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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Aurora Perez gets more information on the 710 tunnel -- Video by Joe Cano

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, July 25, 2013

 Re: http://egpnews.com/2013/07/hundreds-attend-metro-meetings-on-sr-710-project/

This nice lady made some uninformed statements to an on-line publication in support of the 710 tunnel. Although she is the honorary Mayor of El Sereno, she really does not represent the sentiments of all El Sereno residents. I had to record her with the camera hanging from my neck so as not scare her off. This title does go to some people's heads & makes them think they are in a position of power. Honest mistake on her part.

Metro Board Meeting 7/25/2013--Videos by Joe Cano

 Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, July 25, 2013

 Metro Board Meeting 7/25/2013

Mike Anotonvich tries to sabotage Ara Najarian's motion by having the county attorney claim 'client attorney privilege regarding who make the final decision on the SR710 tunnel. The public has right to know & not let this backroom BS co

Metro Board Meeting 07/25/2013 2nd camera angle (excerpts) 

 These are excepts from the 2nd camera catching Metro staff with Leland Dolley lobbyist for San Gabriel Valley paid by Alhambra. Frank Quon & Doug Failing, & Lynda Bybee with some interested individuals. Some distressed & angry faces during the back & forth with Najarian & the county attorney.


Joe Cano Photos of Metro Board Meeting, July 25, 2013

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, July 25, 2013

Metro mouthpiece Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap thinking how to put a positive spin on this disaster.

Doug Failing & Leland Dolley.








 New board member Jackie Dupont Walker

 Mayor Eric Garcetti

 New board member Mike Bonin

 The county attorney obstructing the public's right to know who finally determines the final decision, Caltrans or Metro. This was Antonovich's tactic to muzzle Ara Najarian.



 Frank 'deer in the headlights' Quon.


 Richard D. Schneider, Mayor of So. Pasadena


Lynda Bybee & some mean looking corporate goon.


 Jan SooHoo




Hundreds Attend Metro Meetings on SR 710 Project

Meetings were held in El Sereno, Pasadena and Monterey Park.


July 25, 2013

Hundreds of people turned out for Metro’s  “All Communities Convening” meetings held during the last week in El Sereno, Pasadena and Monterey Park to review the SR-710 gap closure Environmental Study.

All three meetings offered the same format; attendees watching a video — also available online at http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/ — and presentations on the “refined” five alternatives included in the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), as reported by EGP on July 11.

Stakeholders attended Tuesday night’s “All Communities Convening” presented by Metro in Monterey Park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)
Stakeholders attended Tuesday night’s “All Communities Convening” presented by Metro in Monterey Park. 

The completion of the SR-710 freeway has been under consideration in some form for more than 50 years, in some areas it is as controversial today as it was in the very beginning.
Metro has narrowed down the alternatives under review to 5, four of which aim to reduce local and regional traffic congestion through multi-modal concepts, including: a bus rapid transit (BRT) system; a light rail system like the Gold Line; better traffic management including synchronizing traffic signals, ramp metering and street widening, and a controversial underground freeway tunnel connecting the 710 and 210 freeways. The tunnel could have one or two levels, be a toll road, or be a bus transit route.

The 5th or  “no build” alternative would just implement planned improvements in the 2012 Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
Meetings held in recent days drew a variety of responses from people in attendance, including in El Sereno on July 18 where each of the five proposals had some measure of support.

Long-time 710 gap closure opponent and El Sereno resident Tom Williams said the evaluation criteria for the alternatives is flawed because the freeway tunnel is not a fair comparison to the light rail or bus rapid transit alternatives. George Cabrera Jr. expressed concerns over safety, noting two recent gasoline truck fires, and Peter Orona Jr. invited Metro representatives to his home to take in the clean air he feels is threatened by the gap closure project.

But Aurora Perez, who identified herself as El Sereno’s honorary mayor, said she favors the freeway tunnel because it will improve traffic for future generations. She said the El Sereno community has been neglected for too many years, mostly because they oppose any type of change.

Mike Roseberry, also of El Sereno, told EGP he favors the light rail option. “They need to break up that money and start spending it on the streets,” he said.

However, Sandra Arias and Edward Chavez, both residents of the Maravilla neighborhood in East Los Angeles, told EGP they oppose the light rail alternative because it would mean more construction and the taking of some property through eminent domain in East L.A., which they say has already received more than its fair share of transportation projects that have sliced up the community over the years with freeways and most recently the Gold Line extension in 2009.

The only reason Mednik Avenue at 3rd Street is wide enough for the light rail alternative, said one attendee, is because homes were taken there for the 60-freeway expansion in the mid-1960s.
In Pasadena on July 20, opponents of the SR 710 toll tunnel proposal protested prior to the Metro convening.

Tuesday in Monterey Park, where many of the streets have become the unintended overflow valve for traffic at the end of the freeway, most of the 50 or so people in attendance seemed to agree that traffic at the city’s major intersections needs to be addressed as part of the plan, but appeared split on whether the tunnel option is the best way to go about it.

The back and forth discussion by those in the audience included some people comparing the tunnel proposal to tunnels found in other parts of the world. People opposed to the project expressed concern over the price tag, potential air pollution and increased traffic.

On the other hand, backers of the build alternatives say they are already overwhelmed by traffic and are being taxed for a project that has been stalled for years.

“If we had built this tunnel over 40 years ago, it would have cost less,” said Monterey Park’s Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian, a supporter of the tunnel option. “If we wait 40 years into the future it’s going to cost more, let’s build it today.”

Metro expects to circulate the Draft Environmental document and conduct Public Hearing on it in Spring 2014, with the final Environmental Document and alternative selection by Spring of 2015.

Fast-track rent hikes

Caltrans now raising rents every six months on state-owned homes in 710 Corridor 


By Andre Coleman, July 24, 2013

Fast-track rent hikes

Earlier this year, No on 710 organizer Joe Cano uploaded a video that he shot of a vermin-infested home in El Sereno, showing bugs and rats crawling on the floor and in kitchen cabinets

 Residents living in houses seized by Caltrans more than a half-century ago in a failed attempt to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway through El Sereno, South Pasadena and parts of Pasadena have for years complained about the state transit agency’s shoddy upkeep of the homes.

But now, those residents, many of them low-income families, are in a new battle with Caltrans, which recently announced it will increase rents by 10 percent every six months until people are paying market-value rents on the homes. The first increase went into effect on March 1.

To make matters worse, low-income tenants — who previously were charged 25 percent of their gross annual incomes — are now being charged 30 percent of their pay before taxes.

“We are on a fast-track rent hike that will lead to the eviction of many people,” said South Pasadena resident Roberto Flores. “My rent will increase 30 percent in the next 12 months.”

Flores, who was paying $1,500 a month to live in his home on Berkshire Avenue, is now paying $1,650 due to the initial 10-percent rent hike in March. On Sept. 1, his rent is due to increase again, this time by $160.50, then again by another 10 percent of the new amount on March 1 —totaling a 33 percent increase in 12 months.

In California, landlords can increase rents as many times as they like, as long as tenants are given 30 days advance notice on increases of 10 percent or less. A 60-day advance notice is required if the rent is being increased by more than 10 percent. Caltrans tenants were informed of plans to jack up rents back in December.

Despite the hurried pace of the increases, however, Flores says Caltrans appears to be in no rush to fix any of the multiple problems at his house.

“I need floorboards in the living room,” Flores recently told the Pasadena Weekly. “The walls are busted. They repaired some of the walls, but they didn’t paint them. All of the windows need new frames because water leaks in and has caused water damage to the walls. The powder from the concrete gets in the air when the weather gets hot and we breathe that stuff in. We are sick all the time.

“Caltrans is known as the biggest slumlord in the area,” Flores said. “They don’t take care of their houses, and now they want more money.”

Flores’ house is far from being in the worst condition among those homes in the so-called 710 Corridor, the 4.5-mile stretch between the terminus of the 710 at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and West Pasadena. Earlier this year, No on 710 organizer Joe Cano uploaded a video that he shot of a vermin-infested home in El Sereno, showing bugs and rats crawling on the floor and in kitchen cabinets

“They will do anything to get people out,” Cano said. “They are trying to skirt their way around the Roberti Bill and comparing the rates to good houses in San Marino and Monterey Park.”

Authored in the 1980s by former Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti, the law gives low-income people living for more than two years in homes seized by the state through eminent domain back in the 1950s and ’60s the chance to buy the property below market value, but for no less than what Caltrans paid for it. And if a person has lived in a Caltrans home for five or more years and their household income does not exceed 150 percent of the county’s median income, he or she would be offered the house “at an affordable price.”

Former owners who are still living there would get a chance to buy the house back at fair market value. But if they are living there and happen to also be low-income, they too could qualify for an affordable rate. If the current low- to moderate-income tenants were forced out, Caltrans could sell the homes at fair market value and make about $500 million.
The homes currently sit in the footprint of where state officials were planning to lay concrete to connect the 710 with the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena. The plans stalled after resistance from angry South Pasadena residents who for the past 50 years have vehemently objected to having a freeway disrupt their idyllic bedroom community.

Last year, Pasadena residents, who had once embraced the connector route, fought the idea after Caltrans revealed plans to decimate parts of West Pasadena by either changing Avenue 64 into a six-lane highway or building twin tunnels under the project’s footprint to connect the freeways. Caltrans took that option off the table after more than 700 angry residents showed up at a Pasadena City Council meeting held at the Pasadena Convention Center to vent their displeasure.
Local politicians, including state Sen. Carol Liu and former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, have called for the sale of the homes. Earlier this year, Liu introduced Senate Bill 416, which would give Caltrans’ authority to offer a replacement dwelling to tenants, revise the definition of “fair market value” to reflect the existing “as is” condition of the aging properties, and delete the requirement for costly repairs to be made prior to sale.

SB416 also gives first right of refusal for purchase of residential properties at fair market value to former tenants in good standing and for purchase at fair market value to tenants of nonresidential properties before they are offered on the open market.

“We need to get Caltrans out of the rental housing business and sell off these properties;” said Liu, a Democrat representing Pasadena, in a prepared statement after the bill was announced.

Liu is also a member of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

“Real estate management is not part of the department’s mission,” she said.

Caltrans Public Affairs Director Will Shuck did not return phone calls seeking comment on this story.

Last year, a Caltrans spokesperson called the management of the properties “poor and unacceptable” after an Aug. 16 audit resulted in a scathing indictment of the agency’s management of most of the nearly 500 homes it owns in Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhood of El Sereno. The report found that between July 2007 and December 2011, Caltrans, which did not verify the eligibility of tenants to be charged below-market rate rents, collected $12.8 million in rent but lost $22 million due to underpayment by ineligible tenants. During most of that period, Caltrans reportedly paid out another $22.5 million for questionable repairs, according to the audit.

The audit was done after Caltrans paid more than $100,000 for roof repairs in former tenant Don Jones’ house. It was later discovered that the repairs should have only cost about $80,000. Jones’ story, which first appeared in the Pasadena Weekly, led to the audit which revealed the state agency’s mishandling of the properties.

“We have been villainized and criminalized and it is not right,” Flores told the Weekly. “They are the criminals. They should be in jail. ”

Failure of L.A. MTA Rapid Buses: Welcome to Rapid 704


By Alexander Friedman, July 25, 2013

The City of Angels is noticeably transforming. Our once car-centric town is becoming less car-dependent. Public transit is having a comeback. Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructures are improving.

New rail lines are being built, existing ones are being extended. Service on trains is increasing. Service on buses is also increasing. …Or is it?

Actually, the Rapid lines are disappearing. Hm-mm… Not everything is as euphoric as it first sounded. Let’s backtrack a moment, and look at some interesting things that have happened to our bus service.

Approximately seven years ago MTA faced significant budget shortfalls, and was forced to cut service. Some of our busiest bus lines were compromised. On some routes MTA was too liberal initially, and launched Rapid service without a true need. But just on some routes. Most other bus corridors suffered heavy cuts without good reason. This includes complete elimination of Rapid buses on some lines, and significant reduction of service hours on others.

Rapid line 704, running on Santa Monica Blvd., has seen some of the worst service cuts imaginable. Santa Monica Blvd is a major urban east-west corridor. Many transit-depended patrons, as well as choice riders, have utilized bus service along this route for decades. Hence MTA  once ran very frequent, reliable service: Limited #304 buses at every 5-7 minutes during rush-hour.

To meet growing transit demand, around year 2006 Rapid buses joined the corridor, replacing Limited #304 service. The Rapids ran every 7-9 minutes at rush-hour and every 12-15 minutes – midday. Moreover, every single Rapid connected downtown Los Angeles with downtown Santa Monica. This direct and efficient one-seat ride, between two major municipalities, received strong ridership. Good for business, good for passengers; good for Metro!

Rapids outnumbered Locals #4 in ridership. In fact, during the initial Rapid service launch on Santa Monica Blvd, 60-foot buses were erroneously assigned to Local #4, while little 40-foot NABI’s – on Rapid 704. To no surprise, MTA did things the other way around! Hence the giant 60-foot Local orange buses ran half-empty, while the small Rapids were packed like canned sardines. Luckily, during the next “service shakeup” Metro switched things around, placing 60-foot buses for Rapid service and shorter buses on Local. Both lines continued to be popular.

Just when we started believing in L.A.’s mass transit, service reductions came along. Line 704 was no exception. Buses were now running at 9-12 minutes at rush-hours, and 20-minute intervals – midday. Not quite reliable, but still usable for a one-seat ride between downtown L.A. and downtown Santa Monica.

Then it gets bad. “Metro Connections” program (as MTA misleadingly calls it) was formed. In reality, this is purely “Metro Disconnections”. MTA’s meaning of “Connections” is actually “Forced Transfers”. One-seat rides became forced transfers on many routes, further complicating our already complicated bus system.

As a part of “Metro Disconnections”, Metro cut nearly a third of its #704 buses – to terminate at West L.A. / Sepulveda. Passengers were now stranded half-way. Midday frequencies to/from Santa Monica were reduced from 15-20 minutes to every 40 minutes. Buses became overcrowded instantly. Confusion, chaos, nuisance, and unreliability – became the attributes of this Rapid line. Obviously, ridership declined dramatically, especially among choice riders. Visiting the beach now required a very long wait for a bus, or else – a transfer on the already at-capacity Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus. Bad for passengers, bad for Big Blue Bus; bad for Metro. 

For me personally, this drastic and unjustified service cut on line 704 was the last straw. Left with no other option I’m now back in my driver’s seat, polluting the air and adding to our gridlock. As a small business owner, I cannot deal with 40-minute intervals, overcrowded buses, and multiple unnecessary transfers.

—– Fast-forward to 2013 —–

The situation with MTA’s budget has improved. Bus service is slowly getting back to what it once was. But Rapid 704 continues to remain a scapegoat in MTA’s eyes, despite crying-out loud from the public to improve service and despite common sense dictating to reinstate at least some of its buses.
Santa Monica Blvd. transit service has not improved a bit since its draconian cuts. Today, six years later, we still see half of midday Rapids terminating at West LA / Sepulveda, stranding many riders. Semiannually adjusted bus schedules continuously show a steady decrease in the number of buses.

I especially feel for tourists – who probably didn’t expect to see this 19th Century type of service in one of the largest cities in the world. Newcomers unsuspectingly thought line 704 will take them straight to the beach. No way! Those “lucky” buses to the beach still run every 40 minutes midday on weekdays, and every 20-25 minutes on weekends. Probably nowhere else in the world could you see such unreliable, infrequent, outdated bus service. Especially on a major corridor. (Although, nowhere else in the world would you also find a major metropolis without a comprehensive subway system!)

MTA also cannot comprehend the art of adding more buses to the beach in summer, as tourism strongly demands. Nope, this 500-pound gorilla will never adjust schedules according to the demand. They neither try reducing the overcrowding during summer (busy tourist season), nor during busiest school times. MTA seem to do what’s convenient for them, not for the public. Speaking of lose-lose situations…

I’ve always wondered, why oh why has Metro continuously neglected such an important bus line. Is it total incompetence and lack of common sense – to realize that 40-minute bus intervals in a large city are beyond unreliable? Or is it lack of research? Indeed, Metro officials obviously have not taken sufficient trips on this line. MTA has yet to learn that most passengers do not get off at Sepulveda (or Westwood), but continue further west. Likewise, going eastbound – only a handful of passengers boards the bus at Sepulveda (or Westwood), while the majority boards the bus way back, in Santa Monica.

In fact, by the time an eastbound 704 Rapid arrives at Sepulveda, all seats are already taken; it’s standing room only! To be even more accurate, most seats already fill-up by the time an eastbound Rapid approaches Bundy Drive.

By cutting half of its Rapid #704 fleet in West L.A., Metro apparently tried to emulate line 720 (Wilshire Blvd Rapid). On line 720 it does make sense to terminate selected buses in Westwood. The area around Westwood & Wilshire is a major destination: large office complexes, UCLA, including its medical facilities, and Westwood Village with a large promenade and numerous restaurants. Thus on line 720 many passengers do get on & off at Westwood.

But on line 704 our situation is quite the opposite: the Santa Monica Blvd & Sepulveda stop is practically “middle of nowhere”. The only activity you can see is transferring to Culver City Bus’ line 6. Hence you only see several passengers entering/exiting the 704 Rapid at Sepulveda or Westwood.

Public meetings were held regarding this line. People clearly spoke to preserve, and improve, the Rapid service. MTA clearly ignored. Ridership clearly dropped. MTA clearly lost revenue. It’s as simple as that.

Ironically – and embarrassingly for MTA – even Culver City Bus (a much smaller municipal bus company) runs its fleet with much better intervals. For instance, on the low-density Washington Blvd buses run every 15 minutes all day, with 12 minutes during rush-hours. Metro, on the other hand, runs its buses every 20-40 minutes on the corridor that’s much denser, and has much higher transit demand, than on Washington Blvd.

At the same time, kudos to Culver City for showing decent logic and respect to its patrons by running their buses frequently all day. Unlike MTA, Culver City does not have this ridiculous “short line” system (aka “Metro Disconnections”). All of the Culver City buses run their entire routes, all day. Perhaps MTA should take this as a good lesson, and stop stranding passengers half-way.

But then it gets worse. Some of the Westside Governance Council representatives suggest to cut service even further. That’s right; if 40-minute frequencies isn’t infrequent enough, they now want to cut midday Rapid service altogether! Because – as they claim – ridership is very low. Well duh, of course ridership is low – that’s because service continues to stay inadequate, with no improvements on the horizon. Obviously, patrons will seek alternate commute methods, including driving. By the way, that same MTA official openly admits, “20-minute intervals is unreliable”, yet he himself suggests to not only keep those infrequent headways, but to cut service further. I’m not sure if this can be classified as pure inconsistency, hypocrisy, or bureaucracy. But it’s a perfect path to failure.

So, here are the reasons why MTA needs to consider Santa Monica Blvd as a priority project to reinstate its Rapid service to its original efficiency, high frequency of service, and full length of its route:
  • Santa Monica Blvd is one of the several major east-west transit corridors in LA County, going directly to the beach;
  • Santa Monica Blvd serves some of the densest – and most popular – regions in LA County, including: Downtown LA, Silverlake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, West LA, and Santa Monica. Many residential, commercial, and entertainment districts, as well as tourist destinations, are located along the corridor;
  • Santa Monica Blvd buses have (or rather, once had!) some of the highest ridership in the County;
  • Service frequencies need to be more-less consistent with adjacent corridors. For instance, buses on nearby Wilshire Blvd run at every 3-5 minutes. Now, compare that to every 20-40 minutes on Santa Monica Blvd;
  • Santa Monica Blvd was a very successful transit corridor for decades, before service cuts took place.
And here is what specifically needs to be done on this corridor:
  • Every single Rapid bus should go to/from downtown Santa Monica, not West LA / Sepulveda;
  • Weekday rush-hour frequencies should improve from 9 – 12 minutes to 5 – 9 minutes;
  • Weekday midday frequencies should improve from 20 – 40 minutes to 12 – 15 minutes;
  • Saturday frequencies should improve from 15 – 20 minutes to 12 – 15 minutes;
  • Sunday frequencies should improve from 20 – 25 minutes to 15 minutes;
  • Drop the idea of reducing service even further. Instead, improve frequencies, and ridership will most certainly increase.
To summarize, I would like to address a million-dollar question: overall, has public transportation in L.A. improved over the years?
Yes and No.

On one hand – metro-rail is expanding, and train service on our subway and LRT lines is more frequent than ever. Metro-rail is open for longer hours, as well.

But on the other hand, our bus service has gotten much worse, especially comparing to a decade ago. And – no, it’s not because “Rail projects are stealing all the money” – as Bus Riders Union folks claim. New rail projects are funded from a different source than our bus operations. Bus service cuts have nothing to do with metro-rail expansion.

The culprit of inadequate bus service is lack of federal and state funding. But it’s also MTA’s inability to better allocate its existing funding. Hence service is reduced or eliminated where it wasn’t supposed to. For instance, a couple of years ago weekend service on Rapid line 780 was suspended due to “low ridership”.

True, ridership was low – but it was because MTA placed the bus on the wrong segment! Instead of running weekend 780 Rapids between West L.A. Transit Center hub (near Fairfax & 10 Fwy) and Hollywood, MTA ran it between Hollywood and Pasadena City College, where very few people traveled on weekends. Had MTA done just a little research and logical thinking, they would learn that most weekend riders travel along the busy Fairfax Avenue, including the popular Grove. Buses #217 are packed on weekends, and they’re extremely slow. Rapids would definitely help to reduce weekend overcrowding and speed-up the commute. I still hope one day Rapid 780 weekend service will be reinstated, but this time – on the appropriate segment!

Not to disrespect MTA, but their practices and decision-making oftentimes make little sense. Metro officials define low ridership on a certain route, and thus cut service further due to “low ridership”. Without realizing that low ridership is due to their own wrong decision to cut service on a busy line! Line 780, 704, 750, are only a few examples where passengers had to be disappointed with drastic cuts, despite having great ridership in the past.

Getting back to our line 704. Substantial drop in ridership along Santa Monica Blvd could have been avoided, had MTA Westside/Central council done more research. High-density corridor, especially the one connecting major metropolitan regions, means high potential ridership. Which requires frequent, reliable transit service to meet high demand. Better service means more passengers. More passengers means higher farebox recovery ratio. Higher farebox recovery means more revenue for Metro.

I do have hopes that Rapid line 704 service will improve, and it should happen very soon. Bus passengers need to speak up, write to MTA and perhaps to our new mayor Eric Garcetti. After all, transit service is all about satisfying the needs of customers.

Our City of Angels deserves better public transportation.

120-Day Closure of Northbound I-405 Sunset Boulevard Off-ramp Planned Beginning Aug. 3


By Dave Sotero, July 24, 2013



 Northbound I-405 Sunset Boulevard Off-Ramp Work Area

The I-405 project is set to do some major ramp construction work at Sunset and the I-405 that will require the closure of Sunset off-ramp for 120 days.  See news release below.
Northbound I-405 Off-ramp to Sunset Boulevard to close for 120 Days Starting Aug. 3

 The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to begin a 120-day closure of the northbound I-405 off-ramp to Sunset Boulevard in West Los Angeles beginning August 3, 2013.

Northbound freeway motorists that normally utilize the Sunset off-ramp to access Westside destinations are encouraged to plan ahead to determine alternate routes, allow extra time to reach destinations, eliminate unnecessary trips to avoid peak congestion and/or consider ridesharing and public transit options.

The extended duration closure is required for the contractor to complete building a longer off-ramp that, when complete, will be 60 percent longer than the current off-ramp, contain 60 percent more capacity to store vehicles and more effectively separate traffic from Sunset Boulevard and the northbound I-405.

The new configuration will feature two northbound right-turn lanes to eastbound Sunset and one northbound left-turn lane to westbound Sunset.
Westbound Sunset
  • Daytime: Northbound I-405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire Boulevard, to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, to eastbound Sepulveda Way, to westbound Sunset Boulevard.
  • Alternate: Moraga Drive off-ramp, to southbound Sepulveda Boulevard, right on Church Lane to Sunset Boulevard.
  • Nighttime: Northbound I-405 off-ramp to westbound Wilshire Boulevard, right on northbound San Vicente Boulevard, right onto north Barrington Avenue, left onto westbound Sunset Boulevard.
Eastbound Sunset
  • Northbound I-405 off-ramp to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard, to northbound Veteran Avenue to eastbound Sunset Boulevard.
Existing Conditions During 120-Day Closure
  • Sepulveda Way acceleration lane will remain open as is.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard and Church Lane intersection will see lane reduction and height restrictions.
  • Temporary false work bent at the median will be added at Bronwood and Sepulveda; left-turn restrictions will apply.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard will operate at full capacity in peak directions during peak hours.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard fully closed from Montana Avenue to Moraga Drive at night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The project team will deploy traffic control officers to key locations in the morning and afternoon peak period, and traffic control strike teams will patrol and monitor the area. Portable message signs will be used to advise motorists of the closure in advance.

Project improvements at Sunset Boulevard, including complete reconstruction and widening of the Sunset Bridge over the I-405, widening of the Church Lane undercrossing and construction of area retaining walls constitute some of the project’s most significant roadway improvements.

For additional project information or to obtain detour maps, visit www.metro.net/405. Follow the project on social media at www.facebook.com/405project and http://twitter.com/I_405. For real-time traffic conditions, visit Caltrans web site at www.quickmap.dot.ca.gov.

Sunset Boulevard ramp off 405 to close for four months


By Kevin Roderick, July 24, 2013




Just when you thought the endless 405 freeway upgrade project was becoming manageable and some of the quote unquote upgrades were opening for use, the freeway gods play a little joke. Metro announced Wednesday that the offramp at Sunset Boulevard from the northbound 405 will close for four months, starting August 3. This off-ramp has been taking pressure off the busy Wilshire Boulevard off-ramp, which remains under construction and is a long way from morphing into this baby. Says Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to begin a 120-day closure of the northbound I-405 off-ramp to Sunset Boulevard in West Los Angeles beginning August 3, 2013.
Northbound freeway motorists that normally utilize the Sunset off-ramp to access Westside destinations are encouraged to plan ahead to determine alternate routes, allow extra time to reach destinations, eliminate unnecessary trips to avoid peak congestion and/or consider ridesharing and public transit options.

The extended duration closure is required for the contractor to complete building a longer off-ramp that, when complete, will be 60 percent longer than the current off-ramp, contain 60 percent more capacity to store vehicles and more effectively separate traffic from Sunset Boulevard and the northbound I-405.

The new configuration will feature two northbound right-turn lanes to eastbound Sunset and one northbound left-turn lane to westbound Sunset.
Sepulveda Boulevard, which parallels the freeway and is the way that drivers there use to get around the work, will remain open in peak hours during the next four months — but will close completely at night. With a lot of reconstruction still left to do on the Wilshire flyover ramps that are a key to easing Westside street traffic, even years into this it feels like the 405 project disruption in Westwood, Brentwood, West LA and back as far as Beverly Hills and Santa Monica is still going to get worse before it gets better.
Top photo of lines at Wilshire/405 on-ramp: LA Observed

LA gets the bragging rights on snagging federal transportation dollars


By Kitty Felde, July 24, 2013


MTA CEO Arthur Leahy

 LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Arthur Leahy does not apologize for going after federal transportation dollars.

 Last year’s multi-year transportation bill includes a billion dollars a year in new loans. Today, transportation officials from around the country asked Congress: Where’s the money? But Southern California need not worry: transit projects here are sitting pretty.

Texas officials complained to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the Department of Transportation is taking too long to hand out the money, applications are overly complicated, and the new lower matching fund level set by Congress isn’t being used.

James Bass, the top money man at the Texas Department of  Transportation, told the committee chair, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, that federal transportation officials demand a “compelling argument” to alter the previous two-thirds matching funds requirement. Boxer replied: "A good compelling argument is what we said."

Boxer didn’t get any complaints from L.A’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Metro CEO Arthur Leahy said L.A. County voters already approved a half-cent sales tax for transit, which lets Metro propose projects with two-thirds funding secured. That local sales tax adds up to $1.5 billion a year for transportation.

Metro received a $546 million loan for the Crenshaw/LAX transit project and an invitation to apply for a billion dollars more to extend the Purple Line and downtown Regional Connector project. Metro says it plans to apply for $2.5 billion for transit projects and another $1 billion for highway projects to "manage Los Angeles County's infamous freeway congestion."

Leahy said there may be transit envy from other regions, but he compared Metro to the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers: "They are acting like they represent the second biggest city in the country. And they should." No apologies. "We’re going to come back here and get as much money as we can."

L.A. has another advantage when it comes to transportation funding: a delegation led by former  Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came up with the idea a few years back for super-sizing loans through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). L.A. officials lobbied for several years to have it included in the multi-year transportation bill. So local transit leaders were  ready to apply for TIFIA loans before many regions understood how to fill out the paperwork. It doesn't hurt when the head of the Senate Committee that oversees transportation projects comes from California.

Newly-confirmed Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Boxer’s committee that the transportation department also loaned $421 million this month for the 91 freeway corridor project. Foxx said he’s adding staff to process a traffic jam of applications.



July 24, 2013

From LA Metro CEO Art Leahy: 
Today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, praised our agency’s efforts with respect to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program at a hearing entitled “Oversight Hearing on Implementation of MAP-21’s TIFIA Program Enhancements.” 

I was honored to testify at the hearing and convey to Chairman Boxer, Ranking member David Vitter (R-LA) and members of the committee that TIFIA helps leverage local transportation dollars to build highway and transit projects that are designed to enhance mobility and the quality of life for all Americans. 

With respect to Los Angeles County, I cited the TIFIA loan we recently executed for the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Project and the two TIFIA loans we are currently negotiating with the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension transit projects. I also emphasized the favorable job creation impact these projects will have in Los Angeles County and nationally. 

It was an honor to testify at the same hearing where newly confirmed Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx offered his testimony in support of the TIFIA program. Here is a link to the testimony I offered on behalf of our agency, as well as links to the testimony offered by other panelists, opening statements offered by Chairman Boxer and Ranking member Vitter, and an archived webcast of the hearing. 

We are deeply appreciative of all the work Senator Boxer, as Chairman of the EPW Committee, has done to advance our America Fast Forward initiative. Specifically, the innovative finance portion of MAP-21, which Senator Boxer authored, is entitled America Fast Forward and includes a nearly ten-fold increase in funding authorized for the TIFIA program.

La Canada City Council Vows to Fight 710 Tunnel

Posted by Anthony Portantino on Facebook, July 25, 2013:
Well done city for stepping up and sending a message. If folks down town think they can cut corners on good sense, sound planning and insufficient environmental review there could be on going problems.

Council earmarks $500K on the contingency that MTA approves controversial freeway extension.


By Tiffany Kelly, July 24, 2013

If transportation officials opt to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway with a tunnel, La Cañada Flintridge leaders are prepared to fight the project, which they say could have a serious environmental impact on the city.

The City Council on Monday night approved setting aside $500,000 for litigation and other costs related to protecting the city from the project. The designation does not affect the city's budget and no money will be spent until the council approves the amount at a future meeting.

"[Such a fund] prepares the cities who both support the tunnel and prepares the cities who oppose the tunnel," said Councilman Donald Voss, who initiated a motion to earmark the funds.

Connecting the 710 with the Foothill (210) Freeway is one of five options currently being studied by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Other options to alleviate traffic in the region include a light rail system or bus lanes. La Cañada officials are worried that extending the freeway would negatively affect traffic and air quality in the city, as well as increase noise levels.

City Manager Mark Alexander said that the designation of funds to prepare for the project shows the city's commitment to assessing the project. Glendale, Pasadena, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena have shown an interest in working with La Cañada to study the possible impacts of the project and potentially share costs, he added.

The city's $11.2-million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year is supported by about $13.6 million in reserves.

"Our reserves are there for emergencies," said Voss, "and should this come true, and a freeway tunnel is the option selected by [the MTA], and our worst fears of that tunnel, heavy trucks …spilling poisons in La Cañada Flintridge, is part of that. If that's not an emergency, then I don't know what

New Generation of Bus Transit a Viable Solution to Traffic Congestion

Across the country, more and more agencies are turning to bus rapid transit as a way to relieve congestion, reduce pollution and support job growth.


By Elizabeth "Liz" Rao, July 23, 2013

 With congestion on America’s highways increasing fast, many cities and counties are looking very seriously at the mass transit improvements to provide relief. Although successful, many of the projects, including light rail or streetcars, can be cost prohibitive, but moving commuters using conventional local bus systems is no longer adequate. Transit agencies must find viable ways to attract non-traditional riders by getting them to their destinations quicker if we hope to persuade them to leave their cars at home. Luckily, there are good solutions.

Across the country, more and more agencies are turning to bus rapid transit as a way to relieve congestion, reduce pollution and support job growth. The definition of BRT can vary depending on the objectives of a specific project. In many ways, it’s similar to rail-based commuter systems, but can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost and finished in a fraction of the time. Like rail, bus rapid transit offers more frequent and more predictable service than conventional local bus service. Routes are laid out clearly and simply, and buses can be given priority in traffic to get riders to their destination on a reliable schedule. These systems offer riders additional services that increasingly make mass transit a very good alternative for commuters, including conveniences like automatic payments; updated real-time communications about arrival and departure times; fewer overall stops but added stops at park-and-ride facilities; buses with lower floors for easier entry; and traffic signal priority to give buses an advantage over regular traffic.

HNTB Corp. has recently been involved in the planning and design of several bus rapid transit operations in a number of states, including a recent study for Miami-Dade Transit and the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization. The project involves decreasing transit times in a 15-mile corridor along US-1 from Aventura Mall to Downtown Miami. A similar project in the metropolitan Kansas City, Mo., region called MAX bus rapid transit began operating in 2011 and has been widely acclaimed by the community for providing faster, more frequent service and the latest in technology. In just the first year, ridership increased 30 percent and the system has received an unprecedented 90 percent customer satisfaction rate. Bus rapid transit also is taking shape in many other forward-thinking urban areas throughout the country.

Even in rural settings, BRT can be a congestion reliever and valuable time saver. The Roaring Forks Transportation Authority in Colorado is in the final stages of completing a BRT system along a congested 40-mile corridor between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. This new project has just nine stops along the route, and includes passenger convenience features like Wi-Fi, real-time signs showing arrival of the next bus and electronic fare collection. The program comes with a price tag of under $50 million, compared to $300 million for a light rail system. BRT projects also can be implemented in a significantly shorter time frame than a light rail project, creating a more immediate solution.

 One thing has become clear about the increased traffic on our highways: America must find alternative innovations to solve our growing congestion problems. We must embrace a new generation of proven mass transit concepts aimed at attracting drivers off our highways to keep America moving smoothly. Now is the time to implement bus rapid transit and enjoy quicker commutes, the use of low-emission vehicles, off-board fare payment and real-time information.


Metro Meeting in Monterey Park 7/23/2013--Photos by Joe Cano

Posted on Facebook by Joe Cano, July 25, 2013


 The famous Harry 'Mail Box' Baldwin.


 'There's that jerk with the camera again'