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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Garcetti, Greuel keep talking, but say nothing


By Mark Lacter, January 2cityhall3.jpg9, 2013


Boy, these two are BORING - and I'm afraid one of them is almost certain to be L.A.'s next mayor. It's a shame, really, because in real life they're both pleasant, interested people who obviously care about the future of the city. But their campaign strategies focus on doing no harm (Greuel especially), which means they're telling us way too much about past accomplishments (such as they are) and not nearly enough about what they intend to do as mayor. At last night's KNBC debate, Garcetti once again patted himself on the back about working with unions on changes to the pension system (even though the city is still faced with chronic deficits of $200 million-plus because out-of-control pension costs). Greuel, meanwhile, insisted that her experience battling unauthorized long-distance phone bills will somehow turn the city's finances around. It sounded good 20 years ago, but the payout from waste, fraud and abuse is way less than she would have you believe. Now maybe it's true that campaigns aren't where you want to go for new ideas - and maybe playing it safe is the most sensible way of securing a spot in the likely runoff. But the discourse during last night's debate was so lackluster that you have to wonder whether these folks are capable of ideas that go beyond the ones that have been thoroughly tested in focus groups. A question on the airport, for example, had them parroting all the usual nonsense about what how terrible LAX is. Never mind the fact that Ontario and Burbank are barely alive - or that LAX is more conveniently located than other facilities its size, or that a modernization program is well underway. So instead of a nuanced answer about the airport's good and bad points, Garcetti, Greuel et al just stuck to the easy jabs. Earlier this week, LAT columnist Jim Newton dutifully asked the candidates about their vision, and he got predictably lame responses: More transit, improved relations with business, greater community involvement. Zzzzzzzzzz. Surely, they can do better than this. Please tell me there are a few good ideas behind all that hot air. 


So what would happen if Villaraigosa left office early?*


By Mark Lacter, January 29, 2013



Not to jump the gun, but in the event that the mayor is nominated to be Transportation Secretary (Ray LaHood resigned this morning), the City Council would almost certainly fill the vacancy by appointment. If that were to happen, Council President Herb Wesson would most likely be the man. (Theoretically, the council could also hold a special election, according to the City Charter, but that would be impractical given how close we are to the regular election.) Who knows whether any of this would affect the actual mayoral race, but it could provide a twist to the March vote to raise the sales tax, which is being pushed by Wesson. It also could impact this year's budget talks. As for the transportation job, Villaraigosa isn't the only candidate. From the NYT:

Several people have been mentioned as possible replacements for Mr. LaHood at the Transportation Department. Among them: Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles; Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania; Debbie Hersman, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board; and Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic governor of Michigan.
*Update: Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs, helps clarify the appointment procedure. Basically, the Council President immediately takes over as acting mayor. But that doesn't preclude the council from making an appointment later on.
Sec. 243. President and President Pro Tempore. (a) The Council shall elect one of its members as presiding officer, who shall be called the President of the Council. In case of any vacancy in the office of Mayor pending appointment and qualification of a successor, or in case of unavailability due to sickness, absence from the state, or disability of the Mayor, the President of the Council shall act as Mayor of the City. The President of the Council, while acting as Mayor, shall not lose his or her rights as a member of the Council.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretary


By Rick Orlov, January 29, 2013

 L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretary


The departure of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised new questions over what Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would do if he is offered the job - either now or after July 1, when his term as mayor expires. | Also: Doug McIntyre on the mayor's next move

 Villaraigosa was in South Korea for the Special Olympics and is not expected to return until Thursday.

However, the mayor told The Wall Street Journal last week that he would not say what conversations he has had with the Obama administration, and he told the newspaper: "When you have a conversation with the president, you say 'Yes,' or 'Yes, sir."'

Villaraigosa has been a key political ally for the president both in this most recent election and four years ago, actively campaigning in the Southwest to get out the Latino vote.

The mayor was at this year's inauguration and has been to Washington numerous times lobbying for funds and programs.

Transportation has been a major part of Villaraigosa's efforts since he was elected mayor, first pushing for Proposition R, the half-percent sales tax, and its offshoot, America Fast Forward, in which the city is seeking an advance on the $40 billion that will be generated by Proposition R over the next 30 years to speed up project construction.

He also has pushed for the multibillion-dollar modernization of Los Angeles International Airport, with one of his first acts as mayor being to resolve a lawsuit filed against the project.

In addition, he has sought to reduce air pollution from trucks and ships at the Port of Los Angeles, while also pushing the deepening of the channel to compete with the Panama Canal expansion.

Eric Garcetti points to Hollywood turnaround as proof of his leadership


By Dakota Smith, January 29, 2013



 L.A. mayoral candidate and City Councilman Eric Garcetti at Tommy's Burgers in North Hills on Dec. 18, 2012.

Speaking to local business owners in Encino last month, City Councilman Eric Garcetti evoked the grittier days of Hollywood, a neighborhood miles from the San Fernando Valley but central to his mayoral campaign.
"Fifteen years ago, if you went to Hollywood, you would have been embarrassed to show it to someone visiting," Garcetti, 41, told the crowd. "And if you were from here, you didn't spend much time there."

Back then, tourists visited Hollywood, he added, for an average of just 20 minutes. "They would see prostitution going on at Sunset Boulevard, drug dealing on the Yucca Corridor," Garcetti said. "Then they would get the heck out of there to find Hollywood somewhere else."

Hollywood's revitalization has become a campaign platform for Garcetti, a leading contender to replace Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Property values are up and crime is down in Hollywood, Garcetti repeatedly tells crowds. Having represented the neighborhood for more than a decade, he frequently ties the boom in that area to his larger, economy-boosting goals.

It was at an East Hollywood-based college that Garcetti made his first campaign speech in September, outlining a handful of citywide proposals, such as boosting L.A.'s technology sector.
 "Hollywood is back," his campaign boasted in a release last fall. In Hollywood, "we've shown how we can help create jobs and deliver better services citywide," Garcetti stated.

All the candidates tout recent accomplishments, but Garcetti is expanding that message, said Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State L.A.
"Jobs and economic growth, that's what voters are saying they want," Regalado said. "He's listening to that."

But Garcetti's challenge is persuading voters that he's capable of delivering a citywide economic turnaround when City Hall has already dramatically cut public services.
The business community has at times been cool to Garcetti. And City Controller Wendy Greuel, his closest rival in the race, also bills herself as a business-friendly Democrat and frequently points to her work in the private sector.

A peppy optimism

Like other neighborhoods that have flourished in Garcetti's district -- including Echo Park, Filipinotown and Glassell Park -- Hollywood's turnaround involved many groups, including investors, small-business owners and community members.
The neighborhood's transformation is evident from Garcetti's field office at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue. His building faces a shuttered Peruvian restaurant, an adult bookstore and a paved vacant lot.

But turn a few corners and the blight fades. Grocery-bag carrying apartment dwellers share the sidewalks with tourists. The steel beams of a new college building rise on Sunset Boulevard. Taxis line up outside new upscale hotels around Vine Street. Homeless advocates praise the increase of services and housing in the area.

In person, Garcetti exudes a peppy optimism that more turnarounds are possible in Los Angeles. On the campaign trail, he frequently pitches proposals to create jobs and pay for better streets and more cops.

"This is a city of dreamers and a city of doers," said Garcetti, speaking earlier this month in Beverly Hills. "I want to be mayor of Los Angeles because I want to make sure our best days are ahead of us, and that we put this city back to work."

He announced his mayoral run last fall with a Facebook post. "Getting to Yes" is one of his
catchphrases. Park openings or small-business loans, he believes, are examples of "urban acupuncture" -- small details capable of changing city blocks.

CicLaVia, the citywide bike event, should be held monthly, he believes. His office holds Planning and Budget 101 courses so residents can have more input at City Hall. In Hollywood, he appointed 400 graffiti block captains to report tagging and help curb gang violence.

"Every neighborhood is different," he said in an interview. "I think that's what I bring to this race. I understand that you have to listen to neighborhoods, to what they want."

Garcetti grew up in Encino, where he was, by his own estimation, an "average kid having a very average childhood." The son of Gil Garcetti, a two-term Los Angeles County district attorney, Eric studied at Columbia University in New York, focusing on political science and getting a master's in international affairs.

He went on to study as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and later attended the London School of Economics.

After teaching diplomacy and public policy at the University of Southern California and Occidental College, Garcetti was elected to represent the 13th District in 2001 and served six years as council president.

On council during cuts

During Garcetti's tenure, the city eliminated thousands of positions and cut basic services. As the economy begins to rebound, Garcetti, and mayoral candidates Greuel and City Councilwoman Jan Perry, face complaints on the campaign trail about those cuts.
During a recent chat on the website Reddit, Garcetti fielded a question about the city's inability to fix its streets and sidewalks.

"The only solutions we've heard is just to tax us more when there should already be a general fund for these kinds of things. What happened to the money allocated for that? Are we really out of options?" asked a Reddit user.

Garcetti replied that he agrees the city can neither tax nor cut its way out of its fiscal problems. He told Reddit users of plans for a "film czar" to encourage local film production, pitched a proposal to establish jobs centers in all of L.A.'s community colleges, and talked of trying to save a Van Nuys Airport mechanic school.

He also proposed creating L.A. offices in the capitals of the city's major trading partners. "I'd look at L.A.'s place in the world with a laser-like focus to developing our economy," Garcetti wrote.
Garcetti's emphasis on economic development speaks to the business community, as does his record of supporting the Hollywood building boom with millions of dollars of City Council-backed loans and incentives for developers.

But business groups that most influence City Hall through lobbying and fundraising haven't always backed Garcetti.

Business groups like the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry Commerce Association have yet to endorse a candidate in the race.

Around City Hall, Garcetti has been perceived as a coalition-building politician, which doesn't always win over
some business groups. His office will often ask a developer for multiple community meetings. Rival Perry, for instance, is viewed as more willing to push through controversial projects.

And like many of the other council members, he's also perceived as being too close to labor, Regalado said. Garcetti backed a living wage ordinance and a package of pay raises to city employees in 2007.

More recently, Regalado believes Garcetti has moved closer to the center, evidenced by his support of city employee pension changes. Garcetti also backed passage of the Hollywood Community Plan, a controversial blueprint that allows taller buildings on the boulevard. A handful of homeowners' groups are suing to stop the plan.

As the March 5 primary election draws closer, Garcetti's record of economic growth will be compared to that of Greuel's, his closest rival in the race.

Greuel worked as a government relations executive at DreamWorks, and her family owns a building-supply company.

"Eric is great at political sloganeering. But he brings theories, no practical experience," said John Shallman, Greuel's political consultant.

But in a region where the unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent, Garcetti keeps returning to economic themes. Monday, he offered another proposal for job growth: A plan to expand the city's solar rooftop program and create thousands of jobs.

Garcetti's campaign also paints Greuel - who is quickly gaining support of influential unions representing police officers and Department of Water and Power employees - as more of the "establishment" candidate.

By contrast, Garcetti is winning party endorsements from grass-roots groups like the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and the Stonewall Democrats. Roughly 70 percent of his donations are from residents new to city elections, Garcetti's campaign claims.

"Greuel represents the status quo," said Jeff Millman, Garcetti's consultant. "Garcetti has new ideas to create jobs and to help solve people's problems."

Red Line Subway Turns 20


January 29, 2013

 DOWNTOWN TO MACARTHUR PARK: LA's first modern subway opened 20 years ago today, on January 29, 1993. And it had taken 20 years to get there, according to the opening-day speech from then-Mayor Tom Bradley. Phase one ran four and a half miles from Union Station to MacArthur Park; it was the second line to open after the Blue Line, which debuted in 1990. (The early-twentieth-century commuter rail system known as the Red Cars died of auto-inflicted wounds in the early '60s.) Even at 20 years old, though, it's "still the youngest subway system on the American continent," according to The Source, which also shares this delightfully '90s video (and more). [The Source]

Bikers briefly shut down 10 Freeway for marriage proposal


January 29, 2013 




With the help of his biker friends, a motorcyclist briefly shut down the 10 Freeway in West Covina to propose to his girlfriend amid a cloud of pink smoke. Now the California Highway Patrol is investigating.

Videos of the Sunday afternoon proposal were posted on YouTube and have collected thousands of views.

Now CHP investigators are reviewing the videos, said Officer Jose Barrios. Possible citations include impeding or blocking traffic, he said.

"It's illegal," Barrios said. "They're not allowed to do that."

Barrios said the CHP had no immediate information on any accidents caused by the proposal.

In an interview with Power 106 on Monday, the happy couple — identified by multiple media outlets as Hector Martinez and Paige Hernandez — said they had not yet been contacted by law enforcement.

Martinez said he first got the idea for the proposal in October. After recruiting some help — and asking the couple's families to watch from an overpass — he told his now-fiance the trip was "just another Sunday ride."

"When he got off and took off his helmet, that's when I was confused," Hernandez told the radio station. "I saw everybody on the bridge, so I was like, 'What's going on?'"

It's not the only freeway show gaining attention in California. In Oakland, CHP officers are looking for the drivers who spun doughnuts in the northbound lanes of Interstate 880 over the weekend.

Videos of that "sideshow" incident have also gone viral.

For L.A., Barrios said, the motorcycle proposal was a first.

"There's a lot of odd things that happen on the freeway," Barrios said. "This doesn't happen every day, obviously, otherwise it'd be a huge issue. We haven't seen something like this."

Prosecutor spells out case against Nick Conway, former SGVCOG executive director


By Steve Sscauzillo, January 29, 2013

Gallery: Nick Conway of SGVCOG, facing four felony counts at preliminary hearing in LA

 Nick Conway
 Attorney Kenneth White speaking to his client Nick Conway at a preliminary hearing on Jan. 29, 2013. Conway is charged with four felony counts of conflict of interest in regards to his work leading the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.

LOS ANGELES - Relying on reams of documents and hostile witnesses, Assistant District Attorney Dana Aratani laid out his office's case Tuesday against former San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Nick Conway.

Conway was arrested at his Pasadena home last June and charged with four felony counts of conflict of interest. He has pleaded not guilty and listened in court as Aratani implied Conway wrongfully sought and obtained contracts, sometimes including state and county grants, that financially benefited himself and his consulting business, Arroyo Associates.

The District Attorney's office specifically alleged Conway's company received an additional $143,000 in one fiscal period.

But the crux of the case, partly revealed in the first day of a two-day preliminary hearing, is whether Aratani can prove COG contracts and grant monies weren't just business as usual for the San Gabriel Valley planning agency headed by Conway for 17 years. Rather, Aratani is trying to show they were part of a sophisticated and illegal scheme that fooled a board representing 31 cities, the county and local water districts.

Aratani spent the morning  questioning COG secretary and former Arroyo Associates employee Kathy Boyd. He asked about COG contracts, and change orders in which "additional payments" were made to Conway and his management company, though apparently no additional employees were hired.

For example, Aratani pointed to initial management service agreements in which COG would pay Arroyo $34,354.98 per month. "But those generally increased. The earlier MSAs were not that high," Aratani said to the witness.

Some change orders paid Arroyo an additional $6,250 a month, an additional $8,333.33 a month, and an additional $8,750 per month, Aratani pointed out to Boyd. Documents show these were approved and signed by Conway, she testified.

Repeatedly, Aratani asked Boyd to acknowledge the documents obtained in a search warrant in June showed additional payments to Conway and Arroyo that "at times appears to be for the same work (as shown in previous service payments)," he said.

However, Kenneth White, Conway's attorney, successfully objected, and Boyd did not have to answer that question.

Later, White tried to establish that all contracts, payments and service agreements were always approved by outside attorneys working for COG.

"The conflict of interest doesn't depend on advice of legal counsel," Aratani shot back.
But outside the courtroom, White repeated the defense's main theme: "Everything Mr. Conway did was approved summarily by the COG, the governing board and the COG's attorneys - in public," White said. "This demonstrates a context for what he is being charged with."

In the afternoon, Aratani questioned Marisa Creter, a former Arroyo employee hired by Conway who is now working temporarily for the COG, about a grant from the Department of Conservation for a watershed coordinator pursued by Conway. But Creter often answered "no" to pointed questions about her role in negotiating contracts or answered she didn't understand the question.

Aratani asked her about an email she wrote to Boyd, inquiring whether Conway had the authority to accept the grant and enter into a contract. The issue at stake was Conway's possible conflict of interest, he said. The email was labeled "in the red category" by Boyd, Aratani said.

"Is this something you would be concerned with?" Aratani asked Creter.

"What do you mean by concerned with?" she answered.

Later, she testified that she was always concerned with doing a thorough job, whether writing grant proposals or typing up and mailing out agenda packets to board members.
Conway's contract was terminated Oct. 30 by the COG Governing Board. The COG recently hired a new executive director, Andrea Travis-Miller, the acting city manager of the city of San Bernardino.

Set to testify for the prosecution on Wednesday will be Walnut City Councilman Tom King, a former COG board president, and Diamond Bar City Council member Carol Herrera. Both have criticized Conway and the COG in the last few years. Both were in the courthouse Tuesday, waiting to be called to the witness stand.

Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria said the preliminary hearing will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Aratani said he expects to be finished presenting his case by the afternoon.

At the end of the hearing, the court must decide if there is probable cause to go to trial. That will be left up to de Longoria, who listened intently Tuesday, asked questions of the witnesses and thumbed through pages of evidence.

More Comments to the SodaHead (L.A. Times) Poll: Close the 710 Gap


There are no actual reasons to support this mythological need. This is a boondoggle for the consultants who have been hired--at an enormous cost-well over $36 million so far. The net result is a profoundly expensive project, one that may cost over $8 BILLION, and one for which there is no available or probable funding. The only funding prospect for this grasping-at-straws $8 BN option is funding by the Chinese (!!) via bond issuance!! Is this fantasyland or what?

The actual user group for this boondoggle has not yet been defined. Supposedly this project is to serve the Ports of LA and Long Beach, yet METRO speaks from both sides of their mouth- yes it IS for trucks and Port Traffic going inland, and NO it is not for trucks just passenger vehicles. Well, which is it METRO? Come clean!

METRO is also duplicitous about the tunnel cost, coming up with wildly ambiguous and unsubstantiated cost estimates. Well METRO, are you professionals or not? What is the realistic cost based upon the actual length of both the approach and the more than 4 mile tunnel length, and based upon comparable construction TODAY, not years and years ago. Again, METRO has no actual answers despite the more than $36 million spent.

The source problem, now over 40 or 50 years old, is the abrupt termination of the 710 in Alhambra. To this end, Alhambra regularly spends a few hundred thousand every year for lobbyists. I even went to high school with one of these devil-may-care-gun-for-hire lobbyists. The extended longevity of the 710 program has been cooked up by these lobbyists, and also by the numerous back-door political patronage kick-backs funded by Alhambra to local mini-politicos. Well done Alhambra! Small money, BIG results! You've created your own political corruption cell! And now with the Najarian "expulsion" from the local governmental council reviewing this planning, the beerhaus putsch generated by Alhambra's current Mayor has re-introduced strong-arm politics back in Southern California.

METRO's reps said they have "even extended the planning area" to assess potential avenues for a new freight corridor from the Ports. Yet they have ignored the best, cheapest and most easily developed potential corridor, the 605 parallel. And they have not even made the slightest effort to develop a concept for multi-modal rail, including electrified multi- modal rail freight. The 605 corridor, which on a good day is like an open air industrial sand, gravel and rock park, is the ideal corridor for such rail travel, NOT the historic and intimately-scaled residential areas they now want to shaft with the new industrial -scale tunnel. And surface-developed multi-modal rail would cost a fraction of the $8 Billion the actual tunnel may cost. Yet METRO has refused to extend their project review area to the east to include the 605 corridor. This is because METRO still will not formally admit the project is, at its core, for freight. And this despite the fact that the Port's stated priority ( due to numerous pollution and traffic -related lawsuits) is that all goods leaving the port and destined for a point more than 500 miles, must travel by rail. So the METRO buffoons had not even done their homework and reviewed the Port's policies (clearly stated on the Port's website) that long distance freight is only by rail. In one of our community information meetings, the METRO official stated that the 710 extension was to allow goods to be moved to Chicago and the Midwest more easily".

METRO develops any fiction they want, in a fusillade of ridiculously invented statements, yet is never required to state the facts. Why are the METRO leadership, and the consultants, particularly CH2MHill, "cooked" to support Alhambra's fantasies? We ask that a regional commission review the work to date by METRO, and CH2MHill and the other consultants, to determine if the results have been "cooked" to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. CH2MHill is a political construct, not an engineering firm. Check out its history, much of which is available online.

The other faux denial from METRO is that the project will "decrease pollution" and "decrease traffic". This might have been an optimistic viewpoint before the 210 was extended out to the 15, but clearly these folks have not been on the 210 in years. Have they seen the extended parking lot that is the 210 today? Congestion on the 210 is so bad, it has NO capacity to handle any additional traffic. Yet METRO, still without any firm data, (despite the millions now spent and the additional millions yet to be spent) makes these Pollyanna-ish "predictions" with absolutely no data to support them, while fantasizing that adding additional traffic from a 710 tunnel would miraculously decrease traffic on the 210.

In Brooklyn METRO would have us buy a bridge. In the San Gabriel Valley, METRO is selling us a tunnel. There is no factual benefit from this tunnel concept, however there are numerous significant liabilities should this project be adopted.

Let's use scarce resources on rail!!! Freeways are so 1984!
It was stated at a recent San Gabriel Valley Association of Gov't meeting that the only real reason for the 710 tunnel is to keep the projected $5-$15 billion construction pay checks in the San Gabriel Valley and not have the tax money hijacked by the "West Side." It's about money stupid not clearing traffic. The tunnel will make more traffic and smog. It was also stated that it really shouldn't be a big concern for the officals at the meeting because they will all be dead by the time the true ramifications of the 710 tunnel becomes obvious. True story, I was there

Anyone who believes that closing the 710 will solve the traffic problems has never driven on the 210. We need DIFFERENT solutions, not trying to do the same thing over and over but expecting different results. For significantly less money, we can put proper container rail, commuter rail, and other public transportation in. Consider: for all of the "leaders" pushing this, how many of them think that they are going to be getting their fair share of the $20+ billion this will cost.
Historically more freeway lanes have simply INCREASED congestion through induced demand. Cities that have decommissioned freeways have seen a reduction in congestion accompanied by an increase in civic life, property values, and retail activity. See http://t.co/hEJL9uTz for examples.

What to do about port freight traffic? See http://gridlogisticsinc.com for an answer to that.

Extension of the 710 is a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem. What we REALLY need in this area is light rail moving north-south for transporting people, and an an ACTA-like truck track for north-south truck traffic.
 This project is driven by developers, the port and Chinese demanding the tax payers of Los Angeles and California build a multi billion dollar tunnel. The Big Dig in Boston is smaller by comparison and it cost 22 billion. To make this 710 BIGGER DIG cost effective, it will need to be a so called Public, Private Partnership meaning tax payers pay for the building of this absurd tunnel and then anyone who uses it pays a toll (anywhere from 8-12 bucks!). Truck companies moving freight are the only one's likely to pay. Most of the traffic will flow out into the streets and truck traffic will increase poisoning our air. We need rail to replace long haul trucking. Anyone who drives in L.A. know that the big trucks are main culprits in the gridlock in our freeways. Rail is the answer here. Check this out as a solution:


With all due respect, this poll should only be conducted in north east Los Angeles County. We are the victims of this boondoogle project and it is our grandchildren who will end up paying the billions it is going to cost. However, modern road tunnels have a proven history of huge safety problems. Can you say Big Dig, Boston? And modern financing involves PPPs that fail and the taxpayers have to pick up the balance when the companies go bankrupt. Right Miami? So feel free to weigh in if you are from the rest of the country and realize that this is just too dangerous and too expensive. no710.com
Metro is spending down the Measure R money to the tune of $780 million dollars to "study the SR-710 Extension alternatives. The one they want is the Dual Toll Tunnels that will be paid for by the LA County Taxpayers and invested in by PPP "private investors....cue, China and other wealthy parties and they keep the toll money for profit. In otherwords, the State of California and other states are going the PPP route. California won't even see the toll money that goes back to the private investors. this could establish a precedent on the taxpayers paying huge amounts of money for enormously expensive infrastructure and not really having a say about the health, cost and social justice issues on the impacted communities. The 9 miles of toll tunnels will cost big time. Try over $15 billion minimum and we will be paying it off for generations to come. And who is going to pay $12 one way to go 4.5 miles, North and/or South hence 9 miles of bored and cut and cover tunnels? That's the price for cars, this is a double decker system and a high volume of trucks will pay less maybe as high as $18 one way. Boston's Big Dig took 17 years and 22 billion dollars for less than a 2 mile tunnel. We would like to see Metro study a cargo rail line for the 40% of Chinese goods that flow  through the Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports. It is cleaner and more efficient. Goods would be moved by rail and electric rail to and from the ports to the distribution centers. But this is not even on the table. Why? Please go to our FB pages at "No 710 Freeway Extension" or No 710 on Ave 64". We have valid and engaging discussions and you can find out the facts of the 710. We are also on Twitter @ Metro710pr..
I vote NO. If most people understood that this Tollway Tunnel will charge a hefty toll, will increase traffic on the 210 which is already congested, will not improve traffic flow, and will probably be a truck route from the Ports, they would vote NO also.

The question is phrased in such a way as to incline the reader to vote yes. This is natural. Only because I know about the massive widening of the 710 from the ports to the creation of 9 mi. toll tunnel under several earthquake faults and two aquifers, do I feel compelled to vote NO! Join the protest. This project is a mistake. It will ruin the local economy and break us in every way. Try Googling big rig accidents on 710, you'll see just in the last year over 10 and many with fire. There is no elimination of this risk with this project. It is a crazy risk. Governor Brown wants to loosen EPA standards for business and that means this project will be a cheap and dirty one but one we can't afford at any price. WHERE IS YOUR OUTRAGE?
 When we learn how many votes in this poll are actually Metro employees who have been e-mailed and asked to mark YES so they can spend $15B, and then toss those out, we may get to a real read on No support. (more info on Facebook group -- No 710 Freeway Extension)

A new busway or elevated train line to Pasadena? What East L.A. may get out of closing the 710 Freeway gap


By C. J. Salgado, January 29, 2013



 Cross section of what an elevated rail line would like on Mednick Avenue at the 60 Freeway. Rendering from Caltrans.

With memories on hand, I headed over to my alma mater where Metro and Caltrans held one of its All Communities Convening Open House at Cal State L.A. this past Saturday morning to share information about the State Route 710 (SR 710) Study. Its goal is to “improve mobility and relieve congestion in the area between State Route 2, Interstates 5, 10, 210, and 605 in East/Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.”

There are five alternative plans at this stage of the study to accomplish the goal. A lot of attention has already been given to the “Freeway Tunnel” alternative which completes the 710 freeway from Alhambra to Pasadena, certainly the most expensive of the options with cost estimated into the billions of dollars and, perhaps, the most controversial, given it will tunnel well more than 100 feet beneath communities from Alhambra to Pasadena. However, my thoughts focused on two of the other alternatives most directly affecting East Los Angeles: the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT).

The BRT would basically build a 14-mile long, high speed, high frequency bus service from East L.A. to Pasadena, beginning with its most southerly bus stop on Whittier Boulevard in East L.A. and running north initially on Atlantic Boulevard. The 60-foot articulated buses would run every 10 minutes during peak hours, using exclusive bus lanes for at least portions of the route. Sure, good planning and design would have to occur to efficiently coordinate the movements of the new buses with existing traffic flows, but this might be one of the least disruptive of the alternatives, and one of the “cheapest,” according to Andy Dayal, a traffic engineer.

The LRT would involve constructing a Metro rail line, again, with its most southern point beginning in East L.A. There would be an “aerial” station on Mednik Avenue to be built, adjacent to the existing Metro Gold Line’s East L.A. Civic Center Station. Trains would run from East L.A. for about 7.5 miles at up to 65 mph to Pasadena, using mostly elevated structures of 25-30 feet high and bored-tunnel sections, too. I remember as a young boy growing up in East L.A. being thrilled with excitement upon hearing my father telling us we’d be able to go to Disneyland. Never would I have imagined then that a rail line like Disneyland’s Monorail could one day be a reality in East L.A. Unfortunately, with this option, some private properties would have to be acquired.
This study seeks to increase transit service and connectivity in the region, but some locals are worried about some of the negative consequences- loss of local business, for example. Both BRT and LRT would certainly increase access to the Pasadena area, as well as communities and points of interests along the way. However, one big problem facing East L.A., particularly in the Whittier Shopping District, has to do with keeping consumers shopping locally. Many locals already go outside of East L.A. to shop. The fear is that with the BRT or LRT, East L.A. businesses, already weakened by the poor economy, would have an even harder time attracting consumers who would then have ready access to shopping districts in more affluent communities served by the new transit systems. That is, unless East L.A. businesses enhance their consumer appeal, you might see a net outflow of shoppers.

Although, Frank Quon, Metro’s Executive Officer, Highway Program, doesn’t see it that way. Despite some downsides, ask him and he’ll tell you it’s all good in the big picture. Raised in El Sereno, one of the communities along the 710 corridor, he explains that the BRT and LRT would greatly increase transportation access for affected communities, including East L.A. He tells of his youth when his mother, who worked in Commerce, would sometimes come home late after work, frustrated with her struggles to navigate her way home when using public transit. So he knows how tough getting around could be. More so, Quon said, the BRT and LRT would open up easier access to important educational centers in the area with these proposed transit systems connecting to East L.A. College, Pasadena City College, Cal State L.A., and even Cal Tech. No doubt, that would be a big plus to the many local youths struggling to get an education.

So, how do we connect? Not everyone agrees on which of the proposed alternatives would be the best one to pursue. However, many would agree that inevitably increasing congestion in the future could only further worsen the burdens on existing transportation systems, affected neighborhoods, and ever curtailed mobility. The SR 710 Study offers an opportunity to provide a viable solution. Community members must participate, though, so that the selected alternative indeed reflects sound reasoning by an inclusive and broad representation of those most affected, sharing in the burdens and benefits of whatever is implemented. A decision is coming in 2015. Time to listen and be heard now.

Learn more about the study at www.metro.net/sr710study.


LaHood to Leave Transportation Department


By Michael D. Shear


Ray LaHood, the former Republican congressman from Illinois who has run the nation’s Transportation Department under President Obama, will not serve a second term, he told department employees in a letter on Tuesday.
Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, will not serve a second term.

“I’ve told President Obama, and I’ve told many of you, that this is the best job I’ve ever had. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of you,” Mr. LaHood wrote. He cited the department’s efforts to curb distracted driving and to increase the efficiency of automobiles by raising emissions standards.

As transportation secretary, Mr. LaHood was at the center of efforts to reduce fatigue among pilots
and called for greater investment in high-speed rail. He also pushed for large fines against Toyota for safety problems and for a new transportation bill in Congress.

“We have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines, and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows,” he said. “We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.”

Mr. LaHood’s decision makes him the latest in a series of members of the president’s original cabinet to announce their departure in the last several weeks.

In a statement, Mr. Obama praised Mr. LaHood, the last remaining Republican from the president’s first-term cabinet, as a public servant who has been more interested in practical solutions than in partisan politics.

“Years ago, we were drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent,” the president wrote.
“And Ray has never wavered in that belief.”

Several people have been mentioned as possible replacements for Mr. LaHood at the Transportation Department. Among them: Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles; Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania; Debbie Hersman, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board; and Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic governor of Michigan.

Environmental lawsuit against state bullet train settled


January 28, 2013

 The state's bullet train agency said Monday that it settled one of three pending environmental lawsuits brought against the project in the Central Valley.

The city of Chowchilla agreed to drop its suit, the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced. The agreement provides that the city can get its attorney fees of up to $300,000 reimbursed.

The authority has faced three suits combined that were brought under the California Environmental Quality Act. In addition to the Chowchilla case, they included one brought by Madera Farm Bureau, Madera County, the Chowchilla Water District and others that allege the authority failed to consider all of the impacts of the project. The third suit involved a private company. The two remaining suits are going forward.

An earlier legal effort by the plaintiffs to get an injunction that would have halted the project was rejected by a judge, leaving the dispute to be resolved in an April trial. The inability to get an injunction appeared to dim the prospect that the localities could win their case.

In addition to the environmental lawsuits, the authority is facing a suit that alleges the bullet train project does not conform to restrictions placed on it by voters when they approved a $9.95-billion bond measure in 2008. The suit alleges that the rail agency lacks all of the funding necessary to complete an initial usable segment once construction begins, an apparent requirement contained in the bond measure.

The authority hopes to begin construction in Madera and Fresno counties on the first 29-mile segment of the rail in July, and hailed the Chowchilla settlement as bringing the start of construction a step closer.

“We greatly appreciate the city of Chowchilla’s willingness to come to the table and work with the authority to resolve this case,” said Jeff Morales, the rail authority's chief executive officer.

Senior citizens drive infrastructure spending


 By Kathryn Smith, January 28, 2013



 Seniors are shown riding a bus. | AP Photo

 Some mayors are thinking about ways of encouraging seniors to move back to the city.
It’s no secret that America’s population is getting old.

And aside from figuring out the future of Medicare and Social Security, policymakers have another big challenge: helping older people get out and about.

That mobility actually plays an underappreciated role in health and well-being — and mayors and state officials are beginning to make it part of how they think about infrastructure spending. They are making the case that planning and building ahead for the rapidly aging population should be a big consideration as they divvy up their state budgets.

It was one of the themes raised at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting this month in Washington. And some mayors are thinking about ways of encouraging seniors to move from the suburbs back to the city.

That way, they can take advantage of the infrastructure in place and build from that.

“The more we can do to attract baby boomers to the heart of the city, the better off our city will be,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said at the conference, which included a panel on this topic.

By 2050, America’s population of people older than 65 will exceed 88 million — more than double that population in 2010, according to the Administration on Aging.

Policies that help older people “age in place” without relocating or moving into facilities like nursing homes are key to keeping an aging population connected — even after they give up their car keys — health advocates say. But they need to be mobile. An 85-year-old who can’t get transportation to the doctor to control her five chronic diseases, for instance, is at risk of ending up in an ambulance instead. And there are social and emotional consequences, as well — which in turn affect health.

“The whole deal with healthy aging is to stay connected and stay involved, and the enemy of healthy aging is social isolation,” Ruth Finkelstein, senior vice president for policy and planning at The New York Academy of Medicine, told the panel.

Research suggests that the “single most important predictor” of life expectancy in the U.S. is a rich social network and social engagement, Finkelstein told POLITICO.
A Short History of Traffic "Engineering" 




Very short and enlightening

Will It Take an Earthquake to Bring the Subway to the Sea?


Joel Epstein

January 28, 2013


Where are all the catastrophic earthquakes when you need one? Nineteen years ago last week, Los Angeles and much of the L.A. region were paralyzed when the Northridge earthquake decimated critical public infrastructure including sections of the Santa Monica Freeway.

Of course I am not wishing for an earthquake, mudslide or fire. What I am hoping and praying for is my usual elusive L.A. fantasy: a subway to the sea, a north-south rail or bus rapid transit (BRT) line that will speed passengers from the San Fernando Valley to LAX and the South Bay, and a court docket free of NIMBY lawsuits by misguided and mean-spirited neighbors who seem to pine for the good old days of smog alerts and a city defined by restrictive covenants that limited African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Jews and others to certain neighborhoods in the city.

As any good student of L.A. history can tell you, following the Northridge quake the Santa Monica freeway was rebuilt in less than three months. According to an April 6, 1994 article in the Los Angeles Times:
Spurred by the promise of an extra $200,000 a day for every day work was completed ahead of schedule, the contractor... will finish the project 74 days before a June 24 deadline and rack up a $14.5-million bonus for the company. The high-speed construction was made possible by crews working around the clock, seven days a week, and by state officials cutting through red tape.
These sorts of incentive contracts are commonplace today, spurring contractors to complete infrastructure construction work ahead of schedule. Still, how many Metro employees have spent their entire career at the agency and its predecessor agencies driving to work because the long-promised subway and other transit improvements came decades late or never came at all? Sure, there is much to celebrate in the current boom in Metro construction. No one, save Darrell Clarke of Friends for Expo Transit, will be happier than Joel lui-même to ride Expo from 7th Street in downtown L.A. to the Colorado terminus near the Pier in Santa Monica.

With the president of the United States showing welcome courage in confronting gun advocates on gun control, we need a similar concerted push to get built the transit improvements this city needed desperately as long ago as the Northridge quake. I like what I am hearing from the front-runner candidates for mayor about rapid transit. Now what we need is an ironclad contract that gets Metro and the City to guarantee that the subway and a line through the Sepulveda Pass will be built pronto, not someday, as prior generations of City Council members, mayors and Congress members said they hoped for, when some of them were actually voting against the subway.

And please, even if public transit is not anything you can hold your nose long enough to ride on, join the rest of us in showing your disgust at the eternal construction on the 405. I doubt even the smartest among us can understand and explain why that project will take years rather than months or a year at most to complete.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, after the Northridge quake, a study by the governor's Office of Planning and Research concluded that the closure of the Santa Monica Freeway cost the economy of Los Angeles and neighboring communities about $1 million a day. Multiply that number by 365 days times 30 years, and adjust for inflation and you start to get an idea how devastating the lack of rapid transit options for millions of LA workers has been on the region's economy.
Speaking in 1994, then governor Pete Wilson said, "This freeway, with its broken bridges, broken connectors, became one of the most visible signs of the devastation brought upon Los Angeles by the Northridge earthquake. Now its rebuilding and its reopening... will serve as one of the... symbols of the energy of this great community."

It shouldn't take an earthquake to bring the subway to the sea. The Metro Board's unholy alliance of South L.A. and North Valley Supervisors needs to stop grandstanding on issues like Beverly Hills and Crenshaw and join the rest of the Board in demanding that construction go forward at many times the speed at which it is currently proceeding. It is past time that Angelenos has a transportation agency that worked as one to deliver a rapid transit system worthy of the creative energy of this otherwise world-class city.
You Need Us To Tax Us, So Create Us A Nexus!


Ken Alpern, January 29, 2013 



THE POSSIBILITIES - As I stated in my last CityWatch article, very large public works projects (like a Valley/Westside Rail or LAX/MetroRail link, or the I-710 Pasadena tunnel freeway project) were not ideally addressed via “public/private partnerships”. 

In fact, such discussion usually is an admission we haven’t addressed how to fund such projects at all.

So when pie-in-the-sky ideas are raised about creating these partnerships, yet we know that an insufficiently-promoted Measure J almost passed the 2/3 voting threshold, it makes more sense to focus on partnerships for smaller, more local projects while fixing what we know will probably work: a more attractive and more promoted Measure J-like effort.

At a more local level, the City of Los Angeles just dropped a hastily-proposed $3 billion bond measure to repair our aging streets, and the County of Los Angeles just dropped an equally hastily-proposed (and rather sneaky) parcel tax measure to clean our county water system and reduce ocean pollution runoff.

So shall we conclude that Angelenos and other County residents don’t care about our crumbling roads, aging sewer infrastructure, and unclean rivers and oceans?  Hardly—although most of us probably are infuriated as to why our taxes aren’t already addressing those needs.

Furthermore, the concepts of an improved 21st Century freeway system still exist, such as an already-proposed I-5 widening from the I-605 to the I-710 freeways, or a City of Inglewood-proposed new freeway connector at/near/above La Cienega from LAX to the I-10 freeway as an alternative to the Westside I-405 freeway. 

Even more exciting is the concept of a “Los Angeles Big Dig” to significantly widen the I-10 and I-5 freeways Downtown, which would capture the hearts and minds of commuters who seek to bring our freeway system out of its current 1950’s mode of existence.

From the rail end of our transportation network, taxpayers are equally fascinated by the concept of a MetroRail/LAX link (and will be able to weigh in this spring on how best to do just that), and an underground subway project to connect the San Fernando Valley to the Westside.

Another intriguing possibility is a dual Crenshaw/LAX Line “Phase Two” that would connect LAX-bound commuters on an extended Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line both to the Wilshire Subway and (via an Inglewood branching) directly to Downtown.  Exciting also is a countywide Green Line/Metrolink Initiative to connect and extend Metrolink and MetroRail to the South Bay, Norwalk, and Ontario Airport.

And, of course, we’d like our roads and alleys and sidewalks to finally be as beautiful and usable as they were always intended to be.

The taxpaying public, as beleaguered as it is, remains committed to creating and fixing quality transportation/infrastructure projects and is probably willing to raise taxes in order to do it, so long as:

1) Enough reform is performed with current public sector budgeting, because most taxpayers remain outraged that current spending is wasted on inefficiency, self-serving public sector unions, and just plain lousy spending priorities. 

There must be greater proof to taxpayers that the money can’t be raised already from current tax revenues if government can just clean up its act.  There needs to be a link, a NEXUS, between a government that sufficiently tightens its belt and a government that asks more of its taxpayers—Governor Brown barely did it, but the City of L.A. is nowhere close to improving its spending/budgeting credibility.

2) The fundraising request is for quality projects with transparent budgets to please both the analysts and the taxpayers, and with the private and public sectors working together to improve our transportation/infrastructure needs to achieve results that will further our region’s economic opportunities. 

There needs to be a link, a NEXUS, between what businesses pay for and get in return—the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association just replaced 19 aged ficus trees that were destroying sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and did so with a private/public partnership that combined the efforts of Maxine Waters, Bill Rosendahl, the Westchester Business Improvement District and neighborhood volunteers.

3) The public is allowed IN to the taxing process, and there’s a guaranteed return from what people pay for and what they get. 

If homeowners and property owners are expected to pay more for parcel taxes, they will want a link, a NEXUS, between their increased property taxes (already at dubiously-high levels) and an overdue repair and beautification of surface streets, sidewalks and alleys they can see.

(And would it be too much to ask the City and County of Los Angeles, as “pro-environment” as it claims to be, to let any contracting nurseries know that native plants will be promoted in order to restore our disappearing fauna, and to reduce both water usage and costs of any trees needed to replace any destructive ficus trees?  Their opposition to date to native trees is mind-boggling and cost-ineffective.)

4) Spending is done by everyone, and is as cost-effective as possible.  Asking one group of taxpayers to take care of everyone else’s needs invariably attracts enough opposition to sink even the worthiest of endeavors. 

Renters, homeowners, businesses, out-of-town customers, and especially developers all add to the wear and tear of our transportation and infrastructure grids.  There needs to be a link, a NEXUS, between what we ask of taxpayers, volunteers and developers, and what they have done to both contribute to the problem and contribute to fixing the problem.

Rerouting business taxes and fees towards fixing adjacent alleys, raising parking fees to create dedicated sidewalk repair funds, empowering neighborhood councils to cooperate with the City to promote volunteers and funding efforts in order to fix key sidewalks and roads and alleys within their boundaries at the next Mayor’s Day of Service are some novel ideas.

Asking nonviolent criminal offenders and debt-burdened college students to provide sweat equity while allowing them to start over by constructing public works projects are other novel ideas. 

Allowing homeowners with upside-down mortgages to cooperate with banks and businesses to assist in these public works projects and allow their mortgages to be partially forgiven is yet another idea.

Being fair, and being innovative, and being industrious, are not mutually exclusive—there’s a link, a NEXUS, between agonizing over our transportation/infrastructure problems and fixing them to the satisfaction of both government and taxpayers alike.
Take a look at Seattle Tunnel Cost Information

In an e-mail from Sylvia Plummer:


Both bids were just below the state limit of $1.09 billion — after the Department of Transportation (DOT) sweetened the deal this summer by offering the teams $210 million additional pay for inflation and insurance costs, and other incentive bonuses.

Near the end of the article:

The full Seattle tunnel budget, including design and overhead, is $2 billion (which includes $1.09 billion contract for construction of tunnel), and the entire Highway 99 corridor cost is $3.1 billion, counting ramps and interchanges at each end.
METRO estimate for 710 tunnel = $5.4 billion ?????
 I think Metro multiplied $1.09 billion by 5 = $5.45 billion  (5 x 1.7 miles = 8.5 miles).  710 tunnels add up to more than 9 miles. Peggy Drouet insert: This is what Metro seems to have done. See video starting from 1:12 minutes in:
----  Did METRO include cost for:  Four (4) boring machines,  emergency access tunnels connecting the tunnels (can't use the 4 boring machines for this), scrubbers at each entrance, bridge replacements in Pasadena (Union, Colorado & Green St.), bridge removal (Del Mar),  ramps and interchanges.  Also design, cost over runs and overhead.
This does not add up close to METRO's estimated cost in my book.  And consider that the tunnels will not get built for more than 10 years from now, inflation should be included.

The Seattle Times Article:

Winning team promises to build a wider Highway 99 tunnel, a year sooner

The Highway 99 tunnel will be 2 feet wider than expected and could open a year earlier than the state requires, if all goes according to plans in the winning bid chosen Thursday.

By Mike Lindblom, December 10, 2012

The Highway 99 tunnel will be 2 feet wider than expected and could open a year earlier than the state requires, if all goes according to plans in the winning bid chosen Thursday.

While state leaders including Gov. Chris Gregoire celebrated the news at a live bid opening in downtown Seattle, city leaders were predictably split. City Council President Richard Conlin said the plan is "even better than what we were expecting," while Mayor Mike McGinn quipped that the winning team will "have enough money to buy WashDOT a pizza."

The winning team, Seattle Tunnel Partners, intends to use a world record 58-foot-diameter machine to drill through a mix of fill soil, clay, glacial till and boulders, at depths of up to 200 feet from Sodo to South Lake Union.

And it would finish by the end of 2015, or 10 months sooner than the state's deadline.

Both bids were just below the state limit of $1.09 billion — after the Department of Transportation (DOT) sweetened the deal this summer by offering the teams $210 million additional pay for inflation and insurance costs, and other incentive bonuses. "They gave away the store, to make sure those bids came in," McGinn complained.

Tunnel Partners offered a price slightly higher than the runner-up team, Seattle Tunneling Group. But Tunnel Partners prevailed because its plan for schedule and design made the net value to DOT better.

"They beat our schedule by almost an entire calendar year,"said Ron Paananen, administrator for the state DOT tunnel program.

However, that merely moves the state back to its original promise of 2015 — before DOT this spring loosened its deadline to Nov. 1, 2016, based on concerns from tunnel teams. The state offered incentives of up to $25 million if tunnelers could finish sooner.

A larger boring machine allows an 8-foot shoulder in each direction, instead of the 6 feet shown in DOT design concepts, said Jack Frost, executive vice president of Tutor-Perini Corp., one of the partners. The extra 2 feet will offer a safety margin for stalled cars.

David Dye, deputy transportation secretary, called the machine a "Cadillac" model that will cost the builders extra money upfront on high-tech cutting tools, in hopes of drilling faster.

Several details about the winning bidder's plan won't be revealed until January, when a contract is signed and DOT pays a $4 million stipend to each team, in effect buying their intellectual property.

Thursday's live bid opening, unprecedented in this state, was held at Union Station in Seattle. The packed board room included construction workers in orange vests and hard hats, who applauded, and at one point, let out a military-style whoop.
 Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond emphasized that both teams earned design points surpassing DOT expectations.

"Competition is what makes us great, and this was a very, very competitive selection process," said Gregoire.

Bidders were required to show what methods they'd use to prevent soil disruptions that could damage downtown buildings, while the machine digs and vibrates at depths as low as 200 feet.
Paananen said the winning team offered advanced technology for measuring the rate of soil removal — if too much dirt is removed, that creates voids and the potential for the ground or buildings to sink. Sound Transit's Beacon Hill project caused several gaps that were discovered months later and nearly swallowed a house.
Seattle Tunnel Partners also won points for promising a narrower south portal than expected, by double-decking some of the roadway there, said Paananen.
Conlin said it's astonishing the winning team offered so many features.

But Councilman Mike O'Brien said the numbers make him queasy.

"For the city's sake, I was hoping that we'd see bids a couple hundred million under budget, seeing as the state gave away a couple hundred million in contingencies a few months ago," he said. "... that doesn't leave us much protection going forward."

Seattle-area firms Frank Coluccio Construction and Mowat Construction are members of the winning team, along with Dragados-USA, from New York; HNTB, which has a Bellevue office; and Tutor-Perini, of Sylmar, Calif. Dragados was a prime contractor on a 50-foot-wide highway tunnel finished in Madrid, Spain, in 2008.

Earlier, state tunnel managers predicted bidders would need a 55- to 56-foot machine worth $80 million — and even at that size, the project was "beyond precedent" and therefore financially risky, according to Thom Neff, a veteran project leader who reviewed the contract provisions this summer for McGinn, a tunnel critic.

The full tunnel budget, including design and overhead, is $2 billion, and the entire Highway 99 corridor cost is $3.1 billion, counting ramps and interchanges at each end.

Four teams originally qualified to bid, but two dropped out, leaving two teams that delivered boxes of plans Oct. 29 in Olympia.

The runner-up Seattle Tunneling Group is made up of: S.A. Healy Co., from Lombard, Ill.; Spain's FCC Construction; S.A. Parsons Transportation Group, which has a Seattle office; and Halcrow, which has an office in Vancouver, B.C.

Meanwhile, a new anti-tunnel initiative was filed Thursday by a coalition including the Sierra Club, in hopes the City Council will avoid signing land-use and utility deals with state DOT's tunneling group, unless state lawmakers agree to protect city taxpayers from cost overruns.

Another campaign, Initiative 101, aimed at the May ballot, has already gathered 16,000 signatures, with a goal of 25,000 names, its boosters say. I-101 leaders favor a new elevated highway or retrofitting the existing Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The 1953 viaduct was weakened in the 2001 Nisqually quake, and the state says it would fail in the event of another strong quake.

In addition, tunnel boosters are eager to put traffic below ground, in hopes of creating a quieter, more pleasant waterfront.

Many opponents argue the money would be better spent on transit and improving Interstate 5, to reduce carbon emissions, instead of a massive highway investment.

The future of Union Station — take Metro’s online survey!


January 28, 2013


One of the more exciting things going on is
Metro's purchase of Union Station in April 2011. With this purchase, Metro kicked off an effort to develop a Master Plan to make it a 21st century transit station.

Metro is giving you the chance to chime in on this effort through an online survey available now through February 4th.

A few fun facts for you to consider:

•Union Station opened in 1939.

•About 6,000 people used the station on a daily basis during its rookie year.

•Roughly 60,000 people pass through Union Station each day in 2013.

•In 2020, that’s projected to rise to 100,000 people a day with the completion of the Gold Line
Foothill Extension to Azusa, the Expo Line to Santa Moncia and the Regional Connector that will tie together the Gold, Blue and Expo lines. There remains the possibility that high-speed rail one day might arrive at Union Station.

What should be done to ensure that Union Station has an appropriate mix of options onsite while also providing an excellent transit experience? It only takes a minute or two to fill out the survey to include your “vision” for the West's classiest train station!
If you’re around Union Station, you may also see people with paper surveys available.

I didn't take the survey when it landed in my inbox because there wasn't any place to put comments on it.  Metro only wanted you to answer the questions that they wanted answered. But if you go to the website above, there is a place for comments. My comment:

Peggy Drouet on said: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Not a good survey as there was no place for comments, so I didn’t fill it in. My comments: the last two times I took the elevator up to the Gold Line its windows were disgustingly dirty. So please clean them before you work on the rest of Union Station. I would rather that you don’t touch the old station. Leave it as it is as a period piece but put the restaurant back in operation. It is fun walking through the old station as it takes one back in time. We don’t have that much old in So. Calif. so we need reminders of how things looked in the past.

Doo Dah Parade to hit the streets in Pasadena on April 27


January 28, 2013

 A drum major and bag pipers kicked off the 2012  Doo Dah Parade on Colorado Boulevard last year.

 A drum major and bag pipers kicked off the 2012 Doo Dah Parade on Colorado Boulevard last year.


 Doo Dah Parade revelers will roll, march and stumble their way down East Colorado Boulevard once again on April 27, organizers announced on Monday.

This year’s festivities will mark the 36th celebration of Doo Dah, said Patricia Hurley of the nonprofit Light Bringer Project, which has managed the Doo Dah Parade since 1994.

It will also be the parade’s fourth year on Pasadena’s east side, with participants making loops along Colorado between San Gabriel Boulevard and Altadena Drive.
A recent Doo Dah retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of History increased interest in the parade, Hurley said.

”(The exhibit) ignited a lot of new excitement for old timers to get back into the whole Doo Dah scene and be a part of it again, and we’re going to be using a lot of social media to invite younger people to participate,” she said.

A street-theater happening that’s often billed as a spoof of the Rose Parade, the Doo Dah Parade features playful and eccentric floats and performances that encourage audience participation.

Participants have included the Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team, the Disco Drill Team, a completely hairless Uncle Fester, a motorized pastry brigade, vampire fishermen, countless cross-dressers and a group marching as the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin.

Organizers will hold tryouts to crown this year’s Doo Dah Queen on April 7 at American Legion Post 280, 179 N. Vinedo St., Pasadena.

Queen contestants include “individuals of all genders, shapes, ages and persuasions (who) are usually outnumbered by equally costumed judges,” states the parade’s website.