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 24, 2013

Road Closures, Reminders for Pasadena Half-Marathon June 30, 2013



June 24, 2013



The public is reminded about the following road closures and other event information for the Pasadena Half-Marathon happening from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Sunday, June 30, 2013. Event includes a half marathon and 10k & 5k runs followed by a post-race festival at Pasadena City College. About 3,500 participants are expected to participate.

On Race Day only, the public telephone number to call with day-of-event questions about street closures, parking, towed vehicles or sound complaints is (626) 584-6538.

Pasadena’s Public Safety departments have worked diligently with event producers and other city departments to produce a comprehensive action plan for this event, including traffic and crowd control and emergency response. Any suspicious activity should be reported to Pasadena Police or on-scene public safety personnel. “If You See Something, Say Something” is an instrumental component in working to keep the Pasadena community safe, every day.

Event information and race course maps are online at www.pasadenamarathon.org. Or, email the event at information@pasadenamarathon.org.

The Start and Finish line is at Pasadena City College. The half marathon begins at 6:30 a.m., followed by the 10k and 5k starting at 7:00 a.m. and a special Kids Run at 8:00 a.m. The Finish Line Festival is from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Motorists and residents are advised that numerous City streets will be closed, restricted or unavailable to vehicles. All streets slated for barricades or closure will be closed no later than 5:30 a.m. on Race Day. Staggered re-openings of streets will occur until about 10:30 a.m. when most roads should be re-opened.

The motoring public is urged to drive with extra caution; observe all temporary signs and restrictions and to obey directions from public safety personnel. The City of Pasadena thanks our residents, merchants, the motoring public, bicyclists and pedestrians for their cooperation.

Race Day Detours
Motorists are encouraged to look at the online maps for detailed detour routes. Primary detour routes include Washington Boulevard to the North, Hill or Allen to the East, Del Mar Boulevard to the South and Fair Oaks or the 710 Extension to the West.

Parking Information for Residents & Businesses
No Parking signs will be posted along the course. Overnight parking restrictions will be lifted within a ¼-mile radius of the half marathon route from 2:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Race Day only. During this time, parking permits will not be required to park on City streets within this area. All other parking restrictions and prohibitions will apply, including temporary tow-away zones, no parking near fire hydrants or in red zones and parking by permit only in blue disabled parking spots.
To find out if you live within a ¼-mile radius of the half marathon route, look at the online maps or call (626) 744-6440.

Vehicle Towing Along Route
The half marathon route will be posted with No Parking signs. Please observe all on-street parking restrictions closely, noting all time restrictions. Vehicles that are parked on the course during the restricted times will be towed to the Pasadena Central Library parking lot at 1365 E. Colorado East Boulevard, and will be available for pick-up for free only until 1:00 pm on the day of the half marathon. Call (626) 584-6538 on Race Day only for towing information. After that, unclaimed towed vehicles will be moved to a City storage lot and storage charges will apply.

The Race Course
The Race Course is divided into zones, including Red, Blue and Gold. Use the online maps at www.pasadenamarathon.org to show specific road closure hours near your neighborhood.

Red Zone—5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Colorado between Hill & San Rafael
Garfield between Colorado & Walnut
Holly between Marengo & Garfield
Orange Grove between Green & Walnut

Blue Zone—5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Holly Street between Orange Grove and Linda Vista
Arroyo Drive between Holly Street and Arroyo Boulevard
Arroyo Boulevard between Arbor Street and Seco Street
Seco Street between West Drive and Lincoln
West Drive between Linda Vista and Washington Boulevard
Washington Boulevard between West Drive and Rosemont Avenue
Mountain Avenue between Lincoln Avenue and Marengo Avenue
Marengo Avenue between Mountain Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard

Gold Zone—5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Orange Grove between Marengo Avenue and Wilson Avenue
Wilson Avenue between Orange Grove Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard
Green Zone—5:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Colorado Boulevard between Hill Avenue & Bonnie Avenue

For more information about the City of Pasadena, go to www.cityofpasadena.net. Follow us on Twitter@PasadenaGov.

Summer ArtsFest 2013 is finally here!


 By Chloe Rodriguez, June 24, 2013

 Photo: Cathy Cole via Flickr Creative Commons

Enjoy local art, movie nights, interactive dance and music sessions? Then the East L.A. ArtsFest 2013 is the place for you this summer! Located at the East Los Angeles Civic Center, Metro provides easy access to this cultural destination via the Gold Line Eastside Extension.

Kicking off at 3 p.m. on June 30, the audience will jam out to music by performers ready to add pep to your step. Then later in the night, a spectacular fireworks show will commence at 9:15 p.m.

Want to take a look at local East L.A. art? The artwalk features local artists and artisans sharing their work with the public. There will also be live concerts for the audience to enjoy while looking at the art. The artwalk and concert series will be held on June 30, July 20, and August 3.

On July 5 and August 2, the Ford Theatres will offer J.A.M. sessions where the audience is invited to dance to the beat or play to the rhythm of salsa music and drum lines. All levels and skills are welcome at these free interactive events. If you have a kid who loves to dance, a youth dance workshop will be held at the Heidi Duckler Dance Studio on July 19 at 11:30 a.m. and a youth performance at 2:30 p.m. Also in the studio, a performance with award-winning musicians Don Preston and Andrea Centazzo will take place at 7 p.m. on August 10.

Various movies in the park will be shown on Fridays at sundown beginning June 28 through August 23. And a farmer’s market will take place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., bringing fresh fruits and vegetables.

The East L.A. Artsfest will conclude on Saturday, September 7, with an all-day celebration starting with a Family Fishing Derby at 7 a.m. and East L.A. Bike Ride at 10 a.m. Those who want to participate in this activity can register that day at 8:30 a.m. The artwalk and concert series finale and Taste of East Los Angeles will begin following the bike ride.

Any day at  ArtsFest 2013 is a day to remember and best of all, it’s free! To plan your best trip, visit Metro’s Trip Planner.

X Train to Vegas Delayed a Year, Will Stop North of the Strip


By Neal Broverman, June 24, 2013



The good news about the X Train, the planned party on tracks that will run from Fullerton to Vegas, is that a New Year's Eve 2013 trip may still happen, according to the Los Angeles Times. But that ride will likely be more of a PR stunt than an inaugural run as the train's operators have yet to secure a station in the Las Vegas area (the NYE run could use a temporary platform). If a permanent station does formalize, it will be in the independent city of North Las Vegas: 10 miles north of the Strip's south end and three miles north of downtown LV, where the train was initially supposed to land. Michael Barron, president and chief executive of the company working on X Train, says ground transportation will be provided to get people to the Strip in about 15 minutes. It will be at least a year before regular train service begins, but Barron indicates site planning, engineering, and preliminary plans for the station are already going on with North LV officials, with hopes that the council will approve them in August. The trains are slated to be rolling parties, with bars, food, and the availability to purchase show tickets while on board.

(Take the Gold Line from Pasadena, the Metrolink to Fullerton, then the X Train to Las Vegas! Better than driving there and probably better than flying and probably a lot more fun.)

Dan Walters: Corruption flourishes in Los Angeles County


By Dan Walters, June 23, 2013


  Dan Walters

Los Angeles County contains a quarter of the state's population and is home to the nation's second most populous city, more than 80 smaller cities, a like number of school districts and literally hundreds of single-purpose districts providing fire protection, water, parks, recreation and other services.

The county itself and each of those entities has its own board, administrative superstructure and the power to extract fees and taxes and to borrow money.

Collectively, they probably disburse about $100 billion a year for one purpose or another.
That's big money in anyone's book, but the impact of Los Angeles' local governments goes beyond collecting and spending money.

Their actions have other, immense economic consequences, such as deciding whether land developments can proceed and under what conditions, or who pays what for water.

Los Angeles County's bewildering m̩lange of overlapping, and sometimes competitive, local government entities has existed for many years, but in the last couple of decades another element has been introduced Рits evolution into the nation's most ethnically diverse metropolitan area, thanks to an immense wave of migration from other countries.

When coupled with the decline of the county's once-powerful aerospace industry, one effect has been its sharp bifurcation into enclaves of self-indulgent wealth, surrounded by vast tracts of poverty – especially in the immigrant-heavy smaller cities in the county's southeastern quadrant.

A corollary impact has been, unfortunately, the corruption of many local governments that function semi-secretly, little noticed by media and ignored by their residents, many of whom are noncitizens who cannot vote.

When the Los Angeles Times revealed outrageous self-dealing by politicians who had seized control of the small, poverty-stricken city of Bell a few years ago – resulting in criminal prosecutions – those knowledgeable about the region knew that it was just one of many such situations.

The county is rife with corrupted local governments – and that's just the half-dozen that have been publicly exposed.

That brings us to the FBI's recent interest in the Calderon family of politicians, in part involving its dealings with a small water district in the San Gabriel Valley, which is also home to Bell and other tainted local governments.

We don't know whether the investigation will result in prosecutions, but what's come to light so far – high-dollar consulting contracts, turf battles between water districts, etc. – are indications that it's another example of a familiar local political genre.

We should not be depending on the FBI to root out corruption. If it's endemic – in L.A. or elsewhere – state and local authorities should be attacking it vigorously.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/23/5517246/dan-walters-corruption-flourishes.html#storylink=cpy
Call to Action

Plan to attend or email the Metro Board to state your objection
From Sylvia Plummer, June 24, 2013
Metro Board Meeting    

Thursday, June 27th   --  
9:00 a.m.

One Gateway Plaza
Metro Board Room,  3rd Floor 
Los Angeles, CA  90012

What is on the agenda?

Item # 10:  Adoption of an acceleration schedule for Measure R funds that includes accelerating 780 million for the SR710 North project.

Link to Metro Board Agenda, look for item #10 under the Non Consent Calendar:

Points against the acceleration of SR-710 Tunnels and spending $6 million of Measure R funds to advance the tunnels business case:

a.  Funds should not be accelerated on any project until the EIR is complete.  Accelerating funds should only be proposed for projects that have completed environmental impact reviews, which the SR-710 North has not.

b.  Unlike other projects, there is no reason to accelerate the SR-710 North project since the EIR has not been completed and an alternative has not been selected. 
c.  Metro is stating that they are reviewing all the SR-710 North Alternatives with an open mind, yet the tunnel Alternative is included on list of projects to be accelerated.  By accelerating the amount needed to do P3 work for the tunnel alternative Metro is prejudicing the EIR process by advancing one alternative over the others.  
d.  The SR-710 tunnels are the most controversial project in the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and has no support from the cities that are directly affected, the cities that it goes through and under as well as cities that are affected by the resulting increase in congestion.  Cities directly affected that are not in support of the SR-710 tunnel are Los Angeles, Pasadena & South Pasadena.  Cities indirectly affected that are not in support of the SR-710 are La Canada, La Crescenta, Glendale and Sierra Madre.  If the SR-710 tunnels are accelerated, Metro is working against all the rail and transit projects that have county-wide support.

e.  If Metro accelerates the amount needed to finance the SR-710 tunnels over the other alternatives, Metro is corrupting the EIR process.

f.  Metro needs to get the name of the highway straight, the SR-710 is not an Interstate Highway, it is a State Route.

Reference:  Measure R Project Finance Acceleration Plan ( see Attachment F, page 46 & 47):

What's our Plan of action?

We need people to attend the Metro Board Meeting and state our objections.  

Please meet us outside the board room on the 3rd floor at 8:50 am

Sign up to speak for item #10.  Each person is given one minute to speak.

Want to carpool?  Email me with your name, telephone # and where you live.

There is parking under the Metro Headquarters Building, $6.00.
The Gold Line is a great option, since the end of the line is next door to Metro's building.
(behind Union Station)

Unable to attend?

Email you objections ASAP (before Thursday) on item #10 of the agenda to the Metro Board Secretary at:

Ask her to distribute your email to all Metro Board Members.

Other references:

Proposed Amendment Attachment A, Line 36 (see page 5 of 6):

Zocalo: 'Why I'll miss Antonio'


By Kevin Roderick, June 24, 2013



Gregory Rodriguez of Zocalo Public Square calls his exit essay on the mayoralty of Antonio Villaraigosa Why I’ll Miss Our Flawed Mayor. They have a history, as he notes in his lede: "Antonio Villaraigosa is the only politician to ever call me an asshole to my face. And, come to think of it, he’s the only politician I’ve ever called an asshole to his face." He goes on:

You’d think those facts alone would make me happy to see the mayor ride off into the sunset. But the opposite is true. I’m going to miss Mayor Villaraigosa. Not because of the name-calling or for any good government reasons (like most Angelenos, I don’t pay very close attention to the minutia of local politics), but because Antonio was fun to watch. And he was fun to watch for the same reasons he could insult me to my face: He couldn’t hide his rough edges. His impetuousness sometimes got the best of him. And, over the years, he transformed, visibly, into a smoother, better, more effective politician.

Now don’t get me wrong, the mayor and I have never particularly liked each other. Our relationship has been, by definition, adversarial. (Tagging along on a 2006 Asia trade mission, I was left off a bus in Beijing. When I asked the mayor why, he addressed both his aides and me in response: “Why did you leave my friend Gregory off the bus—even though he is an asshole?!”) I’ve been writing about Antonio for a variety of publications for nearly 20 years, and, hell, if I were him, I’d hate my guts. I first interviewed him in 1994, the day after he was elected to the California State Assembly. He was the subject of many of my Los Angeles Times columns as well as cover stories I wrote for the now-defunct California Journal magazine when he became speaker of the Assembly in 1998 and for Newsweek in 2005 when he was elected mayor of L.A.

I’ve written some nice things about him through the years. (When he complimented me on one such story, I, in a brusque effort to keep journalistic distance, told him, “This doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re an asshole.”) I’ve also written some things that could be considered downright harsh. All in all, I’d like to think I’ve kept the mayor on his toes. He has certainly kept me on mine.

Avoiding road rage during the Summer of Cycling: Editorial


June 21, 2013



Is it going too far to call this the Summer of Cycling in Southern California?

The evidence all around us would suggest it is not. Many cities in the region are in the middle of rolling out bicycle plans aimed at integrating cycling into both suburban and urban life. And many others have already started restriping the streets. Cycling enthusiasts have coalesced around the riding-en-masse movement called CicLAvia, the latest installment of which takes place today when six miles of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles will be closed to cars. Fancy bike shops peddling everything from one-speed beach cruisers to high-end custom-made racing machines abound. Los Angeles is preparing its own version of the city-sponsored bike-sharing rental program just unveiled in Manhattan in the wake of similar programs in European capitals.

But this explosion of two-wheelers on the streets -- and the infrastructure to support them -- has stirred long-simmering resentment between motorists and bike riders as traffic lanes are turned over to pedal-powered modes of transportation.

From Redlands to Long Beach, from San Pedro to Eagle Rock, residents are objecting to the new powers of the bike lobby and what they see as rude riders who ignore the traditional rules of the road, blowing through stop signs and endangering pedestrians by tooling down sidewalks and heading out in massive pelotons featuring hundreds of riders in a pack that buzzes down roadways like a hive of angry bees. Cycling advocates have responded, saying the end of the era of car superiority is nigh, for congestion and environmental reasons, and that motorists will just have to deal with it.

Bike culture has gotten a huge push in recent years thanks to concerns about climate change and the political ascension of low- and no-emission transportation modes. It was kicked into high gear with the 2008 passage of Measure R, the Los Angeles County sales tax for transportation projects.

From the mountains to the ocean, the ramping up of bike lanes and bike events in Southern California this year has reached unprecedented levels. But such a big shift in commuting culture has caused no little amount of anger from motorists and pedestrians who see car lanes taken away to be restriped and handed over to bicyclists. There are neighborhood discussions and even fights going on over just how many bike lanes we should have, where they should be and whether bikers are a bunch of smug environmentalists or the visionaries who will change our world.

From the Inland Empire to downtown L.A., some roads have been repaved with bike lanes painted green, while others have been outfitted with white chevron stripes denoting "sharrows," giving cyclists use of the entire lane. If cyclists appreciate them, critics say the bike lanes are a waste of public funds, putting the needs of a few above other priorities in the city. 

Long Beach is working to join the ranks of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S. That city has spent millions to install hundreds of new bike racks, create bike lanes and educate people on bicycle safety. Bike-centered events are also popular this summer. Inland cities from Pomona to Rialto are cooperating on the Pacific Electric Trail, where riders, walkers and runners can escape car traffic altogether. 

Recent deaths -- Pomona had two bicycling deaths this spring and a cyclist hit by a car in downtown Pasadena died just last week -- have highlighted the debate about the safety issues of mixing cars and bikes. 

In light of this potential for car/bike road rage, we are going to explore the politics, people and projects behind this major regional shift in locomotion. We are launching a summer-long series of editorials and columns and online and live discussions that explore the social costs and effects and give a voice to biking experts, bike and car commuters, supporters and detractors. The end result is to ensure that cycling is integrated safely and sanely into the mix of the ways we recreate and get about town.

We support cycling as a way to avoid and ease traffic, to stay fit and to enjoy the beauty and weather of Southern California. But it's important to do it right, to find ways to dampen conflicts with motorists, to ensure we're safely spinning our wheels during this and every Summer of Cycling.

Fossil Fuel-Funded Foundation Not Very Good at Predicting Rail Ridership


By Angie Schmit, June 24, 2013

This is going to come as a shock, but counting the number of passengers on a new transit line the first week it opens isn’t that great a way to predict whether that line will be successful in the long term.
L.A.'s Expo line has seen big ridership growth since the first week it opened, proving that you should never trust rail ridership projections by the Reason Foundation.  

A Reason Rail analysis that did just that — sent “researchers” to count passengers on the first week of operations for LA’s Expo rail line, then predicted the line would be a miserable failure by using that number to project 170 years into the future. Almost a year later, it turns out that oh-so-scientific approach doesn’t seem to be holding up.

When the original Reason article was published, James Sinclair at Stop and Move called it “an ad by an oil company.” One year later, Sinclair points out, the line is already seeing twice the daily ridership the oil-interest-funded foundation called “the most optimistic figure Reason can come up with.” That number was 13,000. Sinclair looks at the latest data:
As expected … those numbers were meaningless. Only two months after launch, another 5,000 riders were boarding every day. Last week, Metro released their ridership statistics for May 2013: 26,663 

That’s twice as high as launch month … and just short of projections for the year 2020. In other words, as expected by everyone except for Reason, ridership on a new transit line DOES increase from the opening numbers. Based on other lines in LA, these increases happen for about 2 years before the line reaches its expected ridership. For Expo, that means ridership will normalize just in time for the extension to open, and bring in two more years of steady increases.

Sinclair says Expo ridership is still lower than other lines in L.A., but that’s partly because the line is still new and yet unfinished, and partly because it is shorter than the other lines.

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for Reason to issue a warning about the real-life, lower-than-expected use of these massively wasteful and expensive highways.

The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, June 24, 2013

 This is sort of a weird week, it’s the end for the Villaraigosa administration. There’s a CicLAvia hangover. Next week has a holiday in the middle of it. But there’s plenty of important and fun stuff on the agenda.
  • Tuesday - Local artists Sean Deyoe and Nathan Snider have led The Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time, a weekly Wednesday night bike ride exploring far-flung areas of the city since 2009.  Tuesday, they will be speaking about the ride and the gallery installation inspired by unexpected connections between otherwise disconnected places. I rode this once, in 2009 and it was awesome. I bet the talk will be too. Details here: Streetsblog, Facebook.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday - The Los Angeles Department of City Planning would like to invite you to attend upcoming workshops for the Crenshaw Boulevard Streetscape Plan. The Streetscape Plan aims to make the Crenshaw Corridor a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly place. Get the details: Streetsblog, Facebook.
  • Wednesday – It might be the last Transportation Committee hearing for Bill Rosendahl, but he’s going out swinging. As his representative to the Expo Bicycle Advisory Committee, I’m double excited to see we’ve got a motion to fix the horrible crossing planned for Centinella and Exposition. The meeting starts at 2. Get the agenda, here.
  • Wednesday – It’s another exciting chapter of Tour LaBonge. The ride down what was once thought of as the “Future Bike Boulevard” of Los Angeles on 4th Street used to be one of the best attended parts of the tour. Too bad the City Council Member backed a narrow group of loud homeowners who flipped out at the thought of, I don’t know, slow moving traffic on their street. I wonder which Council Member that was. Get the details for the ride, by clicking here.
  • Thursday – The Metro Board of Directors meets to vote on a budget, Leimert Park Station, e-buses, and of course this will be one of the last public appearances by Mayor Villaraigosa. I’m sure John Walsh has something nice planned. When the agenda is online, you’ll find it here.
  • Friday – Is the last City Council meeting for some of our favorite Council Members – Rosendahl, Ed Reyes, Jan Perry and (of course) Eric Garcetti. There’s going to be a video tribute for Rosendahl at this meeting, a video I’m featured in, and it will be a nice way to say “goodbye, see you at the farmer’s market.” Meeting starts at 10 am.
  • Saturday – After all those goodbyes, you’re probably emotionally exhausted. I know I am. And they haven’t even happened yet. So feel better with a nice ride on the Ballona Creek Bike Path. Through a sponsorship by Metro, C.I.C.L.E., with the Walk ‘n Rollers, will kick off the summer with a ride along the mural speckled Ballona Creek Bike Path to the sea! Get the details, here.

A Helmet That Automatically Steers You to the Nearest Bike-Share Station


By John Metcalfe, June 24, 2013


 A Helmet That Automatically Steers You to the Nearest Bike-Share Station

 Whoa, what's this – did one of the Daft Punk guys lose a helmet?

Actually, this blipping beaut is only tangentially art-related. Its practical function is to serve as an advanced steering system for New York's cyclists. Put it on your head, and the LEDs will guide you to the closest Citi Bike station. (All the other lights are there only for "visibility and crazy animation," according to the below makers' video.)

The miraculous rainbow-routing helmet was designed by Becky Stern of Adafruit Industries, a New York City electronics lab that's gotten the Wired treatment for its DIY inventions. The GPS-guided lighting system is easy to memorize: Blinkers on the left or right side of the browline tell you which way to turn, while a blue light means keep on pedaling forward and a red one means turn around. No lights at all mean you either ran out of battery power or are riding in the rain, which is a no-no because the circuits are not waterproof.

Carry the helmet around in your hands to find a bike station you didn't know about, or use it to scout a destination while riding in an unfamiliar neighborhood. For explorers who don't mind delegating their navigational abilities to the computers, this could be quite helpful:

Why Are HOT Lanes Struggling to Make Money?


By Eric Jaffe, June 24, 2013


Why Are HOT Lanes Struggling to Make Money?
If you're a commuter in one of the increasing number of major metro areas that have implemented HOT lanes — express tolls for single-occupancy vehicles — you might already know how effective they can be for bypassing traffic. But these lanes were also promised to the public as a new road funding mechanism, pitched as a way to pay for long-delayed road maintenance or big public projects. In that regard, you might say that so far HOT lanes have come up rather cold.

The poor revenue performance of express tolls, while perhaps not universal, has certainly formed a disturbing trend. According to news reports, Virginia's new HOT lanes on Washington, D.C.'s Beltway lost $11.3 million in their first six weeks, Houston's I-45 and U.S. 59 express lanes haven't covered their costs, and Atlanta's I-85 tolls fell short of the lowest fiscal forecasts. The most egregious offender may be SR-167 in metro Seattle, whose actual earnings fall consistently and astonishingly below revenue expectations:

So if commuters hate sitting in traffic as much as they say they do, and if people of all income levels use the express tolls as surveys suggest, why are HOT lanes struggling to make money? Austin Gross, who's studying SR-167 for his doctoral dissertation in economics at the University of Washington, is one of very few scholars to look closely at the question (via Sightline). What he's finding on this particular HOT lane (in collaboration with Danny Brent) could provide lessons for other express tolls across the country.

"We're selling these things hard — at least the public sector — as congestion relief and revenue generation," says Gross. "These are still a good tool for us, but we need to use that tool better, because we're missing out on some of the opportunities."

Gross says there are a multitude of reasons SR-167 hasn't met its revenue goals, but broadly speaking his work reduces things down to two main conclusions: poor traffic planning and a lack of driver familiarity with HOT lanes.

Let's start with the planning element. When SR-167 opened about five years ago, engineers in the Washington DOT were a bit too optimistic about traffic growth. They believed vehicle-miles traveled would continue to increase, when in fact (as "peak driving" would suggest) the road hit a plateau of roughly 110,000 vehicles a day (below). If you can't estimate how many drivers will use a road, says Gross, then obviously any revenue forecasts are going to miss their mark.

Additionally, he says, planners have yet to adjust the SR-167 toll formula in response to the situation. The price of using the HOT lane, which ranges from 50 cents to $9, updates every five minutes to ensure a speed of 40 m.p.h. But while the formula has been effective for congestion, sometimes saving drivers 12 minutes on a 10-mile stretch of road, it hasn't been tweaked to generate more revenue.

"When you look at what they're currently doing, and you look at their projections and their actual revenue collected, I can't see how they're ever going to close that gap," Gross says. "It's never going to meet their expectations."

The second big factor in SR-167 performance, says Gross, is that even after several years, drivers are still adjusting to the lanes as a traffic option.

That learning curve is clear from data showing a disconnect between how much people think they're paying to use the lanes and how much they're actually paying. In surveys, says Gross, people say they're willing to spend about $9 to save the equivalent of an hour of time. When he compared SR-167 prices with true time savings, however, he found drivers were spending on the order of $22 an hour.

"We don't really understand how they're thinking about using it," says Gross, "and it seems like they don't really understand that, either."

One reason for that lack of understanding may be the poor relationship established so far between price of the lane and time savings. Drivers can speculate that a high price to enter the HOT lane means heavy congestion up ahead, and therefore conclude that using the lane will save them time. But the data show this connection to be pretty weak, says Gross, meaning commuters can't always know if an extra dollar will save them five minutes or just one.

"Price as a signal of congestion is rather noisy," he says. "It's not perfect."

These imperfections could explain why only one in five drivers, on average, are choosing to pay into the SR-167 HOT lane. (That doesn't include carpoolers who use the lane for free.) At the same time, says Gross, there's been a steady increase in usage over time (below), suggesting that commuters are becoming more familiar with the concept of express tolls, and more comfortable using them.

"It seems like, over time, more and more people are learning that this is something they'd want to participate in," he says. "You basically have an immature market, where people don't have a lot of experience participating, and they're learned their own willingness to pay for the product."

For sure, the lessons of SR-167 may not apply to every new HOT lane across the country, but Gross's ongoing work does suggest a number of fairly universal takeaways. First things first, state DOTs would be wise to share commuter and traffic data. They should also enter projects with a clear sense of whether they want their express lane to offer congestion relief or generate revenue — and shift toll formulas accordingly. And they should factor a period of driver adjustment into fiscal forecasts.

Above all, says Gross, transportation officials should keep studying how commuters respond to prices over the long term. "If we don't understand how that demand is being formed, then how can we in any way realistically expect to capture value from these things optimally?" he says. "You may as well just splatter some prices on the wall."
House GOP and House Dems are miles apart on draft highway bills


June 24, 2013

Draft transportation bills are $10 billion apart; continuing resolution likely.

The House and Senate are taking drastically different paths on a DOT funding bill, raising the possibility of yet another continuing resolution that does little to change the agency’s spending levels. This week Appropriators in both chambers will mark up their respective THUD bills – which are $10 billion apart. The Senate’s allocation to the panel, approved Thursday, is $54 billion – $2.3 billion more than the current fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee unveiled a $44 billion budget for the departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The amount for the agencies in the 2014 fiscal year is $7.7 billion less than their 2013 spending levels. The House is proceeding with 2014 bills that cut below the sequester for domestic programs and which increase spending for defense.

House GOP aims to cut money for high-speed rail, transportation grants in $44B spending bill


By Andrew Taylor, June 19, 2013

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are pushing to eliminate money for high-speed rail and a popular grant program for transportation projects.
The belt-tightening comes as the GOP-led House works on $44 billion measure covering transportation and housing programs. The legislation reflects the austere budget mandated by automatic cuts — fallout from Washington's failure to address the deficit this spring.
Republicans also are trying to cope with stiff defense cuts by shifting money from domestic programs to the Pentagon.
The bill's author, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, protected air traffic controllers from furloughs that could disrupt air travel, but he dealt with a $7.7 billion cut, or 15 percent, compared with levels approved earlier this year.

House Dems introduce bill to spend $5.5 billion on bridges


By Keith Laing, June 19, 2013

Democrats in the House have introduced a bill to spend $5.5 billion on repairing bridges in the United States, which they say is necessary after a bridge collapse in Washington state last month.

The bill, dubbed the Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges (SAFE Bridges) Act, would reduce a back log of more than 150,000 "structurally deficient" bridges that are in use, its sponsors said.

The introduction of the measure comes as the portion of Interstate 5 that runs on a bridge over the Skagit River was reopened to drivers on Wednesday after being closed for several weeks when a truck hit one of its support structure in late May, sending car plunging into the water.

 The top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall, said the I-5 bridge collapse should reignite debate about transportation funding in Washington.

“The nightmarish scene we witnessed in Washington State last month with the collapse of the I-5 Bridge was yet another dramatic wakeup call on the state of American infrastructure,” Rahall said in a statement.

“Congress simply cannot keep hitting the snooze button when it comes to needed investment in our nation’s bridges or think that these aging structures can be rehabilitated with rhetoric," Rahall continued. "Providing the means for safe and reliable transportation is one of the core functions of our government and this legislation helps fulfill that responsibility.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has attributed the collapse to the oversized truck striking a key support structure in its preliminary reports.

However, since the late May accident, Democrats and transportation advocates have seized upon the incident to argue that more infrastructure funding is needed.

The current measure that contains federal transportation appropriations spends about $54 billion per year on road and transit projects. Transportation advocates have argued that the amount is barely enough to maintain the current system, let alone make improvements they say could have prevented the Washington state bridge collapse.

Readying for Summer’s Free Ride


By Jennifer Erickson, June 24, 2013

 Photographer Frankie Anthony used a long exposure to capture Laguna’s summer trolley on Cliff Drive several years ago. Photo by Frankie Anthony

 Photographer Frankie Anthony used a long exposure to capture Laguna’s summer trolley on Cliff Drive several years ago.


Mark your calendars. The city’s free trolley service rolls out Friday, June 28. Then visitors and residents alike can park their cars in outlying lots or leave them in the driveway and gad about town without another thought to hunting down a parking space or evading DUI checkpoints.

Heralded by the clang of a now familiar bell, 18 trolleys will pick riders up around town at roughly 20-minute intervals for 10 weeks through Sept. 1. Their schedule, unchanged from recent years, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily, except for July 4 when service ends at 7 p.m. Bolstering the trolley fleet, the city’s three blue and white mainline buses also run free of charge for the same duration on a slightly different schedule, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Worried about when to leave the Sawdust Festival in order to catch a ride to honor your dinner reservation in South Laguna? No problem. Anyone concerned about wait times can now download a trolley tracker app to their smart phone by following a link from the city’s web site that will supply real time info about when the next trolley can be expected at a given stop.

The trolley’s three routes include along Laguna Canyon Road from the ACT V parking lot to the downtown bus depot at 375 Broadway Street, with stops at the Pageant of the Masters, Art-A-Fair, and Sawdust Festival; the North Route serving North Coast Highway from Viejo Street to Cliff Drive along Heisler Park to the Broadway bus depot; and the South Route, heading to South Coast Highway from the depot and continuing south to Ritz Carlton Drive.

For detailed information on route maps and schedules, consult the city’s web site.

Ridership remains strong on summertime trolleys, often jammed with foreign-language visitors, the salt-and-sand encrusted, locals with patience for innumerable stops and Pageant ticket holders armed with blankets and wraps. Last season’s boardings of 581,667 passengers kept pace with 2011, up from 460,692 in 2008, according to city reports. Who doesn’t like a free ride?

The future may hold even better services. Wait times would be cut by five minutes if the city wins a grant from the Orange County Transportation Authority to increase the fleet to 21 trolleys. The same grant would extend free trolley service to non-summer weekends for several months, a move applauded by locals. Have patience, though. If the grant is approved, weekend trolley service wouldn’t kick in until the second year of the grant, said Deputy Public Works Director Ken Fischer.
Besides being fun to ride and a practical way of getting around town, especially for tipsy diners, an efficient trolley system is essential to easing traffic congestion downtown by encouraging visitors to park in peripheral lots, points out a recent parking management study.

What’s more, the trolleys prove a boon to some businesses along Coast Highway. Laguna Beach Books’ owner Jane Hanauer said that, unlike drivers busy minding the traffic and pedestrians, riders have the leisure to window shop as they roll along and will often hop off at the next stop to get a closer look at the HIP district boutiques when something catches their eye.

And while Laguna’s City Council looks for new revenue to close a growing deficit for operating transit services, which cost the city $2.4 million annually to operate, they rejected imposing fares for riders, an option under consideration. Instead, on Tuesday council members endorsed a $50,000 contract with IBI Group, a Canadian company with an Irvine office, to analyze transit services, whose costs have escalated 22 percent over four years.


Metro breaks ground on new Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way Metrolink Station

Facility to improve train/plane link for Antelope Valley rail passengers.


 By Daniel Siegal, June 21, 2013

 Bob Hope Airport Metrolink Station

 Monika Beal at left, Paul A. Gonzales from LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Natalie Moran and Baraka May cross N. San Fernando Rd. after exiting the Metrolink train on Friday, June 21, 2013. The women are from The Los Angeles Muses, an Andrew Sisters style singers. This is the new location for the Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way Metrolink station, which is slated to cost $3.7 million and should be finished in early 2015.

For the first time ever, a Metrolink train stopped at San Fernando Road and Hollywood Way on Friday. The people who disembarked were there to proclaim many future stops at the intersection, the site of a new station on the Antelope Valley line.

PHOTOS: Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way Metrolink Station groundbreaking

The stop occurred as part of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way Metrolink Station, which is being built with $3.7 million of Measure R funds, the transportation sales-tax measure approved by voters in 2008.

The station is expected to be completed in early 2015.

L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich spoke at the groundbreaking about the importance of the station for the residents of the Santa Clarita, Antelope and North San Fernando valleys.
Connecting airports through a rail system is a top priority, he said, and it provides more transportation options throughout Southern California.

Dan Feger, the airport's executive director, said the station will help fulfill the airport's long-term plans to make travel easier to and from the airfield.

Others at the groundbreaking ceremony were Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, fellow MTA board members Patrick Morris and Ara Najarian, who is also on the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, and Susan Georgino, vice president of the airport authority.



Metrolink station project celebrated at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank


June 21, 2013

BURBANK - Transportation officials broke ground Friday on a Metrolink station at Bob Hope Airport that will eventually provide easier access for riders of the Antelope Valley line.

Metrolink has a station at the airport on its Ventura County line, and a Regional Intermodal Transportation Center is being built by the airport to accommodate a bus transfer and rental car facilities. 

"With this new Bob Hope Airport Metrolink station, residents of the Santa Clarita, Antelope and North San Fernando valleys will have safe, convenient and economical Metrolink rail service to the national air travel and local employment opportunities available at and around this regional airport,'' said county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, chairman of the Metro Board of Directors.

"Connecting our airports to our rail system is a top priority for the region and will increase mobility and provide faster, more seamless transit options for residents throughout Southern California."

Leader Editorial: Station will help brighten airport's future


 June 22, 2013


With some fanfare Friday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way Metrolink Station, which, if all goes according to plan, will be ready in 2015 to deliver passengers to the airport from the Santa Clarita, Antelope and North San Fernando valleys. Nearly $4 million in Measure R funds will pay for the new station.

This transit facility is only one piece of the puzzle that must be assembled in order to provide rail connections for all travelers — Southland residents as well as the tourists who are so key to the economic vitality of the region. More than 41 million souls visited the Los Angeles area in 2012, but a disappointingly low percentage of them traveled through the Bob Hope Airport.

For so many years a welcoming beacon for travelers, the local airport has seen a disheartening and costly slide in the number of passengers it serves annually. It didn't help that American Airlines left the facility and that JetBlue Corp. ceased daytime flights there. There are other factors, too, not the least of which has been the state of the economy since 2007.

But things are looking up a bit and steps are being taken to recapture passengers and increase the volume of travelers using the Bob Hope Airport. Its commissioners recently approved a budget that holds airline landing fees steady. This should sit far better with airlines looking at the bottom line than did last year's 21% increase in those fees. And, earlier this spring, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority inked a $327,000 marketing deal to promote travel through the local airport with fans attending Bruin games at the Rose Bowl.

We are hopeful that innovative, progressive moves will bring our airport back to life. Congratulations to all involved in planning this new Metrolink station.

New LAX terminal attracts thousands for early look


By Brian Sumers, June 24, 2013



 Video panel display changes as people walk by and features art that is in sync with arriving foreign flights at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.

On a warm, sunny Saturday -- the first weekend day of summer -- thousands of people congregated in an air- conditioned building to marvel at the key piece of the most expansive public works project in the history of Los Angeles. 

The new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport isn't completed yet. That won't happen until August or September, officials say. But that hardly mattered on Saturday.
For more than eight hours, people streamed into the $1.9 billion facility. Some worked for airlines. Others had a part in the construction. Some said they just like airports and airplanes.

A good number of the visitors said they travel often internationally and just wanted a sneak peak. But others said they never leave the country.

They came to see the new gates, the food stalls, the speciality shops selling Gucci and Armani products. They peaked inside the restrooms and gazed at the enormous digital screens showing high-definition pictures and video.

"I wanted to see what it would look like," said Kristen Harvey, 24, a graphic design student. "It's futuristic. I like everything about it."

The featured area of the terminal -- the Great Hall -- is the size

of three football fields. The entire building is being built by about 10,000 construction workers, who, airport officials estimate, will spend about 6.5 million man hours on the project. It is the most important piece of the airport's ongoing $4.1 billion modernization plan. 

It will be the first sight for many visitors coming to Los Angeles from other countries.

"They needed this," said Greg Palmer, 29, who works in sales for a major airline. "L.A. is one of the top 10 cities in the world. It's Hollywood. You need a grand entrance when you land."

Palmer works in the aviation industry, so he knows how airplanes can seduce people, how children and adults sometimes hang out just to watch takeoffs and landing. He said he was expecting a big crowd, but acknowledged that the number of people -- officials said 12,000 free tickets
were given out -- surprised him a bit. 

"There were some big buses out there," he said. "But people love to travel. It's a glamorous life."
Eleanor Rounds drove from Pomona. At 58, she's retired, and she travels internationally occasionally. She wanted to see what the fuss was all about. 

Her favorite part: The upscale shops.

But which one? "Let's start with Gucci, or Armani," she said.

So when she goes to Germany soon, will she buy something at the airport?

"No," she said, laughing. "I'm all shopped out. I like to go look, not purchase."

Inland Empire cities are planning for bus rapid-transit routes

 Trend-setter: San Bernardino-to-Loma Linda line expected to lead Omnitrans network
New routes: Analysis for paths running throughout county's West End is on the way


By Canan Tasci, June 23, 2013


 Omnitrans, which runs buses throughout the San Bernardino Valley, is planning a network of bus rapid transit. The Foothill Boulevard corridor, shown above and below in Rancho Cucamonga, is considered one the top routes for potential ridership.


View: System Map | Rt-61 Corridor Map
A rapid-transit bus system is being prepared by Inland Empire cities. 

The first of 10 Omnitrans' bus rapid transit, or BRT, systems, is in what is known as the E Street Corridor in the San Bernardino area. It is set to be completed within a year and will allow bus riders to travel north and south from Cal State San Bernardino to Loma Linda University.

Dubbed SBX, which stands for San Bernardino Express, buses will have designated stops and the ability to change stoplights to green for speedier travel through. In some cities, designated lanes have been envisioned for bus travel.

Still in the first planning phase, Omnitrans -- the public bus agency for an area extending from Chino Hills on the west to Yucaipa on the east -- has been able to secure a $850,000 Federal Transit Administration grant to conduct a route and mode-of-transit analysis for the Holt Blvd./Fourth Street Corridor.

This route will run from Fontana, near Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, through Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Montclair and end at the Transcenter in Pomona.

"We recognize this as a different type of premium transit opportunity for people not only visiting relatives in different communities, but also living in a community and working in another," said Matt Pilarz, acting city engineer "It's just a faster way for people to use transit other than their car and give them something competitive if they are using a car."

Construction for the rapid-transit bus corridors is dependent on funding, and Omnitrans officials hope SBX's potential success will help bring in money for the rest of the system.

"We would have to go through the same process we did with the current project to get the project grant agreement with the federal government to begin work on the next corridor," said Omnitrans spokesman David Rutherford. "Our plan now is to go forward with the Holt Boulevard project because that's the one we've received funding for."

All corridor projects start at this first phase, formally called the alternative analysis phase. Next is an environmental phase followed by a design phase.

When those are complete, Rutherford said, Omnitrans would submit a full plan to the FTA, which could then issue a full grant agreement, and "that's when the construction would begin."

Omnitrans first rapid-bus system is slated to be completed within a year from San Bernardino to Loma Linda.
Local cities, however, are not waiting around for the project's dirt to move. They've already started planning.

Ontario and Fontana are both conducting studies on the feasibility of bus rapid transit along the corridor in their cities and have begun to identify optimal locations for stations/stops and dedicated transit lanes.

Ontario's Holt Boulevard Mobility and Streetscape Strategic Plan was presented to its City Council on April 5, while Fontana's Sierra-Valley Land Use Study was presented to its Planning Commission on March 19. Both studies involved public outreach, including surveys, and both studies are nearing completion, Omnitrans officials said.

For the past three years, Fontana officials have met with Omnitrans, the Southern California Association of Governments, or SCAG, and San Bernardino Associated Governments, or SanBAG, on their system-wide transit plan and corridors.

Moreover, the city's general plan has goals and polices set in their support of the rapid transit system.
"We've been collaborating as far as design, defining the route, where it would be best suited in the city and what would be preferred as far as dedicated or shared lanes," said Stephanie Hall, Fontana's senior planner.

In Pomona, Pilarz said having a bus-dedicated lane wouldn't be viable because there is not much opportunity for widening streets.

"Another thing we would be looking at is connecting with the transit center. That's an obvious hub here to link up to," he said.

"If that link is made, you're obviously going to have more demand of people wanting to park, which means we would need a parking structure. We've gotten into some specifics to what would be needed for this thing to happen."

At a recent Rancho Cucamonga planning meeting officials were given a report from Terra Nova, a Palm Desert-based land planning consulting firm, with recommendations and ideas on how to support high-density transit-oriented development near proposed bus stations on Foothill Boulevard.

Two corridor projects in Rancho Cucamonga on Foothill Boulevard are expected in the system-wide plan.

Terra Nova certified planner John Criste said statistics have shown office workers and residents as primary bus rapid transit users, but residents in proximity to a transit station were more willing to walk a greater distance than office workers.

The Foothill and Holt Boulevard/Fourth Street corridors were identified as the top routes for potential ridership. The Holt Boulevard/Fourth Street Corridor is based on the existing Omnitrans Route 61, which has the highest ridership in the Omnitrans system at around 6,000 average daily boardings, agency officials said.

Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner, who is also the president of the Omnitrans board, said the Holt route would have a dedicated bus lane.

"BRT is the intermediate step between bus and light rail, so normally you use BRT to test a route to see what the ridership will be. It certainly creates an economic opportunity because you can do transit oriented development -- as you would do with high rail," Wapner said.

"What's really neat about BRT is once it proves itself as a really successful route we can then lay light rail on there and take the buses and do BRT somewhere else in the city. It can be interchanged."

The overall vision for the SBX system was approved by SanBAG in 2004 with goals that included mitigating increasing traffic on the region's freeways, increasing bus ridership, fostering transit-oriented development in San Bernardino County's West End, and providing better transit links between the Omnitrans system, Metrolink, the Gold Line, and L.A./Ontario International Airport.