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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Transportation Secretary Nominee Ducks Highway Financing Questions


By Nathan Hurst, May 22, 2013


Foxx told senators that he has experience making do with less, noting that in his first year as mayor of Charlotte, N.C., the recession caused a large drop in tax revenue.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx sidestepped persistent questioning Wednesday about how to fill revenue shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund, telling senators weighing his confirmation as Transportation secretary that he would “bring together a wide variety of stakeholders”

“We need to figure that question out,” Foxx said, in testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “I don’t want to pre-reach the result.”

Foxx has been nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Ray LaHood. He seemed determined to avoid the trouble that LaHood got into early in his tenure, earning a public White House rebuke for endorsing consideration of a new vehicle mileage tax.

Fixing the Highway Trust Fund, which is projected to run dry in fiscal 2015 because of slumping motor fuels tax receipts, will be just one of the major challenges facing Foxx if he wins confirmation. Foxx faced mostly polite questioning by senators in his official Capitol Hill debut and so far no opposition to his confirmation has emerged.

In his testimony, Foxx embraced the White House’s main transportation and infrastructure objectives. He spoke about working with Amtrak to boost passenger rail service in Charlotte, N.C., endorsed Obama’s proposal to create an infrastructure bank and touted the competitive grant program known as TIGER. Foxx said TIGER helped Charlotte build out its first light rail system.

“We have good experience with TIGER,” Foxx said. The program, which is slated to award almost $474 million in fiscal 2013, is popular with many state and local transportation departments, though some congressional Republicans have chafed at its size and at the general policy of ceding spending decisions to the executive branch.

Likewise, Foxx endorsed the proposed infrastructure bank, which has been stalled by Republican opposition, though he stressed that it would not solve the shortfalls in highway funding. The current surface transportation authorization (PL 112-141) expires next fall.

Foxx faced questions from John Thune of South Dakota, the panel’s ranking Republican, about handling the budget cuts mandated by the sequester. Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration infuriated lawmakers by furloughing air traffic controllers and threatening to shut down 149 privately managed control towers.

Eventually, Congress enacted legislation (PL 113-9) that ended the furloughs and avoided the shutdowns by allowing the Transportation Department to transfer up to $253 million in unspent airport improvement grant funds, though Republicans insisted the department had the authority to adjust its spending without the new law.

Foxx said he has experience making do with less, noting that in his first year as mayor, the recession caused tax revenue to fall by $200 million.

Transit Coalition Sponsors Transit Event: 
What is the Future of LA Transit as We Enter the next Political Era?

From Sylvia Plummer, May 25, 2013
Join The Transit Coalition at a unique Tell All evening to learn about the future of LA Transit and how we got to this point. A hard-fought City of LA election is finally over. Four new directors start on the Metro Board on July 1. The long-lasting Crenshaw Line station controversy has been resolved. Richard Katz and Denny Zane will present a unique program you don't want to miss.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 from 6:45 PM to 8:45 PM (PDT)
Metro Gateway Headquarters, Union Station Room
1 Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012

TICKETS REQUIRED:  See more information at:
Metro backpedals on significance of single-bore tunnel option

From Sylvia Plummer, MAy 25, 2013

Bill Sherman forwarded the attached memo from Metro’s Michelle Smith. Project Manager for the SR 710 North Study.  The memo was distributed to members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).  It’s my guess that it is intended as damage control for the comments made by Metro spokesperson Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap during the recent Alhambra press conference at which Ortiz-Gilstrap said Metro would host public meetings this summer to educate the public about the single-bore alternative introduced at the last TAC meeting.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for those meetings!

Tunnel Alternative: Single-Bore Variation
PREPARED FOR: SR 710 North Study TAC
COPY TO: Michelle Smith
DATE: May 24, 2013
At the last State Route 710 North EIR/EIS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting, the introduction of a single-bore tunnel as a variation of the freeway tunnel alternative generated a few questions. This memo is intended to offer clarification. The initial concept for the freeway tunnel alternative included two separate split
level bores, each with four lanes (two on each level). As a part of the environmental documentation phase of this contract, variations of this concept are being studied to assess different traffic operations and demand management strategies, hence the need to study other configurations for the tunnel alternative.
A four-lane freeway tunnel with two lanes in each direction, all within a single-bore, is currently being studied. This tunnel variation is not considered a new study alternative because it is situated within the same footprint; has the same logical termini; and serves the same Purpose and Need for alleviating congestion on freeways and local arterials within the study area, as the initial concept for the freeway tunnel alternative – the split level dualbore tunnel.
Also, all freeway tunnel variations will be evaluated with and without truck restrictions.

LA Stoplights Synchronized But Road War Endures


 By John Rogers, May 25, 2013

La Stoplights Synchronized

LOS ANGELES — It seems that the impossible has occurred: The nation's most congested city has become a model for traffic control.

Yes, gridlock still prevails and drivers' blood pressure still spikes as LA's traffic arteries seize up during every morning and afternoon rush hour.

Yet, with the flip of a switch earlier this year, Los Angeles became a worldwide leader by synchronizing all of its nearly 4,400 stoplights, making it the world's first major city to do so.

The result? Well, it can still be hell to cross the City of the Angels by car. Synchronization has allowed LA to boast of real improvements on paper, however, the average driver won't always be able to discern the difference of a project that took nearly 30 years to complete.

"To be honest with you, I haven't felt it, yet," said Jack Abramyam, who has been driving a cab across LA's mean streets for 20 years.

"Late at night, maybe, yes," Abramyam said as he sat outside his cab on a street in Chinatown recently, waiting for a fare. "But it was never really bad then anyway. During the day it was bad. And it's still bad."

The way synchronization works is simple enough: With all the signals synchronized, if you drive down a street at the posted speed limit you should be able to make every green light – from one end of this sprawling city of 469 square miles to the other.

Of course there are any number of obstacles that can prevent that.

On a recent mid-afternoon test drive down eight miles of Wilshire Boulevard, for example, I was cut off by a bus, stuck behind more than one right-turner waiting for pedestrians to cross the intersecting street and at one point had my lane blocked by a delivery truck.

Approaching the world famous La Brea Tar Pits – where prehistoric dinosaurs once got stuck in muck, not traffic – so many people were waiting to turn left into a parking lot that the street became gridlocked for more than two blocks. The numerous synchronized green lights didn't wait for me. But why would they? With the posted speed limit 35 mph, I was only averaging 15.

Still, once the LA County Museum of Art, the high-rise apartments, the headquarters of porn publisher Larry Flynt and the various other Wilshire Boulevard landmarks were in the rear-view mirror, the pace did pick up. So much so that 11 green lights in a row suddenly materialized. That string ended on the edge of downtown, however, when Wilshire simply became clogged with too many cars. It was a non-rush hour jam that demonstrated that, good as synchronization may be, it isn't a magic, traffic-breaking bullet.

Los Angeles Department of Transportation officials agree.

As they stated in a recent report praising the benefits of synchronized signals, "No traffic signal system is capable of `fixing traffic.'"

If more motor vehicles show up in the years ahead (and there are already more than 7.1 million of them registered in Los Angeles County, a number greater than that of most states), then officials say LA traffic jams will probably get worse.

That's why, said Clinton Quan, an engineering associate with the Department of Transportation, planners are continuing to push people to ride bicycles, take commuter rail lines and other public transportation and move close enough to work that they can walk there.

The city has added three light rail lines in the last seven years and has more planned. Officials also recently approved plans to allow high-rise apartment and condominium buildings along a corridor in Hollywood where a subway connecting the city's West Side to downtown is supposed to go.

In the meantime, Quan says, the synchronized signal program is putting up some pretty impressive numbers, even if the average driver isn't noticing them. It has reduced the drive time on several major LA corridors, for example, by about 12 percent.

In driver-speak, that means the trip across town that used to take you an hour has been reduced to about 53 minutes.

And that's nothing to shrug at, says Robert Puentes, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution's metropolitan policy program, which studies among other things the impact of traffic on the quality of life in metropolitan areas.

Several other traffic-clogged cities are looking into instituting similar programs and New York already synchronizes some of its stoplights, said Puentes, who works in Washington, D.C., the ninth-worst traffic-clogged city in the country.

"If you can get a 12 percent reduction on, say, the Washington Beltway, that would be phenomenal," he said.