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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is Reynolds the Antidote to L.A.’s Defeatist Attitude on Transportation?

http://la.streetsblog.org/2014/07/22/is-reynolds-the-antidote-to-l-a-s-defeatist-attitude-on-transportation/

By Damien Newton, July 22, 2014



 Seleta Reynolds (left) goes for a walk in DTLA with out-of-towner Janette Sadik-Khan. Photo:##http://www.gjel.com/blog/los-angeles-hires-seleta-reynolds-what-it-means-for-walking-and-biking-in-socal.html##GJEL Accident Attorneys##

Incoming LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds (right) goes for a walk in downtown L.A. with out-of-towner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Should Mayor Eric Garcetti have hired someone with more Los Angeles experience to run Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation? With San Francisco’s Seleta Reynolds chosen as the incoming department head, there’s been a small buzz that only someone with direct experience with our region can handle making L.A. a better place to live. It has to be someone with local experience, they say.

As someone who is not from the area originally, and was only an Angeleno for six months when I became the first editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles, allow me to say that idea is complete hogwash.
For some reason, people that live and drive in Los Angeles have sat through so many traffic jams that they have come to believe that idling in endless traffic is a natural phenomenon.  They also believe a harmful corollary: that things that have worked in other areas to make people’s commutes better will not work in Los Angeles. Because “this is Los Angeles.”

It’s the reverse of exceptionalism.

Because over the last six and a half years, we’ve heard that Los Angeles, and Angelenos are so enamored with our vehicles that we will never be able to walk, much less ride a bike or ride transit, even though wild dogs can learn to ride transit. Following the passage of Measure R, many are starting to accept that transit is a viable option in Los Angeles, although the anti-transit theory it still pops up in some cities on the Westside.

Nowadays, we hear some mix of theories from “smart growth won’t work in Southern California,” to “road diets won’t work in Southern California” to “people won’t bicycle in Southern California.” These sort of self-defeating prophecies sap the energy out of transportation reformers, jade community activists, and generally have a corrosive impact on those seeking to make our streets safe for everyone.

By reaching outside of LADOT and Metro staff to find a new department head, Eric Garcetti is signaling the end of the pessimism and reverse exceptionalism that have marked our transportation discussions over the past years, decades, and even generations.
It is a new day, and Seleta Reynolds is a new leader.


This is not to say that there are not plenty of good, capable leaders from Greater Los Angeles that would have done a great job as the General Manager of LADOT.

The affable Zaki Mustafa at LADOT comes to mind. Long Beach’s bike visionary and grant master Sumi Gant could do the job. So could consultant Ryan Snyder who seems to have written half of the bicycle and pedestrian plans for cities throughout Southern California.

But by tapping an expert on street safety and bicycle share from outside the area, Mayor Garcetti is sending a message. Not only is he creating a safe and equitable transportation network for all road users a priority, so is ending the era of Los Angeles’ reverse-exceptionalism when it comes to transportation.

Will Reynolds succeed? Will she be Los Angeles’ Janette Sadik-Khan? Only time will tell. But not starting with a vision limited by years of hearing about what won’t work in Los Angeles gives Reynolds an advantage. By seeing Los Angeles through fresh eyes will help her see it for what it is, and what it can be, instead of being paralyzed by false fears of what it can not be and what we can not do.

Time’s Up: 6 Things to Know About Today’s Transportation Showdown

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/07/31/times-up-6-things-to-know-about-todays-transportation-showdown/

By Tanya Snyder, July 31, 2014

Today is the House of Representatives’ last day in session before departing for an August recess full of photo ops and electioneering in their districts. The Senate will stick around DC for one more day before going home. Before that happens, the two houses have to come together on a plan to keep the Highway Trust Fund going. If not, U.S. DOT will have to take drastic measures.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker disagrees with the House GOP on when the bill should expire and how to pay for a new one.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker disagrees with the House GOP on when the bill should expire and how to pay for a new one.

Both the House and the Senate have voted on not entirely dissimilar plans to keep the fund going. But the differences between them have set up a high-stakes showdown that has to be resolved by tomorrow.

Here are the key points:
    1. The timing: The House is expected to vote on the Senate bill today at about 3:00 p.m. and is expected to refuse to budge. Then they’ll leave town, meaning the Senate can either cave or be blamed as the Highway Trust Fund goes dry before August recess ends and transportation works grind to a halt. Meanwhile, Sec. Anthony Foxx has warned state DOTs that federal payments will slow down August 1 — that’s tomorrow — if Congress doesn’t take action to keep the Fund from going insolvent.
    2.  
    3. The numbers: The House is gloating that the Senate’s bill contains a $2 billion technical error — which is true; it comes up with just $5.18 billion of the $7.13 billion needed — but Senate Democrats say it can be easily fixed.
    4.  
    5. The urgency: Since summer is the high season for construction, the real pressure on the Highway Trust Fund is between now and the end of the year, when states will need to get reimbursed for the work that’s going on now. That’s why there’s not a huge monetary difference between the House proposal that lasts till May and the Senate proposal that ends in December. There’s just not a lot of cash going out the door at U.S. DOT between January and May.
    6.  
    7. The conflict: The House and Senate disagree on what budget gimmicks to use to “pay for” the transfer into the trust fund, but more fundamentally they disagree about how long the patch should be. As we’ve reported before, Boxer prefers a December deadline, saying it’s unfair for this Congress to fail to fix a problem that occurred on its watch and instead kick it to the next Congress. What she means is that she wants her six-year bill to pass and that won’t happen after the end of this year if the GOP wins a majority in the Senate and she loses the chairmanship of the EPW Committee. That’s precisely why the House is gunning for a May deadline.
    8.  
    9. The breakdown: The Senate Republicans aren’t as enthusiastic as the House about having to take this up when they’re in charge. Thirteen Rs joined the Ds in pushing for a December sunset, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who wants to raise the gas tax and be done already. “Wouldn’t it be great to finish 2014 actually solving one issue; taking one issue off the plate next year?” he said yesterday at a WSJ press breakfast. Only one Democrat, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, voted no on Boxer’s date-change amendment. Notably, David Vitter, the ranking member on the EPW Committee, who has shown great bipartisan unity with Boxer, broke with her on this and voted to essentially flush their six-year-bill down the toilet. His predecessor, James Inhofe, voted in favor of Boxer’s December 19 deadline.
    10.  
    11. The fallout: If the GOP does win the Senate in 2014, the conventional wisdom says they’ll lose it again in 2016. Will the Republicans really want to take on a tax increase of any kind during the only two years when they’ll get the lion’s share of the blame? Of course not. The prognosis is that if there’s no long-term bill this term, it’ll be another three years. Three more years of patchwork funding gimmicks is nothing to look forward to.

Will Missouri Voters Go Along With the Highway Lobby’s Money Grab?

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/07/30/will-missouri-voters-go-along-with-the-highway-lobbys-money-grab/#more-98512

By Angie Schmitt, July 30, 2014

 (See website for a video.)

Next week, Missouri voters will decide on Amendment 7 — a three-quarter-cent sales tax hike to pay for transportation projects that would be the largest tax increase in the state’s history. Construction industry groups have poured millions into convincing Missourians to pay $5.4 billion over the next 10 years. Will they bite?

A coalition of pro-transit forces is urging them not to. Thomas Shrout, a long-time St. Louis transit advocate, is heading the opposition, a group called Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions. Shrout says the tax fails on a number of levels.

For one, 85 percent of the money would be spent on roads. Only 7 percent would go to transit and a small portion would go toward local governments.

“It’s just out of proportion,” said Shrout.

Highway capacity in slow-growing Missouri is already abundant. Compared to other American cities, Kansas City and St. Louis rank near the top in highway miles per capita. Driving has been declining nationwide and Missouri’s population grew less than 1 percent over the last 13 years.
So why the push to raise taxes to build new roads? Follow the money. “Just about every major [engineering and construction] firm in the country has given to the Yes campaign,” Shrout told Streetsblog.



Driving has been declining in Missouri, so why does the state need billions more for roads? Graph: NextSTL

Even if Missouri’s project list wasn’t larded with highways, raising the gas tax would be a far fairer revenue source. But state legislators have instead settled on the regressive sales tax model.
That means, if Amendment 7 passes, the state’s poorest residents — whether they drive or not — will pay a larger share of their income than the state’s affluent residents. A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the poorest 20 percent of Missouri residents spend 5.9 percent of their income on sales and excise taxes. Meanwhile the richest 1 percent pay just 0.9 percent.

Gasoline and diesel purchases don’t carry a sales tax. Neither do truck sales, meaning even though trucks cause the most damage to roads, businesses that use trucks would be exempt from paying for those roads in Missouri.

A provision of the amendment would also forbid the state from raising the gas tax or issuing new tolls while the tax is in place.

Missouri’s sales tax rate is already the 14th highest in the country. A significant increase could potentially undermine consumer spending and hurt the state’s economy. It could also hurt transit projects, which are usually funded by local sales taxes. If Amendment 7 passes, it would raise the sales tax to 9.5 percent in St. Louis. That could jeopardize any future attempt to expand light rail, for example, by raising the sales tax.

The editorial board of the St. Louis Post Dispatch has called the tax proposal “an abomination” and “the wrong tax at the wrong time and in some ways, for the wrong purposes.” The paper noted that the proposed sales tax hike follows an income tax decrease that will slash services and disproportionately benefit the state’s wealthiest.

“If Amendment 7 passes, Missourians can drive better roads to crummier schools,” they wrote.
Even so, some active transportation groups — but not all — have lined up behind the proposal, because of some promises the state has made to fund specific projects. The Missouri Bike Federation came out in favor because it would represent the state’s first dedicated funding for biking and walking, and the state promised funding for a number of trail projects. Meanwhile, TrailNet in St. Louis, a fairly large trails advocacy group, is opposed.

It remains to be seen how opposition efforts will play out against the $2.5 million the construction industry has already poured into convincing voters the new tax will create jobs and improve safety. (They have an additional $1.7 million remaining in their coffers for the “final push,” the Associated Press reports.) Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions has raised only $26,000 — enough for a single mailer. Even so, a number of politicians, including a large portion of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, have allied themselves with the opposition.

In the Kansas City Star this week, State Senator John Lamping called the proposal a “grab” by “special interest groups.”

“The tax is cynical,” he said. “The proponents assume you’re not paying attention.”

It will be interesting to see if they’re right.

Discussing Seattle TBM repair strategy

http://www.tunneltalk.com/Seattle-Alaskan-Way-29July2014-TBM-Bertha-repairs-Podcast.php

By Peter Kenyon, July 30, 2014

(See website for a podcast.)

With the world’s largest TBM idle in the ground following the well-publicized failure of the bearing seals that protect its main bearing, a high-level delegation from the project’s contractor team of Dragados and Tutor Perini (Seattle Tunnel Partners), journeyed to Japan for urgent talks with senior representatives of the machine’s manufacturer, Hitachi Zosen.

Project Manager Chris Dixon (STP)
Project Manager Chris Dixon (STP)
Among those present at the talks were STP Project Manager Chris Dixon, who spoke in detail to TunnelTalk about the nature of the repairs being carried out, the “aggressive” repair schedule, enhancements that are to be made to the machine, and the sealing of a deal that will see Hitachi Zosen bearing the cost of TBM repairs for the time being. STP, for its part, will assume responsibility for costs associated with excavation of the recovery shaft through which access will be gained to the 17.48m diameter machine’s cutterhead, main bearing, bearing block and ruptured sealing system.
Dixon also answers questions relating to STP’s claim request against the client, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), for US$125 million of extra contractual charges associated with the repair of the machine under the provisions of a “change order” clause in the design-build contract. WSDOT has strongly rejected this claim, though STP is likely to contest this further down the line.


References