in congestion-free operation, unlike the current uncontrollable highway system. GPS and wireless communications in conjunction with a fiber-optic backbone will provide a constant flow of information on status, position and operating conditions, enabling exceptional command and control of the entire system for maximum safety and efficiency. The system will seamlessly accommodate containers and drive-on truck trailers in one continuous operation. An extremely efficient use of electricity to power vehicles on a frictionless path enables system operation at a fraction of the cost required to move goods by truck on highways. Efficiency also includes system capacity. A Freight Shuttle system is expected to operate a minimum of 8,640 transporter trips daily in each direction, with 10-second intervals between transporters.


Benefitting Everyone with Reliable Green Technology

 

Trucking Industry

Trucking companies will benefit from a significantly more cost-effective deployment of trucks, less down-time for drivers and greatly increased fuel efficiency.  Drivers will spend fewer hours battling bumper-to-bumper traffic and more time delivering goods from convenient terminals to customer locations.  As an added benefit, drivers will spend less time on the road and more nights sleeping in their own beds.

Shippers

Efficient, more predictable pickup and delivery times will save shippers time and money and allow them to conduct business in a more cost-effective manner.

Driving Public

The Freight Shuttle System will reduce highway congestion, air pollution, diesel odor and noise while improving highway safety.  Drivers will enjoy easier commutes, smoother roads and cleaner air.

Local, State and Federal Transportation Agencies

Private sector trucks account for eighty percent of the damage to public roads, causing an estimated $16 billion in destruction. With the introduction of the Freight Shuttle, truck damage on roads and bridges will be reduced considerably, requiring less highway maintenance.  Contemplated additional lanes to handle increasing traffic may not be required. The Freight Shuttle is privately financed, so no investment of public funds will be needed. 

Highway 99 tunnel machine damage could delay dig

Workers at the assembly site in Japan found cutter-drive parts out of alignment during tests in December, on the world-record Seattle tunnel-boring machine.

 http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020199728_99tunneldelaysxml.html
  
By Mike Lindblom
 Originally published January 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Page modified January 24, 2013 at 11:38 AM 




A design concept shows the south portal of the Highway 99 tunnel in Sodo. Construction around that portal is ahead of schedule. The tunnel is to open at the end of 2015.
 A design concept shows the south portal of the Highway 99 tunnel in Sodo. Construction around that portal is ahead of schedule. The tunnel is to open at the end of 2015.


The mammoth Highway 99 tunnel machine will start its journey under Seattle a few weeks late, after workers at the Japanese assembly site found damage to the rotary drive that spins the cutter head.
Instead of a June 3 launch, the boring machine will embark from Sodo to South Lake Union sometime this summer, said Chris Dixon, project manager for Seattle Tunnel Partners.

“It doesn’t affect the overall schedule, as far as completion and turning it over to traffic in December 2015,” Dixon said Wednesday.

Testing was to be finished Dec. 25. As of this week, Hitachi-Zosen crews in Osaka are disassembling and diagnosing the drive system.

The world-record 57½-foot-diameter drill must be reassembled and retested before shipment to Terminal 46 in Seattle.
W
orkers had heard sounds indicating a problem, which went away, before a completion ceremony Dec. 20, said Dixon.

Shortly after, the team discovered some parts were one-fifth of an inch out of alignment, he said.
Linea Laird, project administrator for the state Department of Transportation, notified a legislative committee of the problem Wednesday.

Dixon said he was glad to find the flaw now, instead of in the ground.
The team has at least a three-month cushion, and many chances to recover lost time, Dixon said.

This is because an innovative design allows workers to replace worn-out cutting tools from inside the 300-foot cylindrical machine — reducing the need for divers to work from outside at several times atmospheric pressure.

The $2 billion tunnel is the largest piece of a $3.1 billion replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, built in the 1950s.

Astronaut Says Los Angeles's Flaws Are Visible From Space

 http://la.curbed.com/

January 25, 2013

 

 

 2013.01_issphoto.jpg

 
Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield is living on the International Space Station, orbiting the earth, and taking incredible photos of the views. The photo he took of Los Angeles yesterday is the perfect thing to gawk at on this wet Friday morning, although even the nice Canadian astronaut has to make urban planning cracks: "The grey of pavement and dense population is visible from Earth orbit."

Chinatown's Gold Line-Adjacent Blossom Plaza Still Not Moving

 http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/01/chinatowns_gold_lineadjacent_blossom_plaza_still_not_moving.php#more

By Adrian Glick Kudler, January 25, 2013

 

2013.01_blossom.jpg
It was waaaaay back in November 2011 that we heard that Chinatown's Blossom Plaza mixed-use project was finally on the fast track after years of delays (the project was originally approved in 2007). So now it's 2013 ... where are the bulldozers? According to the Downtown News, "it is uncertain when construction crews will show up on site" and furthermore the city still hasn't signed a deal with developer Forest City Residential West, which took over the project in 2011. Original plans for Blossom Plaza include two towers with 262 housing units, plus 43,000 square feet of retail, a 372-spot garage, and a 17,500 square foot plaza (it's not clear what will actually be built, though, since the budget has shrunk); perhaps most importantly, the project will provide a gateway to the neighborhood via the Gold Line, "meaning people who get off the train would walk a flat surface into the heart of the community, rather than go down several flights of stairs, then head up a hill on College Street."

The project is slated for a 1.9-acre site that's currently hosting the shuttered Little Joe's restaurant (a
remnant from the days when the neighborhood was Little Italy). The restaurant has been closed for 15 years and meanwhile residents are starting to get antsy about the blight. As for the delays, officials are mostly blaming the state-mandated killing of the Community Redevelopment Agency, which was leading the project. The city has at least managed to snag some state and federal money and City Councilmember Ed Reyes is hoping Blossom Plaza can break ground by the time he leaves office at the end of June.


If you haven't been down to L.A.'s Chinatown in recent years, it is well worth a trip. The buildings in its Central Plaza have been beautifully restored (or at least as to how I remember them from previous visits). You can easily believe that you are actually in China, buy many of the souvenirs that are sold in China right here, and have ethnic dim sum to round out your visit. It is an easy trip via the Gold Line. (Peggy Drouet)