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

Monday, June 10, 2013

American auto industry about to go on hiring spree


By Tom Krisher, June 10, 2013



 In this Wednesday, May 8, 2013, photo, Jeff Caldwell, 29, a chassis assembly line supervisor, monitors the assembly line at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit. The auto industry is on a hiring spree as car makers and parts suppliers race to find engineers, technicians and factory workers to build the next generation of vehicles.

The auto industry is about to go on a hiring spree as car makers and parts suppliers race to find engineers, technicians and factory workers to build the next generation of vehicles.

The new employees will be part of a larger, busier workforce. From coast to coast, the industry is in top gear. Factories are operating at about 95 percent of capacity, and many are already running three shifts. As a result, some auto and parts companies are doing something they've been reluctant to consider since the recession: Adding floor space and spending millions of dollars on new equipment.

"We're really bumping up against the edge," says Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive, which forecasts auto production. "So it really is brick-and-mortar time."

The auto industry's stepped-up hiring will help sustain the nation's job growth and help fuel consumer spending. On Friday, the government said U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in May, roughly the monthly average for the past year and a sign of the economy's resilience.

At 7.6 percent, U.S. unemployment remains well above the 5 percent to 6 percent typical of a healthy economy. Growth is still modest, in part because of higher taxes and government spending cuts that kicked in this year and weak overseas economies. But the housing market is strengthening, and U.S. consumer confidence has reached a five-year high.

The auto industry's outlook is bright. Vehicle sales for 2013 could reach 15.5 million, the highest in six years. To meet that demand, automakers must find more people. Hundreds of companies that make parts for automakers have to hire, too, just to keep up.

"As volume goes up, we will really need to add heads," says Mel Stephens, a spokesman for Lear Corp., which makes automotive seats.

From January through May, automakers and parts companies hired 8,000 workers, a relatively slow rate. But the pace is picking up. The Center for Automotive Research expects the industry to add 35,000 over the full year.

The hiring plans are widespread. Chrysler Group LLC, Honda Motor Co., General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz and Ford Motor Co. plan to add more than 13,000 people this year.

Large parts companies such as Lear, BorgWarner Inc. and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. are hiring at factories and research centers. Smaller suppliers are adding jobs as well.

The auto business has helped keep the economy afloat while Americans wait for the rest of the business world to start hiring. Since 2009, 1 in every 4 manufacturing jobs added in the U.S. came in the auto industry, says Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, a manufacturing trade group. The auto industry is just under 7 percent of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Car companies and parts makers created 167,500 jobs from the end of the recession in June 2009 through May. At the same time, U.S. auto sales rose from a low point of 10.4 million in 2009 to an annual rate of more than 15 million so far this year.

Chrysler's comeback gave Jeff Caldwell the confidence to leave a human resources consulting firm. Caldwell joined the company in February as an assembly line supervisor at a Jeep Grand Cherokee factory in Detroit. He supervises 100 workers who build the SUV's chassis.

"I knew Chrysler was moving in the right direction," says Caldwell, 29, who was born in Detroit and always had an interest in cars. "They kind of reinvented themselves, and I really wanted to get in while I could."

Among the hiring planned for this year:

Chrysler will add more than 3,500 workers this year at factories in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan to make transmissions and to build Jeeps and Ram pickups. Ford expects to hire 2,200 salaried workers in information technology, product development and manufacturing. Plus the company is hiring 1,400 factory workers and recalling another 2,000 laid-off employees, in Michigan and Missouri. GM is hiring 4,000 engineers and computer professionals at four technical centers in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Texas to develop software and other innovations. Honda is adding at least 500 jobs this year at factories in Ohio, Indiana and Alabama as it moves more production to North America. At TRW Automotive, recruiters are looking for 50 engineers in the Detroit area to work on new safety features such as a system that warns drivers when large animals are in their path.

Smaller companies also are joining in. Automotive business at Waukesha Metal Products in Sussex, Wis., is so strong that the company is near its capacity to make metal parts for axles, drive shafts and interiors. It's adding $1 million worth of equipment near Milwaukee and building a plant in Mexico to be closer to companies it supplies.

Most industry analysts predict that U.S. auto sales will rise gradually during the next five years. Estimates for this year range from 15 million to 15.5 million, compared with 14.5 million a year ago. LMC Automotive, a Troy, Mich., forecasting firm, predicts that sales will gradually increase to 17 million in 2017. That level would be almost equal to the boom years of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Analysts say sales will climb as more people reach driving age. Also, many consumers and businesses still have cars and trucks they bought last decade, if not earlier. The average vehicle on U.S. roads is now a record 11.2 years.

The improving economy also helps lift sales. As the housing and construction sectors have come back to life, pickup sales have risen faster than the rest of the market. That has meant a job for Curtis Enkey of suburban Kansas City.

Enkey was laid off in April of last year when Ford moved production of the Escape SUV from his factory near Kansas City to Louisville, Ky. He wasn't supposed to come back until Ford started making a commercial van at his plant in July or August. But higher sales of the F-150 pickup, which also is made at his factory, brought an early call to return.

Now Enkey is happily working 50-hour weeks. A Ford worker since 1995, he makes about $29 per hour plus benefits.

Even with the added hiring, the auto industry isn't the job creator it once was. In 2005, before huge cuts began, more than 1.1 million people made motor vehicles and parts. Today, 798,000 do, according to the latest government statistics.

For engineers and many white-collar jobs, auto companies pay salaries that are competitive with the rest of the country. But wages and benefits in the factories have declined.

Most new hires will start around $16 per hour, a little over half the pay that longtime workers get. The lower wage was a concession made by the United Auto Workers union to cut costs as the companies ran into financial trouble six years ago. New hires receive health care but get 401K plans instead of pensions, and they don't get health care in retirement like longtime workers do. Still, their wages are better than most other factory workers, who make $13 to $14 per hour in the U.S.

The industry would be adding even more workers if not for productivity gains made since the boom years, says Kristin Dziczek, head of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research.

In 2004, the nation had 70 auto-assembly plants. Now there are only 55. But the industry will make 10.7 million vehicles in those plants this year, only 850,000 fewer than in 2004, according to Ward's Automotive.

Executives are being forced to rethink hard lines they've drawn against adding space — and costs — since they closed factories during the economic downturn.

For instance, General Motors is building a 500,000-square-foot addition to its plant in Wentzville, Mo., to handle expected sales of the next generation of midsize pickup trucks due out next year.

But at Ford, executives want to keep costs down by squeezing as many cars and trucks as possible out of existing factory space, mostly by increasing line speeds and breaking up equipment bottlenecks.

"We are running a number of our plants pretty full," says Joe Hinrichs, the company's president of the Americas. "But we have more upside if we need it."

The recent hiring binge is even causing worker shortages in some areas. Skilled workers such as engineers, machinists, software developers and welders are hard to find, especially in the Detroit area. Entry-level factory jobs, which start around $15 per hour, are filled quickly.

"We're having some pretty good success finding people," said Ken Kaiser, vice president of engineering for TRW Automotive. "But we'd like to find more, faster."


'Dear Parking Enforcement' Turns Hatred Of Parking Tickets Into Hatred For Transplants (VIDEO) 


 June 10, 2013

 Dear Parking Enforcement

 A still from "Dear Parking Enforcement."


We clicked on the "Dear Parking Enforcement" music video expecting a rousing chorus against "The Man" for oppressing all Angelenos with ridiculously expensive parking tickets. (Seriously: poor people are hit hardest by LA's parking ticket system, which Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitted was a money-maker for the city).

But instead of raising a fist against the Meter Maid, we started getting pretty annoyed by the people singing this song -- a group of struggling actors, singers and others who think the city exists to help them break into the entertainment industry. They're pretty much the best examples of a group of people LA Weekly called "The Six Types Of Transplants Ruining LA." From the LA Weekly:
Every day, hundreds (just to go with a nice round number) of hard-working, diverse, interesting people come to Los Angeles and feed our desperately sluggish economy, buying tacos and facial treatments and what have you.

But let's face it. We get a lot of the wrong kind of people moving to Los Angeles, too. We see them every day, clogging our bars, taking our parking spots and hitting on our women.
Taking our parking spots indeed. Sad to say it, but the best part of the video is when the singers give up on their dreams of stardom and head to LAX. More parking meters for us!


LA Transportation: A Vision for the New Mayor


By Denny Zane and Gloria Ohland, June 11, 2013


 MOVING LA - The success of Measure R in 2008, the interest in the “30-10” plan to accelerate implementation of our transit revolution, and the 66 percent “yes” vote on Measure J demonstrate that Los Angeles voters are ready to invest in a transportation transformation.
There is an opportunity now and a coalition partnership available that’s too good to waste.

Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti we must continue cultivating the trust of the voters and this partnership of labor, business, environmental, community groups and elected officials who share a common vision — of a Los Angeles with a clean public transportation system that is both robust and financially sound, and a vigorous economy with prosperity that is widely shared.

As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has demonstrated so clearly, we can think big about solutions to our challenges as a region — and we can expect to succeed. We can’t let this momentum evaporate. We are a city that wants to continue to grow and prosper, and we are building the transportation infrastructure that ensures that our growth and prosperity will be sustainable. And thanks to our mayor we have a path forward, we have the coalition, and we have the tools.

Here is Move LA’s take on the Top 10 transportation priorities for our new mayor going forward:

  • Continue working with our coalition to urge Congress to adopt the America Fast Forward bond program, which will provide LA Metro with the financing tools needed to build the 30-year transit program in 10 years.

  • Help build a statewide coalition to champion a California constitutional amendment that lowers the local voter threshold to 55% and restores democracy to the voting process. Why should every “no” vote count twice as much as a “yes” vote? Reducing the local voter threshold will enable voters to step up and provide local governments with the revenue that’s needed to build the projects that voters have shown they truly want.

  • Dream big again, as we did in 2008, and begin planning what we could accomplish with another countywide ballot measure — 2016 could be the biggest opportunity to fund completion of the transit system:  Extend the Crenshaw Line to Wilshire Boulevard and connect it with a new line from Hollywood and Highland, forming a continuous system from North Hollywood to LAX.

Build the vision of a light rail connection from the San Fernando Valley to LAX. Extend the Foothill Gold line to San Bernardino County and on to Ontario Airport. Extend the Eastside Gold Line to both Whittier and El Monte.

Complete the Green line/Crenshaw connection into LAX and extend the Green Line to Torrance. Complete the West Santa Ana Line from downtown LA to Cerritos.

Connect the San Fernando Valley from Burbank Airport to the San Gabriel Valley. Finish the “Subway to the Sea” along Wilshire Boulevard.

  • Pursue public private partnerships (P3s) like the one being talked about to provide relief for the 405 — where congestion pricing and a toll road tunnel could help pay for a light rail line under the Sepulveda Pass — and provide an enormous opportunity to leverage private investment.

  • Invest with other counties to upgrade the Metrolink regional commuter rail system to provide cleaner, stronger transportation links between Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire, Ventura and Orange counties.

  • Create a truly regional airport system by connecting the regional commuter rail system to airports including Ontario, Burbank and Palmdale. This would provide enormous congestion relief as well as economic development benefit.

  • Continue greening the ports and the regional goods movement system — an enormous resource that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and can do so with clean technology. There are plans for clean freight.  We need to create an investment program to build it.

  • Collaborate with LA Metro on building out the new strategic plan that’s underway for first mile/last mile bicycle, pedestrian and shuttle improvements so riders can walk and bike and easily access stations.

  • Continue Mayor Villaraigosa’s Transit Corridors Cabinet to coordinate policy and focus public investments along transit lines.  Moderate and strategic increases in residential densities in mixed use developments will increase transit ridership while protecting neighborhood character and by honoring — rather than sacrificing — public trust and support.

  • Finally, the mayor must champion, protect and increase the supply of affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods with strong transit service. Affordable housing is an equity imperative and an environmental imperative. Only when working families can live with easy access to jobs and services can we have a truly sustainable community.
Comments to

What do you think of the idea of 710 Day?


By Alred Dicioco, June 7, 2013


Wednesday was picked because it is the 10th day of the 7th month. 7/10=710. Original, isn't it?
For far too long Alhambra was allowed to dictate and define the discussion on the 710 issue. With the coming together of the many cities, communities and organizations opposed to the 710 (while providing logical and positive alternatives) those days are now past.
The 710 Day is but Alhambra's flailing attempt to regain control of the discussion.

 Tolls are not the answer,and this is a toll road. This information is rarely brought to the masses, since it will not play well. The new toll roads are not being utilized,since taxpayers have funded, maintained, bought the equipment to build the roads, and will not pay to use them. This is a sham to make engineers,planners, and those at the top of the Caltrans food chain, rich enough to retire on the billions that will be spent to gamble on this plan.

 Those whose commutes are impacted by the lack of action on the completion of the 710 are the ones who time is being wasted. I'm fed up with it!

 We need more participation for this! Why is this scheduled for a Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm? Make it before/after the commute when the people who care about it most can show up and support it!

 Although the 710 is not the answer, Alhambra needs to better plan their explosion on continue to built housing, and have not improve their public transportation in order to reduce the need of automobiles. Alhambra has been building housing without managing or mediating traffic. In addition, the transitions ramps to various freeways from the San Bernardino Freeway have not been improve to handle the traffic created by the increse of housing in Alhambra.

 We don't need a 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. Whether above or below ground, more cars and trucks in the community are not the answer.

 It is a waste of time. This has been going on for more than 40 years...and will probably continue for another 40.

Chances are 1 in 9 that the bridge you're crossing has been deemed structurally or otherwise deficient by the government


By Brian Naylor, June 1, 2013



 The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, Wash., collapsed last week.


As you head out for summer vacation, ponder this: There's a 1 in 9 chance that the bridge you're crossing has been deemed structurally deficient or basically in bad shape by the federal government.

The collapse of the I-5 bridge in Washington last week has once again raised questions about the state of the nation's infrastructure. But there is no consensus on how to tackle the problem or how to pay for proposed solutions.

The I-5 bridge was not one of the nearly 67,000 bridges across the nation deemed structurally deficient. It was, however, on a somewhat larger list of bridges determined to be functionally obsolete, meaning it was designed to meet old engineering standards. Its traffic lanes were narrower than current requirements and its overhead clearance lower.

Barry LePatner, a New York real estate and construction lawyer, says the bridge was also "fracture critical," or designed with no backup supports in case of a structural failure.

"There was no redundancy," LePatner says. "If one piece breaks on the entire bridge, the bridge goes straight down because there is no other structural support ... to hold the bridge up."

In that way, LePatner says, the Washington bridge is like the bridge on I-35 in Minneapolis that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 and injuring more than 100.

LePatner is author of Too Big to Fall, about the nation's failing infrastructure. What happened in Washington and Minneapolis, he says, is a harbinger of what might happen to thousands of other bridges in the nation.

"When you combine those poor bridges that must have traffic limited on them because they can't support the weight as originally designed ... with a fracture critical design ... we have a very toxic combination that imperils the traveling public," he says.

LePatner says for decades the nation has starved its roads and bridges. The federal gas tax, which provides the bulk of the funding for the Highway Trust Fund, hasn't been raised in two decades. And the trust fund, which pays the federal share of road and bridge construction, is expected to go broke next year.

President Obama has called for spending $50 billion to pay for bridge and road construction, as well as setting up a national infrastructure bank — an idea that's gained little traction so far in Congress. Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn of California says infrastructure spending provides a good return on investment.

"We know that this will create jobs [and] we know it will put people to work," Hahn says. "It will improve the efficiency of our nation's transportation system and it's going to be worth the investment."

Hahn has called for hearings on the Washington bridge collapse as a way to raise awareness of the infrastructure problem.

While Congress has been gridlocked, states have been trying their own solutions to funding bridge and road repairs. Some have raised their own gas taxes; others, like Massachusetts and Colorado, have authorized increased borrowing. Charlie Chieppo of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government says this is a good time for bridge building or rebuilding.

"Borrowing costs are low, and although this is starting to change now, construction prices are relatively low and construction inflation is relatively low," he says. "The sense is that is going to change or is already starting to change, so I think the window is closing."

Spending by all levels of government on bridges totaled more than $28 billion last year, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Still, the Federal Highway Administration estimates it will take an additional $20 billion a year over the next 16 years to bring all the nation's bridges up to standard.


Three groups file suit against Port of Los Angeles rail yard project


By Brian Sumers, June 7, 2013

 Those favoring SCIG cheer for the project at a recent L.A. Harbor Commission meeting to determine the fate of the SCIG rail terminal, or Southern California International Gateway.

The Port of Los Angeles took shortcuts with its environmental review process and approved a rail project that will increase air pollution in some neighborhoods, three groups charged in separate lawsuits filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

"This is necessary because the city wants to build this huge rail yard in an already heavily polluted area," said David Pettit, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the three groups opposing the project in court. "The project will bring a very large amount of additional pollution with no benefit to the local residents."

With similar arguments, the Long Beach Unified School District and South Coast Air Quality Management District also took the Port of Los Angeles to court on Friday over the Southern California International Gateway project proposed by BNSF Railway Co. in an industrial area about four miles north of the port complex.

This litigation comes two days after the city of Long Beach also filed suit against Los Angeles, arguing the $500 million proposal will enrich Los Angeles while exposing residents in west Long Beach to considerable health risks. It is likely all the suits eventually will be combined.

The groups argue that the Southern California International Gateway will increase cancer and asthma rates for residents living near the Port of Los Angeles. Trucks will need to haul goods from the port to the railway site at the terminus of the 103 Freeway, and those trips worry environmental groups.

Long Beach school officials say they're especially concerned about a rise in diesel emissions near schools. One school is only 210 feet from the proposed site, officials said.

Officials with the Port of Los Angeles and BNSF have countered that the project is necessary to help keep the facility competitive with others in North America. They also stress that building a rail yard near the port is an environmentally friendly move, noting it will reduce the number of freeway truck trips by about 1.5 million annually. (For now, much of the cargo from the ports must be transported by truck to a BNSF rail yard 24 miles away, near downtown.)

Rachel Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Port of L.A., said in an emailed statement that the rail facility will "create good jobs and provide a strategic advantage for the San Pedro Bay ports to move cargo through the Alameda Corridor and reduce regional pollution impacts."

"The Port of Los Angeles is confident that the (environmental impact report) fully complies with the California Environmental Quality Act and prepared to defend it in court," Campbell said.

The new facility is only about four miles from the port, but Pettit said the EIR conducted by the Port of Los Angeles and required by state law considerably underestimated the project's impacts on nearby communities.

If the project goes forward, he said, it should be built much closer to the port's docks.

"Our bottom line is that if they need this project, they should build the capacity on dock and not at a new rail yard out the community," Pettit said. "If there's no room, which is what the city claims, they can build new land out into the harbor. They apparently can do this when they want to. That's our view. That's where this should go."

Despite a lot more people and cars, California's air is cleaner

The state's strict vehicle emissions standards have made a significant difference, a study finds. The amount of organic nitrates in Southern California's air chemistry has also changed for the better.


By Julie Cart, June 9, 2013

 Cleaner air in California
 On a clear day in downtown Los Angeles, traffic travels north on the 110 Freeway. Despite a threefold increase in people and cars in the last 50 years, California's strict vehicle emissions standards have managed to significantly clear the state's air, according to new research.

Despite a threefold increase in people and cars in the last 50 years, California's strict vehicle emissions standards have managed to significantly clear the state's air, according to new research.

The study also found that Southern California's air chemistry has changed for the better. The amount of organic nitrates in the atmosphere — which cause smog's eye-stinging irritation — has drastically fallen off, according to federal researchers.

Ozone and other pollutants have been monitored in the state since the 1960s. Since then the population in Southern California has tripled, as has the number of cars on the road. Nevertheless, tailpipe emissions have decreased.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado led the research, which analyzed decades of data and collected air samples from overflights in 2010.

The researchers credited the state's stringent emissions standards with bringing about the pollution reductions, although they note that automobiles remain the dominant emissions source in Los Angeles.
Study: FRA Regulations Make Us Less Safe


By Angie Schmitt, June 10, 2013

(See website for a video.)

 The Federal Railroad Administration’s burdensome safety regulations have long been criticized for putting rail transportation in America at a competitive disadvantage. But a new study says it’s worse than that even: FRA’s over-the-top safety standards actually make us less safe.
David Edmondson at Network blog Vibrant Bay Area, a co-author of the study, explains:
A new report out by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (and I suspect you’ll recognize half the byline), says the FRA’s safety regulations, enforced in the name of safety, perversely make us less safe. Rather than use the best practices of Europe or encourage train manufacturers to innovate, the FRA’s rules prescribe antiquated crash management technology from the 1910s. Dangerous and more expensive trains are the result.

To find out why, you’ll need to read the report for yourself. It’s an easy read, just six pages, and it details how SMART, in the West, and Acela, in the East, have been dramatically affected by the FRA’s regulations, though they aren’t the only victims. You can see the stark difference between the two regimes in a crash test video [above] that went into the FRA’s report on its own safety measures. The top train is FRA-compliant, while the bottom is compliant with European regulations from the International Union of Railways (UIC).

The top train experiences something called an “override”, which you’ll find mentioned in the report. It’s what FRA-compliant trains too-often do in a crash. And, on the bottom train, you can even watch how, for a split second during the crash, the oncoming train pauses as it absorbs the crash energy. That’s UIC crash safety in action.

Something I realized after the report had been written, too, was that the FRA’s rules hurt domestic train manufacturers. FRA-compliant trains are illegal overseas, as they don’t meet UIC standards, just as European trains don’t meet American safety standards. This forces domestic manufacturers to choose between serving the tiny US market or the much larger global market.
Elsewhere on the Network today: N8than explains the activist symbolism behind the World Naked Bike Ride. And Second Avenue Sagas remembers the days when New York City’s subways were canvasses for graffiti and asks how perceptions have changed since the crackdown on that activity.
The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, June 10, 2013

It’s a big week, with fundraisers, meetings and something called an Architecture Rumble. Let’s get right to it.
  • Monday through Saturday –  Even as we speak, UCLA’s Architecture Rumble is about to begin. It’s a week-long, free event open to anyone who cares about architecture and the city. There’s great events everyday. Get the details, here.
  • Tuesday – The controversy over new bike lanes in San Pedro, that are somehow more to blame for 20 minutes of congestion near a school than the parents who insist on dropping off their kids in an SUV, comes to a head at a community meeting held by Council Member Joe Buscaino. Buscaino has supported the lanes thus far, but an ugly crowd can always sway a Council Member. Join the fun, get the details, here.
  • WednesdayMove L.A. holds a fundraising dinner to salute outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Oh my God! Someone wants to say something nice about the Mayor! Alert the press! Or, go to the event. Ticket pricing and other information, including a host of VIP’sin attendence, can be found here.
  • Wednesday – But do you know a VIP that won’t be there? Tom LaBonge. Why? Because LaBonge is leading a bike tour of Griffith Park to anyone who wants to hang out. Cool. It’s just part two of a six part “Tour LaBonge.” Get the details, here.
  • Thursday – The Women’s Transportation Seminar, known quickly as WTS, is holding a luncheon with Council Member Jose Huizar to update on the Downtown Trolley. Get the details, here.
  • Thursday – If anyone is planning to be in San Gabriel on Thursday night, the American Planning Association, Los Angeles is honoring a group of visionaries that are re-shaping L.A. County, that includes myself and Sahra Sulaiman…and the Mayor! Oh, my God! It’s the Mayor’s Going Away APA Awards Dinner Party! Alert the Press!  In all seriousness, if you’d like to join us we’d be honored. You can get all the event details, here.
  • Friday – The fate of the Spring Street Green Buffered Bile Lane could be decided at City Council. A motion by Council Member Jose Huizar, backed by the community and cycling advocacy groups, directs the lane be repainted. Council Member Tom LaBonge is on the warpath against the Green Lane. Nobody will talk to me “on the record.” It’s going to be wild, and Mayor-Elect Garcetti is nowhere to be seen. The meeting start at 10 am in City Hall. We’ll have a full preview once we hear back from anyone.
  • Friday – We’re hosting a party in NELA! A guided tour of the future NELA Bike Lanes, a bike party afterwards, and an all around good time at the Flying Pigeon bike shop in Northeast L.A. While the party is open to all, we have not invited and have not received an RSVP from Mayor Villaraigosa. Get the event details, here. Join us on Facebook, here.

Active Living for All Ages: Creating Neighborhoods Around Transit 


By Jana Lynott, June 10, 2013


“You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl,” says Lila Sanger, who grew up in New York City and found her perfect retirement home in the Jefferson, an independent living condo complex in one of Arlington, Virginia’s dense urban neighborhoods near Metro. “I chose the Jefferson for two reasons: the location, and the location.”

The extensive county transit network provides almost door-to-door service to Lila’s local haunts, such as the craft supply store or public library. For 75¢ using her smart card pre-programmed to apply her senior citizens discount, Lila can board her bus and be at her destination in 15 minutes. “I have only to walk through the park outside The Jefferson’s front door, and I am at the Ballston Bus Terminal and Metro Station.”

Lila is joined by hundreds of other older adults in the County who take advantage of Arlington’s walkable neighborhoods nestled around subway stations, which double as hubs for local bus transfers. Not only can residents walk or roll to public transit options, a shopping mall, banks, restaurants, tennis courts, and a swimming pool are all within five blocks of the station. The benefits of these live, work and play neighborhoods are well known among young professionals, and there is increasing recognition of their benefits for retirees.
Known among city planners as transit-oriented development, or TOD, these neighborhoods offer great potential for independent aging. They can be scaled up or down for urban, suburban, and even rural town contexts, depending on the intensity of development a community desires and level of transit services available to serve the neighborhood.

In this short video produced by the AARP Public Policy Institute in collaboration with Streetfilms,
Lila and four other older adults share their experience living in the Ballston TOD. The video also features the Arlington County officials who helped to plan the community and implement the programs that are discussed, and expert analysis from myself and Dr. Rodney Harrell discussing what this means for older adults. The personal narratives of this video complement my earlier research for the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which found that adults aged 75 and older living in one of these walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods were more mobile as a result of increased transportation options. They took 20 percent more trips per week than their suburban counterparts across Northern Virginia. Their share of transit trips outpaced those of older suburban residents 4-to-1. More striking was their share of trips on foot (22% versus 8%). Since the NVTC survey was conducted in 2005, public transportation use among older adults has only grown — nationally, by a whopping 40% among those 65 and older. Walking rates are up as well. TOD is a great planning tool to encourage active living by young and old.

Big detour urged for rail funds


By Curtis Tate, June 10, 2013

WASHINGTON – A California congressman thinks billions of dollars in federal funds should be spent on high-speed rail – just not in his state.

Rep. Jeff Denham, the chairman of the railroads subcommittee in the House of Representatives and, like many fellow House Republicans, a critic of California's high-speed rail project, says the money should go instead to Amtrak's busy but aging Northeast Corridor, which serves the nation's most densely populated region.

"Given that there are over 11.4 million Amtrak riders and over 200 million commuters that use the Northeast Corridor every year, it would be an investment in an area where we have proven ridership," Denham said at a Friday hearing at the site of the future Moynihan Station in New York, which is intended to replace the cramped Penn Station across the street.

Denham, of Turlock, and other members of Congress, joined by Amtrak President and CEO Joseph
Boardman, rode a train Thursday from Washington to New York and saw for themselves many of the century-old bridges and tunnels that limit the number of trains the line can accommodate, as well as the speeds they can travel.

California's high-speed rail project is set to break ground in the Central Valley this summer. The project is a top transportation priority for Gov. Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama, both Democrats. About $6 billion in state and federal funding will be spent building the "backbone" of an eventual 780-mile system that would connect the state's big population centers: San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., who chairs the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has frequently criticized the California project as a misplaced investment. But there's little that Shuster, who accompanied Denham and other members of the committee to New York, can do to shift the money elsewhere.

"Unlike what the administration has proposed, we recognize that we do not have unlimited funds, so we need to focus on what makes sense and prioritize investment in infrastructure that we know is achievable," Shuster said in written testimony.

Rod Diridon, the executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University and former chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board, said more than 15 years of federally required studies supported the project's viability.

"We ought to be building a system in the fastest-growing area in the United States: the state of California," he said.

But few transportation experts, including Diridon, dispute that investment in the Northeast Corridor is needed.

Testifying last week, Boardman said that in addition to Amtrak's 157 trains, more than 1,800 commuter trains a day use the Northeast Corridor, which stretches roughly 450 miles from Washington to Boston.

Amtrak upgraded the route in the late 1970s, but Boardman said those investments didn't anticipate major growth in passengers.

"Today we are handling twice the number of commuter trains," he said, "on essentially the same infrastructure."
Some of that infrastructure is showing its age, and Denham pointed to specific examples:

• A pair of tunnels under Baltimore that were built in the 1870s have become a major bottleneck.
Even Amtrak's flagship Acela train creeps through at 30 mph. It would cost about $1.5 billion to replace the tunnels

• Bridges over the Susquehanna River in Maryland and the Hackensack River in New Jersey, both built in the early 1900s, are two places where the generally three- and four-track corridor narrows to two.

Replacing the spans would cost nearly $2 billion.

"I believe the $6 billion that was given to the California High-Speed Rail Authority could be better spent on such upgrades, as these projects are both clearly identified, and necessary beyond dispute," Denham said.

Amtrak captures three-quarters of the air-rail market between Washington and New York, and unlike most of the system's heavily subsidized long-distance routes, the Northeast Corridor more than pays for its operating costs.

Diridon said the corridor's success could be replicated in California. "High-speed rail works," he said. "All you have to do is provide it to the public, and the public wants it."

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