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

Saturday, September 21, 2013

More information about the SR-710 Project

From Sylvia Plummer, September 21, 2013 

On September 18th at the South Pasadena City Council meeting there was a presentation by Dr. Bill Sherman on the direct impacts of the proposed SR-710 Alternatives to South Pasadena and the surrounding areas.  Dr. Bill Sherman did an excellent job presenting what he has learned from attending METRO's Technical Advisory Committee meetings.     

Here is a link to the YouTube video of the Meeting, created by Joe Cano.  This is worth your time to watch and learn what is going on with the SR-710 project.:

Dr Bill Sherman speaks during the first 24 minutes, followed by some excellent public comments by Sam Burgess and Attorney Chris Sutton.  Towards the end of the video Councilmember Michael Cacciotti's gives a short presentation on his vision of Light Rail in the area.

To view the SR-710 Power Point presentation made by Dr. Bill Sherman:


Gov. Brown Declares Emergency For July LA Freeway Damage


September 20, 2013

 (credit: Art Barron/CBS2)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than two months after a tanker truck crash and subsequent fire damaged an LA freeway interchange, Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency to free up funding to finish repairs.

The governor issued the declaration Friday for the July 13 crash when a truck flipped, spilled its gasoline and caught fire at a tunnel-like underpass connecting State Route 2 with Interstate 5 near Glendale.

The fire ignited nearby brush, and 7,500 gallons of gasoline flowed into the LA River and underground systems. No one was injured.

Brown’s declaration said the repairs are beyond the control of local agencies. It makes the project eligible for special federal funding.

Such declarations usually come closer to actual events like flooding or wildfires, but at times come later during recovery

Parklets spring up on Colorado Boulevard for PARK(ing) Day in Pasadena


By Lauren Gold, September 20, 2013

Pete Morris of Temple City painting a city landscape in watercolors during PARKday, in front of Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena Friday, Sept. 20. Pasadena celebrated international PARK(ing) Day by transforming two parking spaces into temporary parklets. (Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

Blair Miller, left, Wafic and Sylvia Holmes enjoy conversation during PARKday in front of Yahaira's Cafe in Pasadena Friday, Sept. 20. (Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

People enjoying PARKday activiities in front of Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena Friday, Sept. 20. (Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

PASADENA>> The normally dull concrete curb outside of Vroman’s Bookstore got a temporary facelift Friday, sprouting some grass, plants and even a public art installment.

The so-called “parklet” was one of two erected in parking spaces along Colorado Boulevard in the Playhouse District as part of international PARK(ing) Day, in which cities across the globe transform asphalt into green space for one day. Pasadena is the first city in the San Gabriel Valley to participate in the annual event, according to Playhouse District officials.

Playhouse District Association Executive Director Erlinda Romo said the parklets provide an oasis in the concrete jungle for shoppers, diners and business people to have a moment to relax.

“It’s a place for people to stop, slow down, take a breath,” Romo said. “In the Playhouse District we have 10,000 residents and 35,000 employees and there are is no park space.”

The event was also designed to raise awareness about the Playhouse District Association’s ongoing bid to build six permanent parklets along Colorado Boulevard between Hudson and Oakland Avenues.

“We’re just trying to figure out how to have parklets here in Pasadena,” Parklets Committee member Matt Randolph said. “This is a huge street and it could be more people friendly.”

The association created a special committee last year to study the issue and Romo said the prospect could become a reality in the next year or two. Department of Transportation Director Fred Dock said the city has begun the process of studying feasibility and traffic effects of the proposed parklets, which would reduce Colorado Boulevard to one lane in each direction and change current parallel parking spaces to diagonal face-in parking spots.

Dock said a similar initiative has worked well in the city of Livermore in northern California, which also reduced its main street to two lanes.

“It’s getting closer, it’s moving along,” Dock said. “It still has to be completely worked out but I think from the experience in a place like Livermore I would say Pasadena has a reasonable chance of making it work.”

Passersby enjoying the temporary parklets Friday said they would love to see more green space along Colorado Boulevard.

“Our city needs more green space,” said Pasadena resident Therese Brummel, 61. “If you look around right now, people are sitting on the sidewalk. How much better would it be to be sitting in a green space?”

But others, including the owner of Valia’s Jewelers next to one of the parklets, said they thought the proposed changes to the street and parking would be a problem.

“They say they are going to bring more people into the area, but I really think it’s the opposite,” Valia’s owner Michael Azabache said. “We are having a big problem with parking in Pasadena and I think taking parking away is just going to be bad for business. Already so many customers come and tell me they passed by here several times and couldn’t find a parking spot so they kept going.”

Mayor Bill Bogaard said he would be open to a pilot program for the parklets to give people a sense of the true impact and benefit.

“I would like to try the parklet idea and see if it isn’t an amenity that people enjoy,” Bogaard said.

North Hollywood train depot restoration steams ahead


By Kelly Goff, September 20, 2013

Metro announced today, September 20, 2013, that a restoration on the Historic Southern Pacific North Hollywood train depot is set to begin, as construction crews work to rehab the facility over the coming year as part of Measure R projects throughout the county. Metro is funding a major portion of the $3.6 million project. Depot is on Chandler Blvd. and Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is moving forward with the second phase of restoration on the nineteenth-century Southern Pacific train depot in North Hollywood, officials said Friday.

Construction crews removed hazardous lead paint, asbestos and other materials from the station last year and will now spend the next 10 months completing a seismic overhaul and adding new plumbing and electrical systems.

“Today, we kick off the restoration construction work on this historic train depot, and this major undertaking has been a long time coming,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said in a statement. “But once we complete the work, the public will have an opportunity to step back in time to the nineteenth century and revisit a vanished era in our transportation history.”

The depot sits near both the Metro Orange and Red Line’s North Hollywood stations, and was constructed by developer Isaac Lankershim in 1896.

It was crucial to commercial development of the San Fernando Valley and was used to transport goods from nearby farms, canneries and a packing plant. It also served as the depot for the passenger-carrying Red Cars until 1952.

Metro acquired the property in 1990, but multiple earlier plans to rehab the facility stalled due to funding shortfalls.

The current project has a $3.6 million price tag, and is being funded primarily by a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 1990. The city of Los Angeles has kicked in a little less than a third of the total cost, $1.1 million.

The project was greenlighted as part of Measure R, which authorized $40 billion for mass transit expansion across the county.

“The preservation and integration of historic structures into new mobility is important so we are preserving our past and advancing into the future with this project,” Metro board Chairwoman Diane DuBois said in a statement.

The building will be refitted with new siding, eaves, windows and doors during this stage of renovation. A small park will also be built on the site and the symbolic train tracks will be restored during a third phase.

Metro has not decided on final plans for the site, but plans to lease the depot to business tenants.
“It’ll be available for tenants for mixed use or retail leases,” Metro spokesman Rick Jager said. “There has been some talk of a rail museum on the site, too. The short answer is that it hasn’t been decided, but the goal is to get the building up to code so that it can be leased.”

Cars' safety systems are getting a whole lot smarter

Automated safety systems are starting to have a real effect in protecting passengers and limiting accident damage, regulators and insurance industry experts say.


 By Jerry Hirsch, September 21, 2013

 Mercedes’ S550 sedan has automated safety features
 Autonomous driving is packed into the safety features on cars including Mercedes’ flagship S550 sedan.

The big, black Mercedes-Benz is going 70 on the 101 Freeway making minor steering adjustments to hold the lane. I have taken my hands off the steering wheel. A computer is driving.
After maybe 10 seconds, the steering wheel icon on the dash turns bright red, as if to say: Dude! Hands back at 10 and 2.

Forget about Google Inc.'s self-driving Toyota Prius, jammed with technology only a legion of Caltech professors can understand. Autonomous driving is already here on cars in dealer showrooms. It's packed into the safety features on this $100,000 flagship S550 Mercedes sedan; on the new Acura MDX sport utility that sells for half that price; and on less expensive vehicles such as the Ford Fusion, which can parallel park itself.

We're still a long way from sending unmanned cars to the grocery store, but automated safety systems are starting to have a real effect now in protecting passengers and limiting accident damage, according to regulators and insurance industry experts.

Such systems can alert drivers to an impending rear-end collision — and slam the brakes. They can stop a vehicle from hitting a post as it backs up. They can track the speed of the car in front, adjusting to maintain a safe distance. Some warn a driver when a car is about to wander out of its lane, and steer it back on course. Another system automatically adjusts headlamps to better illuminate turns.

"We think these systems can make a huge difference in saving lives," said David Strickland, chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Forward collision avoidance systems, which automatically hit the brakes and tighten seat belts, have reduced property damage claims on some Mercedes and Acura models 14%, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute, an Arlington, Va., organization that analyzes crash data for the insurance industry. More important, they lowered bodily injury claims — in which the driver of one car is accused of hurting someone in another — by 16% in the Mercedes and 15% in the Acura.

A system that comes on the Volvo XC60 sport utility vehicle has even better results, reducing the types of crashes that occur in city traffic and parking lots. It slashed injury claims more than 33%.
"That is a huge number," said Matt Moore, a vice president at the institute.

Front-to-rear crashes are the most frequent on the road, so the systems could make a huge dent in injury totals, Moore said. Eventually, that should make insurance rates lower for cars with these safety features.

Other systems merely aid the driver, such as headlights designed like eyeballs that track turns in the road. These steerable headlamps turn in the same proportion a driver turns the steering wheel.

A Mazda system called Adaptive Front Lighting has reduced property claims frequency by more than 10%. Similar systems have lowered claims 9% in some Volvo cars and about 5% in certain Mercedes and Acuras models.

The latest safety technology relies on a suite of technologies working together, including radar, stereoscopic cameras, ultrasonic sensors, lasers and infrared cameras. Given the complexity, it's no surprise that drivers are seeing some glitches.

Cars with adaptive cruise control — the system that tracks vehicles ahead — can be prone to an odd hiccup. Driving at highway speeds on curvy roads, the sensors could mistake a vehicle in the next lane for a vehicle directly ahead, causing the car to slow unnecessarily. This isn't unique to Mercedes and has cropped up in our tests of Honda Accords and other cars with adaptive cruise control.

Cars equipped with automatic braking can be similarly fooled. Say you are following a car that flashes its right blinker before turning into a McDonald's. You know the car is turning, so you don't hit the brakes. The forward collision system has no idea the car is turning, so it triggers the brakes, thinking it is saving you from yourself.

On a drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Interstate 5, the Acura MDX lane-keeping system proved easier to use and more fluid than the Mercedes version.

The challenge for automakers is to find the balance between effective and irritating, said Steve Kenner, global director of Ford's Automotive Safety Office. That's one reason Ford hasn't added automotive braking to its forward collision warning system.

Still, Ford is working to get more driver-assist technologies into vehicles such as its Fusion SE, a mid-priced family sedan.

Adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning adds $995 to the price of a Fusion SE that starts at $23,855. The parking system, which includes a sensor that alerts a driver about to back into another vehicle or object, is an $895 option. A package that includes the parking system, blind spot warning and lane keeping costs $1,100.

"We try to bundle the things that customers want the most, but at the same time not force them to spend more than they want to," said Samantha Hoyt, Ford's marketing manager for the Fusion.

About 70% of Fusion buyers are spending $295 to buy just the reverse sensing system and a back-up camera. About 20% are buying the package with the blind spot warning and lane keeping system.

Mercedes-Benz, by contrast, is making some of these systems standard equipment on new models. That includes features such as collision warning — without automatic braking — and "Attention Assist," which senses when a driver is distracted or drowsy by monitoring body movements.

Automatic braking comes in an optional $2,800 package that also includes the lane keeping feature and other safety systems. The systems on the flagship S550 will also be offered on the Mercedes-Benz CLA, a small sedan that will be available this month starting at about $30,000.

Making some of these features standard will probably encourage other automakers to do the same, said Bart Herring, Mercedes-Benz U.S. general manager of product management.

Expect even more sophisticated safety systems to follow.

"Once you have the cameras and once you have radar," Herring said, "the engineers can judge what is possible to get to accident-free driving."