To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Video by Joe Cano: NO710 Protests Alhambra Close the Gap Banner Event

 June 4, 2014

Joe Cano: The ending of this event was classic. Streets blocked so they could shoot off 2 confetti canons.




Protect the Jewels: The 2014 World Naked Bike Ride in LA Is Here


By Brian Addison, June 3, 2014


From our perspective, it sounds more painful—at least for males—than it does pleasurable. But nonetheless, World Naked Bike Ride will be happening on June 14 and everyone, including those whose balls are not made of steel, is encouraged to partake in the Los Angeles version of the event, set to begin in Echo Park.

While we have the feeling that indecent exposure to vehicle emissions is just a tad worse than indecent exposure to unkempt nether-regions, the point of the 11-year-old event is not just nakedness but freedom. After all, riders are encouraged to wear as little or as much as they want.

The organizers of the event are quite forthright in their philosophy:

“We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to the dependance on oil and other forms of non-renewable energy.”

Last year’s event brought about hundreds of scantily clad pedal-ers (and to say there wasn’t some form of drama is putting it lightly) as they rode from Echo Park to Chinatown, which appears to be the same route this year.

If you have no fear of getting punched, having anti-gay epithets thrown your way, and have no shame in showing of what nature has bestowed upon you, then you can RSVP here. http://worldnakedbikeride-la.org/2014.php

DTLA Businesses Semi-Win Lawsuit Against Regional Connector


By Neal Broverman, June 3, 2014




Of all the myriad lawsuits against Los Angeles rail projects, the challenges to the Regional Connector seemed the least worrisome. But it turns out it's the first one in years to actually have any success. A group of Downtown business owners, including the operators of the Bonaventure Hotel, filed suit against the two-mile subway tunnel that will link the Blue, Gold, and Expo lines together, and convinced a judge last week that Metro violated the National Environmental Policy Act with how they chose their tunneling method. The project is now in pre-construction and a contractor was recently hired to start the big-time work like drilling underground and building stations; the line is supposed to open in about six years.

The property owners object to Metro's cut-and-cover tunneling method for a section of Flower Street between Fourth and Seventh Streets; the technique involves digging a trench for the subway tunnel and then rebuilding the road on top, which they're afraid will interfere with their business. A tunnel boring machine would cause less disruption to the street, but is expensive, complicated, and was ruled out by Metro.

While the US District judge threw out almost all of the charges by the property owners—they said the agency violated the environmental impact report by failing to analyze parking impacts, construction impacts, etc.—he did find that the agency did not explain why other tunneling methods besides TBM and cut-and-cover were rejected. Metro's lawyers says other methods were known to be "infeasible" before the EIR process even started, so they didn't need to be fleshed out in the EIR. But the judge wrote Metro is "required to explain in the [final environmental impact statement], at least briefly, the reasons that such alternatives were rejected. Defendants failed to do so. For these reason, the FEIS is "not in accordance with the law" in this specific area. Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED on this issue."

Instead of halting pre-construction, the judge ordered that Metro and the plaintiffs meet and on or before June 20 and "file a joint statement" about the next step. If that doesn't solve things, there could be problems: "Plaintiffs have moved to enjoin both construction of the Project as well as its funding by the FTA until Defendants comply with NEPA. However, Plaintiffs have not shown that any immediate, alleged harm will result from the deficiencies in the conduct of the Defendants that are discussed in this Order because there is no showing that Defendants planned to commence construction immediately. At the hearing on the Motions, Metro's Counsel stated that, although light construction in preparation for the Project, i.e., utility relocation, has already begun, substantial construction for the Project, which would chase the alleged, adverse environmental impacts, would not begin until December 2014."

So hopefully this will be resolved by December?

And here's Metro's statement on the suit: "Metro is pleased the Court upheld its analyses and mitigation of the environmental impacts of the Regional Connector Project. In the one area that requires further environmental documentation to explain why alternative tunneling methods on lower Flower Street are infeasible, Metro will follow the Court's directive to meet and confer with the Plaintiffs and to file a joint report by June 20, 2014 regarding Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief. Metro will continue to provide the public with information on the infeasibility of alternative tunneling methods for the lower Flower Street portion of the Regional Connector Project through the environmental review process."

· Here's a Primer on Regional Connector Work for DTLA's Flower [Curbed LA]
· Regional Connector [Curbed LA]


Behold Union Station's Huge Plans: Underground Concourse, New Terminal, Fred Harvey Revived


By Neal Broverman, June 3, 2014






Metro is teasing their huge master plan for the 75-year-old Union Station and it's looking pretty blockbuster. Starting with the short term, according to The Source: First, the agency plans a $350-million track redesign that will cut down on transfers and wait time for Amtrak and Metrolink commuter trains. Next, Metro will ditch that ugly surface parking lot in front of the grand old station and replace it with a civic plaza that could include outdoor dining and an esplanade facing Alameda Street. The lovely old ticket room and Fred Harvey restaurant, now empty, could finally house new restaurants soon. Next up, Metro wants to move the Patsouras Transit Plaza—where numerous buses, including the Dodger Express, take off—from the rear of Union Station to the east side of Union Station, but that will require that Metro acquire the nearby Mozaic apartments and tear them down.

Much of the impetus for the new plans is an expected increase in patronage; today's 70,000 daily riders could explode to 140,000 by 2040, assuming the high-speed rail line ever gets built. Should that happen, Metro will build a separate terminal for HSR behind Union Station, connecting it to the rest of the station with elevated pedestrian and bike bridges that will rise over the railyard.

A new grand concourse will take the opposite tack: it will be underground, below the platforms where people board and exit Amtrak, Metrolink, and Gold Line trains (though by then, thanks to the Regional Connector, the Gold Line will likely be called the Blue Line and will travel from Long Beach to Azusa). The new subterranean concourse will be 30 feet wide, seven feet wider than the current one, and lined with shops and amenities. The entrance to the Red and Purple Lines will remain the same.

Metro also hopes to develop much of the fallow and underused land that surrounds Union Station. The rendering with the skyscrapers is just conceptual, but the agency hopes to develop about 3.25 million square feet of hotels, office space, and retail (no residential?) around the station.
· More Details and Renderings on the Evolving Union Station Master Plan [The Source] · Here's a Look at the Potential Big Redesign For Union Station [Curbed LA]

Sale of Caltrans homes

From Sylvia Plummer, June 4, 2014

Last week on Friday Caltrans District 7 invited City officials to participate on a conference call for local officials to provide a status update on the sale of excess properties for the State Route 710 corridor.  A number was given for participants to use to call in.  Then there was a second conference call scheduled late that day for many of the tenants of Caltrans properties.
(Who decided which officials and which tenants is a mystery…)

On Friday, there were three attachments sent out to the public officials etc. I've attached the documents to my email.

There is also a website which includes more information about the Rules and Regulations governing the sale of the Caltrans properties.

That website is:   www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/business/710sales

Joe Cano made an audio video on the call the tenants received.  To listen and hear what was said on the conference call, go to this link:

Guest Opinion: The Future of Los Angeles is Bus Rapid Transit


By Daniel Jacobson, June 3, 2014

 Omnitrans’ sbX in San Bernardino is the first on-street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Southern California to feature dedicated on-street bus lanes and rail-like stations. Full-feature on-street BRT represents a key opportunity for transit expansion in Los Angeles County. Photo: Omnitrans

Los Angeles is finally on its way toward realizing the dream of a regional rapid transit system. Five rail lines are simultaneously under construction, and there is renewed momentum to fund another round of transit expansion on the 2016 ballot. Move L.A. recently unveiled a Strawman Proposal for “Measure R2” to accelerate the completion of the remaining Measure R projects and offer a new vision for transit, highway, and complete streets improvements across Los Angeles County.

Move LA's Measure R2 "Strawman Proposal" features a number of possible rail expansions, but does not identify specific bus and BRT improvements.
Move LA’s Measure R2 “Strawman Proposal” features a number of possible rail expansions, but does not identify specific bus and BRT improvements. Source: Move LA

For Angelenos and transit nerds everywhere, there is a lot to get excited about. The centerpiece of Move LA’s vision is a $27 billion expansion of Los Angeles’ rail network (right, and also mapped below). Other features of note include $9 billion toward a “Grand Boulevards” program for complete streets improvements on the region’s automobile-oriented thoroughfares, and $3.6 billion toward active transportation projects. Although Move LA’s vision is just an early draft, a measure along these lines could transform the region—on par with the development of the expansive freeway network half a century ago.

Nevertheless, there’s something missing.

Move LA’s Measure R2 proposal does not effectively articulate one of the most critical ingredients to reshaping mobility in Los Angeles County: a spectrum of bus improvements, including bus rapid transit (BRT), to enhance transit service throughout the region.

Los Angeles already has many features of a great transit metropolis, but its greatest challenge is one of geometry: even after another $27 billion rail investment, only a handful of cities, neighborhoods, and corridors will have convenient rail access. For most Angelenos, including many in densely-populated, growing, or transit-dependent areas, buses will continue to serve as the only accessible mode of transit. Rather than rehashing bus vs. rail debates, Los Angeles must embrace upgrades to its bus system (the nation’s second-busiest) in tandem with rail expansion to reach a level of transit abundance that brings frequent, quality service to as many people as possible.

A spectrum of bus improvements are necessary. In many locations, bus stop upgrades to provide adequate shelters, security, and real-time arrival information may be sufficient when combined with frequent service. For other locations, BRT—dedicated lanes and more robust rail-like infrastructure—is necessary to provide quality service and room for growth. Yet, details on bus improvements in Move LA’s Measure R2 proposal are thin: the proportion of funds allocated to transit operations remains constant, and bus enhancements are mentioned only briefly under the Grand Boulevards program.

The lack of a comprehensive regional BRT vision in Move LA’s proposal is indicative of the region’s cautious approach to reallocating street space for buses and other users. While Metro has implemented two (mostly) off-street BRT lines—the Orange and Silver Lines—and an extensive Rapid network, the on-street implementation of BRT has been limited. A handful of “peak” hour bus lanes (7-9am and 4-7pm) have been implemented on Wilshire, Sunset, and Figueroa, and similar treatments have been recommended on nine additional corridors in Metro’s Countywide Bus Rapid Transit and Street Design study. However, Metro has currently no plans for more comprehensive bus improvements, such as all-day dedicated bus lanes and rail-like stations.

The city of Los Angeles is effectively leading the charge for bus improvements and more advanced BRT features as it develops concepts for a Transit-Enhanced Network, but the city lacks funds to implement these improvements without its own citywide ballot measure. The city is also is tied to a problematic on-street advertising contract which has limited its bus stop amenities.

A step-by-step approach to BRT implementation makes sense to deliver quick benefits to riders, but it risks setting the bar too low and degrading the benefits of BRT. What Metro presently brands as BRT offers only slight improvements over Rapid service: for example, bus lanes on Wilshire are only active for five hours per day and will be absent in Westwood and Beverly Hills, which opted out. Even after full implementation Metro’s countywide BRT plan, none of the designated corridors would meet the “Basic BRT” standard set by ITDP or come close to being on-par with Metro’s rail facilities.

More than three quarters of Metro’s ridership is on buses, and many more people choose not to ride because the service and amenities are inferior to other alternatives: shelters, safety features, real-time arrival information, and way-finding elements are often lacking, even at the busiest stops. Frequency, speed, and reliability can be all-day issues given the ever-present threat of traffic congestion.
More robust bus improvements are necessary. These improvements not only benefit existing riders, they also makes transit a more useful mobility option for millions of people.

This Rapid/Local stop on Vermont at Manchester in South LA serves approximately 1,300 people per weekday (more than many light rail stations) but it lacks basic facilities such as shelters and is blanketed with trash. Source: Google Streetview

Santa Monica’s transit provider, Big Blue Bus, is in the process of upgrading its most heavily used stops to include shelters, seating, real-time arrival information, and way-finding features. Source: Big Blue Bus

What could a fully developed BRT network look like?

Metro currently operates 400 miles of Rapid service, while other local providers have their own. In total, roughly 500 miles of Rapid services are potential candidates for improvements. 500 miles of true BRT is likely to be cost prohibitive, but it may be conceivable to imagine a mix of improvements such as:
  • 100 miles of “comprehensive” BRT (and complete streets enhancements) that could qualify under the ITDP standards (around $4 billion at $40 million/mile – assuming the cost of Metro’s East San Fernando Valley BRT project)
  • 200 miles of BRT-lite “Select Bus” service featuring dedicated lanes and targeted bus stop and streetscape improvements (about $2 billion at $10 million/mile – assuming double the cost of Metro’s Wilshire BRT project)
  • 200 miles of signalization, bus stop upgrades, and minor street improvements (roughly $500 million at $2.5 million/mile).
All together, a fully-upgraded Rapid/BRT network could cost in the ballpark of $6-7 billion—almost the total budget for the Grand Boulevards program, for which may feature additional non-BRT projects as well. This order-of-magnitude estimate doesn’t factor in improvements to the local bus network or associated increases in operating cost to maintain appropriate all-day frequencies for a core transit service.

Despite the cost, a robust BRT investment appears doable within the framework of Move LA’s proposal combined with a mix of local, regional, state, and perhaps federal funds.

For abstract illustrative purposes only, consider the conceptual rail network from Move LA’s Strawman Proposal overlaid with a countywide BRT concept, which assumes upgrades to most existing Rapid lines plus the addition of new BRT services.

Move LA’s rail vision in their Measure R2 Strawman Proposal. Map by author

Move LA’s rail vision overlaid with a sketch of potential BRT lines in red. Map by author

This map represents a very rough idea of what an enhanced Rapid/BRT network could look like. The key takeaway is that investing in BRT across Los Angeles County could triple the size of the region’s rapid transit dream for a relatively affordable cost.

These corridor-level investments, when combined with complete streets improvements and transit-oriented zoning reforms, provide the framework for Los Angeles to become a true transit metropolis. Moreover, by addressing the regional geometry challenge, such an investment could achieve greater regional equity: many more people could have access to quality rapid transit service with investments in both rail and buses, compared to just rail. Ideally, rail and bus services would converge to the point that riding the bus would be nearly as pleasant, dignified, and efficient as riding the train, yet buses will serve more places and more trips.

Transit is crucial to the future of Los Angeles: the region is dependent upon expanding mobility options to unlock new opportunities for growth while achieving key environmental, health, and equity goals. Rail expansion will play a key role in reshaping Los Angeles, but a comprehensive investment in transit must extend beyond rail.Los Angeles needs to embrace bus improvements and BRT as core elements of its 21st Century transit vision to foster abundant, high quality transit service for all.

Daniel Jacobson is a transportation consultant working with cities and transit agencies to improve transit, bicycle, and pedestrian mobility in California.  He is a transportation planner at URS and a car-free resident of Los Angeles.

PASADENA & THE 710 PROJECT - An Opportunity


By Pasadena City Council Member Terry Tornek, June 3, 2014

Pasadena is allowing itself to be manipulated by METRO/CALTRANS with regard to a project of tremendous impact, the possible extension of the 710 Freeway. It is time for us to stop that process & redirect the narrative in a way that will truly benefit our City.

We have been waiting for METRO to produce an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will describe the impacts of five alternative projects.  The report was to be completed in April, but METRO suddenly announced that the release date for the report has been delayed until February, 2015.

While it has been clear for some time that the report is rigged in a way that will identify the $6+ BILLION Freeway Tunnel alternative as the only solution that will meet METRO’s skewed scoring system, Pasadena has been waiting for the report in order to marshal a fact-based response. However, this delay coupled with our recent experience with the Devil’s Gate Sediment Removal Project, suggests that we should adopt another approach.

Until now, there has been no broad-based fact finding to choose what would be best for our City. There is the inconvenient truth of Measure A wherein the voters prohibited the City Council from opposing the Freeway’s completion.  Although this prohibition has been confirmed by outside legal counsel, the debate has been framed within the confines of whether we can or should oppose the tunnel rather than focusing on what we should support. Many are against the tunnel, but as a City, what are we FOR? There has been virtually no discussion as to how significant transportation improvements to reduce traffic while protecting neighborhoods could benefit the City.

In fact, two of the five STUDY alternatives have the potential to offer great benefits to Pasadena . The “Light Rail” alternative could build on the success of the Gold Line. If modified, it could even eliminate the mistaken grade crossings at both Glenarm & California that tie up our streets with terrible traffic with increasing frequency & delay emergency vehicles headed for Huntington hospital.  The “Transportation System Management “alternative could also be modified to eliminate these crossings & incorporate the innovative 710 stub recapture proposal by the West Pasadena Residents Association to convert an existing highway wasteland into productive uses.

In the case of the proposed project behind the Devil’s Gate dam, the County issued its complicated Draft EIR which contained devastating potential impacts. In response, the City formed a Task Force to review the EIR & to generate a “Pasadena Preferred Alternative”. I believe that although METRO has delayed its EIR, we have enough information to follow the same course of action to generate a Pasadena Preferred 710 Freeway Alternative immediately.

Let’s follow the successful Devil’s Gate model, assemble a task force to review the alternatives & use the delay to formulate an affirmative Pasadena Preferred Alternative that  can gain the support of the entire City & press METRO to adopt it, rather than squabbling among ourselves while we wait for them to foist the Tunnel on us as the only viable solution. Pasadena must lead the process, not wait for others to decide our fate.