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, February 12, 2013

More Comments on SR-710 North Study: what's on the table and what's off the table-7


  1. For the sake of conversation: Bus rapid transit (East LA to Pas), light rail (East LA to Pas) and traffic signal and intersection improvements between Alhambra and Pasadena all sound better than a tunnel. Maybe there should be more promotion of those things? Is there an explainer page I can go to without the offensive tunnel thing on it to distract me? Or a simple disclaimer exclaimer explainer that says something like, A,B,C –Have all three of these alternatives or have this bloody stinking tunnel which was sold to certain mayors by a single-modal traveling salesman in 1972. He’s dead now. He was run over by a truck.Let’s move on.
  2. Hi Peggy;
    No, you keep asking them so that you can answer them with your own version of what you have decided is right and wrong. I’m doing my best to provide answers to the questions that I can answer.
    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source
  3. Hi Peggy;
    Appendix T specifically mentions the Raymond Fault as the major active earthquake fault in the study area. The appendix does not list every earthquake that has happened on every fault in the study area, but focuses on the larger and more important issue: displacement. For those interested in reading the appendix and information about displacement along the Raymond Fault, here is the link: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/docs/appendices/Appendix%20T%20Geotechnical%20Study%20Technical%20Memorandum.pdf
  4. No, I and others do not keep asking questions so that we can answer them with our own version of what we have decided is right or wrong. We wish to know if our “versions” are correct ones or not. Metro seems to wish that we take every study, every fact, every statement, every analysis, etc., made or presented by them as the absolute truth that should not be questioned or argued with. They appear to want to be the sole arbitrators. I believe we had hoped that your would present our questions to someone who could more adequately answer them if you thought you didn’t have the knowledge to answer them yourself. There is much literature that is in conflict with some of Metro’s “assumptions.” Is Metro always correct (right) and other studies and opinions always incorrect (wrong)?

Bay Area stuck with congestion like L.A.'s


By Michael Cabanatuan, February 11, 2013

Traffic backups get bad at the Bay Bridge toll plaza. Now we're jammed into the same category as L.A. - by some measures. Photo: Noah Berger, Special To The Chronicle

 Traffic backups get bad at the Bay Bridge toll plaza. Now we're jammed into the same category as L.A. - by some measures.

The Bay Area's traffic congestion is as bad as Los Angeles', according to the latest version of a respected national transportation study. For Bay Area residents, this may seem unfathomable, unthinkable and an insult to regional pride.

Anyone who's sat in one of the Southern California parking lots called a freeway knows that traffic there seems far more pervasive, persistent and painful than it does in the Bay Area. But according to the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report, the San Francisco-Oakland region is indeed tied with L.A. for second place - behind Washington, D.C. - for yearly delay caused by congestion.

According to the study, car commuters here and in Los Angeles each endure 61 hours per year of delays, tied for second place among the nation's 15 largest metropolitan regions and 101 urban areas in the study. Washington topped the list at 67 hours.

But are we really as bad as L.A.?

"The numbers say that," said David Schrank, associate research scientist at the institute, part of Texas A&M University. "But I think the San Francisco congestion is a little bit different."

Bridges, tunnels, tolls

Much of the Bay Area backup, he said, is due to bridges, tunnels and toll collection, whereas Los Angeles' gridlock is the product of an overwhelming volume of cars and trucks crammed onto its massive collection of concrete arteries. The Bay Area's congestion at the peak of the commute is less extreme than in many metro areas, he said, which means that traffic backups outside of the normal commute periods contribute to the region's overall delay rankings.

Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the Bay Area likely suffers more weekend backups than most areas, citing Interstate 80 traffic through Berkeley and Emeryville, I-80 in Solano County on Sunday nights, and Highway 101 in Sonoma County.

"Our weekend traffic is often worse than weekday traffic," he said. "That's not true in most metropolitan areas."

Schrank was also quick to point out that the delay ranking, while the most publicized, is just one of about 20 in the study. Looking at them all, he said, gives a clearer picture of the Bay Area's traffic congestion and its impacts - especially in comparison with Los Angeles. Here are some other categories and rankings about the impact on drivers:

-- Travel time index, contrasting the time it takes for a commuter to make a trip in peak congestion with the time it takes in free-flowing traffic: San Francisco-Oakland 23rd; Los Angeles first.

-- Excess fuel consumption because of congestion: San Francisco-Oakland was sixth, at 25 gallons a year; Los Angeles third, at 27 gallons; Washington first, at 32 gallons.

-- Yearly congestion cost per commuter: San Francisco-Oakland was fourth, at $1,266; Los Angeles second, at $1,300; Washington first, at $1,398.

Looking at cumulative congestion, other regions are far worse than the Bay Area, which ranked eighth with 155 million extra hours spent sitting in traffic. That's far below first-place New York's total of 544 million hours and second-place Los Angeles' 501
million hours.
The annual cost of congestion to the Bay Area - including delays, excess fuel consumption and truck delays - is $3.3 billion, or eighth. That compares with No. 1 New York, at $11.8 billion, and No. 2 Los Angeles, at $10.8 billion.

Measures that help

Bay Area congestion would be much worse, the study found, were it not for the extensive public transportation system and use of operational approaches such as ramp metering, carpool lanes and traffic signal coordination. The region ranked third in the nation, behind Los Angeles and New York, for reducing traffic through such operational approaches, and fourth behind New York, Chicago and Boston for trimming traffic with transit.

For many commuters, the worst part of congestion is not the wasted time or gas - it's the stress. But the Bay Area ranks very low on the commuter stress index. We're No. 37 nationally.

"You guys are more laid back," Schrank chuckled.

The stress index is similar to the travel time index, comparing "travel time in the peak period to the travel time at free-flow conditions," but specifically "for the peak directions of travel." Honolulu ranked No. 1.

So, really, is the Bay Area backup as bad as L.A. gridlock?

"I don't know," Rentschler said. "Where we are bad, we are probably as bad as L.A. But in sheer scale, L.A. has more bad. We may have two or three spots that are miserable, but they probably have eight or nine - or more."


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushes for paid parking, other moneymakers at LA Zoo


By Rick Orlov, February 11, 2013

 Pushing to make changes before his term is up June 30, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Los Angeles Zoo officials to develop a strategic plan regarding ways to end the city-funded subsidy and employee pension costs at the facility.

Villaraigosa said he also wanted the zoo to submit an annual review of its memorandum of understanding with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and develop ways to improve GLAZA's marketing of the zoo to bring in more revenue and visitors.

While the mayor had wanted to bring in a non-profit to operate the zoo, independent of the city, he acknowledged that will not be possible. Still, he continues to look for ways to reduce the annual $1.3 million subsidy to the zoo, in addition to the employee pension costs.

"Over the course of my administration, the city's severe fiscal challenges have required us to improve the LA Zoo's self-sufficiency and reduce the dependence on the general fund," Villaraigosa said, noting the subsidy has been reduced from more than $11 million to the current $1.3 million.

But, he said, the zoo needs to cut the subsidy even more.

Villaraigosa said he wants zoo administrators to look at ways to bring in more revenue including charging for parking for the first time, developing a 4D theater and other attractions, as well as applying to become a sign district to bring in revenue from billboards.

The mayor's plan to bring in a non-profit or develop a public-private partnership ran into trouble when the city attorney's office said city workers could not be managed by non-city supervisors.
Also, the city unions have resisted the change, saying they are concerned about workers losing their jobs, and any reduction in the professional care of the animals.

New Route, Major Changes in LB Transit Began Yesterday


By Brian Addison, February 12, 2013


Major changes take effect this week on multiple Long Beach Transit (LBT) routes. But the biggest change is the creation of a new 11-mile 176 Zap Route.

The new 176 ZAP was funded through a special federal operating grant–the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)–scored by LBT. The program itself is intended to improve access to transportation services to employment and employment-related activities. LBT scored the second highest out of 12 projects from other agencies to receive said grant.

The 176 ZAP will travel between the west side near Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Fe Avenue and end at the Lakewood Mall above Long Beach Airport via Lakewood Boulevard.

The creation of the 176 was key in two major ways: it added another ZAP line to the fleet–meaning it only stops at major cross streets–and it deeply connects the westside (e.g. Cabrillo High School, Villages at Cabrillo, Technology Park, etc) with access to major connection points, mostly intended to help workers and students better commute as the purpose of the grant emphasized. It not only stops at the Blue Line, but also will connect riders to both Long Beach City College campuses, Kaiser, Long Beach Community Medical Center, CSULB’s student housing on PCH, the hotel consortium on Lakewood, the airport, Douglas Park, Boeing, Lakewood High School, and as previously mentioned, the Lakewood Mall.

The first 176 pickup at Technology Place is at 6:46AM and will occur every thirty minutes after, with a total route time of 48 minutes.


McClatchy Muckrakers Expose Seedy Underbelly of the Highway Bonanza


By Tanya Snyder, February 12, 2013


The 46,000-mile interstate system was completed in 1991, costing a total of $216 billion (in 2012 dollars). Since then, these seven interstate highways - totaling 2,800 miles -- have been built at the cost of $45.4 billion. They were funded through Congressional earmarks.

The work of a sustainable transportation reporter can be a lonely lot. But it’s a lot less lonely now that two McClatchy reporters, Curtis Tate and Greg Gordon, have taken up the mantle of exposing wasteful road expansion.
With their far-reaching and well-researched three-part series, published last Sunday, Tate and Gordon brought stories of highway corruption and waste to a mainstream print audience. They spent four months researching the series, digging into 15 years of campaign finance records and interviewing leaders inside and outside of the transportation field.
“America’s highway system,” they wrote, “once a symbol of freedom and mobility envied the world over, is crumbling physically and financially, the potentially disastrous consequence of a politically driven road-building binge.”
Kentucky and South Carolina still gripped by highway madness
Tate is from the same hometown as Rep. Hal Rogers, the powerful Kentucky Republican who wields the gavel of the Appropriations Committee in the House. Tate couldn’t help but notice that Kentucky was using its federal formula funds to build Rogers’ pet project (I-66) while borrowing against future federal highway funds to do badly needed maintenance and repair work. The state has even used $4.2 million in interstate maintenance funds for I-66, despite the fact that the project didn’t meet the necessary criteria.
Meanwhile, although surrounding states have given up on their plans to create a new interstate, I-69, Kentucky charges forth. Rogers and Democratic Governor Steve Beshear “have received large contributions from road builders and highway engineers” but deny that these donations have influenced their zealous cheerleading for the project. Kentucky’s part of the new interstate will essentially stitch together three existing roads and slap the number 69 on them – meanwhile widening shoulders and reconfiguring interchanges simply to meet interstate standards. Tate and Gordon said that their “examination of campaign finance data revealed a mutually beneficial relationship between Kentucky highway contractors and their local and state elected officials.”
But this story doesn’t end with Kentucky. The push to get I-73 built in South Carolina is just as unsavory (although it doesn’t end, as the Kentucky story does, with the former governor and 15 members of his administration getting indicted on corruption charges related to politicking in the transportation department).

It's not going to happen.

In South Carolina, business leaders wanted a straight path (read: six-lane highway) from I-95 to Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist destination. They commissioned economic studies, bought ads, lobbied elected officials, brought 75 members of Congress down to Myrtle Beach for tours, and paid handsomely into campaign war chests. Supporters, like Senator Lindsey Graham, promised it would be the “largest economic development project in South Carolina history.”

Environmentalists had an alternative plan to upgrade the parallel U.S. 501 at a tenth of the cost, without destroying the wetlands that lie in the path of the proposed route. They said it would provide nearly the same economic benefit.

Power brokers in Congress and business have secured hundreds of millions of dollars for related activities, like building a bypass. I-73 was designated a “Project of Regional and National Significance,” entitling it to a pot of money for such projects that really ended up being a slush fund for Congressional earmarks.

Thankfully, the road still hasn’t been built. Neither has the lower-cost alternative. The state simply ran out of money.

South Carolina has the benefit of having a state infrastructure bank that’s been spotlighted as a model for the nation. But that infrastructure bank is out of money, too.

As the final nail in the coffin, two months after the South Carolina Transportation Commission voted in March 2007 to name I-73 the state’s top transportation priority, Transportation Department engineers evaluating the project found that it didn’t meet their state-mandated criteria. Late last year, the commission finally voted to cancel the project – but supporters won’t let it die. They say they’re “pressing forward.”

As Tate and Gordon illustrate, this battle between highway fantasy and budget reality is nothing new for the Palmetto state:
South Carolina’s state-owned highway network grew during a spending splurge to more than 41,000 miles, the fourth most in the nation, even though the state ranks 40th in land area.

Numerous state officials criticized rural legislators who demanded that the proceeds of a nickel-a-gallon hike in the state gasoline tax in 1987 be used to produce a maze of outlying highways.

As a result, some four-lane state highways led “from nowhere to nowhere,” such as from Abbeville to Greenwood, with a combined population of 28,000, said Republican state Rep. Tracy Edge of North Myrtle Beach, an I-73 supporter.

But times have changed in South Carolina, which was swept by anti-tax fervor and hasn’t raised its 16-cent-a-gallon gas tax in a quarter-century. It’s now the third lowest in the nation.

Jim Warren, the state Transportation Department’s chief financial officer, said South Carolina faced “a broken paradigm” in its highway funding.

Slow to fully recognize the impact of these combined forces, state officials kept commissioning highway projects until the money ran out in the summer of 2011, forcing some contractors to wait months for payment. The state also deferred maintenance, which multiplies future repair costs.

In December, South Carolina’s Transportation Infrastructure Task Force reported that it would cost $48.3 billion to bring the state’s highways to “good” condition over the next 20 years – exceeding anticipated funding by $23 billion.
The need for national transportation goals
Florida's Broad Causeway bridge has been rated as structurally deficient but the state can't keep up with maintenance needs. 

The McClatchy series doesn’t stop at Kentucky and South Carolina. Texas, California, and North Carolina also come up billions and billions short of what they’d need to keep their road systems in good repair. Florida and Washington state are finding that, with federal help less reliable and less robust than in recent years, they just can’t keep their transportation networks in good condition, much less build new infrastructure.

States are “spending too much on building highways and too little on fixing them,” write Tate and Gordon. And, they say, it’s going to cost six to 14 times more to overhaul those roads later on than it would to keep them in good shape now.

The authors point to familiar culprits: aging infrastructure, the stagnant and weakening gas tax, political concerns – and they add to that list the lack of “well-defined national transportation goals,” saying that Washington has ceded control of transportation decisions to the states, “leaving a large portion of federal money up for grabs for those with the most clout.” Although the federal government pays for up to 80 percent of states’ transportation spending, they don’t say nearly enough about where that money should go. To make matters worse, they don’t collect or publicize data about where it went.

In addition to the inadequacy of the gas tax, the authors sound a warning for states to resist the temptation to issue more bonds to pay for extravagant transportation spending. “According to Federal Highway Administration data, all states carried a combined $56 billion in road bond debt at the end of 1995, in current dollars,” the authors wrote. “By 2010, they owed $154 billion.”

What South Carolina did – put the brakes on I-73 – is actually a brave and difficult thing for a state to do when a project has developed a momentum and a constituency of its own. Tennessee has done the same thing, notably with its part of I-69, which Kentucky is still champing at the bit to build. Pennsylvania did it years ago under Transportation Secretary Al Biehler, who now advises other states on how to live within their budgets.

Tate and Gordon even make reference to the Republican war on Transportation Enhancements: “While some lawmakers railed against spending millions of federal dollars on bike paths, flower beds and train museums, others brought home vastly more money to cast their legacies in concrete, even if just to construct an interchange or a few miles of pavement.”

MAP-21 paid lip service to keeping states accountable for maintaining their roads — which would keep them from expanding highways — but many advocates worry the performance measures don’t have enough teeth to make a real difference.

New LAX Plan Lays Out Details For Airport People Mover


February 11, 2013



When the LAX airport commissioners voted on their modernization plan last week, much of the attention focused on the controversial north runway move. But there was huge people mover news, too. (It was revealed late last year that Metro and Los Angeles World Airports are finally working on a plan that would hook up a new LAX transit system to the Metro system.) Pinch yourself: the approved plan calls for a people mover to run from Manchester Square along an elevated guideway, mostly along 98th Street, to the central terminal area, where it will travel on a path between the terminal buildings and parking garages. Let's take a look at the planned stops:

Consolidated rental car facility: the people mover will start at a consolidated rental car and parking facility at Manchester Square east of Aviation Boulevard, about a mile east of the airport.

Metro light rail station: The second stop would be at the planned Crenshaw Line station at or near Aviation and Century Boulevards.

Intermodal transportation facility: the last stop outside the airport proper would be at this planned passenger pick-up/drop-off spot to be built between 96th and 98th Streets at Airport Boulevard. The facility would be used by private cars, door-to-door shuttles, and buses.

Terminal area: After crossing a bridge over Sepulveda Boulevard, the people mover would make 3 to 5 stops around the central terminal area.

The elevated guideway would require pilings as high as 20 feet, which, in the terminal area, would block views of the Theme Building. The exact path of the people mover has not been determined, but the plans will aim to keep the views unobstructed where possible. The plans also call for a portion of Lincoln Boulevard to be located "below grade and/or tunneled" and for the discontinuation of the LAX shuttle from the Green Line. Long-term parking at Lot C would continue as it is, and possibly even gain some space if the current bus facility is relocated to the intermodal transportation facility.

As with the rest of the modernization plan, the overall plan still needs city approval while the people mover project will need to be voted on separately by airport commissioners. So don't lose SuperShuttle's number just yet.

Here's a Primer on Regional Connector Work for DTLA's Flower



Though some business owners are so fearful of coming construction for the Regional Connector subway line--which will link the Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines and reduce transfers--that they've dropped a few lawsuits on the project, it won't be that scary, The Source asserts in a new video. Metro is planning to use the cut-and-cover method to build tunnels under the Financial District. The businesses think this method, which involves excavating the street and roofing it over as the tunnels are built, will disrupt commerce; they want boring machines used instead. Utilities are being moved as we speak and full-on construction starts at the end of the year.

The first big cut-and-cover work will involve piling under Flower Street, aka building poles under the street to support the new street sections. For each train tunnel (there's a westbound and eastbound, naturally), it will take between four to six weeks per block to complete the piling--it will be done during the day and only require partial street closures. Next is the decking to create the temporary road, done about 50 feet at a time for between four and six months. Then the contractor will build the three stations for 18 to 24 months. After that, the decking is removed and Flower is repaved; this will take another four or six months and will be done on weekends. Then the project opens six years from now and, hopefully, everyone is happy.

Pasadena becomes second 'fair trade' city in Southland


Daniel Siegal, February 12, 2013


Pasadena is now the second Fair Trade City in Southern California , the campaign announced Tuesday.

The declaration came with the support of the City Council and Chamber of Commerce. Pasadena
qualified for the designation due to the availability of fair trade products at local retailers like Whole Foods, the Altadena Food Co-op and Green Earth Vegan Cuisine.

Fair Trade USA says fair trade goods are those designated by a variety of organizations as having been produced under fair labor practices, such as higher wages and safe working conditions, and using sustainable agricultural practices.

Claremont was the first Southland city to get the designation, according to the campaign.
To celebrate the Fair Trade Pasadena declaration, a ribbon cutting ceremony has been scheduled for the steps of City Hall at 11 a.m. on Thursday. The ceremony will be followed with a reception featuring a variety of Fair Trade certified items, such as chocolate and coffee, courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

Pasadena is now one of roughly 1,500 municipalities worldwide to join the Fair Trade Towns campaign, a grassroots movement to encourage awareness and availability of fair trade products, according to organizers.

Officials: Pasadena Convention Center chief reinstated


By Brenda Gazzar, February 12, 2013

Michael Ross, CEO of the Pasadena Center Operating Co. that oversees the Pasadena Convention Center, was reinstated Monday after he was placed on administrative leave in December pending an investigation into an employee's claim of a hostile work environment, officials said Tuesday.
The decision was apparently made Monday in a closed session meeting of the PCOC board of directors.

City Spokesman William Boyer said a statement about the matter would be released later in the day. Ross could not be reached for comment.

Assistant City Manager Julie Gutierrez has been serving as Ross's interim replacement since mid-December.

Ross, who joined the PCOC in 2006, played a key role in the $150-million Pasadena Convention Center expansion, which was completed in February 2009, and in the new $3 million Ice Skating Center, which opened in August, 2011. In addition to the Convention Center, Ross oversaw the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium and the Pasadena Convention Center & Visitors Bureau.

Why Are We So Afraid of Being Hit by a Subway Train?


Henry Grabar, February 12, 2013

 Why Are We So Afraid of Being Hit by a Subway Train?



In the next few weeks, New Yorkers will start to see a different-looking Metro Card. The familiar blue letters on a burnt-gold face will appear mottled with drops of blood. On the back side, the friendly PSA makes way for an image of the Grim Reaper cloaked in the Metropolitan Transit Authority logo. "Use at your own risk," it warns.

It’s a flier, distributed by members of the MTA’s largest union, urging New Yorkers to sign a petition for lower train speeds entering stations.

There are a million ways to die in the city, and getting hit by a subway train is one of them. It happens just a few dozen times a year, and it happened again today. But after two high-profile subway murders this winter, one of which was controversially displayed on the front page of the New York Post, the perception of the danger has grown.

As the Transport Workers Union seeks support for slower trains, automatic braking mechanisms, and eyes on crowded platforms, the MTA has proposed both subway track sensor technology and a pilot program testing protective barriers on platforms, the latter of which would cost more than a million dollars per station.* City Council Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca called the recent deaths "a wake-up call."
If enacted, these measures could seriously change the way the subway runs, and how much it costs.

And yet, subway deaths remain exceedingly rare. The fatality rate has not changed significantly over the last decade. Of the 55 fatalities on the subway tracks in 2012, 19 were suicides. The remaining 36 accidental deaths on the New York City subway in 2012 occurred on 1.66 billion subway rides. That’s one death for every 46 million rides.*

For infrequent riders, death on the rails is less likely than being hit by lightning. If you’re a twice-a-day commuter, you’re likely to be killed once every 100,000 years. (NB: these risks are not the same for train drivers, who are lucky to go five years without a "12-9", the code for someone under a train.)

A significantly more dangerous feature of city life is car traffic. Even the most dedicated mass transit commuters are twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car than a train. One in 50,000 New Yorkers is killed by a car each year, and one in five hundred is injured. (If you haven't been hit by a car this year, one of you Facebook friends likely has.)

So why do deaths on transit so captivate the imagination of riders, officials and the media?

For one thing, the MTA, promising new safety policies, does not seem eager to counter the perception that subway collisions are cause for concern.

That wasn’t always the case. For most of its recent history, the MTA has been fighting against a public image problem in the subway, albeit one of a slightly different nature. It wasn’t the trains people feared, but the crime that occurred in and around them. Fueled by the Bernard Goetz shooting in 1984, the danger of New York City subways became a national obsession.

The MTA found the reputation hard to shake. Subway crime was indeed up – in the worst year, 1982, there were 15,364 felonies on the subway – but New Yorkers were still more likely to be a victim in the city as a whole than on the subways. Yet the perceived danger of the subways was much greater. More than half of New York subway riders, in 1984, estimated they would be robbed on the train within the year.

Jim Pickerell, EPA via Wikimedia Commons. April 1974.

At that time, officials and onlookers put forth a number of theories for why fear seemed to stick to the subway. One was its visual presence in pop culture, through both sensationalist media coverage and violent films like Death Wish and The Warriors. In 1994, the MTA decided to restrict the filming of violent scenes set in the subway, saying they gave people the wrong impression.

But could a cultural association explain the recent spike of interest in subway deaths and the “fearmongering” reaction from public officials? Whatever feelings of dread were inspired by the Post photo, it seems unlikely that our railroad-death memories of Tolstoy and old Westerns have come bubbling back to the surface.

A more convincing idea of the period is the "second neighborhood" theory, coined by Thomas Reppetto, the president of the Citizen’s Crime Commission during the 1980s. Here’s the concept: though the subway system is hundreds of miles long, through distinctive, uniform design features, any station seems instantly, intimately familiar.

For this reason, accidents and incidents tend to reverberate through the whole system. A front-page subway murder doesn’t enter our memory at one station, but at every station. So while an above-ground murder or a car accident in Times Square remains localized, a feature of a dangerous neighborhood, a man pushed to his death at the Times Square Subway station seems to occur everywhere at once.

"The sense of personal relevance is much higher," says Paul Slovic, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon who studies risk perception. That perception can override logic in determining our reaction to events.

"Gun violence often takes place in certain districts in one city which one can avoid, and we tend to ignore it," Slovic says. "In Chicago or Washington D.C. there's a lot of violence taking place, but people have the sense that they can control it by not going to these places. But if you need to use the subway for transportation, then this is happening in your daily route."

Or at least it seems to be, even when it's not. In Israel, as Eric Jaffe wrote in November, researchers interviewed hundreds of commuters in Jerusalem and Haifa after terror attacks on buses in those cities. Even in 2002, one of the deadliest years on record, mass transit commuters were still statistically safer than drivers.

For the most part, residents of both cities were aware of that. But historically, risk perception -- a gut reaction rather than a rational thought process -- is especially high in situations, like on transit, when people do not feel in control.

In Haifa, nearly a third of respondents said they had stopped riding the bus for some time after an attack. In Jerusalem, that figure was closer to a quarter. And over 75 percent of those who changed their routine switched to cars -- half to their own cars, another third to taxis. (If the attack took place on their regular bus line, more than half of respondents switched to car travel.)

Call it the "it could have been me” theory. Particular elements of infrastructure, repeated but entirely distinctive, endow accidents with eerie universality. It's like all sidewalk grates, subway platforms and fire escapes are linked by some supernatural circuit board of fear, making accidents resonant and relevant in a way a car crash never is. One manhole explodes, and everyone has manholia.

When something goes wrong on the subway, it’s hard not to think: it could have been me. Indeed, it
could have. But it’s extremely unlikely.
Chris Holden's February 2013 E-Newsletter


February 2013 E-Newsletter

Dear Friends,
Assemblymember Holden escorts Governor Jerry Brown into the Assembly Chambers for his State of the State Address on January 24.
I am off to an excellent start to my first year as your Assembly representative. As the newly appointed Majority Whip, my days are packed with meeting various constituencies. I am so honored to be working in one of the most beautiful buildings in California. I actually have a view of the Capitol dome from my office desk. If you are ever in Sacramento be sure to visit. I was pleased with Governor Brown's optimistic outlook for California in his State of the State speech. As he said, California is back, but it is going to take a lot of hard work to restore fiscal stability in the state and in the nation. I am committed to restoring California's economy by stimulating private sector business, encouraging job creation, expanding light rail in the San Gabriel Valley, providing help for struggling homeowners and restoring funding and confidence in our public schools.
As of February 5th, my district office relocated to 600 N. Rosemead Blvd, Suite 117, Pasadena. For those of you familiar with East Pasadena, this is north of Foothill Blvd in the Hastings Ranch area.
One of the great things about this space is our opportunity to hold meetings and community forums. You will be hearing more about these events as we get closer to the dates. In the meantime, mark your calendar and click below to read the entire newsletter.
Read All Online


Assemblymember, 41st District
More Comments on SR-710 North Study: what's on the table and what's off the table-6


  1. Steve, you only seem to answer questions that you have a crib sheet for. Someone uses the word “tunnel,” and you go to “tunnel” on your crib sheet for an answer–all questions answered in advance for you to follow. This is why so many people, the stakeholders, aren’t going along with Metro’s answers.
  2. Hi Peggy;
    I did not see Cal Tech mentioned in your many previous comments in the past day — perhaps I overlooked it. I am unaware of Cal Tech weighing in one way or the other on the SR-710 Study tunnel alternative, although it’s still early in the process. As you likely know, there was a technical report done by Caltrans and the engineering firm CH2M Hill that was released in April 2010 which addresses geotechnical issues and a tunnel, including seismic issues. For those interesting in reading it, here’s the link: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/710study/geotech.php.
    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source
  3. Hi Peggy;
    I do not have a crib sheet; I try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.
    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source

    1. Steve,
      I’m reading the Westside Extension Tunnel Project pdf you’ve linked to in comments. Is the 710 Tunnel planned to be of a larger diameter (60ft) than the Purple Line train tunnel because of all of the active earthquake faults in the Pasadena area?
      ref. “Various special engineering techniques are employed in fault zones to reduce risk, limit any damage that may occur, and allow for a swift return to regular operations should a seismic event take place. This can include constructing larger diameter tunnels with secondary linings or the use of enhanced tunnel linings and other measures to accommodate ground movement in fault zones. No transit agency in North America has knowingly built a subway station within a known active fault zone.” http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/Westside_FAQs_2012.pdf
    2. Hi Princess;
      I believe the diameter of the tunnels is mostly to due with the need to accommodate two traffic lanes (on each level) with a shoulder and emergency walkway.
      As for earthquake faults, here’s an excellent map by the California Geological Survey, a state agency, showing faults throughout the state. There is faulting in Pasadena, as there is in many other parts of the state.
      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source
    3. Tunnel diameter is related to Trucks or not – trucks require 16.5ft clearances, while passenger vehicle tunnels in Europe and for SR-110/ArroyoSecoPkwy only require 12-14ft clearance therefore by this total tunnel diameters could be reduce say by >10ft to say 48-50ft diameters.
      The map shows “active faults” and does not identify “ancient” or inactive or potentially active faults which need to be identified. Such zones may not be the source of shear movement but can be the source of fulid movements which may impact the TBM and suitability above the TBM.
      MTA/CTs & 710 Consultants actually purposefully located the north portal structure of the F-2 alternative in the Raymond Fault Zone and then discarded the alternative as being seismically inappropriate. They disregarded Scoping proposals which located the north portal of F-2 about 530ft east of the SR2Ramps/Verdugo Rd which was proposed to avoid seismic features and allow easier access to the elevated portions of SR-2 for both South/North bound lanes.
    4. There are info not integrated yet into the earthquake map I’ve linked. For instance, just today NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites have measured gravity in local earth masses as it relates to the existense to groundwater present. Caltech’s Song & Simons Study, Science Journal, August 1, 2012 are exploring the measurement of localized gravitational force and earthquakes. So, progress is happening and we will be better informed in the future.
    5. Comments in reply to Steve Hymon on February 12, 2013 at 9:09 AM said: There is considerable information about earthquake safety and tunneling…BE VERY CAREFUL about seismic:structural responses…
      1. Road tunnels are very different from rail tunnels
      2. 50+ft diam tunnels react very different from 20-24ft diam.
      3. 50fters fully submerged react different from 50ft dry
      4. Seismic vs Shear Moves on a 50ft vs 22ft – very different
      Round empty spaces react very differently from larger reinforced/cross-braced, and earlier tunnel sections were not good compared to current less stiffen designs
      BUT now the tunnel design includes frequent cross-passages and some very big cross-passages really changes the seismic responses of the 710Tunnel compared to the transit tunnels. OBTW I was in the construction management of RedLine Phase 1 so I do know some things about tunnels.
      Get the Tunneling Panel specialists to reply to some questions.
    6. The April 2010 Geotechnical Report mentions the Pasadena Earthquake in 1988 along the Raymond Fault. But it is not mentioned in the Appendix T Geotechnical Study Technical Memorandum of the SR710 Alternatives Analysis Report. Why not? When a quake along that fault has occurred in the recent memory of many of the people now living in Pasadena, you do wonder why it has been left out.
    7. ONLY HIGHWAYS!…OR ELSE!!! wrote : “No one is fooled by the fact that this has, and always will be, praised and advanced as a HIGHWAY project and nothing else or less! Unfortunately, the 710 issue just gives more fuel to the anti-Metro crowd and prevents other actually beneficial Metro projects from ever coming to fruition.” I hope that the writer doesn’t think that the people who are against the 710 tunnel are all anti-Metro. I’m not. I like many of their projects and I follow the news about them. But in following that news, I think Metro is schizophrenic: On the one hand, it is trying to get us out of our cars and onto public transportation, which will relieve some of the strain on our congested freeways. But on the other hand, it is talking new highways, expanding existing highways, and building the 710 tunnel, all which will encourage more people to keep driving their cars–that is, making it easier for them to do so.
    8. Hi Peggy;
      Your frequent comments are very predictable, too. I’m doing my best to answer your questions with the information that I have.
      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      1. Yes, my comments and those of many others are predictable. And guess why we keep asking them: because we keep getting incomplete or incorrect answers to our questions or no answers at all, so we ask them over and over again in the great hope of finally getting an intelligent and complete answer to them.
      2. Hi Peggy;
        For the sake of others reading this, no decision has been made to build a 710 tunnel by Metro or the Metro Board of Directors. It is one of five alternatives under study as part of the SR-710 Study.
        The no-build option is one alternative. The other three — which have inspired zero conversation on this comment board — are bus rapid transit (East LA to Pas), light rail (East LA to Pas) and traffic signal and intersection improvements between Alhambra and Pasadena in the corridors often used by motorists traveling between the 134, 210, Pasadena and the 710 in Alhambra.
        Those are interesting alternatives in their own right and I would be interested if some of the people who do not like one alternative perhaps support another.
        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

More Comments on SR-710 North Study: what's on the table and what's off the table-5


  1. All of the dissenters of this massive subsidy to the trucking/freight industry are COMPLETELY CORRECT, and it saddens me that Steve has to actually defend this most-corrupt process. I do not blame him at all. We all realize the benefit of actually having a job and fear losing them and I don’t think anyone should be attacking HIM – always look to the very highest of the ranks to see where the actual problems are. Metro is run completely by a political Board of Directors, who, even when presented with basic facts/knowledge from EXPERTS in their field, can and often WILL choose to completely DISSENT (or at least make sure the experts “say what they want”, instead of where the facts point them, BEFORE it comes to them “officially/publicly” with a force greater than one can imagine) and just vote based on their own current/in-the-heat-of-the- moment political gain, even when it means causing harm to the region as a whole and/or not benefiting themselves nor their constituents in the long run.
    No one is fooled by the fact that this has, and always will be, praised and advanced as a HIGHWAY project and nothing else or less! Unfortunately, the 710 issue just gives more fuel to the anti-Metro crowd and prevents other actually beneficial Metro projects from ever coming to fruition.
  2. I highly doubt that anyone really believes this extremely low-ball and misleading figure of $5 billion – this project, if it actually goes through as a BORED HIGHWAY TUNNEL, will definitely cost, at a BARE MINIMUM, and under the BEST SCENARIOS possible, AT LEAST $10 BILLION, if not much, much more.
  3. It’s utterly insulting, both to the general population of LA and those that are educated and engaged enough to be following this more closely, to assume this is anything but a HIGHWAY PROJECT. After all, just look at which department is in charge of this entire study, from cradle to, hopefully, gave! Yes, you all guessed right: the HIGHWAYS DEPARTMENT! Is anyone seriously foolish enough not to think the agenda of the “Highways Department” is anything BUT highways, highways, and more highways?! I wish it was a joke that Metro even has such an active/vociferous Highways Department, but it’s the sad reality we live in (and look no further than to the POLITICIANS behind this project to make the point crystal clear).
    Until the masses actually stand up to these Politicians, nothing will change. We’ll keep building highways, until we finally sit back and realize: We spent all this money to “solve congestion” but we’re still choking on it, worse than ever before…
    What’s the famous quote re: Pure Insanity?? Something about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well, we’ve laid out incredible amounts of asphalt since WW II and just look at the end result surrounding you?
    Enjoying the exhaust fumes and smog, LA? The keep on pushing for insane projects like this, while you “greenwash”/sugar coat all of the adverse effects!
  4. And this entire “dance” Metro is playing now (i.e. studying Light Rail – lol, don’t believe for a second that this is given any serious thought by anyone who actually makes decisions!) is all simply to appease some of the “common folk” who dared to stand up to the “Highway or no way” mantra that preceded it.
    No one’s buying it, Metro.
    Please start concentrating on the beneficial projects that actually provide an ALTERNATIVE to all this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into – It’s an extremely tough job to “un-do” and address the mistakes of the past and you only waste people’s time and insult their intelligence with projects like these, which refuse to die.
    Has anyone there even familiarized themselves SOMEWHAT with the concept of INDUCED DEMAND????!!
    Just remember, every AUTO “improvement” you make only negates any investment you’ve made in MASS TRANSIT, encouraging more Single Occupancy Vehicle use and users, including future users that will decide which means of travel makes most sense based on the choices given to them by YOU, almighty Metro…
  5. Is there a detailed list of what has been spent so far of the $750,000 allocated to the 710 project, that is, how much money has been paid to various individuals, organizations, and companies? Additionally, is there an accounting of how much money has been paid to Metro staff in regard to the project and is this amount coming out of the $750,000? Moreover, how much more money out of the $750,000 is anticipated being paid for staff time and to individuals, organizations, and companies?
  6. You wrote: “Finally, I’ve spoken several times about the project recently with Frank Quon, Executive Officer for Highway Programs at Metro. A phrase he frequently used was “state of the art” — i.e., if Metro builds anything, the agency will build a project that actually improves transportation in the region — and does so using the latest, safest technology designed to minimize any impacts on the community. As he said, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to do anything but the best possible work.” Mr. Quon may be saying the above, but there is no way to make a tunnel earthquake proof, only theoretically earthquake safe, meaning a tunnel will hopefully experience only limited damage from an earthquake. This hopeful scenario also applies to the tunnels built for our subways. In the 710 Study Geotechnical Analysis, no mention was made of the 5.0 Pasadena Earthquake in 1988 on the Raymond Fault over which the 710 tunnels will be built or was there any mention of the fears of Ken Hudnut, Cal Tech geophysicist, of what can happen to tunnels during an earthquake. Didn’t we go through 10 plus years of devastating quakes in our immediate area not too long ago? How quickly we forget what we don’t want to remember or should be, quite rationally, frightened of. Metro should present all their “earthquake safety” data to our earthquake experts at Cal Tech and ask them to evaluate it.
  7. I did not see any discussion in any part of the Alternate Analysis about the possibility of terrorist attacks in the 710 tunnels. What precautions can be in place to prevent any such attacks? Or is Metro saying, because terrorist attacks were not discussed, that there is such a small likelihood of them occurring they are not worth discussing, even though a tunnel under part of LA would be quite a dramatic place for terrorists to bomb? I would have probably felt that way if I hadn’t been in London on July 7, 2005, the day of the bombing of the London underground and a bus, resulting in numerous deaths and a city in panic. My first reaction was, “How did I end up in a city being attacked by terrorists?” I would hate anyone having to say, “How did I end up in a tunnel being attacked by terrorists?” Metro, at the very least, please discuss such a possibility and don’t gloss over it.

    1. Re: My comment at 9:26 p.m. Corrected: Is there a detailed list of what has been spent so far of the $750 million allocated to the 710 project, that is, how much money has been paid to various individuals, organizations, and companies? Additionally, is there an accounting of how much money has been paid to Metro staff in regard to the project and is this amount coming out of the $750 million? Moreover, how much more money out of the $750 million is anticipated being paid for staff time and to individuals, organizations, and companies?
    2. Another concern about a 710 tunnel and something that should have been a deciding factor against the tunnel before the final EIR chose it for further study was the ability of emergency personnel to transport tunnel accident victims quickly to an emergency room for treatment. There will be accidents in the tunnel! No one should believe that there won’t be and also some quite bad ones. California drivers are accident-prone. As the only exits from the tunnel at the Pasadena side are at Mountain on the 210 North, Lake on the 210 East, and San Rafael on the 134, there is no quick route from the tunnel to Huntington Hospital, the only trauma hospital in the area. The extra time needed to transport accident victims could mean one’s life. The same problem exists at the Alhambra end of the tunnel–no quick route from there to the Alhambra Hospital on Main Street. Also, the removal of both the Del Mar and California exits on the present part of the 710 will also increase the travel time of people in West Pasadena to reach the hospital in emergencies.
    3. This is what you wrote at 9:39 a.m. on Feb. 11: “Multiple studies have shown that the primary destinations of trucks on I-710 from the Ports are the rail
      yards south of I-5 and the distribution centers and warehouses to the east of the study area via SR 60
      and I-10. Other studies have shown that the majority of the land most suited to future warehouse
      development (large, open, and flat) is also located in the Inland Empire. Additionally, while the Ports
      are a large generator of trucks, less than 10 percent of the trucks in LA County are from the Port, and
      less than 10 percent of the overall traffic is from trucks. Based on these data, less than 1 percent of LA
      County traffic is Port trucks, and that estimate is even lower in the Study Area. The project need is
      focused on regional and local street congestion, and goods movement alternatives addressing that
      small component of the transportation system do not address that need.” What is questionable is why the new inland port in Victorville is not mentioned or why a possible additional inland port in Palmdale also is not mentioned. Add to this the lack of mention of the High Desert Corridor and also the anticipated increase in port traffic, that is trucks, in future years. The increase in truck port traffic will put great strain on the 60 and 10 routes to the 15 to Victorville, but with the 710 tunnel, we then have a secondary route up the 210 to the 14 to the High Desert Corridor to the Victorville Inland Port and a direct route up the 210 to the 14 to Palmdale. So we are should not be talking about present truck traffic but about future truck traffic and this is not being discussed. There should also be great concern that there could be three public-private partnerships along the 710 to the 14 to the High Desert Corridor to Victorville, essentially privatizing a good portion of the California freeway system.
    4. Hi Peggy;
      There is considerable information about earthquake safety and tunneling as part of the Westside Subway Extension’s environmental studies. A lot of the work specifically looks at the Century City area, but there’s also information in there speaking to the general issue of tunnels in earthquake country. Tunnels have generally speaking performed very well in earthquakes around the world, including Southern California and the Bay Area.
      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source
    5. Hi Civil Engineer;
      When throwing out your own cost estimates, it would be great if you could include a source. As I’ve said before, I’m not crazy about apples-to-apples comparisons — each tunnel project is different. I can tell you that for those interested in reading more about tunneling, Metro’s Westside Subway Extension project will build a single tunnel about nine miles long from Wilshire/Western to the VA Hospital in Westwood, including seven new stations. The project is expected to cost $6.3 billion if built in three phases, with the third phase opening in the mid-2030s.
      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source
    6. Hi Peggy;
      I don’t have such a list but I believe most of the expenses incurred have come through contracts for the environmental studies and for public outreach. That is a typical arrangement at Metro for a project.
      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source
    7. Steve, you didn’t answer my question: Has Cal Tech commented on the advisability of building the 710 tunnel in regard to its safety in an earthquake? I know they commented on at least one of the subway tunnels but I haven’t read of anything about their comments on the 710 tunnel except for what Ken Hudnut has said. If they are your experts on one project, then what about them on the 710 project?

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