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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Remove the F7-X Tunnel Alternative from SR-710 North EIR/EIS

http://www.change.org/petitions/remove-the-f7-x-tunnel-alternative-from-sr-710-north-eir-eis-in-favor-of-better-more-fiscally-and-environmentally-responsible-solutions?share_id=XelDApvale&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition


Remove the F7-X Tunnel Alternative from SR-710 North EIR/EIS in Favor of Better, more Fiscally and Environmentally Responsible  Solutions!

Remove the F7-X Tunnel Alternative from SR-710 North EIR/EIS in Favor of Better, more Fiscally and Environmentally Responsible Solutions!

Petition by No 710 Action Committee

(Go to the website to sign the petition.)


We have reviewed the history, purpose and need for the State Route-710 North Corridor and support the development and implementation of a comprehensive 21st-century mobility and transportation alternative to the current limited and antiquated approach for the SR-710 North Extension.  We recommend a multimodal approach that may include implementation of Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM), Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail individually or in combination, but DOES NOT INCLUDE a surface freeway or tunnel connecting the 710 and 210 Freeways.  

We oppose the connection of the 710 and 210 Freeways via surface freeway or tunnel for the following reasons:
  • Construction of additional roadway lanes has traditionally been the most common congestion relief strategy used by transportation authorities.  However, decades of research has demonstrated that expanding highways does not relieve congestion.  Every 1% increase in new lane-miles generates a 0.9% increase in traffic in less than 5 years, effectively neutralizing any increase in capacity (http://www.no710.com/_better_solutions_ls/1-repurpose_the_710/highway-expansion-myth.pdf).





  • There is widespread vocal public opposition to a connection between the 710 and 210 Freeways.  The cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Los Angeles, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena have adopted formal resolutions opposing the connection. Additionally, over forty-five neighborhood councils, elected officials (including a US Congressman, State Senators and State Assemblymembers), school districts, chambers of commerce and other environmental and civic organizations have adopted resolutions or issued statements expressing their opposition to the extension (http://www.no710.com/resources.html).

We urge Caltrans to remove themselves from the property management business and sell the more than 500 homes in the 710 Corridor.  Its poor management of SR-710 Extension project properties costs the State millions of dollars annually.  This bad relationship between tenants and landlord must end now (http://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/summary/2011-120).

The No 710 Action Committee is a fast-growing association of cities, organizations, professionals and citizens who realize that the SR-710 Tunnel is an unacceptable alternative to address regional transportation problems. Our mission is to promote solutions that are environmentally and fiscally sound, reduce pollution, lower health risks, relieve congestion, and eliminate public dependence on fossil fuels. The No 710 Action Committee demands that transportation authorities operate in an honest and transparent manner that is responsive to the concerns and interests of the impacted communities and the public at large (http://www.no710.com).

To:
Edmund. G. Brown, Governor, State of California
Brian Kelly, Secretary, California State Transportation Agency
All Commissioners, California Transportation Commission (CTC)
Members of the Board of Directors and CEO, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
Malcolm Dougherty, Director, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)

I have reviewed the history, purpose and need for the State Route-710 North Corridor and support the development and implementation of a comprehensive 21st-century mobility and transportation alternative to the current limited and antiquated approach for the SR-710 North Extension. I recommend a multimodal approach that may include implementation of Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM), Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail individually or in combination, but DOES NOT INCLUDE a surface freeway or tunnel connecting the 710 and 210 Freeways.

I oppose the connection of the 710 and 210 Freeways via surface freeway or tunnel for the following reasons:

• Construction of additional roadway lanes has traditionally been the most common congestion relief strategy used by transportation authorities. However, decades of research has demonstrated that expanding highways does not relieve congestion. Every 1% increase in new lane-miles generates a 0.9% increase in traffic in less than 5 years, effectively neutralizing any increase in capacity (http://www.no710.com/_better_solutions_ls/1-repurpose_the_710/highway-expansion-myth.pdf).

• The tolled tunnel will not relieve the congestion on surface streets in the study area. Metro’s own data demonstrate that, after applying a projected toll-diversion rate of 35% (page 18 at http://www.ci.south-pasadena.ca.us/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=346) to the 24% of vehicles that constitute cut-through traffic wanting to reach the 210, the tolled tunnel would serve only 16% of the vehicles currently clogging the surface streets in the study area. Therefore, 84% of the vehicles currently using surface arterials will continue to do so (slide 30 at http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/sr_710/images/SR710_tac_meeting_9_021313.pdf). In fact, arterial traffic will actually increase due to the large number of vehicles exiting the freeway to avoid paying the toll (http://www.ci.south-pasadena.ca.us/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=346).

• The tolled tunnel is projected to handle 180,000 vehicles a day, more than four times the current figure of 44,000 in the region (http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/route_710/images/sr_710_fwy_tunnel_alt_fact_sheet_post_final_2012_1221.pdf). This increase in traffic will bring additional pollution to the communities and the many schools that are positioned directly adjacent to the 210 Freeway. The link between emissions from mobile sources to reduced lung capacity and major illnesses such as asthma, cancer, autism, more rapid progression of atherosclerosis and other health consequences is well-documented (http://www.no710.com/_resources/4-links_to_research-health_&_pollution_and_other/health-pollution-r-t.pdf).

• Roadway tunnels present inherent safety issues that cannot be mitigated (http://www.no710.com/_critical-issues-links/2-concerns/2-tunnel_info/6-tunneldangers.doc.pdf). Accidents in roadway tunnels have resulted in catastrophic fires and loss of life (http://www.no710.com/_critical-issues-links/2-concerns/2-tunnel_info/what-could-happen-sm.pdf). The SR-710 Tunnel would be 4.9 miles, the longest roadway tunnel in the United States and would pass through active seismic faults (page 8 at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/docs/appendices/Appendix%20T%20Geotechnical%20Study%20Technical%20Memorandum.pdf).

• Cost estimates for the SR-710 Tunnel have been so wildly variable as to be unreliable. Over the past 20 years, estimates have ranged from $1 -- $14 Billion (http://no710.com/_critical-issues-links/3-cost/tunnelcost-estimates.pdf). The most recent estimate by Metro/Caltrans is $5.425 Billion (page 167 at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/docs/Final_AA_report_2013-01-14_Low_Res.pdf). Because Metro has only $740 Million available, construction of the tunnel necessitates a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), requiring that the tunnel will be a tolled facility. History has shown that if usage falls short of projections, taxpayers often must assume the balance of the construction and maintenance costs.

• There is widespread vocal public opposition to a connection between the 710 and 210 Freeways. The cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Los Angeles, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena have adopted formal resolutions opposing the connection. Additionally, over forty-five neighborhood councils, elected officials (including a US Congressman, State Senators and State Assemblymembers), school districts, chambers of commerce and other environmental and civic organizations have adopted resolutions or issued statements expressing their opposition to the extension (http://www.no710.com/resources.html).

We urge Caltrans to remove themselves from the property management business and sell the more than 500 homes in the 710 Corridor. Its poor management of SR-710 Extension project properties costs the State millions of dollars annually. This bad relationship between tenants and landlord must end now (http://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/summary/2011-120).

The No 710 Action Committee is a fast-growing association of cities, organizations, professionals and citizens who realize that the SR-710 Tunnel is an unacceptable alternative to address regional transportation problems. Our mission is to promote solutions that are environmentally and fiscally sound, reduce pollution, lower health risks, relieve congestion, and eliminate public dependence on fossil fuels. The No 710 Action Committee demands that transportation authorities operate in an honest and transparent manner that is responsive to the concerns and interests of the impacted communities and the public at large (http://www.no710.com/).

Sincerely,
[Your name]


City (Pasadena) Installs First ‘Back-In’ Project to Solve Lack of Parking

http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/citys-first-back-in-project-tries-to-solve-lack-of-parking

November 15, 2013


 



The Department of Transportation will install the City’s first “Back-In” or reversed angled parking on a city street amid concerns of inadequate parking.
 
The Back-In parking will be installed on Vista Avenue between Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Boulevard, which was chosen due to its existing roadway width and low traffic volume and speeds. The installation is set to be completed by Thursday, November 21.

The Department said in a statement that it expects the Back-In parking to provide additional parking spaces for the nearby businesses in the area.

Transportation Department noted that several installations of Back-In angled parking nationwide have demonstrated a number of benefits such as simpler maneuvering than parallel parking, improved visibility, reduction in collisions, improved safety to bicyclists, and easier loading and unloading.
City will pursue similar installations in other parts of Pasadena if the project proves to be successful, the Department said.

For more information, contact Norman Baculinao, traffic engineering manager, at (626) 744-4263.

WPRA Letter to the Pasadena City Council

Posted by John Picone on Facebook, November 16, 2013

The West Pasadena Residence Association (WPRA) wrote a letter to the Pasadena City Council urging councilmembers to direct City staff to prepare a plan for a thorough review of the SR-710 Draft Environmental Impact Report. The report is planned for release by LA Metro early in 2014 and is expected to be voluminous, technical and complex. Many of the alternatives especially the six sub-options for highway tunnels, would have severe and permanent impacts on our city and the quality of life for its residents. 
 
 
November 12, 2013
 
Via E-Mail
 
Pasadena Mayor, Honorable Bill Bogaard, and Pasadena City Council
 
Re:Request that City Council Have City Staff Prepare a Plan for a Thorough
SR-710 DEIR Review
 
The West Pasadena Residents’ Association (WPRA) is concerned about the City’s
readiness to review and respond to the SR-710 DEIR (Draft Environmental Impact
Report) after its planned release in early 2014. This DEIR is expected to be
voluminous, technical and complex, with 5 major alternatives identified and at least
6 sub-options for just the highway tunnel alternatives. Many of these alternatives,
especially those involving highway tunnels, are expected to have severe and
permanent impacts on our city and the quality of life for its residents. This DEIR
demands a full review and analysis by the city.
 
In February 2013, the Pasadena City Council passed a motion to have city staff
collaborate with neighboring cities for the review of the DEIR. However, these
collaborations will likely focus on regional impacts.
 
The City of Pasadena must evaluate the DEIR for local Pasadena impacts. Recent
discussions with city staff and commission members indicate that they currently are
not planning to review the DEIR, or believe that they cannot do so without specific
direction from the City Council. Please direct City staff to prepare for and
conduct a thorough review of the SR-710 DEIR.
 
Some of the questions that need to be answered in planning for the DEIR review are
listed on the next page of this letter. The WPRA Board would be pleased to meet
with city officials to receive responses to these questions. 
 
Furthermore, we continue to encourage you to vote to oppose the highway tunnel
options, which would have will have a permanent and negative impact on our city.
Thank you for considering our request.
________________________
William Urban
WPRA President
 
WEST PASADENA RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
POST OFFICE BOX 50252
▪PASADENA, CA 91115
 
 
Some Questions Regarding City of Pasadena Review of SR-710 DEIR:
 
1)
What is the City’s detailed plan for the DEIR’s 8-week public review period?
2)
What departments and commissions will perform the review?
3)
How will Metro’s claims be validated, especially with respect to the local
impact on Pasadena?
4)
What is the scope of the review? For example,
·
What impact factors will be reviewed?
·
Will the city recommend mitigation plans to ensure the best possible
outcome with respect to noise, traffic, safety, construction, health and
visible impacts to our city?
·
Will the city consider
o
Economic impacts to local businesses and city revenue during the
expected 9- to 12-year construction period, and due to the
increased congestion after construction?
o
Economic impact due to loss of property values and tax revenue?
o
The impact of traffic in the vicinity of freeway exit/entries,
including Lake, Fair Oaks, Mountain, Orange Grove and San Rafael?
o
Impact to Pasadena’s key assets (e.g. Old Pasadena, the Rose
Parade, the Arroyo Seco Park, historic buildings)?
o
Public health impacts of increased freeway and truck traffic on the
210 and 134 freeways, particularly to schools, hospitals and other
healthcare facilities?
o
Health impact to those living and working near tunnel vents?
·
Since the tunnel will not connect the with the 110 freeway, and the Del
Mar and California exits will be closed, will the city analyze new routes for
connecting the 110 and 210/134 freeways and the affect on local traffic?
·
In reviewing alternatives to the tunnel, will the city recommend removing
the 210/710 ‘stub’, which has been a visual scar on our city for decades?
5)
How will public comments from Pasadena residents be received, processed
and incorporated into recommendations?
6)
What is the decision making process for determining what is submitted to
Metro in response to the EIR; will the City Council vote on the EIR comments
package that is submitted to Metro?
 
Distribution:
 
Pasadena Mayor:
Honorable Bill Bogaard
bbogaard@cityofpasadena.net
Pasadena City Council:
Victor Gordo
vdelacuba@cityofpasadena.net
Jacque Robinson
district1@cityofpasadena.net
Margaret McAustin
mfuller@cityofpasadena.net
Gene Masuda
nsullivan@cityofpasadena.net
Steve Madison
smadison@cityofpasadena.net
Terry Tornek
ttornek@cityofpasadena.net
John Kennedy
ChristianCruz@cityofpasadena.net
Pasadena City Manager & Staff:
Michael Beck mbeck@cityofpasadena.net
Steve Mermell smermell@cityofpasadena.net
Fred Dock fdock@cityofpasadena.net
WPRA Board Members:
board.wpra@wpra.net
 
WEST PASADENA RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
POST OFFICE BOX 50252
PASADENA, CA 91115




 

‘Impossible’ has happened, air pollution officials say

http://www.maderatribune.com/news/%E2%80%98impossible%E2%80%99-has-happened-air-pollution-officials-say

By Mark Smith, November 15, 2013

Valley meets federal ozone standard

After being classified as one of the most polluted areas in the country less than a decade ago, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officials announced Thursday that the Valley had, for the first time in history, achieved a minimum federal hourly ozone standard.

The district will submit a request to the Environmental Protection Agency to confirm the findings and subsequently alleviate a $29-million mandated penalty that, since 2010, Valley residents have gradually paid through vehicle registration and additional business fees.

If confirmed, beyond any financial benefits, Thursday’s announcement could highlight one of the most significant changes in history for an area where air quality is more often tied to asthma than clean skies.

Ozone — usually a combination of vehicle, agricultural, or industrial emissions, stagnant air, and high temperatures — has been problematic for the Valley for decades because of several reasons, said Samir Sheikh, director of the Air District’s Strategies and Incentives Department...

200,000 electric cars on Beijing's roads by 2017: official

http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20131114000055&cid=1105

November 14, 2013


 An electric car rental station in Beijing. (Photo/CNS)
 An electric car rental station in Beijing.

To help clean up the city's notorious air pollution, Beijing plans to have 200,000 electric cars on the roads by 2017, of which 150,000 will be privately owned, said Yan Yaoshuang, director of the Beijing Committee on Science and Technology.

In an interview with local television, Yan revealed that the city's plan for new energy vehicles, scheduled for release by the end of the year, will put 30,000-40,000 new electric cars in public use for transportation, environmental protection, hygiene and logistics. The plan requires newly built communities to install 10%-15% of their parking spaces with charging posts for electric cars. For older communities, charging posts can be installed in separate locations.

Public charging posts will be set up every five kilometers on roads in downtown Beijing by 2017, Yan said.

"I will try my best to bring more electric cars to the road, a rather difficult task in view of the city's traffic jams," said Yan. Exemption of new electric cars from existing restrictions on auto use in the city is still under discussion, with the final results expected to be out by the end of the year.

According to the country's Ministry of Environmental Protection, of the 74 cities monitored by the ministry in 2013, the 10 cities with the worst air pollution are Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and their surrounding areas. The Beijing city government recently announced plans to invest 200-300 billion yuan (US$32-$65 billion) in combating the problem over a period of five years.

In principle, electric cars can be exempt from restrictions related to poor smog conditions. Currently the city has create the red-level grading mark for air pollution levels, which indicates heavy smog conditions for at least three consecutive days. Following a 12-hour notice, at this point cars would be placed on a daily rotation for road use.

"According to our plan, electric cars will be given a special quota for auto licenses, separate from gasoline vehicles whose licenses are subject to an annual quota distributed according to lot drawing," said Yan.

Residents of Most Polluted U.S. Cities - New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami - Have Increased Risk of Dry Eye Syndrome

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/16/3757549/residents-of-most-polluted-us.html

By American Academy of Ophthalmology, November 16, 2013


NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Residents of major cities with high levels of air pollution have an increased risk of dry eye syndrome, according to a study presented at the world's largest ophthalmic conference, the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in New Orleans. Study subjects in and around Chicago and New York City were found to be three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome compared to less urban areas with relatively little air pollution. As a result of this study, researchers suggest that environmental manipulations should be considered as part of the overall control and management of patients with dry eye syndrome.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130405/MM89329LOGO)

Dry eye syndrome, a deficiency in tear production, is a prevalent condition that effects up to four million people age 50 and older[I] in the United States and whose manifestations negatively affect physical and mental functioning. The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can be very detrimental to patients and severely affect the quality of one's life, as well as result in loss of productivity due to interruption of daily activities like reading and using computer screens. While it has been suggested that environmental factors impact dry eye syndrome, this is the first study of a large patient population covering the entire continental United States which linked dry eye syndrome treatment location to atmospheric conditions – in particular, air pollution coupled with weather conditions.

Using data from the National Veterans Administrative (VA) database, the National Climatic Data Center and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the researchers examined the health records of 606,708 U.S. veterans who received dry eye syndrome treatment in one of 394 VA eye clinics within the continental U.S. from July 2006 through July 2011. Those living in areas with high levels of air pollution had the highest magnitude of increased risk for dry eye syndrome, at an incidence rate ratio of 1.4. Most metropolitan areas, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami showed relatively high prevalence of dry eye syndrome (17 to 21 percent) and high levels of air pollution.

Additionally, the risk of dry eye syndrome was 13 percent higher in zip codes in high altitude areas. Higher humidity and wind speed were inversely associated with the risk of dry eye syndrome when controlled for air pollution and other weather conditions. The research findings suggest that primary care physicians and eye care professionals should be aware of the association between environmental conditions and dry eye, and elicit an environmental history when assessing patients with dry eye syndrome.

"Undoubtedly, many people living in arid and polluted cities would readily attest to the irritating effect air pollution has on dry eye," said Anat Galor, M.D., MPSH, of Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and lead researcher. "Our research suggests that simple actions, such as maintaining the appropriate humidity indoors and using a high-quality air filter, should be considered as part of the overall management of patients suffering from dry eye syndrome."

Dry eye symptoms can range from stinging or burning to excessive tearing and discomfort wearing contact lenses. As the eye responds to the irritation of this condition, the eye will often tear excessively to try to combat the loss of moisture. Many people with dry eye syndrome may find watching television, reading and working for extended periods on a computer to be very uncomfortable. For relief from dry eye syndrome, the American Academy of Ophthalmology advises people to visit an ophthalmologist to determine the best course of treatment.

Environmental Factors and Dry Eye Syndrome: A Study Utilizing the National U.S. Veterans Affairs Administrative Database (PO052) was presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology  at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. More than 25,000 attendees and 500 companies from over 120 countries gather each year to showcase the latest in ophthalmic education, research, clinical developments, technology, products and services.  To learn more about the place Where All of Ophthalmology Meets, visit http://www.aao.org/2013.
Note to media: Contact Media Relations to request full text of the study and arrange interviews with experts

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org. The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.

[I] Schaumberg DA, Sullivan DA, Buring JE, Dana MR. Prevalence of dry eye syndrome among US women. Am J Ophthalmol. 2003;136:318-26. and Schaumberg DA, Dana R, Buring JE, Sullivan DA. Prevalence of dry eye disease among US men: estimates from the Physicians' Health Studies. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127:763-8

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/16/v-fullstory/3757549/residents-of-most-polluted-us.html#storylink=cpy

Language a factor as truck drivers continue to be ignorant of height restrictions in state's tunnels

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/language-a-factor-as-truck-drivers-continue-to-be-ignorant-of-height-restrictions-in-states-tunnels/story-fnii5s3y-1226761608221

Jim O'Rourke, November 16, 2013

IDIOTIC truckies in overweight vehicles are still jamming and blocking motorway tunnels despite easily obtainable maps showing them how to avoid getting stuck. 
 
Even though Roads and Maritime Services distributes Restricted Access Vehicle maps detailing designated routes for overweight vehicles and showing locations and heights of all Sydney's tunnels and bridges, drivers are ignoring the information.

There are about 50 incidents each year involving overweight vehicles blocking traffic because they cannot fit through a tunnel or under a bridge.

Tens of thousands of commuters were delayed by up to two hours on Thursday when a tip truck smashed into the roof of the M5 East tunnel at 8am.

The chaos increased at 9.30am when an overweight truck was stopped entering the southbound lanes of the Harbour Tunnel. It was closed for 15 minutes.

At 9.40am, a heavy vehicle caused the closure of the Harbour Tunnel northbound for about five minutes.

The state's peak trucking organisation blames the incidents on a poor grasp of English among many heavy vehicle drivers and drivers not being taught about overweight vehicle restrictions while they are going for their truck licence.

But the Transport Workers Union said drivers are making mistakes because trucking companies put pressure on tired and overworked drivers to take risks to meet delivery deadlines.

Are vehicle height restriction signs on tunnels clear enough?
 
As well as the RAV maps, the RMS has a brochure, Driving Overheight Vehicles, which details the location and heights off 22 tunnels in NSW, including Sydney's eight Motorway tunnels.

Under RMS rules a heavy vehicle is overweight if, together with its load, it is more than 4.3m high. Loads measuring higher than 4.6m must apply for a special permit.

The lowest Sydney tunnels, including the Harbour, Cross City, and Eastern Distributor tunnels, have a clearance of 4.4m.

The manager of truckers representation organisation Australian Trucking Association NSW, Jodie Broadbent, said it has had discussions with RMS about the lack of English language skills among drivers.

"A lot of truck drivers in the Sydney metro area are from an ethnic background, or from a low education background," Ms Broadbent said.

"They may look at the height restriction signs and may not understand what it is actually saying."We've recommended they have pictures rather than words alerting the drivers. It keeps it simple."
TIMETABLE OF FRUSTRATION

Ms Broadbent said many drivers are ignorant of the height restriction rule because companies that are not members of the ATA tend not to get the information to drivers.

"Whether it's an excavator on the back of a truck or piece of steel sticking up in a scrap metal bin, a lot of it is drivers just not being aware of what their load is doing and how high it is. Irresponsible drivers are giving the whole industry a bad name."

Pictured is the city bound entrance to the Lane Cove Tunnel on the M2.
Pictured is the city bound entrance to the Lane Cove Tunnel on the M2. 

A spokesman for the TWU's NSW branch blames tunnel incidents on pressure from trucking companies on drivers to take risks and skip rest breaks to meet delivery deadlines.

"What we already know is that truck drivers are being placed under increasing pressure to hurry and skip rests and take risks and unfortunately this can lead to mistakes," the spokesman said.
The TWU said an industry survey last year showed that 46 per cent of heavy vehicle drivers were pressured to drop their rest breaks to meet delivery times.

"We have to reduce this pressure on drivers through action in the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which sets safe rates of pay and conditions in heavy vehicle transport," the spokesman said.

A tip truck entered the M5 tunnel with its tray lifted. The tray hit the roof of the tunnel, obstructing traffic for kilometres.
A tip truck entered the M5 tunnel with its tray lifted. The tray hit the roof of the tunnel, obstructing traffic for kilometres. 
 
"We also have to stop the Abbott government's planned review of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, from closing it down.

"If the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal closes we'll see even tighter deadlines, poorer maintenance and more pressure on our drivers - and that can only mean more tunnel blockages."
ATANSW has suggested to RMS that lessons on overweight load rules and restrictions be included in the heavy vehicle drivers' licence test.

"Drivers should be given tools in that training about what they can do to measure the height of their vehicle and what their responsibilities are under the legislation," Ms Broadbent said.

She said the RMS should consider installing sensors ahead of tunnel entrances to alert drivers through their radios that their load is overweight. "But, at the end of the day, some responsibility has to come back to the driver."

Heavy traffic warning at the entrance to the at M5 Tunnel at Mascot on Thursday.
Heavy traffic warning at the entrance to the at M5 Tunnel at Mascot on Thursday. 
 
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the toughest new penalties in the country for overweight vehicles, introduced in July, should be a deterrent to driving into tunnels with a high load.

"Drivers of overweight vehicles face a fine of more than $2200 and six demerit points, plus we can ground a truck by suspending registration for three months," Mr Gay said.

"If you are driving into one of our tunnels, you make damn sure you are doing the right thing because we will come after you with every penalty we can. We can also pursue transport companies with fines of up to $27,000 for a first offence and $55,000 for second offences.

"These fines are in addition to compensation we can pursue for damage they have caused to the tunnel and associated infrastructure.

"Not only are these drivers putting themselves and other drivers in danger - it's plain idiotic given the fines and penalties that result for them and their owner operators."


Lyft also will instate fares in California, ditching donation system

http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-lyft-minimum-fares-california-20131115,0,1699156.story#axzz2kpfY8RfR

By Salvador Rodriguez, November 15, 2013
 Lyft minimum fare

Lyft said it will switch to a minimum fare system in California some time in the next few weeks.


Ridesharing company Lyft said it will begin requiring that users in California pay a minimum fare for their rides sometime in the next few weeks.

The San Francisco company told The Times about the change after a similar announcement by rival Sidecar on Friday.

Currently, when Lyft users complete a ride, the company suggests an amount that they should "donate." Users can then pay more or less than that amount -- even nothing. Once Lyft switches to its new system, riders will not be able to pay less than the suggested amount for the ride.

Earlier, Sidecar said it decided to make this change in order to motivate its drivers to sign up to work more often and be more willing to give longer rides.

Sidecar's switch to minimum fares began Friday but will affect riders only in California. The company has not said whether it will make a similar change in other states.
Lyft did not say when exactly it will make the switch, but for now, this will also only apply to riders in California.

Rival Uber already operates using a fare system.

[Updated 3:26 p.m. Nov. 15: Lyft also announced Friday that it will begin testing a new system in Los Angeles called Prime Time Tips, requiring that riders pay drivers a 25% tip during certain times.
The system is being tested as a way to make it easier for users to find drivers during times when the number of rider requesting Lyft rides "far outnumber drivers on the road."

Prime Time Tips is similar to Uber's surge pricing system, which kicks in during times of heavy demand.]

Brown releases proposed rules for fracking

The draft regulations on fracking would require state permits, testing of groundwater and notification of neighbors, and are called the toughest in the U.S.

 http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fracking-regs-20131116,0,6099401.story#axzz2kped43OG

 By Marc Lifsher, November 15, 2013


  Fracking regulations
 Hailed by state officials as the toughest in the nation, the draft regulations issued Friday would require those who conduct fracking to get state permits, test groundwater quality and notify neighbors before starting work.

SACRAMENTO — The Brown administration has released much-anticipated proposed rules for fracking, a controversial technique for drilling for oil and natural gas reviled by environmentalists.
The process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping water, sand and a mixture of chemicals into geological strata to free trapped hydrocarbons.

Supporters say that it is opening up a vast new energy source and creating high-paying jobs. Opponents contend that fracking could pollute underground drinking water supplies and cause health hazards.

Hailed by state officials as the toughest in the nation, the draft regulations issued Friday would require those who conduct fracking to get state permits, test groundwater quality and notify neighbors before starting work. The regulations cover fracking and related techniques, and they provide substantial new public information about where and how fracking is taking place.

"We believe that once these proposed regulations go into effect at the start of 2015, we will have in place the strongest environmental and public health protections of any oil- and gas-producing state in the nation, while also ensuring that a key element in California's economy can maintain its productivity," said Mark Nechodom, director of the state Department of Conservation.
California is the country's third-largest oil- and gas-producing state.

Environmentalists contend that fracking could pollute drinking water wells, endanger public health and release greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

What's needed now, they said, is a statewide ban on fracking and related techniques until scientists can provide firm assurances that the practice won't cause harm.

"We want a timeout," said Kathryn Phillips, state director of the Sierra Club. "At best, these regulations can be described as a mixed bag," she said. "At worst, they provide another example of an agency's continued deference to a regulated entity, even at the expense of public health and the environment."

Nevertheless, even some opponents conceded that the proposed regulations were better than nothing.
"There are some good provisions from our very preliminary review," said Bill Allayaud of the Environmental Working Group.

Friday's proposed regulations were in response to a state law approved by the Legislature this year. In addition, the new law — by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) — mandates that the state conduct an independent scientific study of the pros and cons of fracking.

The oil industry fought regulations in the Legislature, but fracking proponents say that they are comfortable with Friday's proposal.

"These regulations are extensive but strike the right balance," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Assn., a trade group. They "will ensure that the potential energy resources contained in the Monterey Shale formation can be responsibly developed."

Fracking, the oil industry and business groups counter, could be a bonanza.

They cite studies that estimate that fracking could spur the recovery of 14 billion barrels of oil locked deep underground in the Monterey Shale Formation, stretching from the Central Coast to the southern San Joaquin Valley. It also could create 2.8 million jobs and $25 billion in additional state and local government revenues.

The Department of Conservation, officials said, plans to work closely with the Air Resources Board and regional water boards to track any potential environmental problems at oil fields and drilling sites. Well water would be regularly monitored during and after drilling, and the names and concentrations of chemicals used would be made public on the Internet.

Fracking has been going on for half a century in oil-producing regions of California, but with no special oversight by state regulators. That changed earlier this year, when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Pavley's bill.

The governor's energy policy has been a mix of supporting increased oil production and expansion of the state's legal goal of producing at least a third of its electric power from nonpolluting, renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, by 2020. Fracking, Brown said, should be encouraged as long as it is safe.

Friday's unveiling of the proposed regulations starts a 60-day public comment period with a series of hearings scheduled for January in Sacramento, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Salinas and Santa Maria, the Department of Conservation said.

Work on the current draft rules must be completed by Jan. 1, 2015. Oil producers must begin complying with similarly worded interim, emergency regulations as of next January.

Pavley guardedly welcomed Friday's proposal. "I look forward to a thorough review of the proposed long-term regulations," she said, "and the forthcoming emergency regulations, which are necessary first steps to end unregulated fracking."

Pasadena proposes new name and look for ARTS bus system

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20131115/pasadena-proposes-new-name-and-look-for-arts-bus-system

By Lauren Gold, November 15, 2013
 
 City of Pasadena is looking into a re-branding and renaming the ARTS bus system in Pasadena Friday, November 15, 2013.

PASADENA >> The city’s bus transit system will get a makeover next year in an effort to increase ridership and earn federal funding.

One of the key elements of the transformation is a proposed name change to the system, now known as Pasadena Area Rapid Transit (ARTS).

After months of work by a group of students at the Art Center College of Design, the Department of Transportation proposed a new name, Pasadena Transit, and look for the buses to the city council this month.

“Transit branding is something we don’t think about a whole lot, but it is one of those really key considerations for a transit system, and the ARTS service has reached a point in terms of its evolution that it really needs to be looked at again,” Director of Transportation Fred Dock said.

Dock said he hopes the new brand will increase ridership on the system, attracting those who aren’t already using it. The ARTS bus name, developed in 1994, is confusing to many visitors or others in the city who often assume it is something related to the actual arts rather than local transit, he said.
The buses currently see about 1.5 million trips each year on six routes throughout the city, a number Dock said the 2004 general plan had hoped would double. It has been difficult to increase service, he said, since the city funds the ARTS buses completely by itself.

Thus, one of the other goals of the transit system revamp, Dock said, is to help qualify the system for funding from the Federal Transit Administration.

And the new name is only one of many different steps the city has recently taken toward this goal. All of the buses were recently replaced with Compressed Natural Gas vehicles and the department is also ready to roll out a new bus tracking system that will allow riders to use their smart phones to know exactly when the bus will arrive at their stop.

“We’ve been working for the last year and half on this, basically looking at the overall identity of the transit system, trying to understand the relationship of the city’s transit system and what role it is providing,” Dock said.

Some council members, however, were critical of the new name and design, which is a “connecting the dots” concept designed by student Julie Yeow.

“You’ve got a brand that everybody knows and now we come up with this really prosaic ‘Pasadena Transit.’ It doesn’t roll off the tongue, it’s not really symbolic of anything,” Councilman Steve Madison said.

Others countered that the bus system doesn’t need to be artsy, it just needs to get the point across.
“It’s a bus, OK,” Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. “We are trying to tell people it’s going to get you where you want to go.”

The council ultimately asked staff to come back at a January meeting with an action item for council approval.

 “I personally think a new name for the bus system elevates the concept of Pasadena. Pasadena is a very sophisticated city in my opinion and I think the ARTS bus was not at that same level of branding as something like Pasadena Transit,” Kondrup said. “I think it’s a nice step into understanding that the system has grown and it serves multiple areas, and it’s a professional system.”


Gloria Kondrup, who taught the Art Center class, said she thinks once the council has more information about the process that lead to the ultimate choice of Pasadena Transit, they will approve it.

The 12 students in the class worked for 14 months coming up with their designs, and the final choice went through multiple layers of study by the students and the city. Ultimately, she said, the finished product will have a significant positive impact on the brand of the city bus system.

L.A. County meeting on Hahamongna dredging project draws fire from Pasadena residents

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/environment-and-nature/20131115/la-county-meeting-on-hahamongna-dredging-project-draws-fire-from-pasadena-residents

By Steve Scauzillo, November 15, 2013




 

In this Dec. 30, 2004 photo, the spillway at Devil’s Gate Dam in the Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena flows with water from the latest storms.


 

 Project manager Keith Lilley speaks of Devils Gate Sediment Removal project with slides of 2009 Station Fire Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, in Altadena. 

About 75 residents of Pasadena, Altadena and La Canada Flintridge — uneasy about the effects of a massive dredging project behind Devil’s Gate Dam in Hahamongna Watershed Park — added a new concern to their list during Thursday’s community meeting.

Many booed and groaned when representatives from Katherine Padilla & Associates or KPA, a public relations firm hired by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to run the meeting, told those at Jackson Elementary School in Altadena that they should write down their comments instead of speaking them aloud.

Some felt the system of flip charts, mini-group sessions and questions re-interpreted by county and public relations representatives masked their feelings about the project. Worse, others felt the system was designed to tamp down opposition.

“They don’t want us to co-educate each other,” said Lori Paul, a biologist and Altadena resident opposed to the project. “They are trying to create the illusion of consensus.”

When KPA’s Senior Associate Sam Gennawey tried to reassure the audience after initially cutting off questions. “The meeting is designed to listen to you,” Gennawey said to groans from the audience. “Other meetings will try to sell you something. We are a bit different,” he said, drawing laughter.

After the group sessions, the larger meeting reconvened and Gennawey roamed the room with microphone in hand. Many asked questions about the project itself, saying the numbers of cubic yards of sediment to be removed grew from 1.6  million in 2011, to 2.9  million and as much as 4  million. Some said the shifting numbers “did not engender trust” with the county or its consultants.

When Pasadena resident Dianne Patrizzi asked if the area was an Indian burial ground, and if so, did the Environmental Impact Report study this, Gennawey asked the other experts: “Is there a poltergeist in the project?”

Those in the auditorium were indignant, saying he was making a mockery of their questions. “I apologize if my comment was flippant,” Gennawey told the audience.

Environmental consultant Brian Mooney with the Chambers Group, hired by the county in 2011 to prepare the Environmental Impact Report, responded: “We checked with the tribes. There was no identification of a sacred site by the Indian tribes.” However, Mooney added that the Gabrielino Indians, the native peoples who once inhabited the Hahamongna Park area, are not recognized by the United States government as an official tribe.


The county used this method for its first meeting on the project held Nov.  6 at the Rose Bowl and was successful, said Kerjon Lee, county DPW spokesman who also attended the meeting but did not speak. He said they may adjust the format for today’s public meeting from 2  to 4  p.m. at the La Canada Flintridge Community Center, 4469 Chevy Chase Drive, La Canada Flintridge.

The $70  million project calls for dredging 2.9  million cubic yards of sediment or more, depending on future storms and debris flows, from Hahamongna. Four million cubic yards at maximum weight per cubic yard would equal 8.64  billion pounds of sediment.

Dirt, debris and existing trees and shrubs will be scraped by bulldozers and loaded onto double dump trucks and taken to old mining pits in Irwindale via Oak Grove Avenue and the 210 Freeway, according to the EIR.

This amounts to 50 trucks per hour, six days a week, roughly between April  15 and Dec.  15 for five years, confirmed project managers and consultants.

Some in the audience called the number of trucks “intolerable” and wanted the county to reduce that impact. Many suggested removing sediment at a much slower pace over a longer period of time. This would reduce the frequency of trucks on local streets and freeways.

Other criticized the county for considering this project an emergency caused by 1.6  million cubic yards of sediment that settled behind the dam from winter storms occurring after the 2009 Station Fire.

Without clearing out the sediment that extends well into Hahamongna Park as a vegetative, riparian habitat, the dam can’t function at full capacity, said Keith Lilley, project manager. This increases the risk of flooding on local streets, the 210 Freeway and homes in Pasadena located south of the dam along the Arroyo Seco.


“Their deferred maintenance doesn’t make this an emergency,” said Tim Brick, Pasadena resident and former president of the Metropolitan Water District board of directors. “They need to go slow. Take 20 years to do this. There’s no reason to destroy 100 acres of riparian vegetation to use for parking trucks.”

Others in the audience liked the EIR’s third alternative, to leave a small portion of the habitat untouched but clear out the rest. Later, some areas could be re-vegetated in about 15 years, Lilley said.

“I am amazed that (county) Flood Control would make that kind of concession to address local concerns,” said Bob Hayward of Altadena.

But Paul said the so-called environmentally superior alternative won’t make much difference. The land used by Pasadena Audubon and school groups to observe quail, snakes and the endangered least bell’s vireo will be destroyed.

“You are going to turn this into a moonscape,” Paul said. “It will be most useful for JPL to test rovers for Mars.”

The Chambers Group will collect written comments and incorporate them into a final EIR. Dredging must be approved by the Board of Supervisors and could begin in 2015 and last until 2020.

Emailed comments can be sent to: reservoircleanouts@dpw.lacounty.gov. To view the EIR online, go to www.LASedimentManagement.com/DevilsGate.