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, February 15, 2014

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom: Stop Calif. bullet train, redirect money


February 15, 2014

 In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, then candidate for Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, speaks during a California Democratic Party on the San Jose State University campus on in San Jose, Calif.

 In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, then candidate for Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, speaks during a California Democratic Party on the San Jose State University campus on in San Jose, Calif.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, once a strong supporter of California's high-speed rail project, told a conservative radio show host Friday that he no longer backs the bullet train and would like to see the money diverted to other projects. 

"I would take the dollars and redirect it to other, more pressing infrastructure needs, and I am not the only Democrat that feels this way. And I've got to tell you, I am one of the few that just said it publicly," Newsom said, according to a recording of the program provided by the station, KTTH in Seattle. "Most are now saying it privately."

Newsom's comments make him the most prominent Democrat in California to publicly split with Gov. Jerry Brown on the project, which is one of the governor's top priorities.

Newsom was asked about the $68 billion plan during an appearance on the Ben Shapiro Show. The host said many Californians have turned against the bullet train after approving a 2008 ballot measure that allowed the sale of nearly $10 billion in bonds for it.

Newsom said he was the first California mayor to support the bond measure and even campaigned for it with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. Now, he said, "I think I'm where the public was and is."

"We don't have the federal dollars that we were hoping for - only about $3 billion has come forward. The private sector hasn't stepped up," he said. "That said, the governor is hell bent on doing the first phase of this in that area you just referenced, the central part of the state."

Brown has continued to back the bullet train even as questions grow about how the state will pay for it. Brown's office referred questions about Newsom's comments to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

 "High-speed rail is forging ahead because voters backed a statewide rail modernization program that is creating jobs and will provide clean transportation for generations to come," Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority's board, said in a written statement.

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge last year threw out the state's funding plan, ordering it to write a new one, and prevented the sale of high-speed rail bonds.

Late Friday, the 3rd District Court of Appeal agreed to hear an expedited appeal from Brown's administration, which said the decisions could cause serious delays and set a bad precedent for other public works projects in the state.

Mayor's Designs on the City + Video by Joe Cano


February 14, 2014

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti sat down with Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne in Occidental College’s Keck Theater on February 13 to discuss ways to make the city a more pleasant place to live and work.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks with L.A. Times architecture writer Christopher Hawthorne in Keck on Feb. 13, 2014.

The functionality of Los Angeles has changed significantly since the days when the mayor was a kid in Encino, Garcetti said. Back then, you could hop on the freeway and “get pretty much anywhere in 20 minutes,” he recalled.

Today, a “simple” commute from Calabasas to Culver City can take as long as two hours, he said.  “There’s a limit to the old way of navigating the city,” he said.  “We don’t have the luxury of being able to move easily all over the city anymore like when I was growing up.”

The city’s design aesthetic should follow quality of life, the mayor said. “People don’t think about the design of buildings, they think about how long it’s going to take them to get home to their friends and family.”

He sees two significant changes in Los Angeles’ future: More self-sustaining neighborhoods and more transit.

Since traffic congestion has made driving so challenging, Garcetti said everything people need should be within walking distance of their homes –- not just Starbucks, but shops and parks. An upside of such a configuration would be tighter-knit communities where neighbors actually get to know each other, rather than the city’s current “aloof” setup –- what Hawthorne calls “privatized urbanism.” “People are hungry for some kind of meaning in their lives. This has always been a Libertarian city. That’s shifting,” Garcetti said.

He sees more transit as a major solution to traffic congestion. Widening freeways such as the 405 would just be akin to “throwing a bigger sponge in the ocean,” Garcetti said. Getting rail to LAX “would be a game-changer,” he said, as would putting in rail from the westside to downtown so that people “can get from Santa Monica to Disney Hall, Staples Center, in 40 minutes.”

“Los Angeles is changing in some profound ways,” Hawthorne agreed. “There is a sense of this transition happening. It is causing a great deal of anxiety, but a great deal of excitement as well. We will all be using the city in a different way, and it’s exciting to think about what that will look like.”


Joe Cano:  The Mayor gets a NO710 informational binder at the end if this discussion.

What Seattle Could Do Instead of Throwing Money Down a Hole


By Angie Schmitt, February 14, 2014

Seattle's "Bertha" tunnel borer is broken and buried while expenses mount. Image: Seattle Transit Blog

 Seattle’s “Bertha” tunnel borer is broken and buried, and expenses continue to mount for the underground highway project.

Seattle’s deep bore highway tunnel — meant to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct along the waterfront — is off to an absolutely horrible start. The tunnel boring machine, “Bertha,” has broken down 1,000 feet into its dig. It has moved just four feet in the last two-plus months, and it could take months more to fix it.

Ben Schiendelman at Seattle Transit Blog says additional delays are likely and there’s no guarantee it will be possible to complete the project at all, at this point. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has been fielding questions about whether it’s wiser for the state to cut its losses and abandon the project. Maybe it’s time for the region to consider other ways to spend the remaining project funds, Schiendelman says:
So what would that $800 million, assuming we could spend it on anything, get us?

  1. Reconnecting the street grid in South Lake Union. Part of the reason people have to use the viaduct in the first place is that Denny and Mercer are such a mess. Allowing that traffic to load balance across several more streets would make the entire grid more performant, at about 20,000 daily inbound/outbound trips to the 99 corridor. That’s $50 million.
  2. The Center City Connector. Increasing transit ridership downtown reduces demand on north-south streets, adding 30,000 daily trips. That’s ~$110 million, but is eligible for $30 million in federal funds.
  3. RapidRide bus priority projects. The Transit Master Plan identifies a lot of small capital improvements to give RapidRide priority, and there’s a good Metro analysis of what could improve RR. Altogether, the C and D lines could pick up 15,000 new riders for only about $10 million, $5 million of which could be federal.

Before we continue, let’s see where we are – with just three projects, we could serve more than 60,000 new trips, for less than $150 million in local dollars (plus operating costs for the center city connector). And SDOT just released their 2012 traffic data – showing there are only about 60,000 viaduct trips, without a large spike in delay elsewhere.
 That’s just how cost-ineffective this tunnel really is — most of this capacity can be met with an order of magnitude less money. Sure, the trips in cars aren’t as fast, but the trips on transit are much faster, and there’s another $650 million to work with! So what would we do?