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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Meet the Small-Time Beverly Hills Publisher Who Thinks He Can Stop the Purple Line Subway


By Neal Broverman, August 7, 2013




 Pretty sure we've heard a few cheers today for the LA Times's takedown of Beverly Hills Courier publisher Clif Smith, the aspiring William Randolph Hearst who's fond of using his newspaper to push his personal agenda. The Courier is distributed free every week and it's a regular read for a certain aging Beverly Hills demographic; Smith, who lives in Pasadena (but practices law in BH), uses the Courier to push his libertarian ideas, but also his strong anti-Purple-Line sentiments, and to punish officials who support the subway. Smith loathes the Purple Line extension and uses the Courier to blast Metro on a daily basis and generally stoke any fires against the project. Smith's opposition to the Purple Line appears to be his raison d'etre--he turned on BH mayor Willie Brien because he dared to attend an early groundbreaking ceremony for the project. (Ballsy/powerful County Supe Zev Yaroslavsky, who supports the subway, said at a recent Beverly Hills Rotary Club meeting--which Smith attended--that the Courier practices "yellow journalism.")

A few BH politicians speak on the record in the story, saying Smith bullied them to have city employees fired; after they explained they had "neither the power nor the inclination to meet his demands," they showed up in a big Courier hit piece. Several people also said that Smith threatens BH employees who advertise city services or programs in competing papers like the Beverly Hills Weekly or the Times.

Smith, whose father also ran and tried to exert influence through newspapers, defends himself by saying he is only doing a service to his readers by questioning the actions of BH officials.
"I think [Smith] has the thrill of power in a very sad, perverse way," Dena Schechter, a local Democrat who produced mailers supporting Brien and blasting Smith as a carpetbagger, told the Times. "He is playing a game that is not about being a community advocate; it's about being an advocate for whatever he is for at that moment."

· Small paper in Beverly Hills has big voice

New light rail car designs in the works


By Heidi Zeller, August 7, 2013

 Detail of the new, bright yellow and white reflective markings and paint scheme rail car styling designed by Metro Creative Services.  A test “mock up” was applied to an older car model by Lee Hetherington (right) in Blue Line Fleet Services and his capable team.
 Detail of the new, bright yellow and white reflective markings and paint scheme rail car styling designed by Metro Creative Services. A test “mock up” was applied to an older car model by Lee Hetherington (right) in Blue Line Fleet Services and his capable team.

As previously reported, the Metro Board of Directors recently approved purchasing new light rail vehicles from Kinkisharyo International. Metro’s Creative Services group has since been hard at work creating distinctive styling and graphics for the new rail cars as well as the entire rail fleet.

“The forward looking design is intended to capture the vibrant spirit of Los Angeles,” said Jorge Pardo, Director of Art & Design for Creative Services. “We are seeking to transform Metro’s trains into gleaming, contemporary vehicles that express L.A. as a world class urban center. We’re creating a safer train and doing it with a sense of style that the world now expects of L.A.”

The the workhorse Nippon Sharyo P2020 car were the first in Metro’s fleet to receive the bold reflective yellow markings and white super-graphics overlaid onto painted cool grays of the vehicle chassis (these cars are used on the Blue and Expo Lines). A “mocked up” vehicle with the new trimmings will roll out next week and be under close performance assessment. Slight variations and tweaks may occur until the styling is perfected and agreed to by Metro department stakeholders — they want to make sure the cars work both aesthetically and can be maintained.

Full side view with new paint and decal styling, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Full side view with new paint and decal styling, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Existing train designs, featured on the Blue and Expo Lines.
Existing train, featured on the Blue and Expo Lines

Incorporating enhanced safety was a critical objective of the design. Improvements include bright, large scale, reflective white and yellow decaling that make trains more highly visible – particularly at night – and therefore create safer conditions for customers approaching trains and at intersections.

“The increased reflectiveness of the train surfaces is impressive,” said Lee Hetherington, a 16-year veteran Metro Rail Body/Paint Leader in Fleet Services. “These trains are sure to stimulate new ridership. Other transit agencies across the nation will be envious of our bold, fresh looking trains.”
With its new styling, Metro trains will present a cohesive and more visible rolling billboard for the agency county-wide, encouraging discretionary riders and creating a safer and more attractive ride for our customers.

Designs are still being finalized. Stayed tuned for updates in the coming months.

See Fleet Graphics Concept presentation for background:

Securing Traffic Crash Data Isn’t a Violation of Privacy


By Angie Schmitt, August 7, 2013

Most cars these days are equipped with an “event data recorder,” or EDR — a device that tracks information like vehicle speed and brake activation, which engineers can use to fine tune safety features.
An event data recorder.

They can also be used to determine fault in a collision. While that capability is not widely deployed yet, EDRs could be an invaluable tool in deterring traffic violence. Network blog Wash Cycle reports that this use of EDRs is under attack in the House of Representatives:
Such data would seem to be very useful to the public. It could help car and road designers make both safer, and it could help to prosecute drivers whose negligence leads to a death or injury of another. And for those reasons, the “National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed making the devices mandatory on all new cars, starting next year.” But Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass wants to let drivers opt out of using them.
“I would argue that this is a device that the average person should be able to turn off if they so desire,” he says.
I have to disagree, because while the EFF and Capuano have some valid concerns (about who can access the data, what it records and who owns it), those are addressed by current regulations.

[Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:] “In keeping with NHTSA’s current policies on EDR data, the EDR data would be treated by NHTSA as the property of the vehicle owner and would not be used or accessed by the agency without owner consent. EDRs do not collect any personal identifying information or record conversations and do not run continuously.”

So, drivers already have the right to “opt out,” just after the crash – unless they’re a suspect in a criminal investigation.

If one is worried that this is a privacy violation, consider that – with a warrant – we can make drivers submit to a blood test. You can’t tell me that downloading data off their car’s computer is more invasive.
A website called Govtrack predicts that Capuano’s bill probably won’t go anywhere. Nevertheless, Wash Cycle says, going forward it’s important to balance reasonable privacy concerns with the important public aim of reducing traffic injuries and deaths.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland reports on a recent case where a driver was charged for careless driving. Baltimore Spokes relays the news that Austin, Texas, police are using bike patrols to bust drivers for unsafe passing. And Urban Cincy contemplates the connection between good neighborhood design and personal happiness.

A Tip to Metro at 7th Street Metro Center, Signage Needed for Your Wheel Chair Passengers


By Damien Newton, August 7, 2013

Exit to Hope Street...Unless you are in a wheel chair.

Good customer service isn’t always about coming up with plans to utilize the best technology, sometimes it’s as simple as putting up a sign.

When Metro was announcing plans to lock fare gates, Streetsblog warned that at some transit centers, better signage is needed. For example, at 7th Street Metro Center in Downtown Los Angeles, not every exit has an elevator to the service. From our June 13, 2012 article:
ADA faregate, which is soon to be locked, leads to a lobby with no elevator to the surface. Once out of the paid-fare area, the wheelchair-or-other-elevator-dependent customer will have to purchase a new ticket (on the soon-to-be-required RFID (“TAP”) card which will cost an extra dollar to buy) in order to re-enter the station and head over to an exit with an elevator.

This will mean that while a wheelchair user can exit the station, they will then find themselves trapped in the ticket lobby in the background and will need to pay another fare at the Ticket Vending Machines(TVM) to get to another exit from the station that has an elevator to the surface.
This Monday, Metro latched the fare gates at 7th Street Metro Center. Erik Griswold, who tipped Streetsblog about this issue last year, was there. Sadly, it appears that Metro didn’t read our articleor chose to ignore it. Their was no signage directing wheelchair passengers to exits with elevators. This means passengers can TAP their way out of the subway area into an exit area with no way to access the street without TAPing back in. Griswold notes:
The turnstiles/gates were latched today at 7th Street.  So now the issue of wheelchair passengers (who may very well head to this exit as it is closest to the arriving/terminating Blue and Expo Line trains) getting trapped is very possible. 

When I went past there yesterday, there was no new signage warning wheelchair passengers that no elevators exist to take them up to the street.
Note to Metro: this isn’t that hard! Let Bob Blumenfield worry about getting everyone Wi-Fi and handle the basics.

Didn't Pay Your New York Taxes? Then You Can't Drive on New York Roads


By Emily Badger, August 7, 2013

 Didn't Pay Your New York Taxes? Then You Can't Drive on New York Roads

Oftentimes, public discussion of taxes is divorced from the reality that this money actually pays for stuff: schools, bridges, roads, etc. The act of paying taxes feels like a personal burden. But tax money is generally spent for the collective good.

Lest New York State tax scofflaws forget this fact, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a pretty brilliant new enforcement scheme this week: Residents owing the state more than $10,000 in back taxes may soon have their driver's licenses suspended. The logic?

"By enacting these additional consequences," Cuomo said in a statement, "we’re providing additional incentives for the state to receive the money it is owed and we’re keeping scofflaws off the very roads they refuse to pay their fair share to maintain."

The state Tax Department is about to send out 16,000 notices to people who collectively owe some $26 million. They'll have 60 days to get their act together. Then, after a follow-up notice and another 15 days, they'll have their licenses suspended until the debt is paid back or a payment plan is worked out with the state.

The idea is ingenious not just because driving privileges are so precious to many people, but also because the enforcement mechanism makes clear that people actually have to pay for all the transportation infrastructure we often take for granted.

Hybrid, EV car sales ramping up - slowly


By Kevin Smith, August 6, 2013


The charging cable on a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid car on display during the second press preview day at the 2012 North American International Auto Show January 10, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.

Herlica Garcia can still remember her daily commute from Downey to Rancho Cucamonga.
In her Nissan Murano, the 90-mile roundtrip was costing her $70 a week. But that was before she bought her 2010 Toyota Prius III, which whittled that down to about $10 to $15 a week.

The 31-year-old Downey resident, who now works in Torrance, said her hybrid has made all the difference. 

"Now I'm getting 49 to 51 miles per gallon," she said. "It runs really smooth. I went to Texas and back a couple years ago with my son, my sister and her two boys for about $220 round trip. Gas was a less expensive back then, but even today it would still cost less than one airline ticket."

Hybrids and electric vehicles have been heavily promoted in recent years with incentives and discounts that are designed to spur consumers to buy them.

It all plays into the nation's push to reduce emissions, become more fuel efficient and lower our reliance on foreign oil. But despite all of that, sales of hybrids and EVs still account for a very small percentage of total U.S. auto sales.

Figures from motorintelligence.com reveal that just 3.6 percent (521,000) of the nation's light vehicle sales in 2012 were hybrids and EVs. Total hybrid and EV sales through June of this year accounted for 3.9 percent (308,000) of the light-vehicle mix. 

Those numbers were up from 2011 when hybrid and EV sales hit 295,978, or 2.3 percent, of total light vehicle sales.

Not a huge uptick, but industry experts say sales are beginning to ramp up.

"They are increasing significantly," said Todd Leutheuser, executive director of the Southland Motor Car Dealers Association. "The incentives are strong enough that Chevy Volts are moving extraordinarily well and the Toyota Prius is off the charts -- it could almost be its own brand."

There's no denying the efficiency of hybrids. A recent issue of US News & World Report ranked the 2013 Ford Fusion hybrid No. 1 out of a list of affordable, mid-sized hybrid vehicles.

With an average price ranging from $26,851 to $31,526, the Ford Fusion hybrid was touted for its "excellent fuel economy, strong performance and great reliability." The car is powered by a four-cylinder engine and electric motor that together produce 188 horsepower.

At 47 miles per gallon in both the city and highway, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid has one of the best fuel ratings in its class.

The Fusion was followed in the rankings by the 2013 Hyundai Sonata hybrid, the 2013 Toyota Camry hybrid and the 2013 Toyota Prius V hybrid.

Others on the list include the 2013 Kia Optima hybrid, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta hybrid and the 2012 Nissan Leaf.

Peter Smith, a sales and leasing consultant at AutoNation Ford of Valencia, said people are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of buying hybrids.

"Consumer confidence in hybrids is increasing," he said. "Everybody is coming out with hybrids. It's become tested and reliable technology. People are becoming more and more fuel conscious, and even wealthy people have become more practical, more conservative and more eco-minded."

It certainly doesn't hurt that automakers like Ford and Toyota offer a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles on their hybrid components.

That extended warranty will likely put many consumers at ease because the replacement cost for hybrid batteries can range from $1,000 to $6,000 depending on the year and model of the car. 

"The big concern is the battery," Smith admitted. "But with an eight-year warranty ... that's a long time to have the same car these days. And if you actually had to replace it after eight years, chances are good that the prices will have come down by then. It's a lot like computers."

And much like computers, prices for hybrids cover a broad range. The US News & World Report ranking lists affordable, mid-sized hybrids that range in price from $18,936 to $24,005 for the Honda Insight, all the way up to Toyota Avalon hybrid, which can run as much as $39,626.

On Tuesday, General Motors announced that is is knocking 13 percent off the price of its 2014 Chevrolet Volt. The $5,000 discount will push the starting price down to $34,995, including shipping.

Ford, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet and others also offer plug-in hybrids, which require the owner to plug in the vehicle to recharge the electric battery. With standard hybrids the gasoline engine and breaking system automatically recharge the electric battery.

Marc Geller, a spokesman for the Electric Auto Association, said sales of plug-in hybrids and EVs are taking off much faster than traditional hybrids did when they were first introduced around 2000. He explains it this way:

"Grid electricity here in California is so much cleaner than petroleum and there is no question about the environmental benefits," he said. "They are zippier than most gas cars, they're fun to drive and you never have to go to gas stations."

That may be true. But the vast majority of consumers still have "range anxiety" when it comes to pure EVs. They worry about the limited network of charging stations.

"I think for most people EVs are still viewed as too risky," Smith said. "They feel there is always that chance that you'll be stuck somewhere."

Geller admitted that EVs are not for everyone. But the concerns about charging stations are somewhat overblown, he said.

"The truth is that about 80 to 90 percent of charging is done at home or at work," he said. "It's the most the convenient place and the cheapest place. Even with a 120-volt plug you can regain 25 to 30 miles of charging in the course of a workday. And if you go to plugshare.com it has a map that shows you the public charging infrastructure. You'd probably be amazed at how much there is. And you have to remember that we're still at the beginning of this."

Geller said consumers who invest in a 240-volt home charging station -- the units range in price from around $300 to $2,000 -- can recharge their EVs fairly quickly.

"You can fully recharge a Volt or Leaf in three to four hours," he said. "The average cost for that equipment is about $600."

Ed Kjaer, director of transportation electrification for Southern California Edison, said nearly 13,000 of the utility's customers are plug-in users who drive either plug-in hybrids or EVs.

"Thirty-five percent of them are pure EVs and the other 65 percent are hybrids," he said. "Range anxiety is the No. 1 concern, but what we're finding is that when customers get used to the technology that goes away."

Kjaer noted that 70 percent of the nation's workers commute less than 40 miles a day.

"If you charge your car every night at home, a typical EV has an 80- to 100-mile range," he said. "So even if you didn't have access to public charging you'd still have plenty of juice in the car. And there's a lot of free charging out there. Many companies are choosing not to charge for that at the moment."

Kjaer is encouraging EV users to use the "end charge" programing feature on their vehicles. That randomizes the start time of their charging, which prevents a large number of EVs from coming online at the same time, thus avoiding power-load spikes.

There are plenty of reasons why consumers have turned to hybrids and EVs. But as is often the case with consumer movement ... follow the money.

"Hybrids probably account for no more than 10 percent of our total sales, but it bounces up when gas prices get closer to $5 a gallon," said Steve Fong, sales manager at Sierra Honda in Monrovia.
Garcia said her move to a hybrid was also motivated by finances. 

"The money I was spending before is what prompted me to get the hybrid," she said. "And I'm not only saving money -- it's as roomy as my Murano."

Beverly Hills City Council To Review All Metro Westside Subway Extension Permits


By Matt Lopez, August 7, 2013

 Mayor John Mirisch, Vice Mayor Lili Bosse and Councilmember Nancy Krasne made their opinions crystal clear Tuesday night when it comes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s construction work in Beverly Hills.

The trio gave direction to ensure that no Metro permits will be granted for work in Beverly Hills city limits unless approved by the City Council.

“I don’t think Metro should get a free ride,” Krasne said. “Let’s extend the same courtesy to them that they’ve extended to us. When they want something, they can come in and ask for it.”

The item, brought up by discussion by Mirisch, was to review the City’s process for viewing and approving Metro permits. Mirisch wanted the council to be able to review every single permit request that comes from Metro for its work on the Westside Subway Extension.

The three-phase Purple Line extension includes stops in Beverly Hills at Wilshire/La Cienega Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. A third phase has been approved to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School for a station in Century City. The City and School District are currently suing to block funding for construction of those tunnels.

“Our goals are simply to protect the interests of our residents and businesses,” Mirisch said.
Mirisch’s request to review Metro permits found favor with Bosse and Krasne. Councilmembers Julian Gold and Willie Brien dissented, saying it would be too time consuming to review every single Metro permit that came before the council.

“I don’t believe it would be cumbersome,” Bosse said. “I don’t think it’s slowing anything down. All it’s doing is providing for information.”

Marketing the SR-710

From Sylvia Plummer, August 7, 2013

Thanks to Susan Bolan

LA Metro's Bold Vision for P3's

This is an old article but relevant for today.  Michael Schneider, Executive at InfraConsult/HDR Engineering is interviewed about Metro projects.  He outlines the Public-Private Partnership (P3) projects (I-710, SR-710, HDC, and Sepulveda Pass) that he is marketing for Metro and their statuses.  He is careful with his words when describing the SR-710 but goes into detail about tolling.  He states that Metro will be the entity to set the tolls then goes on to describe the relationship between Caltrans and Metro this way:

"There is no Caltrans money in any of this, except in a few cases for maintaining and operating facilities on the State Highway System. These are Metro projects. It’s Metro money—these are Measure R projects. They are not solely Caltrans projects. There will undoubtedly be cooperative agreements with Caltrans, of course, particularly the highway

Read:  Public Works Financing, December 2011, pages 14-18


Becoming L.A.!



Peggy Drouet: I visited the Becoming L.A.! exhibit this last weekend and agree somewhat with Joe Mathews. I think what is missing is a museum devoted solely to Los Angeles. The city has a fascinating history, one that wouldn't have been fully covered if the exhibit was 10 times as big. I put the photos that I took of the exhibit on a slideshow. Go to http://www.peggysphotos.com/becoming-l-a/ You will learn part of L.A.'s history.

Los Angeles' becoming, a story no one seems to tell: Joe Mathews


By Joe Mathews, August 6, 2013

We Angelenos were never supposed to be here. In an 1868 essay that was taught to schoolchildren for a century, writer Henry George predicted that California would become one of the most prosperous places on Earth. San Diego would eventually be an international destination. San Francisco, he wrote, would become perhaps the greatest city in North America, without a rival "for a thousand miles north and south."

And Los Angeles?

George never mentioned the place.

Post-Civil War Los Angeles was small and lacked a natural harbor. No sensible person would think that such a place could have a grand future. And yet we -- more than 10 million of us (and that's just counting L.A. County) -- are here and not going anywhere, a hard fact to which much of the world still hasn't reconciled itself.

I thought of George's essay as I visited "Becoming Los Angeles," a highly anticipated new 14,000-square-foot exhibition at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park in the heart of L.A. It has many fascinating artifacts, like slapstick comedy director Mack Sennett's camera, and it is full of important information about our land's history. Cattle had a big role; cows should love the exhibit.

But for anyone looking for a coherent narrative of L.A., "Becoming Los Angeles" is a disappointment. It offers a familiar litany of events -- first the Indians, then the Spanish, the Mexicans, the Americans, the railroad, oil, Hollywood, aerospace -- without connecting them to today's city. The exhibit focuses on big, nonhuman factors -- geography and animals and big machines -- but it fails to explain the special appeal the place has had for one very important animal: humans.

"Becoming Los Angeles" dispassionately lays out the history in a way that serves a fashionable narrative: that Los Angeles is unnatural. We're told that cow poop spread non-native plants, that oil extraction polluted the land, and that boosters somehow convinced people to settle on the land. This all raises the question of whether the place is, in the faux-profound adjective of this era, "sustainable." And we know what the answer is supposed to be. Just bring up L.A. in a café built on landfill in earthquake-prone San Francisco or in a bookstore on that overpopulated flood plain known as Manhattan, and you'll learn that Southern California is doomed.

For decades, we've been reading variations of the arguments that Los Angeles has been ruined because of sprawl and overdevelopment and that L.A.'s demographics make it too hard to find the consensus to fix its problems. No one ever seems to admit that today's reality keeps proving the doomsayers wrong. As Los Angeles has grown larger and more diverse, it has become -- by all statistical evidence -- safer, less polluted, better educated and more livable. If the rest of California could stop chanting "Beat L.A.," they might learn something from us as an example of a diverse region investing in the future. Angelenos keep voting to tax themselves to pay for billions in new schools and train lines for generations to come.

A better L.A. narrative shouldn't ignore our many flaws -- or the fact that we're a city of losers. All of the booms covered in "Becoming Los Angeles" -- railroads, agriculture, oil, aerospace -- ended in bust. We have high unemployment and high rates of bankruptcy. The marvel is that we stick around anyway.

Why should developing a coherent narrative about a place so rich in human story be so hard? We could stake a claim to being The Enduring City, in the good and bad senses of that word. Or perhaps The Surprise City, since we weren't supposed to be here.

But the best choice would be The Human City, a true reflection of our species in all its artifice and ambition: complicated, irrational, creative, crazy, grandiose, glorious, sublime, corrupt, maddening -- and still too much a stranger to itself.


A 710 extension will serve all of SoCal


Opinion, August 6, 2013

I've read and reread the endless stories about the 710 Freeway extension tunnel. I've read the letters to the editor. It seems everyone has opinions. Me too.

My history with that stretch of freeway goes back to 1961 when a friend declared we'd have a freeway all the way to the beach soon. Well, little did I know the Long Beach (710) Freeway had been approved all the way from the harbor to its juncture with the Foothill (210) Freeway back in 1947. Sixty-six years ago.

 I cast a critical eye when dollar signs are followed by zeros. However, I do not, as your columnist Mr. Kaye declared [http://ronkayela.com/2013/07/mta-secrecy-and-the-710-fiasco-eric-zev-las-new-bffs.html], always suspect blood-sucking politicians, unions and construction firms are involved. Or that the guys with the lunch pails building such NIMBY-detested projects are in it just for themselves.

When you come to a screeching halt at the truncated end of the southbound 710 Freeway just below Colorado you know something is wrong. When you try to come home north on the 710 in rush hour traffic through Alhambra you know there is something wrong.

Who will this extension serve? I believe all of Southern California. If Caltrans, city, state and federal bureaucracies, NIMBYs here, NIMBYs there, NIMBYs everywhere can't get it done in more than 66 years, it's times for a radical step. Vote. Put it on the ballot and vote. Lest you think I can't relate: I grew up on a quiet dead end street called Buena Terra which came off Alta Canyada Road, south of Foothill and north of Verdugo. That puts it in the No. 2 lane of the eastbound Foothill (210) Freeway today.

Tim Jagoe
La Crescenta

Comments to the letter:

  • Ellen Biasin · Pasadena, California
    You are mistaken about the 710 benefiting all of Southern California. It won’t. When has more freeway ever improved congestion? It will worsen congestion everywhere not just Northwest Los Angeles, the Foothills and West San Gabriel Valley, areas directly impacted. Local commuters will be furious that they endured 8-10 years of construction to get a toll tunnel with no exits other than the portals. Just because there are stubs is not a valid reason to complete a roadway. The SR-2 stub ending at Glendale Blvd. is much more congested than either SR-710 stub. Travel north or south on Glendale Blvd. at 9 pm or anytime and it’s congested. It makes more sense to complete this freeway, the Beverly Hills Freeway, but no one pursues it. Compare this with either stubs of the 710 north or south at any time of day you will see relatively little traffic except during rush hour. Those who oppose the 710 tunnel know it will only encourage more trucks and increase congestion on all of our freeways. This will hardly serve all of Southern California.
  • Joe Cano · Top Commenter · Cathedral High / College Prep
    Yes you are entitled to your opinion, but sadly you present no facts to back up any rationale for a tunnel.
    All the science & medical facts point to the SR710 tunnel being the worst transportation project ever conceived. Increased pollution, increased incidents in heart disease, increased lung disease, increased rates of autism in children born near freeways all from actual studies from the USC Keck School of Medicine. An
    Eisenhower era solution to a 21st century problem will not work. There is not enough Measure R money to build the tunnel, so project managers have been seeking Public Private Partnerships to fund this project. There is documented proof Doug Failing the Metro Highway project manager has made presentations to the Chinese Government Transportation agency & other investors to sell this tunnel idea. The tunnel will be a tolled roadway owned by what ever country they sell the PPP to. Sovereign American territory will be sold to a foreign country & they will charge Americans to travel through it. The constant drone & use of the 'NIMBY' term is as bankrupt as those pushing this project. That term is nothing more than an insult aimed at people that care about their tax dollars being used unwisely. There are better alternatives that are not being explored because the 'fix is in' for the tunnel.
  • Vicki Kea · Law Enforcement Transcriptionist at Huntington Court Reporters and Transcription
    Really? " My history with that stretch of freeway goes back to 1961 when a friend declared we'd have a freeway all the way to the beach soon. Well, little did I know the Long Beach (710) Freeway had been approved all the way from the harbor to its juncture with the Foothill (210) Freeway back in 1947. Sixty-six years ago." Approved? The 210 freeway was not built in 1961, so how could it be slated to connect there? The 710 is a disaster waiting to happen. Number one, the 710 tunnels are not for commuters! When will anyone get that? It's meant for truck traffic from the ports for goods movement. This would be goods movement of Chinese goods. Foreign entities bidding to build the tunnel? So all the TOLLS paid will go to the foreign entity who built the thing. The thought of jobs is transient. If anyone wants more information, please visit no710.com. It's not a pretty picture, folks. Uh, not to mention your friend saying, "all the way to the beach." I don't know about you, but I'm not going in any water near the ports, so your point is?
  • William D Sherman
    Who will be helped by the tunnel?
    The EIR/EIS says that only 22% of the cars exiting from one stub transit to the other stub. The daily traffic count on Fremont is 29,000. This is the main thoroughfare from Valley to Del Mar. Therefore if all of these drivers chose to take the tunnel it would at most take 6380 cars off the road. There are many people who will choose to not pay a $10 toll. There are no entrances or exits from the tunnel. The only way to get into the tunnel is at either end. This will be of no help to the people originating their trip in Alhambra.
    The EIR/EIS says that 180,000 vehicles a day will use the tunnel. 105,000 from existing freeways and 75,000 from local streets. Where will the 75,000 come from. Only 6,380 travel stub to stub. The existing freeways means the 5. The tunnel will b...See More
  • Susan Martin Bolan · Top Commenter · California State University, Northridge
    Wow Tim. State your case but apparently you have not learned all there is to know about this bad idea. I am shocked that you take this position from our great town of La Crescenta. I have lived in the Foothills since 1961 and have seen the huge change from the overbuild of freeways in our area. Did you notice the big shift after they closed the last so called gap? The trucks are so loud in the Valley, it's hard to sleep at night. FACT - This project will carry 4 times the number of vehicles that currently go through the area, from 44,000 to 180,000 vehicles per day. You do the math. How will that help you get to Long Beach quicker? Be prepared to pay a toll and share the space 100 to 200 feet underground with trucks on a 4% slope. Do you know about tunnel fires? Read about Monte Blanc, St Gotthard, and Caldecott. 4.9 miles is a long way to hike out of a tunnel on fire. And so the 210 claimed your home and you think others should suffer the same loss? You may want to consider being more responsible and look for a job closer to home like I did. Ten minutes away, easy. This very expensive project will not help the region. There are better options, to be sure.
    Tom Williams · The University of Kansas
    Yes we have the same concerns - who will be served. We have repeatedly asked Caltrans/MTA for the origin-destination studies that were done for SCAG and for the Project and then as to trucks vs commuter cars.

    No one gives the numbers which would show the real problems of N-S trucks vs E-W commuters....

    Most commuters would be dumped on the eastern I-210 at 3-7pm.

    One Caltrans/SCAG says Trucks=Goods Movements, while others say less than 3% trucks = NO PROBLEMA.

    Guess what no one seems to know after spending $10sM and lots of meetings - no numbers, no one even seems to know who is in charge after last months Board meeting and County Attorney claimed confidential=SECRET for who is in charge.

    OBTW no one seems concern about the SR-2 from Alvarado to I-405 as it was originally planned, Then there is I-105, SR91 and SR92 and SR-19/Rosemead.

    So welcome to the 710 SNOW STORM/JOB while consultants and staff maintain their jobs..


  • Melissa Michelson · Works at PCC
    Um, Tim - I live in Alhambra right along Fremont, where there is supposedly traffic. There isn't! Been here 5 years and there is literally only 3 blocks of traffic southbound between Commonwealth and Valley and that's it - even on a Friday at 6pm. On Valley, after you exit the 710 to turn left on Fremont there is a long row of cars, but they expanded the left-hand turn lane and changed the light, and it works well now. In the worst of times, the wait is 2 lights at most.

    In my opinion, there is nothing wrong coming to a halt at the end of any freeway. It may seem strange to a few people who are used to endless routes of freeway concrete, but it's actually pretty cool. I feel like finally I'm off the concrete jungle and can maneuver on city streets, maybe stop for a boba, get to the market, pick up laundry...
  • Sylvia Plummer · Pasadena, California
    Tim -- There will be something wrong when the 710 tunnels are built and the 210 that crosses thru La Crescenta becomes a Truck route for goods movements from the Port of LA/San Pedro to the 5 North and beyond. (That is who the tunnels will serve) Your beautiful La Crescenta against the foothills will become a polluted town. And be prepared to pay a $5 - $15 toll each way for your short cut. What are your plans when a car spins out or catches fire in the 5 mile long, 2 lane tunnel that has no exits? Have you thought about how emergency response will get to any accident that happens in the tunnel?
  • Sylvia Castillo Giron
    No! Period! It will NOT benefit anyone to finish/extend the 710. Its's too late. It will disrupt/destroy the livelihood of neighborhoods, property and only will increase traffic! Every freeway you drive in Southern California is congested even when extra lanes are added, carpool lanes so the 710 will be no different.
  • David Parsons · Top Commenter · Custer Academy For Mentally Handicapped
    How many commuters might enjoy the 710 extension? For how many billions of dollars? What? How many billions? For 100 commuters? OK - this isn't for commuters, is it? It's for the PORT OF LONG BEACH shipping freight, isn't it? Why, may I ask, aren't the shipping companies paying for this? Or building new railroads?
  • Jonathan Edewards · · President at Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association
    It's not just NIMBYs who are opposing the extension, now! It's also folks who are concerned about sustainability and finances. The 710 extension will cost anywhere from $5 - $10 Billion! What else could we do with that 5-10 Billion dollars? That's the cost of the Westside subway. It's the cost of 2-4 light rail lines. It's the cost of probably 8-15 BRT lines! The point is: our financial resources are limited. Given climate change, limited fossil fuels, recent realizations about "Induced Demand" (building additional freeway space within cities eventually increases congestion because it incentivizes more driving for farther distances), and people's preferences--their increasing dissatisfaction with having no other option but to drive everywhere--the 710 extension is a bad investment and should be dropped ASAP.

Orange County 'Carmageddon': Full 405 Freeway closure coming


By Ari Bloomekatz, August 7, 2013

 Approximate area of upcoming OC Freeway closure on the 405

It happened in Los Angeles -- twice -- and now Orange County can brace for its own 'Carmageddon': the 405 Freeway will be closed in both directions for 20 hours.

The closure is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, and last through 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18. The freeway will be shut down between the 605 Freeway and Valley View Street in Westminster, according to a news release from the Orange County Transportation Authority.

"We know this 'Bridge Bash' has the potential to disrupt traffic for the hundreds of thousands of people who use the I-405 on a typical summer weekend and we are encouraging drivers to avoid the freeway in this area," Greg Winterbottom, OCTA chairman, said in the release.

Officials said the closure is needed to demolish a bridge that links the southbound 405 to the eastbound 22 Freeway as part of a larger $277-million traffic improvement project.

"Construction of a new connector bridge was completed late last month and is now being used by drivers," officials said.

L.A.’s Top Ten Traffic Shortcuts

Honk if you hate gridlock


Angelenos are obsessed with finding efficient routes and handy traffic tips. But anyone whose work commute took roughly the same amount of time spent actually at work would be, too.
Herewith, ten of our favorite Los Angeles shortcuts. Buckle up.

1. If you’re trying to get from WeHo to Hollywood or the 101, get off of Santa Monica or Sunset and take Fountain. There are far fewer juiceries to admire on Fountain, but the time saved will outweigh that.

2. Do not take Abbot Kinney in Venice. Do not take Lincoln in Venice. Do not take Rose in Venice. Do not take Pacific in Venice. (Only visit Venice if you can be dropped off via helicopter.)

3. There are two unrelated San Vicentes in West Los Angeles. They do not connect, and if you are on one, there is a 50 percent chance you are lost.

4. Taking Olympic east of Fairfax to downtown is lightning fast. It’s also halfway engaging if you can read Korean.

5. If you are in a hurry and took Hollywood Boulevard through Hollywood, you don’t deserve to be places on time.

6. Everyone knows that Highland to Cahuenga Pass is arguably the worst traffic in L.A. Everyone also knows there’s no alternative, so just put on some Mazzy Star and accept your fate.

7. If you’re heading east or west through Beverly Hills, get off of Santa Monica to Wilshire or Sunset. All three streets are fairly close together, and although you won’t get to drive by that fun Beverly Hills sign, you will get to where you’re going before you’re eligible for AARP discounts.

8. Don’t go to Malibu on the weekends. Or on days that end in “y.” Save yourself 90 minutes and post up on Santa Monica’s beach. It’s got water and sand and everything.

9. Every Sunday night on Santa Monica in West Hollywood is like Mardi Gras. Take Melrose.

10. If you’re getting from Hollywood/K-Town/WeHo to the airport or the 10, take Crescent Heights until it dead ends, then take a right. You’ll end up on La Cienega about two blocks from the freeway. No joke here. It’s just a great traffic tip.

Study finds a slimmer York Boulevard has cut down on collisions


August 7, 2013


The removal of traffic lanes on the western section of York Boulevard through a “road diet”  has helped improve traffic safety, including a sharp decline in hit-and-runs, according  a review of traffic collision figures for the road that passes through Eagle Rock and Highland Park. However, the number of collisions involving pedestrians continued to rise – albeit slightly – as did those involving cyclists, said an analysis published by the L.A. Department of Transportation’s Bike Blog.

While many motorists have complained about increased traffic congestion on York, the analysis found that collisions and injuries per mile declined 23% and 27% respectively after a 1.3 mile-section of York between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 54 was reduced to one traffic lane in each direction in 2006.  The results of the study compare five-years worth of collision figures before  the  traffic lanes were removed in 2006 and the five years after the road diet took place.

The study also compared the slimmed down, western section of York to an .09-mile  stretch between between Avenue 54 and North Figueroa Street that kept all its four traffic lanes until October 2012, when a road diet reconfigured west bound lanes. Collisions and injuries dropped in both sections of York but the declines were more pronounced on the west end of the street that had traffic lanes removed.

The LADOT Bike Blog hailed the results as proof that road diets improve traffic safety:
Road diets aren’t without their critics, but these projects ultimately make us all safer and everyone is a beneficiary of a street made safer in their neighborhood. Not only does it mean fewer collisions are happening when streets are reconfigured to be made safer, but it also means the city resources that would otherwise go towards responding to traffic collisions can now aid other emergencies and neighborhood needs.

GG NineNet jazz band to perform at Union Station August 16


By Anna Chen, August 7, 2013

 Photo: GG NineNet Official Facebook

GG NineNet jazz band will hold a free performance at Union Station on Friday, August 16, 2013. The performance is part of Metro’s new program of arts and cultural events for the iconic station in anticipation of its 75th anniversary celebration in 2014.

The group will appear in the main concourse waiting room and coincide with Friday rush hour.

Event Details:
Friday, August 16, 2013
Two 45-minute sets beginning at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. 
Union Station Main Concourse Waiting Room
800 North Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The performance is open and free to the public. Get to Union Station via Metro Bus and Rail, Metrolink or Amtrak. Bicycle parking is also available on site. For routes and connections, use Trip Planner.

“We’re so excited to infuse live jazz music through the corridors of Union Station. Their sound is certain to be a classy complement to the grandeur of Union Station,” said Maya Emsden, Metro Deputy Executive Officer, Creative Services. “We hope it will be a pleasantly surprising treat to the ears of unsuspecting transit customers.”

Take our poll: how do you feel about fellow transit riders wearing Google Glass?


By Steve Hymon, August 7, 2013


In recent months, I’ve been reading with increasing curiosity about Google Glass, the glasses developed by Google which allow users to view the internet and take photos and videos. They are not on the market yet, but Google has been providing them to some members of the public for test runs.

Here’s a fun story in last week’s New Yorker about one of those testers and his experiences. As the story explains, having the functions of a smartphone sitting on your face (for lack of a better term) is very different animal than having the functions of a smartphone in your hand or pocket.

As the article also notes, some establishments have already banned Google Glass because they don’t want users surreptitiously taking photos through glasses either for legal reasons (an art gallery may not own the rights to the art it displays) or for the sake of their clientele (patrons at a bar, for example).

If Google Glass becomes popular, I’m curious about how transit riders view the devices. Are they just another cool gadget building on the advances of smartphones? Or do you think they’re overly obtrusive and a violation of whatever privacy you have left when riding public transport?

Take the poll and feel free to comment please; one comment per customer please.

How do you feel about people wearing Google Glass on mass transit?
VoteView ResultsPolldaddy.com

74% Rarely or Never Use Mass Transit


August 6, 2013

Most Americas seldom, if ever use mass transit, but they still tend to believe the government should back mass transit projects as long as they don’t lose money.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just six percent (6%) of American Adults use mass transit services such as buses, subways, trains or ferries every day or nearly every day. Seven percent (7%) use these services at least once a week. Four percent (4%) ride them two or three times a month, while another seven percent (7%) characterize their use as once every few months.

But three-out-of-four Americans (74%) say they rarely or never use mass transit. (To see survey question wording, click here.) (Or see below.)

National Survey of 1,000 American Adults
Conducted August 2-3, 2013
By Rasmussen Reports
1* How often do you use mass transit services such as buses, subways, trains, or ferries – every day or nearly every day, at least once a week, two or three times a month, once every few months, rarely or never?
2* In determining where you choose to live or work, how important is the availability of mass transit services?
3* Generally speaking, how safe are mass transit services in the United States?
4* Are mass transit services in the United States safer or not as safe today compared to 10 years ago? Or is the level of safety about the same?
5* If you have the choice, would you rather take public transportation or drive your own car to go somewhere?
6* Should the federal government do more to encourage use of mass transit services in the United States, including funding more public transportation projects?
7* Should the government continue to fund mass transit services even if they lose money?
8* Do you live in a city, a suburb, or a rural area?
9* Do you consider yourself wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, or poor?
NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence

LACMTA taps Atkins for engineering needs


By Douglas John Bowen, August 5, 2013

  LACMTA taps Atkins for engineering needs

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has selected Atkins to serve as a general engineering consultant (GEC) in support of Metro's rail network operations, maintenance, and expansion plans, Epsom, England-based Atkins said Aug. 5, 2013.

Jon McDonald, Atkins' business sector manager, said, "Los Angeles is one of the nation's largest, most populous counties and Metro is the country's third-largest transit agency, having built six rail lines with almost 90 miles of track and 80 stations since opening its Blue Line in 1990. With funding from a variety of sources, the authority is likely to spend more than $20 billion over the next 10 years to maintain, upgrade, and expand its rail system.

"This selection positions our transit and rail group with a major new client in a new market, and we're pleased that Metro recognizes the wide range of skills we bring to the table," McDonald said.

Atkins will be part of a GEC framework and companies are selected on an as-needed, task-order basis to bid to provide such services as: computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), train control design, programming, and review, communication design, traction power design and relay calibration, and civil/facilities design.

Biking can help support mass transit


By Wesley Vaughn, August 5, 2013


"In Birmingham, there are no pedestrians, just people who can't drive." A University of Alabama transportation engineering professor shared this quip from a man at a local traffic meeting with his class.

Bikers in Birmingham are viewed as similar absurdities, if ever seen on roads in the first place.
I remember biking on my neighborhood streets when I was younger. But I could never bike to other neighborhoods to see my friends because the roads were designed for vehicles, not bikers or especially the young kids that the suburbs were intended to protect.

Bham Biking.pngBirmingham's bike network
It took until college for me to see how bikes could be used as personal transportation, but by then, I had my own car and did not see the need for a bike. It was still a novelty.

Now urban areas across the country have identified bikes as a fat-burning, congesting-decreasing, transit-supporting alternative to automobiles. And Birmingham – despite a need for all these benefits – has lagged tremendously behind. Even our natural southeastern rival Atlanta has a vast biking network.

ATL Bikes.pngAtlanta's bike network 
The endless calls for increased mass transit funding have blinded the city to other means of increasing connectivity. Even if Birmingham had the sufficient resources to fund a working transit system, the city still lacks the necessary commercial and residential density to make the investment worthwhile.

Bike infrastructure and culture can roll in as a placemaking tool that also serves as a stepping stone to mass transit.

"But Bikes Won't Work Here Because ______"
  • It's too hot? No. Austin, Texas, and Philadelphia boast dry and humid heat but rank in the top-20 bike cities.
  • It's too cold? Not even close. Minneapolis is one of the top-5 bike cities.
  • It's too rainy? Nope. The stereotypically wet Portland is unanimously chosen as the top bike city.
  • It's too hilly? Wrong again. San Francisco's famous inclines still attract bikers.
  • It's too flat? Nuh-uh. Albuquerque, N.M., and other southwestern cities sustain top bike cultures.
  • It's too car-oriented? Incorrect. If Atlanta can start accepting bikes, then so can we.
As for safety, any time more pedestrians and bikers use an area, more incidents do occur. However these incidents occur at slower speeds – thereby reducing the rate of fatal crashes – because, as Tom Vanderbilt explains, drivers slow down around human activity. Requiring bikers to wear helmets is still an ongoing and complicated debate that doesn't need addressing in Birmingham yet.


Biking enlivens a city in many different ways.

Simply creating the opportunity to bike to neighborhood grocery stores and markets supports fresh-food buying habits. Bikeable areas also reduce the need for excess parking spots, thereby eliminating unattractive surface lots that devalue surroundings. Locals benefit with human-centric areas, and businesses benefit financially by needing to provide fewer costly parking spaces.
As a city's bike culture grows, bike lanes increase neighborhood values by acting as important links to the rest of the city. Local bike shops, such as the recently opened Redemptive Cycles, will also be supported, and bike events will provide willing patrons to local businesses.

Well-delineated bike lanes save bikers from their current purgatory of deciding between the pedestrian's sidewalk and the driver's road. As a city's bike culture develops, drivers and pedestrians will adapt as humans always have to new interactions. The personal speed of drivers may slow, but the overall flow of humans (pedestrians, bikers, and drivers) will increase over time. And isn't that the point?

Stepping Stone to Mass Transit

Amsterdam Bike Lane.pngA painted bike lane in Amsterdam
Birmingham has excess automobile infrastructure that could be transferred to mass transit, but until we get there, let's convert it into bike infrastructure. The city's needlessly wide one-way streets beg for bike-only lanes that could be turned into bus-rapid-transit lanes later on, and the Bessemer Super Highway project could certainly take a page from this playbook.

Bikers are typically mass transit users, too, meaning that once the city has a serviceable transit system, they will be its major supporters. Those who cannot afford a car and those who do not want to own a car alternate between bike and transit use depending on their daily needs.

Basic Action Steps for Now

The city and residents must identify residential areas that would likely or already use bicycles. Then, find routes that connect those areas with job centers, retail, and entertainment venues. The city or local advocates can install temporary bike lanes to test these routes. It would only take some cones, signs and a temporary paint job.

The long-term strategy should involve engaging with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and local businesses that should immediately understand the benefits of encouraging biking. Again, surface parking lots and decks are expensive, so reducing the need for spaces saves money for both. Businesses could incentivize employees to commute via bike by installing showers, which other employees could use for mid-day workouts as well.

Let's not forget the need for mass transit funding, but for mass transit to work in Birmingham, the city must build a foundation of density and livability. A bike infrastructure and culture will help us get there.

Pretty soon, people may say, "In Birmingham, there are no pedestrians or bikers, just people who don't need to drive."