Purpose

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, August 1, 2013

Problems And Progress For Seattle's Waterfront Tunnel

http://kuow.org/post/problems-and-progress-seattles-waterfront-tunnel

By John Ryan, August 1, 2013

Correction 8/1/13: A previous version of this story stated that the tunnel contractor had drilled through a power line but missed hitting live wires. In fact, the tunnel contractor drilled through a concrete power vault and it missed hitting the power lines inside.

The world’s largest tunneling machine started grinding into the soil beneath downtown Seattle Tuesday afternoon. The machine known as Bertha is digging a 58-foot-wide tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

As it works its way north, it will come within a foot or two of the century-old One Yesler Way building, right next to the viaduct. A motion detector on the roof there uses a laser to see if the massive tunnel machine causes the surface, or the building above it, to move at all. It's part of a network of devices the tunnel contractors have put up all along the two-mile route.

"We’re hoping at least what we’re told, we won’t feel it, or feel it very little," said Bryan Runberg, owner of One Yesler Way.

His building has already suffered some damage from work getting the ground ready for Bertha. Mortar has fallen from its brick walls onto the sidewalk and onto desks at Runberg’s architecture firm. "We did have a sewer line that broke, which seems to have come from the soil movement as well," Runberg said.

Runberg’s isn’t the only sewer line damaged by the tunnel work.

As Publicola first reported last week, early underground work on the tunnel has caused sewage spills and damage to water mains.

Last week Seattle Public Utilities said that workers with the Washington State Department of Transportation's tunnel contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, had drilled through a live power vault  but were fortunate to miss hitting the power lines contained inside. A power vault is a concrete structure that houses equipment such as underground transformers, connectors and power lines.

Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light and the Port of Seattle have all clashed with Seattle Tunnel Partners. That’s according to an internal email from Ray Hoffman, the head of Seattle Public Utilities.
Replacing the viaduct is expected to cost a total of $3 billion and is scheduled to be done in 2019.

July 23 email from the head of Seattle Public Utilities to Ethan Raup, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's Director of Policy and Operations:

(Please see website for the email.)


Morning Fizz: Internal SPU Email Details Tunnel Blunders

 http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/oobt-for-july-26angst-july-2013

July 26, 2013

 
In mid-July, we reported that the Washington State Department of Transportation had issued a temporary stop work order on the Seattle Tunnel Project—the group of contractors doing the waterfront tunnel construction —after workers had slammed into a Seattle City Light electrical vault and a Seattle Public Utilities sewer line in late June.

Apparently, the June 24 and 25 STP construction mishaps were simply the latest in a long list of construction blunders. 

According to an SPU email sent to the mayor's staff this week, and obtained by PubliCola, titled "A brief history of Bored Tunnel construction impacts to SPU facilities," STP construction dating back to 2012 and running up through spring of 2013 has caused, among other things: "excessive settlement from dewatering," "red-alert level" water main "leaking," "failure to notify SPU of illicit discharge ... into Elliott Bay," "unusual readings in overflow monitoring system" resulting in a "third discharge violation," and "knock[ing] the the top off of a combined sewer maintenance hole and fail[ure] to notify SPU causing a dry weather overflow." 


The email also documents STP's petulant and delinquent responses to warnings. The email notes:
SPU isolates zone and requests replacement, or temporary main, so zone can be re-opened before Safe Have 3 cut & Cap; STP refuses. SPU refuses to send crews out for Safe Haven 3 work until the replacement is complete. STP backs down and constructs a temporary 8” and WSDOT verbally promises to provide a permanent 12-inch replacement after tunneling. ... STP indicates they will not proactively replace the Alaskan Way 12” [water main] from Main to Yesler before tunneling. SPU points out the risk to the Port and requests WSDOT to enforce their contract and WSDOT does so. STP has started construction of the replacement. ... Failure to timely replace temporary sewer constriction in Alaskan Way at King St. ... After a protracted battle starting in August 2012, STP replaces a temporary 12” flex pipe sewer constriction at downstream end of Alaskan Way 21-inch sewer at King Street in March 2013.

There definitely seems to be some Existential angst about the tunnel project.

The final item in SPU's email documents the sewer line collision we wrote about, comically noting "see a pattern here?" and adding details we didn't have about near misses with electrical conductors, sewer backups, and reporting that "Workers are exposed to sewerage and require medical treatment."
With notes about Notices of Violation (NOV), and cynical commentary of STP's "Root Cause Analysis" (which STP was asked to prepare for WSDOT in response to all the problems), SPU concludes its email with a summary of the contentious relationship:

Currently WSDOT has shut down STP’s work on the west side of the north portal pit. WSDOT sounds like they are serious about getting STP in line. SPU, SCL [Seattle City Light] and SDOT are working with WSDOT to respond the STP’s root cause analysis. WSDOT wants the City to be satisfied with STP’s response. Attached is a DRAFT response from SPU to the RCA (XXXX is editing the SPU response as our legal Catcher in the Rye)
I'm not sure I get the Catcher in the Rye reference, but there definitely seems to be some existential angst at City Hall about the tunnel project.
 

90039 Pollution One of the Highest In L.A. and Statewide

http://www.losfelizledger.com/2013/08/90039-pollution-one-of-the-highest-in-l-a-and-statewide/

By Colin Stutz, August 1, 2013




Bug-Pollution-Aug2013



Silver Lake and Atwater Village may be some Los Angeles’ most popular neighborhoods, but are also among the city’s most polluted.

According to data from the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool, the 90039 zip code that runs along the Los Angeles River—as well as Silver Lake and Atwater Village—has a pollution “burden score” that falls within the highest 2.5% of scores statewide.

The score is factored from measurements of ozone, particulate and diesel matter concentrations, pesticide use, toxic releases from facilities and traffic density. It also considers indicators, including cleanup sites, impaired water bodies, groundwater threats and solid and hazardous waste sites and facilities.

As well as parts of Silver Lake and Atwater Village, the 90039 zip code includes portions of the I-5 and California 2 Freeways, and sections of Echo Park and Elysian Heights. Within its area is also the Los Angeles River and riverbank with the Metrolink maintenance facility at Taylor Yard. Metrolink officials recently agreed to perform a health risk assessment following Congressmember Adam Schiff’s urging.

“Our office is going to make sure that that study is carried out,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell whose 13th District includes some of the 90039 zip code.

Zip code 90745 near the City of Carson has the highest “pollution burden” score for zip codes that intersect with the city and is in the highest 1% for the state. Other areas of Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz and Hollywood are included in zip codes that fall within the top 10% of the state’s “pollution burden” scores.

This information was analyzed and reprinted in the city’s new “Health Atlas” report by the Health and Wellness Chapter, a new city program focused on improving the city’s health.
Spokesperson Lys Mendez with the Dept. of City Planning said the “Health Atlas” is the program’s first step to draft a health and wellness plan, “so we can start to try to figure out the answers to those questions,” she said.

Aside from pollution, the “Health Atlas” analyzes more than 100 health outcomes, including the geographic concentration of issues such as childhood obesity, pollution and crime. One discovery is that life expectancy throughout Los Angeles can vary by up to 12 years between neighborhoods.

Replacing the Southern 710 Stub with a Park

Posted by Jonathan Edewards on Facebook, July 20, 2013

At this morning's Metro meeting, Patrizzi Intergarlictica mentioned removing the Southern 710 stub that empties into Alhambra, and replacing that stub with a park and a river. Here is a great documentary about that very idea which was implemented in Seoul, Korea. Seoul removed the major freeway in the city, which was covering up the Cheonggyecheon Stream, and created a public park instead. The traffic simply went away. (Despite the Portuguese title, this video is in English or English subtitles. It is part of the PBS series "E2 Transport" which has even better episodes about the streetcar in Portland and the bike share program in Paris). http://youtu.be/KtV1M0Cv_3A
 

Almost All of Los Angeles' Growth Is in Low-car Households

http://www.betterinstitutions.com/2013/07/almost-all-of-los-angeles-growth-is-in.html

By Shane Phillips, July 31, 2013


Portland, eat your heart out. Between 2005 and 2011, ninety percent of Los Angeles' growth was in low-car households, defined as households with fewer vehicles than working adults*. You read that right: Los Angeles, low-car. Even more incredibly, of the 20,000 households the city added over this six-year period, over 8,000 of them own zero cars. That's over forty percent.


This is amazing news for the city, and a testament to its efforts to provide more mobility options for its residents. Fewer people are dependent on expensive vehicles and gasoline to get around, which means they've got more money to spend locally. It also means a greater number of people are getting around in healthier ways, like walking, biking, and transit, and fewer cars polluting the city and adding to congestion.

With the right policies in place, we can reap even greater benefits. Right now much of the city still requires tons of parking for new apartments, often far more than developers think is necessary. And you can see why—when nearly half of the city's new residents don't even own cars, building a bunch of super-expensive parking for them doesn't make a lot of sense. Relaxing parking mandates would be nice for apartment-builders, but it'd really be nice for the people who live in them: as Michael Manville of UCLA found a while back, when you relax parking requirements you get more housing, and at lower prices. It's also good for business, as Santa Monica found recently.

Keep it up, LA!


(Hat tip to Michael Andersen at BikePortland, who showed me how to find this demographic data and whose article inspired me to write one for Los Angeles. And whose design for the above chart I blatantly stole.)

*This is a conservative estimate. The numbers exclude households with adults who aren't working and don't own cars (presumably including the elderly and retired), as well as households with one working adult and one car, even though many of these households are likely to be couples with one working parent and one stay-at-home parent. Unfortunately, the survey data didn't differentiate between these households and those with only one adult. Because of this, the actual share of growth attributable to low-car households is almost certainly greater than 90%.

· 

NO710 March At 4th of July Parade: Video by Joe Cano

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, August 1, 2013

No words needed.
150 strong march against the SR710 tunnel at the 4th Of July Parade, South Pasadena Festival of Balloons 07/04/2013.
 
 

Ice Cream Sandwiches From Coolhaus Hit Pasadena Friday

http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/08/01/ice_cream_sandwiches_from_coolhaus_hit_pasadena_friday.php

By Kat Odell, August 1, 2013

 

 

 

Is it a coincidence that tomorrow marks National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, as well as the launch of Coolhaus' second brick and mortar ice cream facility? Perhaps. Perhaps not. This here is the handiwork of Design, Bitches, the ladies behind Coolhaus in Culver City and also Superba Snack Shop on Rose in Venice. They've outfitted Pasadena in shiny chrome and black truck tire rubber, with a Coolhaus-branded mural behind the central kiosk. Overall, minimalist but also playful and fun. In addition to single and double story ice cream sandwiches, founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller are also scooping ice cream into milkshakes and Dry Soda floats, plus pouring slow-drip and cold brew Handsome coffee. Also on demand in affogato form. Come winter, hot chocolate and artisanal spreads will come to play.

The Coolhaus brand is blowing up, from its placement in Whole Foods across the country to a new partnership with Urban Outfitters wherein cart-esque freezers (pictured) will stock the company's signature ice cream sandwiches. Urban in Santa Monica is launching ice cream tomorrow, followed by Malibu, Sherman Oaks, Space 1520 (Hollywood), and Burbank.
·All Coolhaus Coverage [~ELA~]


(It's at 59 East Colorado Blvd., near the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Raymond.)

Streetsblog Asks Metro Board to Waive Attorney Client-Privilege on Najarian’s 710 Big Dig Motion

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/08/01/streetsblog-asks-metro-board-to-waive-attorney-client-privilege-on-najarians-710-big-dig-motion/

By Damien Newton, August 1, 2013



 August 1, 2013 

To: Metro Board of Director
  Fr: Damien Newton, Streetsblog LA

 Re: Who is the decision maker on the I-710 Gap Closure Project

Dear Board of Directors, 

At the last week’s Metro Board meeting, County Attorney Charles Safer responded to an April motion by Board Member Ara Najarian containing questions on the I-710 Gap Closure Project. The Najarian motion sought the answers to three basic questions concerning the relationship between Caltrans and Metro on this project. 
Specifically, Najarian sought to see who was the final decision maker on the project, who would be liable to defend the EIR for the project in court, and whether or not there is an MOU concerning the project between the two agencies. At last week’s meeting, it was revealed that Safer’s answers to these questions were not going to be made available to the public. Safer cited attorney-client privilege, leaving the Metro Board to decide whether or not such basic questions could be given to the public.Why the Board did not immediately act to waive this privilege is not known.

As an accredited media source that regularly covers Metro and this project, we are formally requesting that the Metro Board of Directors agendize a motion to waiveattorney-client privilege.

 The answers to the questions posed by Najarian’s April motion could have been answered by any member of the Metro staff and having the county attorney answer suggests that he was drafted solely to keep this information from the public’s hands. The easiest way for Metro to correct the error of having the County Attorney’s office provide these answers is to waive privilege. Forcing the public to pursue other avenues will prove costly both financially and in Metro’s standing with the public.
 I can be reached atDamien@streetsblog.orgor 323-774-8828 at any time.Wishing you the Best,



  ___________
At last week’s Metro Board meeting, County Attorney Charles Safer responded to an April motion by Board Member Ara Najarian containing questions on the I-710 Gap Closure Project. The Najarian motion sought the answers to three basic questions concerning the relationship between Caltrans and Metro on this project.

Specifically, Najarian sought to see who was the final decision maker on the project, who would be liable to defend the EIR for the project in court, and whether or not there is an MOU concerning the project between the two agencies.

As the County Attorney and Metro Board of Directors are refusing to answer these basic questions to the public, Streetsblog is formally requesting that Metro reverse its position and waive attorney-client privilege. If they don’t, Streetsblog may seek other avenues to get the information disclosed to the public.

That the item even appeared on the agenda is almost completely due to Najarian’s vigilance. Last Friday’s draft agenda didn’t include discussion of his April motion, despite a request that it be returned in 90 days, and he had to push just to get it discussed at all.

At last week’s meeting, it was revealed that Safer’s answers to these questions were not going to be made available to the public. Safer cited attorney-client privilege, leaving the Metro Board to decide whether or not such basic questions could be given to the public. As the report is still not public, the public can only speculate on what was in the report that required the Board to keep it from the public.
Here’s my speculation: the report could reveal that in the opinion of the County Attorney both Metro and Caltrans have broken state law.

When Najarian first introduced his motion, he did it because Caltrans, not Metro, is listed as the lead agency for the project. Despite this, it is Metro, not Caltrans, who is paying CH2M Hill to complete the environmental documents provided under CEQA. There is no Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies that is approved by the Metro Board of Directors.

California Public Resources Code section 21100(a) says “All lead agencies shall prepare, or cause to be prepared by contract, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report on any project which they propose to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment. . . . .”


This means that the “lead agency” (Caltrans) has to prepare, or contract for the preparation of, the EIR. Metro (which is not the lead agency) cannot prepare, or contract for the preparation of, the EIR.
To make this even more clear, the Guidelines for compliance with CEQA in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations provide in section 15084(a) (titled “Preparing the Draft EIR”) “The draft EIR shall be prepared directly by or under contract to the Lead Agency. . . . ” Title 14, California Code of Regulations section 15002(k)(3) similarly provides that “the Lead Agency . . . prepares an EIR. (See: Sections 15080 et seq.).”

When two or more agencies are working together, section 15050 provides that “one public agency shall be responsible for preparing an EIR or Negative Declaration for the project. This agency shall be called the Lead Agency.”

Taken together, if Caltrans is indeed the lead agency and the decision maker, than Caltrans has to prepare the EIR itself (or contract itself for its preparation). Metro cannot legally contract with CH2M Hill to prepare the EIR, but claim that it is not the legal agency.

Metro and Caltrans put themselves into a difficult situation. Either Metro has to now admit that it is the “lead agency,” notwithstanding its prior statements that it is not, or Caltrans as lead agency has to fund the EIR. There is no case law on such situations that I can find, but those opposing the I-710 Big Dig are already ruminating that either Metro is going to have to step up and make the decision on whether or not to go forward with the tunnel or Caltrans may have to start the environmental process over again.

Given the information publicly available that states that Metro and Caltrans have clearly violated state law and the secrecy with which Metro is now holding the answers to some pretty basic questions; we have to assume that Metro is indeed hiding something. If they’re not, it would be very easy for them to prove me wrong…just release the memo from Safer to the general public.

GRID Logistics Inc.

Posted by David Alba on Facebook, August 1, 2013

The GRID Logistics Inc. has been selected to present its genuine 21st Century zero emissions port/urban systems at the upcoming 2013 METRANS International Urban Freight Conference Westin Long Beach Oct. 8-10th http://www.metrans.org/nuf/2013/
 GRID Lostistics Inc. is a Portfolio Company at LA Cleantech Incubators laincubator.org
GRID Logistics Inc. 
 Our Mission - To reduce urban traffic and air pollution separating freight movement from people movement developed with superior operational 21st Century Freight Transportation Infrastructure

Meanwhile, at the other end of the I-405…

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/08/01/meanwhile-at-the-other-end-of-the-i-405/

By Anna Chen, August 1, 2013


Bridge Demolition Mapwcc_big



There’s an upcoming closure taking place on the I-405, but not where you think. Orange County Transportation Authority recently opened the newly reconstructed connector between the southbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) and the eastbound Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22), marking a milestone for the West County Connectors project. Now crews will move forward to demolish the old structure, a major demolition activity that will require a full 20-hour closure of the I-405 freeway.

Crews will close portions of the eastbound SR-22, northbound I-405 and southbound I-405 freeways from approximately 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17 to approximately 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug.18, 2013.

OCTA and the construction team developed an interactive Google map and list of recommended detours for these closures:
  • The northbound I-405 freeway at Valley View St.
  • The southbound I-405 freeway at the I-605 freeway junction
  • The 7th St.  / Eastbound SR-22 at the southbound I-405 freeway junction
For more information about the recommended detours during these closures, visit the West County Connectors project website.

New video advocates for High Desert Corridor project

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/08/01/new-video-advocates-for-high-desert-corridor-project/

By Steve Hymon, August 1, 2013

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTIndCYxeHs


 The above video was recently released by the High Desert Corridor [HDC] study team. For those new to the project, the HDC proposes to construct a new 63-mile east-west freeway between the 14 freeway and State Route 18 in the Antelope Valley.

A rail link parallel to the new road is also being studied as a way to connect California’s bullet train project to the proposed XpressWest, a private venture seeking to build a high-speed train between Victorville and Las Vegas. It should be noted that XpressWest needs a multi-billion dollar federal loan in order to be built and the U.S. Department of Transportation recently decided to stop processing that loan.

As for the High Desert Corridor, the idea behind the project is to relieve traffic on the 138 (the Pearblossom Highway), which is partially two lanes, often congested and can be very dangerous. A lot of truck traffic from the San Joaquin Valley area uses the 138 (and other roads) to reach the 15 and 40 freeways, the two big eastbound links for freight traffic headed from California to other parts of the U.S.

The ongoing environmental studies for the HDC were funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. The project, however, remains unfunded. One possibility to help pay for the project is to use a public-private partnership to fund part of the corridor as a toll road to help pay for construction.

Mayor Eric Garcetti backs new ride-share apps, taxi modernization

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rideshare-garcetti-license-taxi-20130801,0,3273333.story

By Laura J. Nelson, August 1, 2013


LA taxi protest at City Hall

















 Los Angeles-area taxi drivers circle City Hall in their cabs on June 25 to protest unregulated ride-share services being promoted through smartphone applications and social media.


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has endorsed a move by state regulators to consider permitting new app-driven ride-sharing services, and also will work with city taxi companies to modernize their operations.

Garcetti said he supported an action Tuesday by state officials that could allow customers to summon a ride using a smartphone, if the businesses comply with safety rules.

"This decision allows new, cost-effective solutions while protecting public safety through common-sense regulations," Garcetti said in a statement. "I also look forward to working closely with L.A.'s taxi companies to revisit our existing franchise agreements to adopt similar innovations."

The proposal follows an outcry from L.A.'s 2,300 traditional taxis. The city's taxi companies claim the growing, app-based ride services have had an unfair business advantage because they operate outside the city's inspection and regulatory process.

Use of the apps, often marketed as a cheaper, more casual alternative to taxis, is expanding rapidly in Los Angeles, even as city regulators say the services are illegal.

Under this week's California Public Utilities Commission proposal, a new category of businesses would be created, called "transportation network companies." The agency, which regulates cars for hire, would issue licenses to the services. The policy could be approved as early as Sept. 5. 

Los Angeles' taxicab administrator, Thomas Drischler, sent ride-share companies cease-and-desist letters in June. The letters, sent to San Francisco-based companies Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, warned the companies that if they did not stop operating as "high-tech bandit cabs," drivers could be arrested on misdemeanor offenses and cars could be impounded.

The app companies said at the time that they did not plan to stop operating in Los Angeles. All three said they conducted background checks on their drivers and bought insurance policies.

The clash between city regulators and the ride-share firms is part of a larger debate over how to classify start-ups whose business models don't fit neatly under existing laws. Other major cities, including New York, Boston and Washington, have taken similar actions against one or all of the companies.

Northbound Sunset Blvd. Off-Ramp From 405 Freeway Closed For 120 Days Starting Aug. 3

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/northbound-sunset-blvd-off-ramp-closed_n_3691046.html?utm_hp_ref=los-angeles

August 1, 2013

 

northbound sunset blvd. off-ramp closed

 

This is just another friendly reminder to remind all commuting Angelenos to prepare for another 120-day "Rampture" on the 405 freeway.

Starting Saturday, Aug. 3, the northbound off-ramp to Sunset Boulevard will be closed for 120 days. Westside residents and people who normally use the northbound Sunset Blvd. exit will need to prepare for possible delays, consider alternate means of transportation and avoid the area during rush hour. For four. Long. Months.

Yes, it's a long time to be without one of the 405's major exits, but it's all for the greater good. Metro officials say that the construction will result in a new ramp that's 60 percent longer than what we've got right now, which means it'll hold 60 percent more vehicles and hopefully keep Sunset Boulevard flowing a little smoother.

In the end, the new off-ramp will have two right-turn lanes headed east on Sunset Blvd., and one left-turn lane headed west.

Check out Metro's list of suggested detours to see how to access Sunset Blvd. for the next few months.
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.

The off-ramp's closure is part of a larger project to widen the 405 freeway. Check out Metro.net to learn more about the construction.

Planning a Trip Around the World on a Rickshaw Is Exactly as Hard as It Sounds

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2013/08/planning-trip-around-world-rickshaw-exactly-hard-it-sounds/6357/

By Jenny Xie, August 1, 2013

 Planning a Trip Around the World on a Rickshaw Is Exactly as Hard as It Sounds

 

 

Why go fast when you can go slow?

Last year, Luke Parry biked 1,300 miles from London to Morocco over the course of two weeks, at one point covering 126 miles in a single day. But according to Parry, who has also cycled to Istanbul and through Scandinavia, speeding through country after country stopped him from fully interacting with each new surrounding. That’s why the vehicle of choice for his upcoming journey around the world is a pedicab, or cycled rickshaw, or what he calls the World Rickshaw Taxi. Parry plans to depart this September from his home in the U.K., beginning a 16,000-mile, one-and-a-half-year ride and picking up as many passengers as possible along the way.

Luke Parry and the jersey design he will sport on the trip.
 
Since the beginning of this year, Parry has been focused on devising the route. A rough itinerary goes from the United Kingdom to China, then onwards to Japan and the United States.
 


Parry has had to alter the route several times so far due to political and climate conditions. “I could have easily gone through Russia earlier in the summer, but because I’m leaving in September, it’s just not possible,” Parry says.

To avoid Pakistan, Parry will be shipping the rickshaw from Oman to India. 
 
Last month, he found out that he won’t be able to obtain a visa from Pakistan, a country still rife with sectarian violence. After researching other options, including a trek through Western China and Tibet, Parry decided on shipping the rickshaw as sea freight from Muscat, Oman, to Mumbai, India. Shipping the rickshaw might seem like cheating, but this change eliminates the costs and stress of acquiring a number of difficult-to-obtain visas, and it also frees up a bit of time for a potential tour of Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
 
A Chinese man actually completed a two-year rickshaw journey from China to London last summer in an effort to help spread the Olympic spirit. Parry is aware of this precedent and reiterates that his purpose is not to break records, but to learn from the thousands of experiences to be gained from meeting others. That’s why he’s also taking passenger requests online and giving interested riders some power in shaping his route.
 
The idea is that the more passengers who request trips in advance, the more he can prepare to fit his route around them. In this exchange, he’s offering a rickshaw ride for food, drink, shelter, music, or even a language lesson. How many have signed up so far? “There’s been a couple but I’m not being flooded yet,” he says with a laugh. 
 
The route map online marks where Parry is expecting passengers. Zooming in and out groups passengers by relative location.
 
 
Parry is also testing out a tracking system to record each ride and give passengers something to remember.


Two weeks ago, the project almost seemed like a no-go. The sponsor that was going to provide the most critical component-- the rickshaw -- backed out. Absorbing the cost with personal funds, Parry traveled 30 miles each way last week to check out a second-hand rickshaw. He came back with good news: this five-year-old “Cycles Maximus Pedicab Rickshaw” will become the World Rickshaw Taxi:

 

For the young adventurer, all that’s left to do before the September departure is paint the rickshaw black and yellow, endure a few more vaccinations, and figure out ways to maximize his trip. Ideas so far? Publicizing any data collected along the way and documenting the entire process on video.

L.A.’s Real Growth Is in Car-Free and Car-Lite Families

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/08/01/l-a-s-real-growth-is-in-car-free-and-car-lite-families/

By Damien Newton, August 1, 2013

I’ve never made it a secret that I’m one of the few Streetsblog editors that owns a car. But in the new Los Angeles, the one that prioritizes transit projects over highway expansion, that my family of four only has one car that we barely use is becoming the new normal.

Yesterday, Streetsblog.net reported on a review of census data by Bike Portland which showed that most of the residential growth in Portland is by households that are either car-free or car-lite. Later in the day, USC graduate student Shane Philips did the same review for Los Angeles at his website, Better Institutions.

The result? Los Angeles’ residential growth is even more car-free and car-lite than Portland’s. Let’s take a quick look at Philips’ chart and graph:

Philips: *This is a conservative estimate. The numbers exclude households with adults who aren't working and don't own cars (presumably including the elderly and retired), as well as households with one working adult and one car, even though many of these households are likely to be couples with one working parent and one stay-at-home parent. 

Unfortunately, the survey data didn't differentiate between these households and those with only one adult. Because of this, the actual share of growth attributable to low-car households is almost certainly greater than 90%.


Wow! According to census data, L.A.’s growth is far outstripping its fabled car-dependency. Because the data is using census information that ends in 2011, before the city striped over one hundred miles of bike lanes, completed construction of the Expo Line, opened the Orange Line Extension, turned CicLAvia from a curiosity to a must-do event on the calendar, and painted bus-only lanes on Wilshire Boulevard.


In short, the growth trend from 2005-2011 most likely isn’t an outlier, but the beginning of a generational change in how people make their transportation choices.

And while L.A.’s largest transportation project currently under construction is the laughably over-budget and behind-schedule 405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project, it might be the last large freeway expansion project inside the city. The other major projects on the book, including the 710 Big Dig, the Long Beach 710 expansion project, the O.C.’s 405 widening project, and the High Desert Corridor are ones that will be built outside of city limits.

In fact, none of the Measure R highway projects take place inside of Los Angeles’ borders, a fact regularly trumped by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa whenever other Metro Board Members complained about a lack of transit projects in other areas.

But, as Philips points out, the city can reap even more benefits from car-lite and car-free households by mounting a campaign against the Holy Grail of car culture a parking policy that forces car-free and car-lite households to subsidize the car dependent.

Philips writes:
With the right policies in place, we can reap even greater benefits. Right now much of the city still requires tons of parking for new apartments, often far more than developers think is necessary. And you can see why—when nearly half of the city’s new residents don’t even own cars, building a bunch of super-expensive parking for them doesn’t make a lot of sense. Relaxing parking mandates would be nice for apartment-builders, but it’d really be nice for the people who live in them: as Michael Manville of UCLA found a while back, when you relax parking requirements you get more housing, and at lower prices. It’s also good for business, as Santa Monica found recently.
Unfortunately, car-culture isn’t just folding its tent and going away as exemplified by the media’s glorifying a law change allowing people to park at expired parking meters. A few of them mentioned that there were no tickets given under the old law in 2013. That’s right, the media was throwing a party over the perception that it would be easier to park a car.

Even while the city grows in a more and more car-free and car-lite direction, its record on policy is still a mixed bag.

But for today, the news is good. The L.A. of Steve Martin movies is changing, but the city needs to continue to evolve to meet the new generation of working households.

Why traffic jams are the sign of a healthy economy

http://qz.com/109859/why-traffic-jams-are-the-sign-of-a-healthy-economy/

By David Yanofsky, July 30, 2013

 
It only feels like stop-and-go


Sitting in traffic may be frustrating, but to INRIX, a company that collects data on millions of miles of road around the world, it’s the sign of a healthy economy. And looking at INRIX’s data through the first half of 2013, American roads are indicating the US economy is improving, while European streets are more uncertain.

Ireland, Switzerland, and the United States saw the largest increases in automotive traffic in the first half of 2013, while Portugal, Hungary, and Spain experienced the largest declines.
Year-to-INRIX-index-2013-GDP-growth-estimate_chartbuilder

Traffic is used as a proxy for economic activity because it measures people going to work and deliveries being made, according to INRIX. While the capacity of a road changes infrequently, the commerce that transits them fluctuates.

Congestion on US roads was up 8.3% from last June, according to data released today. Data from Europe show that Hungary saw the largest traffic increase of the 32 nations INRIX tracks, up 107% from June 2012. However, traffic in Hungary was down 47% in the first half of 2013, second only to Portugal, which saw congestion decline 58%.

The largest traffic increase in a metropolitan area in the first half of 2012 was in Palermo, Italy, up 91%. Excluding cities in the US, which vastly outnumber other covered areas, the largest increases have come in Geneva, London, and Luxembourg.

Largest-traffic-growth-in-non-US-cities_YTD_chartbuilder

Five of the ten cities with the largest declines in congestion this year are in Spain, and two are in Portugal.
Largest-traffic-declines-in-non-US-citiesYTD_chartbuilder-2

The most congested roads are getting even more use. Fifteen of the most congested 25 cities have seen slower travel times in the first half of this year.

Milan topped the list of the most congested cities, with transit times elevated by 38.5% in June. However unlike many on the list, Milan saw a 3.3% decline in congestion. The INRIX index of a country or city represents the extra time an average trip takes due to increased traffic during rush hours. A city without congestion would have an index of 0.

Traffic-congestion-index-Change-from-2012_chartbuilder

Freight Panel Chair Says House Will “Balance Out” Transportation Modes

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/07/31/freight-panel-chair-says-house-will-balance-out-transportation-modes/

By Stephen Miller, July 31, 2013

A Congressional road show on freight arrived in New York last Friday afternoon, bringing together air, trucking, and rail industry representatives to testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s freight panel.

Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) said in New York City that his freight panel would try to "balance out" the modes of transportation.

While the House is holding hearings like this one, U.S. DOT is working toward its own national freight plan with its Freight Advisory Committee, and top officials there have expressed a desire to prioritize some modes over others. “We want to keep goods movement on water as long as possible, and then on rail as long as possible and truck it for the last miles,” Deputy Secretary John Porcari said in 2010.

On Friday, Streetsblog asked Rep. John Duncan, a Republican from eastern Tennessee who chairs the freight panel, if he agreed with Porcari’s modal hierarchy. “Yes,” he said. ”It’s the goal of I think almost everyone in transportation to emphasize rail and water transportation a little bit more than it’s been emphasized in the past, and I think we can do that,” he said. “Everyone on this panel is very focused on trying to balance out our transportation a little bit more than it is at this time.”

“We’re getting close to the time that we’re going to put out our report and our recommendations,” Duncan said, adding that recommendations could be enacted in future transportation bills or separate pieces of legislation. Duncan noted that the freight panel is modeled on a House Armed Services Committee panel on reforming acquisition in the Department of Defense. “Several of their recommendations were actually passed into law,” he said.

Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that the Port Authority is working with transportation departments in New Jersey, New York state, and New York City on a comprehensive regional freight plan. He also said that infrastructure replacement projects should receive speedier environmental review, citing the Bayonne Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge – which will build a new, wider span without additional transit investment — as examples of the Obama administration expediting the environmental review process. “The case is clearer with a project like the Bayonne,” Foye said. “We’re not building a bridge or knocking a bridge down.”

As Streetsblog reported yesterday, an amendment to the Senate appropriations bill from Louisiana Republican David Vitter would entirely exempt projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge widening from the environmental review process.

Last week’s hearing also included a status report on the long-discussed Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel between New Jersey and Brooklyn.

The Cross-Harbor rail project, a longtime cause of New York Representative Jerrold Nadler — who led the hearing along with Rep. Duncan – would reduce the New York region’s heavy reliance on trucking, but also increase freight demand on some corridors that see significant passenger service.

Some at the hearing signaled their desire to reduce truck tolls. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) expressed disbelief at how much they cost in the New York area, and Gerry Coyle of American Trucking Associations applauded Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm’s effort to force the MTA to drop tolls on the Verranazo-Narrows Bridge through legislation.

Coyle also spoke against congestion pricing, saying that it “will not necessarily work or be effective for commercial traffic.” Although some ports have plans to encourage off-peak truck trips, Coyle said, hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration often put trucks on the road during rush hours. ”It’s really counter-productive,” he told the panel, apparently disregarding all the time commercial drivers would save if fewer rush-hour car commuters were on the road.

App Sends Traffic Complaints Straight to Congress



Hoping it will push U.S. lawmakers to develop a long-term transportation funding plan, infrastructure advocates developed a smartphone app that allows users to complain to members of Congress about their travel troubles.


http://www.govtech.com/applications/App-Sends-Traffic-Complaints-Straight-to-Congress.html

By Ryan Holeywell, July 31, 2013




 bumper to bumper traffic


Advocates behind a new smartphone app hope it will bridge the gap between Americans' frustration with traffic and lawmakers' failure to develop a long-term way of paying for infrastructure.

The "I'm Stuck" app, released Tuesday, allows users to document their travel troubles and automatically fire off a message to their senators and member of Congress calling for increased federal investment in transportation.

The role of the app could be significant.

Transportation advocates have long been frustrated by the fact that complaining about traffic seems to be a favorite American pastime,  yet Americans' anecdotal frustration with potholes, traffic jams and unreliable transit hasn't translated into much political pressure. Polls show that virtually nobody considers infrastructure to be America's biggest problem, despite the rhetoric surrounding the issue.
Moreover, while there's no shortage of federal lawmakers who call for increased investment in infrastructure, there have been few serious ideas put forward on how to actually pay for it. That inaction comes even though federal budget analysts continue to offer dire warnings about the government's depleting transportation funds.

Advocates at Building America's Future, the group behind the app, hope "I'm Stuck" can help address both those dichotomies.

Here's how it works: when a user downloads the app, he's prompted to enter his address, which is then used to determine who represents him in Congress. When a user encounters a transportation problem, the idea is that he'll fire up the app and select what the problem is from a menu of choices --traffic jam, tarmac delays, overcrowded subways, and others.


Depending on the problem, a different pre-written message is generated, but each is a variation on the idea that it's time for Congress to make a serious investment in transportation infrastructure. The final line is the same in each message: "It's important. It's your decision. It's past time." Users can also customize their note before it's emailed to their lawmakers.

The app contains a warning that it shouldn't be used while driving, and messages can be saved for later.

 "We hope this app will be a permission slip from the American people (and) say to their congressman 'yes, this is a serious problem... we want you to invest in building our future,'" former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Rendell, co-chair of Building America’s Future, cited the overwhelming majority of local transportation-related referenda that pass as evidence that "voters are way ahead of their representatives" on the issue. He rightly, acknowledged the fact that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have yet to figure out a way to develop a long-term, sustainable funding stream to support transportation infrastructure (though in their defense, many Americans likely hate tax hikes even more than potholes and traffic jams).

Marcia Hale, president of Building America's Future, said the app is a quick and easy way for people to communicate with Congress about something that impacts their daily lives.

Hale, who's worked as staff in both White House and Congress, said letters like these can actually have an impact, so long as they come in significant volumes.

"There's nothing like getting a lot of mail to get a member of Congress's attention," Hale said.

Trolley Expansion Will Remap Ridership – and Land-Use Decisions

http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/07/23/trolley-expansion-will-remap-ridership-and-land-use-decisions/

By Andrew Keatts, July 23, 2013


 File photo

 The San Diego Trolley

San Diego’s trolley service will soon connect the city’s two densest areas, but the expansion’s success depends on flipping development patterns in the communities in between.

For the region’s overall transportation framework, the project accomplishes two major goals.
For one, it creates a much sought-after “single seat” rail trip — one in which a rider sits down once, without needing to transfer — between University City and downtown, San Diego’s two densest areas.

It also extends the trolley’s most-used leg — the blue line, which runs from San Ysidro to downtown. That means connecting the working-class communities north of the border and south of downtown to a major employment center, and to regional resources like UCSD.

But between the trolley’s new northernmost destination and downtown, the blue line will also serve a number of neighborhoods that aren’t traditional hubs for transit ridership.

And areas with the dense, walkable character that normally stoke transit demand and aren’t currently reached by the trolley — like the beaches and mid-city neighborhoods — will continue to make do with bus services instead.

“The mid-coast trolley extension does not take advantage of smart-growth opportunities in ways that other transit projects have or can,” said Elyse Lowe, executive director of Move San Diego, a public-transit advocacy group that nonetheless supports the project.
♦♦♦
The Mid-Coast Trolley Corridor Transit project will eventually extend trolley service from Old Town to University City, adding 11.2 miles of new rail service and at least eight new stations, including three in neighborhoods just east of I-5 between downtown and La Jolla.

At a projected cost of $1.7 billion, the extension has been part of the region’s transportation vision for decades.

It was part of the county’s first-voter approved initiative to implement a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, called TransNet, in 1987. One of the few uncompleted projects in that initial list, the mid-coast trolley became a priority when the tax was re-approved in 2004.

Local sales tax funding accounts for half of the project’s projected price tag, as well as operating funds through 2048. The other half is expected to come from a Federal Transit Administration program.

The public comment period on the project’s environmental effects closed July 17. SANDAG, the county’s regional transportation agency, will soon finalize that report before voting to certify it early next year. After final design decisions are made by SANDAG, the county’s regional transportation agency, construction could begin in 2015, and operations could begin in 2018.
♦♦♦
Existing trolley service basically circles the center city area, with extensions spurring east to Santee and south to San Ysidro.

A hypothetical line through the middle of that service area, into neighborhoods like Hillcrest, North Park and City Heights, could attract ridership there by capitalizing on its existing state, Lowe said.
Instead, the blue line extension will in part be judged on its ability to drive a change in land-use decisions near the stations it’ll establish in the suburban neighborhoods between downtown and University City.

That’s a tall order, but SANDAG has said the mid-coast trolley is its best option for extending the city’s existing service.

The extension scores higher on SANDAG’s evaluation scale – which measures how well projects serve regional needs, develop an integrated transit network and promote sustainability – than any other project on the agency’s 40-year plan.

Two other trolley projects on the list – one a new line from Pacific Beach to El Cajon, the other from SDSU to downtown along El Cajon Boulevard – scored much lower, and have higher price tags.

“Those projects fare pretty well, but not as well as this,” said Gary Gallegos, executive director of SANDAG. “People say they love transit, and they want it to go to the beach and other places, but we find those projects are just as controversial. And while I believe when we get to the beach it’ll be a big success, I’m cognizant that it’s not a slam dunk easy route to make happen.”

There are a few factors behind the mid-coast extension’s high evaluation score. For one, it meets the agency’s responsibility to serve lower-income communities. And since ridership on the blue line is already strong, the agency expects healthy ridership.

Also, each of the planned stations sites is included in SANDAG’s smart-growth concept map, a list of 200 countywide sites identified as ripe for sustainable development.

But the sites in between University City and downtown have the potential for dense development; other neighborhoods in the city are already there.

And two of those stops, one at Balboa Avenue and one at Clairemont Drive, fall within Clairemont’s 30-foot height limit.

That’ll affect the prospects for transit-oriented development around those two stations, Lowe said. Normal transit-oriented development standards would call for 60 to 80 housing units per acre near the stations. The height limit will force that down to closer to 20 units per acre, she said.
“If we’re talking in the immediate proximity of the project, yeah it’s going to be really hard… but you want to think of transit-oriented development as a community-based concept,” Lowe said. “So, how is the city going to think of land use in the area, considering whether someone could live there without a car? Is there grocery and retail amenities, or general accommodations like parks and schools?”

A bright spot, she said, is the arrival of the city’s new planning director, Bill Fulton, who built his name advocating for such development.

Mayor Bob Filner’s office did not respond to a request to interview Fulton.

Gallegos said SANDAG is forecasting 20,000 riders per day in the first year of service from the blue line stations north of Old Town.

But in its public comment on the extension’s environmental report, Lowe’s organization raised a concern with the amount of parking SANDAG is planning to provide at the new stations.
She’s worried the organization is looking to boost initial ridership by catering to drivers, even if it’s at the expense of long-term planning decisions.

“If you want to encourage people to live as close to transit as possible, you need to encourage that,” she said. “But they know that with this investment, they will do anything to make the ridership work, even if it means accommodating for the automobile.”

Miami-Dade celebrates one year anniversary of rail service to airport

http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2013/07/miami-dade-celebrates-one-year-anniversary-of-rail-service-to-airport.aspx?ref=Express-Thursday-20130801&utm_campaign=Express-Thursday-20130801&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

July 31, 2013

 Miami Metrorail train at Government Center station. Photo courtesy DearEdward, Flickr Commons.
Miami Metrorail train at Government Center station.

Miami-Dade Transit is commemorating its first year of Metrorail service to Miami International Airport (MIA).

The opening of Metrorail’s 23rd station, the Miami International Airport Station, and Orange Line service to the station, changed the way residents and visitors travel to and from the airport.

“It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since Orange Line service to MIA began, but it’s no surprise that so many of our residents and visitors have already taken advantage of this wonderful public amenity,” said Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “We’re proud to offer our patrons a convenient, economical alternative to driving to the airport, and we look forward to the continued success of the Metrorail Orange Line in the years ahead.”

More than 750,000 people have passed through the MIA Station since its inauguration on July 28, 2012. With the addition of the Orange Line, as well as the increased frequency in service between the Dadeland South and Earlington Heights stations, Metrorail has seen a boost in its overall yearly ridership by nearly 13% over the previous year. This increase exceeds the 12% increase in ridership that had been projected for the first year of service to MIA.

“We owe this great service and its success to the Miami-Dade County taxpayers, who had the foresight to plan for and fund a Metrorail extension that would tie our local businesses and urban core to MIA – one of the largest economic engines in our region,” said Miami-Dade transit director Ysela Llort.

Construction of the 2.4-mile extension and MIA Station was funded with $404.7 million from the People’s Transportation Plan surtax, which is overseen by the 15-member Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust. The remainder of the project cost – $101.3 million – came from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The opening of the Orange Line and MIA station also marked a milestone in Metrorail’s history because for the first time since it opened in 1984, Metrorail has two rail lines – the Orange and Green lines.

The award-winning MIA Station features a multilevel structure that provides passengers with a central transfer point at the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC). At the MIC, travelers can transfer to different modes of transportation, including Metrobus, and in the future, to Tri-Rail, Amtrak, Greyhound, tour buses and other modes of transportation.

(We may have a train connection to Los Angeles International Airport sometime in the future--or maybe not.)

Report: Motorcoach travel more cost effective, efficient than Amtrak

http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2013/08/report-motorcoach-travel-more-cost-effective-efficient-than-amtrak.aspx?ref=Express-Thursday-20130801&utm_campaign=Express-Thursday-20130801&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

August 1, 2013

A new study by M.J. Bradley and Associates prepared for the American Bus Association Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Reason Foundation reveals lower consumer and taxpayer costs and reduced emissions associated with motorcoach travel as compared with Amtrak’s rail system. Comparing a number of key areas, the study will be used to seek reforms in the transportation planning process.

The report establishes that motorcoach companies provide passenger service that is either more effective or on par with Amtrak, but at a fraction of the cost and with little to no public subsidy. The analysis compares consumer (fare, travel time) and societal costs (government subsidies, air emissions) associated with 20 trips between select U.S. city pairs on both Amtrak and scheduled intercity motorcoaches. These trips are representative of the Amtrak system covering a range of geographies, both urban and rural, and include the Northeast Corridor, including Acela; short-corridor trains; and long-distance trains.

Comparisons concluded these key findings:

  • On a fully allocated cost basis (capital and operating) motorcoaches average on cost per passenger less than 25% of the cost to provide comparable Amtrak Service
  • Only two Amtrak lines generate enough revenue to cover operating and capital costs.
  • On average, per-passenger carbon emissions from motorcoaches are 45% — 65% less than comparable Amtrak trips
  • Motorcoaches generally offer more schedules per trip than comparable Amtrak trips
  • Motorcoaches serve 2,766 cities and towns in the lower 48 states, while Amtrak serves more than 500 cities and towns in 46 of the 48 states.
  • Generally total trip time by motorcoach is comparable with Amtrak.
“This report once again shows that the transportation planning process should require careful consideration of all modes of transportation to help determine which are the best value for taxpayers, both in terms of short-term costs and long-term liabilities,” said Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“Based on the report findings, motorcoaches clearly offer opportunities to reduce carbon emissions, save taxpayers and travelers time and money, while providing broader schedules to more destinations”, said Peter Pantuso, president of the ABA Foundation. “And, yet the transportation planning system reflects gaping inequities in modal choices, funneling tax dollars into projects that may not make environmental or fiscal sense.”

"As we strive to improve mobility and our infrastructure in this time of debt and deficits, we need to spend our transportation funding more wisely than ever. Congress shouldn't automatically keep pouring money into existing systems. Before spending taxpayers' money, Congress needs to closely examine the benefits and cost-effectiveness of alternatives, just as this report has done with buses and Amtrak," said Shirley Ybarra, senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation and formerly Virginia's secretary of transportation.

The study’s sponsors hope to use the findings regarding cost effectiveness and environmental efficiency to evolve and transform the transportation planning process into a more inclusive system — to help save tax dollars and reduce carbon emissions.

Map of the Day: L.A.'s Freeways, Reimagined as a Subway


http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/07/map-day-las-freeways-reimagined-subway/6360/

By Stephanie Garlock, July 30, 2013





Map of the Day: L.A.'s Freeways, Reimagined as a Subway

When Los Angeles's streetcar system shut down for good in the 1960s, the city was deprived of one of the more idiosyncratic pleasures of urban living: a truly iconic map. Clover interchanges and freeway exits just don't look as good on paper, at least until now.

A new map from Boston-based designer Peter Dunn re-imagines the city's trademark freeway system using the familiar design of subway maps. The map elegantly displays 31 freeways, 75 interchanges, and more than 850 exits on one poster. Dunn launched a Kickstarter in late June to collect pre-orders for a first print run. A month later, with 404 individual backers and around 500 orders, Dunn has raised nearly six times his initial goal of $2,000.

One of Dunn's biggest challenges involved figuring out how to best represent complex interchanges. He spent hours scouring print and Google maps to figure out the details of each connection, including how different directions hooked up for each road and where there were entrances for express and HOV lanes. This close-up of downtown gives a sense of Dunn's monumental task:
Peter Dunn
Dunn has worked nights and weekends on the map since January, fitting it in around his full-time job as an urban planner. "If I'd known ahead of time the real size of the freeway system in L.A., I would have picked something different," he says. "It's a tedious hobby. It's like knitting."

Through his Kickstarter, Dunn also solicited feedback from L.A. locals to correct a final proof of his map. Most of the suggested changes were small, as he tried to more accurately reflect the ways that Angelenos really refer to different roads and intersections. "These are the sort of things that give you a little credibility when someone in L.A. has it hanging on their wall," he explains.

This isn't the first time Dunn has dabbled in unusual maps. He's also created a map of Boston's T system that showed time, rather than distance, between stations and one that laid out all of the streets named after states in Washington, D.C.

"It's always surprising to me that people really latch on to maps this much," Dunn says of his Kickstarter's success. "People like to see their cities in different ways."

Bidders emerge for Los Angeles bundled projects P3

http://www.ijonline.com/Articles/88649/cGRyb3VldEBlYXJ0aGxpbmsubmV0fGY1YzhlZTY0LWE1MDgtNDg2YS04Yjc0LTM0ZDRhZTU4NGJkYw%3d%3d

July 31, 2013

Bidders are emerging for the unique bundled projects P3 from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro). According to US P3 executives, one bidding consortium consists, in part, of Balfour Beatty Capital and its subsidiary, Parson Brinckerhoff, and Fluor.

Another bidding consortium consists of Hochtief PPP Solutions North America, Skanksa and ACS, while Walsh Construction will lead another consortium, said one P3 attorney. Calls to all of the firms were not immediately returned. A LA Metro spokesman would only say that the agency is not releasing the names of the bidders.

The project, named the “Accelerated Regional Transportation Improvements” (ARTI) project, is the first of its kind in the US P3 market, as it will engage a private consortium to execute six road projects that will be bundled in to a single P3. The total cost is expected to be US$750 million. An RFQ for the project was issued at the end of May, and a shortlist should be produced by the end of the year.

The six projects are:
  • The I-5 North Capacity Enhancement, which will improve 13.5 miles of the highway between SR 14 and Parker Rd.;
  • The I-5 North Pavement Rehabilitation, which will repave 13.5 miles of I-5;
  • The SR-71 Gap Closure between I-10 and Mission Blvd. – a project that will add one carpool and one general purpose lane between 1.7 miles between I-10 and Mission Blvd. in Pomona;
  • The SR-71 Gap Closure between Mission Blvd. and Rio Rancho Road – will add one 2.6-mile carpool and one 2.6-mile general purpose lane for between Mission Blvd. and Rio Rancho Rd., and
  • Soundwall Packages 10 and 11 – two separate projects that will add sound barrier walls on 3.8-miles of I-210 and 5.5-miles of SR-170.
The project, along with the proposed, US$4 billion P3 to fix all of the deficient bridges in Pennsylvania, are the first two P3s in the US to include more than one project in a single P3 procurement. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is said to be close to issuing an RFQ for that project.