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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Seattle’s Scandalous Plan to “Replace” Parking With Parking

http://streetsblog.net/2013/10/25/seattles-scandalous-plan-to-replace-parking-with-cheaper-parking/

By Angie Schmitt, October 25, 2013

The city of Seattle is planning to use eminent domain to seize a privately owned parking lot near its waterfront. The plan is to convert it into … a city-run parking lot.


Clearly, there is no shortage of parking on Seattle's waterfront. 

What happened here? Well, Network blog Systemic Failure explains why the city saw fit to seize this land from a 103-year-old lady:
Around 100 on-street parking spaces will be lost during the Alaska Way Viaduct construction. To “mitigate” the parking loss, Seattle proposed leasing [Myrtle] Woldson’s parking lot. Woldson already provides parking — just at a market rate. Woldson declined the lease offer as too low. So rather than meet her price, Seattle will just seize her lot through eminent domain.

Seattle is also considering whether to build a parking garage on the lot. Because if there is one thing the waterfront lacks, it is parking.
Wow. Seattle. Way to actually worsen your parking problem. This kind of blatant eminent domain abuse should be illegal.

7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles Goes on a Diet

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/10/25/7th-street-in-downtown-los-angeles-goes-on-a-diet/

By Damien Newton, October 25, 2013



 


Commuters into Downtown Los Angeles were surprised this morning to note that 7th Street had gone on a crash diet overnight. For .6 miles, between Figueroa and Main Streets, bicycle lanes were installed and a mixed-use travel lane was removed.

The new lanes are a key part in making connections in Downtown Los Angeles. The lanes connect to the previously painted 7th Street lanes that connect mid-town to Downtown and the Main Street buffered bike lane that runs north to City Hall. The lanes now run for 2.8 miles on 7th Street from Catalina Street in mid-town to Main Street.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition half-joked on twitter that “the LACBC offices now have bike lanes on three sides.”

But while celebrating the addition to the network is good, Streetsblogger Niall Huffman points out that the installation either would have been delayed or would not have happened without a state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September of 2012. So, maybe we have to give Jerry Brown some credit as well.

AB 2245 provides for a CEQA exemption for Class II bikeway (bike lane) projects. According to the LADOT bike blog, under the former guidelines some bike lane projects in the City of L.A.  would have required an EIR if their traffic impacts were over specified thresholds.

That wasn’t the case here as the new lanes were put in and no environmental study was required, even though 7th Street lost a mixed use lane.

If you’ve ridden the lanes, let us know your experience in the comments section.

LaHood: America’s Transportation Future is in Rail, Google Car, Mobility Labs - See more at: http://mobilitylab.org/2013/10/24/lahood-americas-transportation-future-is-in-rail-google-car-mobility-labs/#sthash.wooXtT8Q.dpuf

http://mobilitylab.org/2013/10/24/lahood-americas-transportation-future-is-in-rail-google-car-mobility-labs/

October 24, 2013

For a video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWAAd79F-m0

In the next 25 years, America’s highway system will be replaced in large part by a crisscrossing network of passenger rail lines.

The automobile will be replaced by the Google (driverless) car.

Alternative modes of transportation such as biking and walking will be more prevalent.
And there will be a national chain of Mobility Labs serving key markets.

These were the bold predictions made by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at last week’s Mobility Lab event “People First: the Future of Transportation in America.”

“Transportation is always about the future,” LaHood said. And as the Republican appointee of a Democratic U.S. president knows perhaps better than most, transportation is also bipartisan. “There are no Republican roads or Democratic bridges,” he added.

Both LaHood and Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) President Josh Kavanagh used the Mobility Lab event – hosted at George Mason University’s Arlington campus – to repeatedly call for increased use of “transportation demand management (TDM)” practices in the United States. Kavanagh said the impact of transit-oriented development, Complete Streets, and other implementations of TDM are “profound” in jurisdictions where they are used.

LaHood went further, suggesting that the U.S. needs “more Mobility Labs,” recognizing the organization (currently the only one of its kind in the U.S.) as a democratizing force and “example of extraordinary changes” that are taking place in our country. LaHood said there is a need for at least “four or five” Mobility Labs in key markets in the U.S., and he encouraged the company to seek private equity funding to make that happen.

Ray LaHood (left) chats with George Mason University School of Public Policy Dean Jonathan Gifford and Mobility Lab Director Tom Fairchild.

Tom Fairchild, director of Mobility Lab, said that “we are incredibly proud of the work that we do and are appreciative of LaHood’s understanding and support of our mission. We are always open to investments to expand our programs and reach.”

Democratization of transportation was an overarching theme at the event. Arlington County, whose transportation emphasis has always been on “moving people, not cars,” was cited by both LaHood and Kavanagh as an example of the best in transportation planning in the country.

About his prediction that America’s future transportation needs would be met more by passenger rail than automobile, LaHood referenced a “pent-up demand for passenger rail,” and said, “The people almost always get it right.”

LaHood told the audience that if Eisenhower had signed a “Passenger Rail Bill” rather than the Federal Highway Act, then America would look much different than it does today. LaHood envisioned a future America that looks, transportation-wise, more like Europe. Smart-growth advocates in the audience undoubtedly were pleased, as the Federal Highway Act is widely considered to have played a significant role in urban sprawl.

Ray LaHood is interviewed by WAMU 88.5 FM’s Martin Di Caro.

When asked by an audience member how a major infrastructure project like the rail LaHood envisions would be funded, LaHood was unequivocal in his response. He called for an increase to the national gasoline tax  ”not raised since ’93″  of 10 cents, tied to the inflation rate. He also referenced the Highway Trust Fund as a good starting source of funds, but said it should be supplemented by a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax, tolling, and public-private partnerships operating to cover the shortfall.

LaHood’s final pronouncement was that while America is no longer number one in transportation, it can be. The countries that are surpassing us, such as China, are investing heavily in rail. If America does that as well, it will create jobs in the short term and ensure our competitiveness in the long term.
In the next 25 years, America’s highway system will be replaced in large part by a crisscrossing network of passenger rail lines.
The automobile will be replaced by the Google (driverless) car.
Alternative modes of transportation such as biking and walking will be more prevalent.
And there will be a national chain of Mobility Labs serving key markets.
These were the bold predictions made by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at last week’s Mobility Lab event “People First: the Future of Transportation in America.”
“Transportation is always about the future,” LaHood said. And as the Republican appointee of a Democratic U.S. president knows perhaps better than most, transportation is also bipartisan. “There are no Republican roads or Democratic bridges,” he added.
Both LaHood and Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) President Josh Kavanagh used the Mobility Lab event – hosted at George Mason University’s Arlington campus – to repeatedly call for increased use of “transportation demand management (TDM)” practices in the United States. Kavanagh said the impact of transit-oriented development, Complete Streets, and other implementations of TDM are “profound” in jurisdictions where they are used.
LaHood went further, suggesting that the U.S. needs “more Mobility Labs,” recognizing the organization (currently the only one of its kind in the U.S.) as a democratizing force and “example of extraordinary changes” that are taking place in our country. LaHood said there is a need for at least “four or five” Mobility Labs in key markets in the U.S., and he encouraged the company to seek private equity funding to make that happen.
Ray LaHood (left) chats with George Mason University School of Public Policy Dean Jonathan Gifford and Mobility Lab Director Tom Fairchild.
Tom Fairchild, director of Mobility Lab, said that “we are incredibly proud of the work that we do and are appreciative of LaHood’s understanding and support of our mission. We are always open to investments to expand our programs and reach.”
Democratization of transportation was an overarching theme at the event. Arlington County, whose transportation emphasis has always been on “moving people, not cars,” was cited by both LaHood and Kavanagh as an example of the best in transportation planning in the country.
About his prediction that America’s future transportation needs would be met more by passenger rail than automobile, LaHood referenced a “pent-up demand for passenger rail,” and said, “The people almost always get it right.”
LaHood told the audience that if Eisenhower had signed a “Passenger Rail Bill” rather than the Federal Highway Act, then America would look much different than it does today. LaHood envisioned a future America that looks, transportation-wise, more like Europe. Smart-growth advocates in the audience undoubtedly were pleased, as the Federal Highway Act is widely considered to have played a significant role in urban sprawl.
Ray LaHood is interviewed by WAMU 88.5 FM’s Martin Di Caro.
When asked by an audience member how a major infrastructure project like the rail LaHood envisions would be funded, LaHood was unequivocal in his response. He called for an increase to the national gasoline tax  ”not raised since ’93″  of 10 cents, tied to the inflation rate. He also referenced the Highway Trust Fund as a good starting source of funds, but said it should be supplemented by a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax, tolling, and public-private partnerships operating to cover the shortfall.
LaHood’s final pronouncement was that while America is no longer number one in transportation, it can be. The countries that are surpassing us, such as China, are investing heavily in rail. If America does that as well, it will create jobs in the short term and ensure our competitiveness in the long term.
- See more at: http://mobilitylab.org/2013/10/24/lahood-americas-transportation-future-is-in-rail-google-car-mobility-labs/#sthash.wooXtT8Q.dpuf

Data Shows Google’s Robot Cars Are Smoother, Safer Drivers Than You or I

Tests of Google’s autonomous vehicles in California and Nevada suggests they already outperform human drivers. 

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/520746/data-shows-googles-robot-cars-are-smoother-safer-drivers-than-you-or-i/

By Tom Simonite, October 25, 2013




 Road trip: This car is among those Google has modified to run without a human driver.

Data gathered from Google’s self-driving Prius and Lexus cars shows that they are safer and smoother when steering themselves than when a human takes the wheel, according to the leader of Google’s autonomous-car project.

Chris Urmson made those claims today at a robotics conference in Santa Clara, California. He presented results from two studies of data from the hundreds of thousands of miles Google’s vehicles have logged on public roads in California and Nevada.

One of those analyses showed that when a human was behind the wheel, Google’s cars accelerated and braked significantly more sharply than they did when piloting themselves. Another showed that the cars’ software was much better at maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead than the human drivers were.

“We’re spending less time in near-collision states,” said Urmson. “Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.”

In addition to painting a rosy picture of his vehicles’ autonomous capabilities, Urmson showed a new dashboard display that his group has developed to help people understand what an autonomous car is doing and when they might want to take over. “Inside the car we’ve gone out of our way to make the human factors work,” he said.

Although that might suggest the company is thinking about how to translate its research project into something used by real motorists, Urmson dodged a question about how that might happen. “We’re thinking about different ways of bringing it to market,” he said. “I can’t tell you any more right now.”
Urmson did say that he is in regular contact with automakers. Many of those companies are independently working on self-driving cars themselves (see “Driverless Cars Are Further Away Than You Think”).

Google has been testing its cars on public roads since 2010 (see “Look, No Hands”), always with a human in the driver’s seat who can take over if necessary.

Urmson dismissed claims that legal and regulatory problems pose a major barrier to cars that are completely autonomous. He pointed out that California, Nevada, and Florida have already adjusted their laws to allow tests of self-driving cars. And existing product liability laws make it clear that a car’s manufacturer would be at fault if the car caused a crash, he said. He also said that when the inevitable accidents do occur, the data autonomous cars collect in order to navigate will provide a powerful and accurate picture of exactly who was responsible.

Urmson showed data from a Google car that was rear-ended in traffic by another driver. Examining the car’s annotated map of its surroundings clearly showed that the Google vehicle smoothly halted before being struck by the other vehicle.

“We don’t have to rely on eyewitnesses that can’t act be trusted as to what happened—we actually have the data,” he said. “The guy around us wasn’t paying enough attention. The data will set you free.”

Oregon launching new program to tax drivers per mile

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/21/oregon-plan-to-replace-gas-tax-with-milage-tax-raised-concerns-on-privacy-cost/?intcmp=obinsite

October 21, 2013





 Vehicles along New York's 2nd Avenue.

 Oregon is moving ahead with a controversial plan to tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of fuel they consume, raising myriad concerns about cost and privacy.

The program, springing out of a recently signed bill, is expected to launch in 2015 on a volunteer basis. But it’s charting relatively new territory, and other states aching for additional tax revenue are sure to be watching closely to see whether to imitate the model.

The problem for lawmakers is that the existing per-gallon gas tax has hit a point of diminishing returns, as Americans drive less and vehicles become more fuel efficient. The federal Highway Trust Fund, which gives money to states for highway construction and repairs, for example, has needed a congressional bailout four times since 2009, in part the result of no federal gas tax increase in the past 20 years.

However, economists and civil libertarians are concerned about the Oregon pilot project in large part because some mileage meters can track and record residents’ every vehicular move.

Rick Geddes, a Cornell University professor, said the basic device is okay because it is simply attached to a vehicle’s computer, which cannot track locations.

“It’s just like using electricity,” he told FoxNews.com.

However, Geddes said privacy concerns could resurface should governments expand the program and use SmartPhone or apps to track movements and reward motorists who avoid congested roads and drive during off-peak hours.

Mark Perry, a University of Michigan scholar, says the GPS or “black box” system is "particularly untenable.”

“It would force us to surrender our privacy,” Perry, a scholar at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, recently wrote in a column for McClatchy Newspapers. “Each day more and more of us are required to tell government agencies more and more about ourselves. Do we really want the government collecting data about driving habits?”

Another concern is the cost of tracking devices -- including who pays and how deep the expense cuts into the tax coffers.

Oregon is purportedly considering several tracking methods for the pilot project’s 5,000 volunteers ahead of the 2015 start date – essentially allowing them to install mileage meters connected their vehicles’ odometers or GPS systems that could better track non-taxable miles on private and out-of-state roads.

The average cost of GPS is now about $200.

And a 2012 Government Accountability Office report states the costs of a GPS system for 230 million U.S. passenger vehicles “is likely to greatly exceed the costs of collecting fuel taxes,” absent any reliable studies on the issue.

The report also acknowledges such a method would be “more equitable” for drivers but also points out the “privacy concerns.”

Critics also say state governments calculating the tax per mile and mailing bills is another cost, and that people who use the most gas-efficient vehicles could pay just as much as those owning gas-guzzlers.

The Oregon plan -- approved and signed into law this year by the state’s Democrat-run government -- would replace the 30-cents-a-gallon state tax with one for 1.5 cents a mile, for those participating.
A state spokeswoman said Monday that the project is still in the development stages with officials focused on public awareness, not registration.

Still, she acknowledge residents with electric cars, who pay no gas taxes, “won’t be running to sign up.”

The incentive for states to pursue this kind of program could build as cars become more fuel efficient, especially considering President Obama wants new vehicles to get 54.5 mpg by 2025, up from the average now of 23.5 mpg’s.

Motorists will still be charged the federal tax under the Oregon program.

At least a dozen other states have had similar but smaller pilot programs. Oregon has had at least two other test programs, but this one is the most expansive.
 
Gebbes acknowledges officials are stuck in a “what to do next” situation regarding changes to the outdated system and moving closer to a “user fee” system.

Congress and state governments rarely have the appetite to raise taxes – with the exception of perhaps Virginia, which this year through some creative changes to the state gas tax will generate a projected $880 million a year for road projects.

Whittier Determined to Get the Gold Line to Reach Them

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/whittier_determined_to_get_the_gold_line_to_reach_them.php

By Neal Broverman, October 25, 2013

 

2011_09_goldlineeast2.jpg

In advance of Metro's decision on the route for the second eastward extension of the Gold Line, Whittier decided this week to hire a lobbyist to argue for a route that runs to the city. The transit agency should decide in the spring if the Gold Line will travel down Washington Boulevard and terminate in Whittier or move along the 60 and end in South El Monte. (When the Regional Connector opens in 2019, the line will travel to Santa Monica instead of Pasadena.) A Whittier councilmember fretted that her city was paying the entire $90,000 lobbyist fee, instead of sharing the expense with cities along the Washington Boulevard route, including Santa Fe Springs, Commerce, and Montebello, but in the end, the council decided they have to move on the matter themselves. The 60 route would cost less than the Whittier route ($1.5 billion compared to $1.65 billion), but would have fewer riders, according to estimates. As it stands now, this project won't open for at least 15 years anyway, though there is more and more talk of accelerating projects through a new ballot initiative (a 2012 measure narrowly failed to get the required three-fourths vote). The Whittier council, meanwhile, also ok'd $5,000 to expedite necessary studies on the project.


· Council hires lobbyist for light rail extension [Whiitier Daily News]

Electric vehicles more affordable now as lease prices drop

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/car_tips&id=9295690

By Dave Kunz, October 25, 2013


 

For many potential buyers of electric cars, the upsides of going gas-free were offset by one big downside: price. 

Even when government incentives were factored in, electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV were priced far above that of the typical economy car.

Then Fiat made a major move in the spring, rolling out its new 500e with a monthly lease price of $199.

Chrysler's CEO admitted that the company would lose money on the cars. But automakers are under mandate by the state of California to sell a certain number of them.

So then the floodgates on attractive lease rates opened. Nissan lowered the price of the Leaf; you can now get a base model for $199 a month.

The new Chevrolet Spark EV? Yep, it, too, can be leased for what's now become a sort of magic price threshold: $199 per month.

And Ford has chopped the lease price of the Focus EV -- as little as $229 per month -- a big reduction from its initial price when it debuted.

Honda adjusted the lease rate of its Fit EV as well to help move it. When it was launched last year, the monthly payment was $399. Now it's $259, and that price includes insurance and a home charging unit.

But the lowest of all is the new Smart Electric Drive. Yes, it's only a two-seater, but would you believe $139 a month?

There are a lot of aspects to electric cars that make them appealing. Of course, there's the environmental angle, and if you do it right, you can really save money owning one. One thing that doesn't get talked about much but really should is that these cars can actually be fun to drive.

 Chevrolet is marketing the Spark EV as a performer, with good reason. Its electric motor makes as much torque as many V8s.

And notice that the Honda has a "sport" button. Switching that on increases the fun but also decreases the range from the battery charge.

It's fun and frugal in the same car. EVs still aren't for everyone, as even the best only have a range of about 80 to 90 miles on a charge.

But now, the more attractive prices will likely get more people to give them a try.

Brown, governors of seven other states join to spur growth of zero-emission vehicles

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/24/5846838/brown-governors-of-seven-other.html

October 25, 2013




 Gov. Jerry Brown talks to the media Monday at the National Governors Association's winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/24/5846838/brown-governors-of-seven-other.html#storylink=cpy

Gov. Jerry Brown and governors of seven other states today announced an initiative that aims to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roadways within a dozen years.

The multi-state effort dovetails with California’s previously stated goal of putting 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

The initiative takes the form of a memorandum of understanding signed by the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Officials said those states comprise nearly 25 percent of the U.S. vehicle market.

“Today’s announcement shows commitment from these states to support a successful and growing market for electric vehicles, a key solution for tackling climate change and cutting our nation’s projected oil use in half over the next 20 years,” said David Reichmuth, senior engineer with the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “ ... Auto manufacturers, lawmakers and citizens need to work together so that we can enjoy cleaner vehicles across the United States. Today’s agreement, signed by eight states representing a quarter of all new vehicles sales, is an important step toward ensuring that the market for electric vehicles continues to expand.”

The agreement spells out cooperative measures promoting zero-emission vehicles – or ZEVs – with goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health, fostering energy diversity, creating consumer savings and promoting economic growth.


ZEVs include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles. Increasing the number of EV charging stations is a major component of the agreement.

Brown called the initiative “not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment. From coast to coast, we’re charging ahead to get millions of the world’s cleanest vehicles on our roads.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he believes the effort is “a major step forward to reducing the emissions that are causing our climate to change and unleashing the extreme weather that we are experiencing with increased frequency.”

In Sacramento, a formal announcement of the program will be made at 8:30 a.m. today at the California Environmental Protection Agency building at 1001 I St. Various officials of the states are scheduled to be on hand, along with representatives of the American Lung Association and Consumer Federation of America. The Sacramento announcement is being coordinated by the California Air Resources Board.

Some of the cooperative measures agreed to by the governors include: harmonizing building codes to make it easier to construct new electric vehicle charging stations, including ZEVs in public vehicle fleets, establishing financial and other incentives to promote ZEVs, and developing common standards for roadway signs and charging networks. The governors also said they would consider establishing favorable electricity rates for home-charging systems.

Officials said California and the other seven states will develop an action plan over the next six months.

Among all states, California has been the leader in sales of gas-electric hybrids, electric vehicles and ZEVs. In recent years, automakers have increased output of electric vehicles that, by technical definition, have no harmful emissions. Recent, technology-laden model introductions also include the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, a passenger car that can run solely via a battery charged in a common home electrical outlet, then continue via a charging process handled by an on-board, standard-fuel engine.


Officials said there are currently 16 zero-emission vehicle models available from eight automotive manufacturers. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development is still in the early stages, but Toyota will unveil its upcoming concept next month at the Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota aims to sell the hydrogen fuel cell cars in the United States, Europe and Japan by 2015. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles from Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz are also in the pipeline.

The biggest obstacle to the proliferation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has been a lack of hydrogen fueling stations, but California could eventually lead that effort with Brown’s recent signing of Assembly Bill 8. It extends, until Jan. 1, 2024, existing fees on motor vehicles, boat registrations and new tires. The fees fund programs to accelerate the turnover of older vehicles and development of advanced, environmentally friendly technologies.

Officials at the West Sacramento-based California Fuel Cell Partnership said the measure provides funding for at least 100 hydrogen stations with a commitment of up to $20 million a year from the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. Last year, the partnership released “A California Road Map” recommending 68 stations in strategic locations to launch the commercial market and at least 100 stations to sustain it.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/24/5846838/brown-governors-of-seven-other.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/24/5846838/brown-governors-of-seven-other.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/24/5846838/brown-governors-of-seven-other.html#storylink=cpy

U.S. Taps Into European High-Speed Rail Knowledge and Expertise

http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/us-taps-into-european-high-speed-rail-knowledge-and-expertise-229052681.html

October 24, 2013

U.S. to invest more than $138,000 million in high-speed rail in the coming years
  • For the first time, the representatives of major U.S. high-speed rail projects will meet together in Europe to seek the expertise and knowledge of the leading European high-speed rail companies.
The United States is planning to invest approximately $150,000 million over the next ten years in the development of high-speed rail networks, representing a great opportunity for European infrastructure and engineering companies. For the first time, American senior official representatives of these projects will meet in Europe looking for the experience and knowledge of the leading European businesses in these fields.

At the moment, the United States has two main high-speed rail projects underway:
  • High-speed rail in California: to connect San Francisco with Los Angeles, and with Sacramento and San Diego in the final stages. The total cost is estimated at over $68,000 million and the first phase (Madera-Fresno) has already been tendered for $1,000 million. Currently underway is the award of the second (Fresno-Bakersfield for $2,000 million) and third stages (Bakersfield-Fremont), first through the RFQ (Request for Qualifications), which screens to companies that may submit a tender - and then through the RFP (Request for Proposals) to receive offers from companies in accordance with the project specifications. This project is led by the California High Speed Rail Authority, which also works with Caltrain (California commuter rail service, currently undergoing an electrification project until 2019) in the adjustments needed by the network to accommodate high-speed rail networks.

  • North-East Corridor (NEC): this plan aims to upgrade the current NEC by linking cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington and transforming it into a high-speed rail network. The project is valued at more than $70,000 million and includes, among other large works in several states, two tunnels throughout New York. The agency responsible for the coordination of this project is Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
For this reason, Robert LaCroix, the Chief Corridor Development of NEC, the CEO of Transportation California, Will Kempton, the Chairman of the California High Speed ​​Rail Authority (Ca-HSRA), Dan Richard, the CEO of the Los Angeles METRO, Art Leahy, or the President of the U.S. High Speed ​​Rail Association, Andy Kunz, -main responsible entities for the development of these transport networks- will participate in USAWeek, on November 11, in Europe to explain all the details of these projects and the opportunities they represent for European large and medium companies in the major U.S. projects in infrastructure, energy, industry and technology in the coming years.

According to Germán Loperena, USAWeek Director and managing partner of S&F International, "the participation of these American authorities in this business meeting reasserts the United States' interest to know, firsthand, the leading European high-speed rail companies in the areas of infrastructure and engineering. In California, for example -explains Loperena- 30% of the work constructed must be awarded to local companies by law, so many times these companies need and seek partnerships with companies that have the knowledge and expertise that they do not have. In the case of the high-speed rail and given the possibility to participate in these very important projects, these companies will necessarily be European."

Megaprojects Business "...the biggest investment boom in history."

Posted on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page, October 25, 2013

 
 How Big Is the Megaprojects Business? Megaprojects are not only large and growing constantly larger, they are also being built in ever greater numbers. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates global infrastructure spending at USD 3.4 trillion per year 2013-2030, or app. four percent of total global gross domestic product, mainly delivered as large-scale projects. Not at any time in the history of mankind has infrastructure spending been this high, measured as a share of world GDP. The Economist has called it "the biggest investment boom in history." And that's just infrastructure. If we include the many other fields where megaprojects are a main delivery model – oil and gas, mining, aerospace, defense, ICT, supply chains, mega events, etc. – then a conservative estimate for the global megaproject market is USD 6-9 trillion per year, or app. eight percent of total global gross domestic product. For perspective, consider this is equivalent to spending five to eight times the accumulated US debt to China, every year. That's big business by any definition of the term.

California Air Resource Board cracks down on big rigs

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/18/5745478/california-air-resource-board.html

By Tillie Fong, September 18, 2013





ARB inspector Bill O’Brien, left, talks to trucker Monte Eberhardt at a pollution checkpoint Tuesday on Highway 99.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/18/5745478/california-air-resource-board.html#storylink=cpy

For the past few months, Monte Eberhardt had been hearing from other big rig drivers that he may have to retrofit his cattle-hauling truck to meet new emission standards.

“I looked it up about the filter and I have until the end of January,” said Eberhardt, 40, of Wheatland.
But the owner of Eberhardt Livestock found that he was wrong Tuesday, when he was pulled over just north of Sacramento for a state Air Resources Board truck inspection.

He was issued a citation for not having an emission control label on the engine of his 1998 Kenworth rig, and was told that he would be fined $800 if he did not have the engine tested and certified as meeting emission standards within 45 days. That means he either gets a particulate-matter filter installed or switches out the engine for a 2007 or newer model. At that point, the fine drops to $300.

“I became an owner-operator recently, and I’m still learning,” said Eberhardt, who bought the truck a year and half ago. He said he would likely install a particulate-matter filter, which he estimates would cost about $20,000. “The truck is still in pretty good shape,” he said.

Tuesday, two ARB inspectors were checking big rigs southbound on Highway 99, just north of the split with Interstate 5, to see if they were complying with the agency’s requirements. Older trucks were pulled aside for inspection, and refrigerated trucks were also checked to see if the engine for the refrigerator unit was in compliance with idling regulations.

Truck drivers were asked to rev up their engines so that the inspectors could see if black smoke was coming out of the smokestacks. Then they were asked to pop open the hood, so that inspectors could check the engine to see what year it was and whether it had an emission control label. Inspectors can also check via laptop to whether the truck has been registered and whether the company has other trucks. If the truck passes muster, then a yellow sticker is placed on the windshield, which means it doesn’t need to be checked again for three months.

The inspection usually takes less than five minutes, and a number of newer trucks were allowed to bypass the inspection.

“We don’t want to take up any more time than we have to,” said Mark Tavianini, manager of the ARB’s mobile source compliance training section, who was helping with the inspections.“We know they have a job to do. Time is money.”

For the 57 trucks pulled over at the spot Tuesday, eight citations were issued. Eberhardt’s citation was one of three involving emission control labels. Three citations fell under statewide truck and bus regulations, one was for commercial vehicle idling, and one was a transport refrigeration unit-related citation. For the first six months of 2013, the agency has conducted about 3,100 inspections of trucks and buses in the state and has issued about 390 citations.

“There are likely many trucks still out of compliance with California’s strict anti-pollution laws,” said ARB spokeswoman Melanie Turner. “Our overall goal is for all heavy-duty diesel trucks to have 2010 or newer engines by 2023.”

On any given day, about a million trucks and buses are traveling in the state, half of which are based in California, according to Turner. The exhaust from those vehicles contains particulate matter – soot – as well as nitrogen oxides, which can adversely affect health.


“Seventy percent of the cancer risk from air toxics is from diesel particulate matter,” Turner said. “Technology has improved so much over the past 15 years. Now filters are available that reduce diesel emissions by 85 percent or more, compared to having no filter at all.”

For that reason, in 2008, the ARB established rules to reduce those pollutants from diesel-powered vehicles weighing 14,000 pounds or more. A phased schedule was set up for trucks to either install a particulate-matter filter or switch over to a 2010 engine, depending on the year of the engine. For example, Eberhardt’s truck would fall in the schedule for 1996-1999 engines, which are required to have a particulate-matter filter installed by 2012, and switch out to a 2010 engine by the year 2020.

Under the regulations, all trucks with 2005 to 2006 engines have until the end of this year to install a filter, so another 50,000 trucks would have to come into compliance before Jan. 1. In addition, companies that have two or more trucks in their fleet must have at least one truck retrofitted by 2014. After that, the company faces a $1,000-a-month fine for every month out of compliance.

“People will be finding that the flexibility will go away,” said Bruce Tuter, an ARB air resource specialist, about the fleet requirement.

For Daniel Guerrero, 40, of Madera, owner of Daniel’s Trucking, that was bad news. He has three trucks in his fleet, and he was driving one of them – a Freightliner with a 2000 engine – when he was pulled over Tuesday. None of his trucks have particulate filters installed.

“It puts the heat on the small guys, said Guerrero, who learned that he had to retrofit one truck this year, another truck next year and a third after that. “Only the big companies have the resources to comply with the regulations. When I bought this truck, it was legal. Now they’re saying it’s not. They are changing the rules.”

He estimates that it would cost $12,000 to $18,000 to install the particulate-matter filter on one of his trucks. If he had to replace an engine, Guerrero said, that would run $25,000 to 30,00, while getting a new truck – for $140,000 to $160,000 – would be out of the question. He said the regulations would drive him out of business, as he can’t afford to make the necessary upgrades.

“I will have to downsize and let go of the other drivers,” he said. “I am going to run this until the end of this year, and I will have to raise my rates.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/18/5745478/california-air-resource-board.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/18/5745478/california-air-resource-board.html#storylink=cpy


However, complying with the regulations may not be as onerous as Guerrero suggested. A typical particulate filter usually runs about $15,000.

“There are funding opportunities for the upgrades,” said Eloy Florez, an ARB air pollution specialist. “They (truckers) are eligible for funding up to $45,000 toward a truck replacement.”

Eberhardt was interested in seeing if he was eligible for funding to help with the retrofits, and although he was cited, he said he didn’t mind the random inspection.

“We can’t breathe dirty air,” he said. “There are lot of vehicles, cars and trucks. It is what it is.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/18/5745478/california-air-resource-board.html#storylink=cpy

Never is a long time

Caltrans needs help in selling 710 Corridor homes 

 http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/never_is_a_long_time/12544/

By Kevin Uhrich, October 24, 2013

Never is a long time 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There are some things that people have come to expect to never happen in their lifetime, such as erasing the line that divides North and South Korea and peace in the Middle East.    

Until two weeks ago, another was Caltrans relinquishing control of the 587 homes it owns in Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhood of El Sereno, which sit directly in the path laid out for a nearly five-mile road to connect the Long Beach (710) Freeway with the Foothill (210) Freeway.

But, kind of like the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the Cold War which was somewhat unexpectedly torn down after 28 years in 1989, that’s exactly what has occurred with the freeway connector project. 

After five decades, the state transit agency is now being directed by the Legislature to sell the homes in the so-called 710 Corridor, once dubbed the “Corridor of Shame” by this newspaper for the shoddy way Caltrans has historically handled its duties as landlords, or, more accurately, slumlords.

This dramatic change occurred with Gov. Jerry Brown signing Senate Bill 416. Authored by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge), and co-authored by Democratic Assembly members Chris Holden of Pasadena and Mike Gatto of Glendale, SB416 allows Caltrans to sell the homes “as is,” without making any repairs. 

This is a significant difference from requirements spelled out in the Roberti Act, so named for former Democratic state Sen. David Roberti, which mandated repairs be made before a sale. However, like Roberti’s legislation, the new law, which passed the Assembly by a vote of 77-0 and the Senate by a 38-0 margin, gives current and former tenants in good standing the first right of refusal to purchase their homes at fair market value. And, under Liu’s legislation, Caltrans still must make repairs required by lenders or government assistance programs or provide the occupants with a replacement. 

Yet, questions remain. Liu’s law requires that all single-family residences be offered at an affordable price to present occupants who fall into either low- or moderate-income categories. But, says Joe Cano, a longtime Caltrans tenant and a member of the No 710 Coalition, “This is a quandary.”

“Do these people really have the money to fix the houses? Would these houses qualify for a mortgage, or are they in such ill repair that the banks won’t even touch them?” he recently asked the Pasadena Weekly’s Justin Chapman. Presently, 400 of the homes in the 710 Corridor are occupied. The rest are vacant or too dilapidated to live in.

Liu’s law “still puts the tenants between a rock and a hard place,” Cano said. “Either way, they’re being mistreated. It’s a real complex situation.”

The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, but there is no set time line for Caltrans to begin selling the homes, which the agency seems to be in no hurry to do. 

If a past audit of Caltrans’ property management is any indicator, it’s not likely that the agency will be much better in the home sales department when the time finally comes. 

The California State Auditor last year found that between July 2007 and December 2011 Caltrans, which did not verify the eligibility of tenants to be charged below-market rate rents, collected $12.8 million in rent but lost $22 million due to underpayment by ineligible tenants. During most of that period, Caltrans reportedly paid out another $22.5 million for questionable repairs. 

The audit also found that Caltrans spent an average of $6.4 million per year on property repairs but could not demonstrate that repairs for 18 of the 30 projects reviewed by auditors were reasonable or even necessary. The agency authorized repairs that far exceeded the potential rental income of the property. For 20 of the 30 properties reviewed, Caltrans authorized repairs for which it will take more than three years worth of rental income to recover the costs, according to the report.

In addition to that, the audit found that Caltrans estimated that the market value of all the parcels was $279 million, when the actual sale price for many or potentially all of the residential parcels could be roughly 80 percent less than the estimated market value, in part because of restrictions contained in the Roberti Act.
Making matters even worse for tenants is Caltrans’ assertions that it cannot put the homes up for sale until 2015, when an alternative connector is chosen from five options, one of them construction of a massive tunnel underneath the land where the surface connector was set to go.

With all the planning that’s already been done on the proposed tunnel plan, which is almost universally opposed by people living in Pasadena and South Pasadena, Caltrans should already know which properties would be affected by tunnel construction. It’s hard to imagine why another two years is needed to make that determination. 
Perhaps now might be the time to get the transit agency out of the real estate business altogether and turn over responsibility for these properties to people who know what they are doing. 

We believe a board of concerned citizens, and perhaps already sitting elected officials from the three affected communities, should be formed to work with Caltrans in order to ensure the state transit agency expeditiously does what it’s been told by the Legislature to do with those homes and does not screw people out of their rights. 

Just as it still remains unlikely that we’ll ever see a united Korea or a Middle East without war, the evidence tells us that without supervision and vigilant monitoring, Caltrans will more than likely not do the right thing when it comes to selling those properties. 

Ara Najarian's Remarks at Yesterday's Metro Board Meeting

Posted on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page, October 25, 2016

Read Ara Najarian's remarks from yesterday's Metro Board meeting about the motion to reinstate the SR-710 project to the accelerated funding list. Ara had confirmation from the County Counsel (who was in attendance) backing him up, and yet Knabe, Fasana, Chair DuBois and ultimately most of the Board forged ahead with total lack of regard for the County Counsel's opinion. Knabe's motion passed. There were only 3 votes against it: Najarian, Yaroslavsky and Garcetti (yet Garcetti's 3 appointees voted in favor of the motion). Remember that in July, when Ara asked the County Counsel to relinquish the Attorney-Client privilege of confidentiality for his opinions on "Who is in charge?", the Board jumped all over Ara and was adamant that Counsel Safer's opinions were sacrosanct and not to be questioned.
 Transcript for Direct Najarian’s comments on Item 71
Regular Board Meeting
October 24, 2013

Director Najarian: My friends have told me not to die on this sword; my enemies said go ahead
and do it. I think we need to make one thing clear. This motion and today’s action is not a pep
rally for those for or against the tunnel or anything involving the 710 project. That’s not what
we’re here about. And I’m hoping that today we can shine some light on exactly what this
Board has done in its past few months and what the Knabe, DuBois, Molina, Fasana, Antonovich
motion implies. The first thing I want to say is back in June, when we were discussing the
Measure R Ordinance and amending it, I was the 9th vote and we needed 9 votes to pass. The
reason why I voted to amend Measure R in June was because an amendment was made which
indicated that the 710 shall not be accelerated. I’m told by County Counsel that this motion
today can pass with only 6 votes or with 7 votes, simple majority. I find that unfair to me
because had this been included back in June, I would not have voted for the Measure R
ordinance amendment. So I do think it’s rather unfair to me to get me to vote one way based
on one premise and then a month or two later, based only with a simple majority, to pass this
amendment. I don’t think that’s fair and I think we should always be fair in what we do. This
entire motion is based on a false premise. Let me read the opening line to the Knabe motion
and it says…I don’t know if we can put that up there, can we put the pre‐amble or the
introduction? We don’t have the ability to do that? Well it won’t be long, it’s not very long. I
want everyone to understand this it says, “In June 2013, the MTA Board approved a Measure R
Acceleration Financing Plan to advance all Measure R second and third decade projects.” And
I’ve had a lengthy discussion with County Counsel and in reality; this Board did not pass the
Measure R Acceleration Financing Plan. If anyone wants to argue that, now is the time to do it;
because the premise of this motion is right here. We did not pass the Measure R Acceleration
Financing Plan. Isn’t that true, Mr. Safer?

Charles Safer: That’s true.

Director Najarian: Okay, how does that grab everyone? So the foundation upon which this
motion is based is false. And it’s not fair to the Board and it’s not fair to the public; to lead off
the motion with an incorrect, misleading, statement.

Director Knabe: Well it wasn’t misleading; it was just to show you how badly your amendment
was written. No I’m just saying, that’s the issue, it was a clarification. I agree with you, it
wasn’t a rally for or against the 710 but the reason for the amendment was because of the
inaccuracies within the confines of how you’re rushed to judge when an amendment came to
the Board.

Director Najarian: That’s gibberish, what are you saying Mr. Knabe? I’m talking about the
Measure R Acceleration Financing Plan. Did this Board pass it or did it not? The answer is we did
not. It’s inappropriate for you to state that leading off your motion.
Director Knabe: I think it’s a great motion.
 Director Najarian: I’m not here to argue with Mr. Knabe. The votes are in and I won’t die on
sword. I want everyone to know, as well as Legal Counsel, and create a record in future
challenge that that’s a problem. The next item is that, the 710 extension has no funding date.
Funds available under the Measure R ordinance indicate that the funding will be “to be
determined.” The 710 is not a second decade project that we can advance to the first decade.
It’s not a third decade project that we can advance to the second decade. It’s a completely
inappropriate and misleading motion to indicate that the 710 project can be advanced. The
710 is expected to draw interest by a Public‐Private Partnership. Those are funds; that’s a
funding plan that the MTA is not contributing to. This is the Public‐Private Partnership. So it’s a
completely misnomer and misrepresentation to the public, to the folks who support the 710,
whether it’s a tunnel or not and to the folks who are against it, that this can either be
accelerated or slowed down. Now my motion back in June was merely to underscore the fact
that the 710 project cannot be accelerated and will not be accelerated. So this motion before us
today is completely inappropriate, it’s improper. And it’s unfair to those people who are trying
to breathe some life into the 710 project because that’s not what it’s about. So we got a faulty
premise that it’s based on and we’ve got a representation to everyone that the 710 project can
be accelerated by the MTA Board; from either the third to the second decade or the second
decade to the first decade. Pull out your Measure R ordinance; it says “to be determined.” If
PPP comes in tomorrow, if Torgado comes in or some great financer; tomorrow, I presume that
funding will be available. If they don’t come in for five decades, that’s when the money comes
in. This Board has no control over that. So to bring this motion forward at this time, describing
it as acceleration is improper and it’s something we should not consider. We should lay this on
the table and not deal with it at this point. And let the funding come in when the funding comes
in.

Director Knabe: Madame Chair, the only part I agree with is the fact that this is not a rally for
or against the 710 extension. I think the motion speaks for itself. It was in response to the
previous action at the last minute without being noticed, so it’s a clarification so with that, I
would move the motion as amended.

Director Fasana; I’ll second.

Chair DuBois: Moved and seconded. Director Fasana also had a request to speak.

Director Fasana: Yes, thank you. I just would like to add but first I want to thank Director Knabe
for bringing this motion forward. There has been a decision made by the voters of this County
and the inclusion of the 710 project was not an accident, it was inserted deliberately into the
Measure. And it was inserted so that all voters can consider it along with the other projects that
we have. Many of our projects face environmental review. The funding plan for Measure R is
not adequate and we certainly know that there are projects that do not have adequate funding
through Measure R. Separating the progress and the ability to accelerate the 710 or any other
project in Measure R sets a very poor precedent with the voters of this County. The project
should all have an equitable opportunity to be considered. They should have the opportunity
for the voters then to know that we pursued due deliberation for this project along with the
others and we’ll review the alternatives at a proper time. I support the motion, the motion is
appropriate and it’s the equitable thing to do. I think it maintains faith with the voters
throughout this County that we will not pick and choose how we interpret the mandate for
Measure R. Thank you.

Chair DuBois: I have no one else who has asked to speak.

Director Najarian: If there are no other speakers. I just wish someone would answer and tell
me that I’m wrong in my statements regarding the funding of the 710 and the ability for it to be
accelerated as the current motion implies. Tell me I’m wrong, I already discussed that, tell me
I’m wrong.

Director Fasana: Madame Chair, if we get into the funding of all the projects for the Measure
R, we will be here for quite some time. I don’t know if that’s a real productive use of our time at
this point.

Director DuBois: I think it’s time to vote, will you please cast your votes using the screen in
front of you. Motion passes.

Ranking 104 LA Neighborhoods By Their Potential For Affordable, Transit-Friendly Housing

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/ranking_104_la_neighborhoods_by_their_potential_for_affordable_transitfriendly_housing.php#more

By Adrian Glick Kudler, Octboer 24, 2013

 

 

  Artist’s rendering of a potential high-density, mixed-use development for the land near the Crenshaw Line's Florence/La Brea station.

Last year, the Los Angeles Business Council put out a report written by UCLA Anderson School of Management lecturer/developer Pal Habibi saying that average working Angelenos can't actually afford to live anywhere near where they work. Now they've paired up again for a new report (pdf) that looks at one way to fix that: by building new workforce housing along transit corridors. The report includes a ranking of neighborhoods by how primed they are for transit-oriented development ("The Index ranks 104 station areas and is based on six key demographic and market indicators – population, housing density, income, employment, transit ridership and land values – to evaluate whether a given market can support the type of mixed-use, mixed-income and higher-density development that comprises livable communities." See the gallery for the rankings.) And luckily enough, the best opportunities are spread throughout LA County (see the "hot markets" on the map in the gallery).



The report also included case studies of two neighborhoods with big potential for transit-oriented workforce housing: the area around the Orange Line's Van Nuys station and the section of Inglewood around the Florence/La Brea station on the upcoming Crenshaw Line. Metro owns land near the former, which is also near a bike path and several bus routes; Inglewood owns a nice piece of developable land near the latter.

Habibi writes that identifying hotspots is just step one, and that government will need to get involved "to attract investment and make these new livable communities financially feasible ... Policymakers have the tools to make these projects attractive to potential investors and builders, and it's time to use them." (Ideas include reducing parking requirements near transit and reducing development fees for these kinds of projects.) And luckily Mayor Garcetti's on board with that, according to a press release about the report.

· The Average LA Worker Still Can't Actually Afford to Live in LA [Curbed LA]
· 2013 Livable Communities Report: A CALL TO ACTION [LABC]

Metro approves $7.5M increase for Universal City pedestrian bridge

http://www.dailynews.com/government-and-politics/20131024/metro-approves-75m-increase-for-universal-city-pedestrian-bridge

By Dakota Smith, October 24, 2013

Transportation officials agreed Thursday to increase funding for a pedestrian bridge near Universal City.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved a plan for a $27 million bridge to span Lankershim Boulevard. Construction and design bids for the bridge, originally priced at $19.5 million, came in higher than expected, Metro officials said.

The planned three-cornered walkway across Lankershim and Universal Holly­wood Drive won MTA approval last year.

The project angers some transit groups, who argue the bridge caters to cars because the walkway removes pedestrians from the busy intersections. Other groups say a tunnel under Lankershim is preferable.

In voting for the funding, Los Angeles City Councilman and board member Paul Krekorian called for landscaping around the bridge to “help soften” the modern appearance of structure.

The MTA board action on the bridge was one of the first controversial votes under Mayor Eric Garcetti, who recently unveiled a plan to revitalize L.A.’s streets and emphasized creating more walkable neighborhoods.

The mayor was absent from the bridge vote, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said. Garcetti spokeswoman Vicki Curry said the mayor had a conflict of interest and so couldn’t vote on the item.

LA’s Broadway Trolley: A Thing of the Past

http://citywatchla.com/lead-stories-hidden/5922-la-s-broadway-trolley-a-thing-of-the-past

By Kay Martin, October 25, 2013





LEANING RIGHT-Sixty years ago a bus ride or Red Car ride to downtown Los Angeles always offered the opportunity to “see the world.” It was an opportunity to get out of the neighborhood and then hop on a trolley once you arrived downtown.

Half a century after the last of the lost Pacific Electric Red Cars rumbled through Los Angeles, a move has begun to return trolleys to downtown LA.

"Everyone has a story about themselves or their parents or somebody riding these streetcars," said City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose 2008 "Bringing Back Broadway" plan started the push before his efforts were side tracked due to sexual harassment in his office. Let me clarify, he was the sexual harasser.

Broadway was once the busiest and brightest street in the center of the city, then for decades became a symbol of downtown's decay. I myself remember riding the trolleys and enjoying their air conditioning system which consisted of throwing the windows opens and hanging you head out.

Huizar's plan has sought to revive the movie theaters and nightspots that have sat in disrepair.

It appears to be working, and the trolley line could make its restoration complete.

"It's a beautiful corridor," Huizar said. "It's located in a perfect spot."

With a route chosen by the city and an environmental review begun, the proposed four-mile Broadway-to-Figueroa loop is a modest project compared to the region's subway extensions and freeway expansions, but would provide a link between the key spots of the downtown renaissance and a symbolic link with the city's mythologized past.

The line would run primarily along three of downtown's main arteries -- Broadway, Hill and Figueroa streets -- and connect various neighborhoods, including the old banking district, South Park, Civic Center and the fashion district.

While the streetcar has a long history in LA, the most recent streetcar restoration project picked up steam in 2008. The project is largely led by non-profit organization LA Street car Inc., which represents the private sector involved with the project, including downtown business and property owners.

The recent Streetcar timeline is:
  • 2006: Idea for the project Raised by redevelopment agency
  • 2008 Cost estimate set at $100 million
  • 2012 New estimate of $125 million
  • 2012 72% of downtown voters approve tax district
  • 2013 In February the city transportation agency request new estimate
  • 2013 City Council learns the cost could be $327 million 
Is the effort to develop the new downtown trolley system starting to smell like the Grand Avenue Committee and its effort to replicate the Champs Elysees of Paris or the AEG plans to build a downtown Stadium of Champs all over again?

The proposed four mile route is scheduled to start at 1st Street, run 11 blocks south along Broadway before veering west to LA Live then north through the Financial Zone.

Over the years the cost has increased from $100 million to $352 million.

The route is great and goes down Broadway before swinging over to LA Live and adjacent Staples Center. The route then heads north to the 7th Street Metro Center before bypassing the LA Library and Pershing Square. The route continues north before it makes a u-turn at Civic Center and Grand Park.

Included in the reasons the price has been rising is that planners have learned that beneath Broadway lies a tightly packed tangle of power lines and century old pipes. Moving them or replacing them would be very expensive.

When I learned of this I asked myself:
  • Why was this a surprise to these planners?
  • Won’t the trolleys actually run on surface level tracks?
  • Won’t the trolley’s power be supplied by overhead lines? 
These are just some of the reasons I don’t think the new trolley line will ever see the light of day. Some of the other reasons are that the forces behind this are politicos who are incapable of doing anything period. Doing it  within budget and on time is out of the question.

Some examples of where politicos have tried to do something and failed:

● The Grand Avenue Project has nothing to show after spending $120 million and 10 years. Can the trolley project top this?

● The Anschultz Entertainment Group will never have a downtown Stadium of Champs. AEG has nothing to show. Can the trolley project top this?

● Our debt was $10 trillion in 2008 is now $17 trillion. The “T” is not a typo.

● We are on the verge of wrecking our medical system with Obamacare.

● LAX is the only major airport in the world with no access other than the oval moving parking lot.
● Spending $600 million and 3 years on a web site that is a joke. Other experts have said they could have provided it for $1 million and it would have worked.

● Pouring billions down the War on Poverty hole since the 1960s and having nothing to show except disintegrated families and “victocrats” who are still standing there with their hands out.

● Government shutdown for 2 weeks including national veteran monuments.


● State release of 2,000 dangerous felons, location unknown.

● Huizar’s extracurricular activities have probably been getting in the way of his attention to the budget and to the cables under Broadway.

It would be a real pleasure to be able to hop on the trolley downtown again, hang out the window, and “see the world” but I doubt the trolley will become a reality. So it looks like I will just stay here in the ‘hood.

Garcetti to Lobby for People Mover, Mass Transit at LAX in DC

The mayor is also talking with transportation secretary about bringing mass transit to the airport.

 http://venice.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/garcetti-to-lobby-for-poeple-mover-mass-transit-at-lax-in-dc

By Alexander Nguyen, October 24, 2013




Getty Images

Mayor Eric Garcetti will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to lobby in favor of a people-mover and other transit improvements at Los Angeles International Airport.

Garcetti told KNX radio he expects to meet with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Monday to detail his transportation plans and "to look at ways that we can bring mass transit into the airport."

"We'll probably have a people-mover, is what we're looking at. We can probably do this in six years. I know that seems like a long time, but around here it's not. We might even be able to accelerate that," he said.

A planned Crenshaw Line connecting the Expo and Green rail lines will run near LAX, but it will not stop directly at the airport. The existing Green Line stops 2.5 miles away from the airport.

"We cannot be a world-class airport if we don't have a public transit link," Garcetti said during the question-and-answer session on KNX.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell will also be in Washington, D.C., next week to lobby on behalf of a Los Angeles River revitalization project. The City Council earlier this year officially backed the most expensive and comprehensive of four revitalization options being considered by Congress.

Council members Gil Cedillo, Bob Blumenfield and Joe Buscaino will also be part of the delegation of city leaders going to Washington, D.C.

Former City Engineer Gary Lee Moore, who was recently named interim port director, and Public Works Commissioner Barbara Romero are also joining the group.

What the Future of Driverless Cars Will Actually Look Like

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/10/remarkable-math-future-driverless-cars/7373/

By Emily Badger, October 25, 2013



 What the Future of Driverless Cars Will Actually Look Like

Image taken from the back seat of a driverless car at Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University.

We've heard a lot about the projected benefits of driverless cars (whenever we get them, that is). The roads will become safer, as we remove distracted, flawed drivers (and human error) from behind the wheel. Congestion will decrease, as cars that drive themselves and communicate with each other are able to more efficiently share roadways. Fuel economy will go up as a result, and emissions will go down. We'll need to devote less space to parking, as automated vehicles come to function more like public transit, remaining perpetually in motion. And all kinds of people who can't currently drive – the young and old, as well as the disabled – will become more mobile.

Which is all well and good. But exactly how many fewer crashes are we talking? How much money and gas and time would we save? Can we get some numbers, please?

The Eno Center for Transportation this week released a helpful paper that corrals many of these estimates. The benefits of autonomous cars will expand as there are more of them on the road. Ten driverless cars on the 405 in Los Angeles, for instance, won't do much to improve congestion for everyone around them. But if 10 percent of vehicles on the highway were autonomous – with the capacity to communicate with each other – that might start to change things.

Below, Eno has estimated several impacts of AVs in a graduated future in the United States where 10 percent, then 50 percent, then 90 percent the market shares this capability:


 
"Preparing a Nation for Autonomous Vehicles" by the Eno Center for Transportation

Currently, the United States has about 5.5 million vehicle crashes a year, about 32,000 of them fatal. And transportation researchers believe that about 93 percent of those crashes are caused by human error. Remove that element from the roadway, and we might approach a future where the fatality rates on roadways come to look a lot more like they do with airplane and rail travel. (Random fact: the only crash that Google has so far reported from its AV experiments occurred after a human driver took over for the computer.)

The right column above is pretty far into the future. But with 10 percent penetration, we're still talking about 200,000 fewer crashes, 100 million gallons of gas saved, and $37 billion in economic savings. Eno estimates that all drivers will experience congestion savings early on, whether you're in an automated vehicle or not. Crash benefits, on the other hand, will go primarily to the people riding in AVs. So those numbers will rack up more over time. The report also projects that the total number of vehicles on the road will decline, as the average number of miles driven per vehicle goes up.

Eno acknowledge that its analysis is "inherently imprecise," and of course a whole lot of obstacles – of the technical, legal and cultural varieties – need to be overcome before we even get to a 1 percent market share. But it's helpful to see some numbers in the meantime.

For the curious, these are the assumptions baked into the above data: