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, September 24, 2014

Zocalo forum will ask: Is traffic L.A.’s destiny? (We certainly hope not!)


By Kim Upton, September 24, 2014

 Metro photo

What could speed up traffic? We all have opinions, of course. But at 7:30 p.m. Monday (9/29) at Petersen Automotive Museum some pretty good minds will tackle the subject as part of a Zocalo Public Square forum.The forum is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Here’s how the Zocalo website describes it:
When people say that death and taxes are the only certain things in life, they are forgetting about Southern California traffic. Despite freeway widening and highway construction and newly synchronized streetlights, there’s still not enough room on the roads. We now get accident reports in real time and can change our routes to avoid jams, but Angelenos still spend more time in traffic than other Americans. However, there is more change still to come. The region is in the early stages of a 30-year transit transformation that began with the passage of Measure R in 2008, a sales tax increase that is funding a wide range of transportation projects. Will express lanes, fewer potholes, and improved interchanges speed drivers along? And will new rail lines, improved bus service, and bike lanes finally get millions of people out of their cars? L.A. Business Council president Mary Leslie, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies director Brian D. Taylor, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic executive director Hilary Norton, and Metro CEO Art Leahy visit Z√≥calo to ask whether traffic is forever L.A.’s destiny. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak will moderate.
What could speed up traffic? Taking Metro bus 720 or 20 down Wilshire or the 217 down Fairfax to the Monday night forum could help. Find out more at the forum.

Zocalo is an L.A. based not-for-profit group that blends live events with written and broadcast journalism. Metro and Zocalo will be co-presenting the event.

How to Properly Name a Metro Station (and Other Politically-Charged Issues)


By Ken Alpern, September 23, 2014


GETTING THERE FROM HERE-One of the most interesting things about planning Metro light rail lines is the need to have the names of their stations emphasize a sense of place, and a sense of community, both to local neighbors who value community identity and to far-flung commuters and tourists who just want to know where the heck they are.  
So ... guess what, folks--it's NAMING time! 

1) Unbeknownst to most of us, there is an effort underfoot on the Metro Board to rename the North Hollywood Red Line Station to the North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky Station, and to rename the East LA Civic Center Station to the East LA Civic Center/Gloria Molina Station. 

2) Also unbeknownst to most of us, the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line Project is requesting public and community input to name its new stations. 

Which raises the following questions of: 

1) Whether the Metro Board has enough to do, and 

2) Whether enough ordinary citizens are paying attention to fundamental questions that WILL change the landscape of their community, and 

3) Whether hard-working citizens, fighting to keep up with work and family obligations, can keep up with this naming issue, and/or are they being properly informed of this sort of endeavor.

Naming a station, or naming a line, is more than just a conceit or fetish--it allows community buy-in for a light rail or subway line that will exist for generations, and has considerable economic and even traffic impacts as commuters and tourists opt to (or not opt to) use rail lines. 

To some of us, the question of "what's in a name?" is a silly endeavor.  After all, the segments of the I-10, I-405, I-105, SR-91, SR-60 etc. can be named after a police officer, or a civil rights advocate, or an American president, but most of us just call it by a number to reference a way to get from one point to another. 

But the naming does have some considerable significance for those planning and using transit lines.  The history of Metro's Red and Gold Lines suggests that Zev Yaroslavsky did fight for the Red Line and then shut down further subway spending, including an East L.A. Red Line subway extension (to the undying fury of Gloria Molina, who saw the Gold Line Light Rail Line as a sad and pathetic consolation prize). 

For those of us living here, and/or who gave a rip about subway and light rail spending in the 1990's, we did learn a lot of painful lessons about rail spending and routing, including: 

1) The willy-nilly Metro Board fiats and spending and political infighting of the 1990's cost us big, when we should have focused on a few projects with defined destinations and favorable cost-benefit ratios. 

2) Hiring good contractors, and both rewarding and punishing contractors appropriately, has its role on the Metro Board and the staff who works for the Board. 

Based off of these lessons, it's safe to say that: 

1) Zev Yaroslavsky (who helped double the Red Line Subway ridership after fighting for a Red Line extension to Universal City and North Hollywood, and who shut down the crazy spending and then fought for the two well-defined Expo and Purple/Wilshire Lines after they were vetted) might indeed deserve a station named after him. 

2) Gloria Molina (who was combative, not visionary, when it came to the Eastside Gold Line and the Downtown Light Rail Connector, and who fought the Measure R that paid for both of them, because she never forgave Yaroslavsky and the rest of the Metro Board for not creating an Eastside Red Line Subway) is merely "Exhibit A" for term limits, and is being suggested for a station name out of political consideration and balance. 

Count me in as someone who prefers to name a station after a beloved community figure (like former and iconic Laker commentator Chick Hearn, or former and political gamechanger LA mayor Tom Bradley), rather than a politician who is alive and well and likely already has too big of an ego. 

The question of what to name the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line stations in Westchester and LAX is one that is more relevant, and one that particularly needed to be addressed in light of the lack of attention paid to Westside, LAX and South Bay residents and commuters with respect to the line that will be going through their regions. 

After all, the Crenshaw/LAX line has two parts to its name...and only the first part has received sufficient focus by Metro and by political leaders.  Hopefully, the recent efforts by the CD11 Transportation Committee, which met last week to address this line (and was chaired by its new co-chair--Westchester resident, regular transit rider and occasional CityWatch contributor Matthew Hetz). 

In addition to supporting more investment in pedestrian amenities, planning, art and architectural improvements for these stations, the station names (after being thrown out to Westchester residents, and LAX is part of Westchester) were voted on by the Committee with virtual unanimity as follows: 

1) The station at Hindry near Florence, after over 20 names were submitted by the community, had a favored station name of "Hindry/Westchester" to reflect both the location and the inclusion/access of Westchester into this line. 

2) The station at 96th/Aviation, where the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line will connect with the LAX People Mover, had a favored station name of "Metro/LAX Transit Center" to clarify its role for commuters and tourists. 

3) The station at Century/Aviation had a favored station name of "Century/Aviation". 

To repeat and summarize, the station names to be submitted to Metro, with helpful and friendly Metro representative Brett Roberts in attendance, are "Hindry/Westchester", "Metro/LAX Transit Center" and "Century/Aviation".

Here's How Everyone in Los Angeles Commutes to Work


By Bianca Barragan, September 24, 2014




When you're sitting in freeway traffic, it sometimes seems like every single person in Los Angeles is sitting in a car alongside you, trapped. Not so! Streetsblog LA correspondent/LA City Bicycle Advisory Committee chair Jeff Jacobberger broke down the data from the US Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey estimates to see exactly how Angelenos are getting to work and surprise—only most of them are doing it in cars. While driving alone was the number one way to get to work (with 67.1 percent of commuters), public transportation (10.8 percent) was the next most popular way to go, followed by carpooling (9.9 percent), and walking (3.6 percent). The number of people who bike to work is still tiny at 1.2 percent, but that's a 33 percent increase from 2010. Meanwhile, 5.4 percent of workers work at home and 1.9 percent commute some other way entirely (chopper?).

The biking numbers, unfortunately, are terribly lopsided: while most modes have similar usage by both men and women, the portion of male commuters who bike (1.8 percent) is more than double what it is for women (0.6 percent). The data only account for rides to work, so maybe the number of women running errands or biking for recreation is more equal to the total for men, but part of the disparity could also be that LA's streets are perceived as unsafe for or unwelcoming to female cyclists.

The USC area and parts of South LA do the most bike commuting and, surprisingly, "West L.A./Westwood has an overall bike mode share equal to Silver Lake, Echo Park, Westlake." We've mapped the 2011 data to show every census tract's bike commuting habits.

· What the Latest Census Data Says About L.A. City Bicycle Commuting [SB]
· Mapping LA's Bike Commuting Habits By Neighborhood [Curbed LA]

Using L.A. Traffic Counts to Justify Sprawl in the Arizona-Nevada Desert


By Phineas Baxandall and Jeff Inglis, September 24, 2014

 Congestion relief has nothing to do with Arizona and Nevada's zeal to expand U.S. Route 93 and rebrand it I-11. Photo: ##http://i11study.com/wp/##I-11 Study##

Congestion relief has nothing to do with Arizona and Nevada’s zeal to expand U.S. Route 93 and rebrand it I-11. 

A recent report by U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future,” examines 11 of the most wasteful, least justifiable road projects underway in America right now. Here’s the latest installment in our series profiling the various bad decisions that funnel so much money to infrastructure that does no good. 

Arizona and Nevada have proposed a $2.5 billion project to expand U.S. 93 through the desert between Phoenix and Las Vegas — a change that would mean the road could be added to the federal Interstate highway system and renamed I-11 — despite planners’ acknowledgments that barely any of the existing 200-mile road has any congestion at present, and that even under conditions of rapid traffic growth, that will not change substantially.

Justifications for building Interstate 11 often begin by noting that Phoenix and Las Vegas are the two largest adjacent U.S. cities that are not linked by an Interstate highway. But the two cities are linked by an existing highway — U.S. Route 93 — which may not boast the designation of “Interstate,” but is a four-lane divided highway for all but 45 miles of its length between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The remaining 45 miles largely traverse sparsely populated areas. The Interstate 11 project would widen those remaining stretches and make other modifications of varying scope to the entire length of the highway.

It is telling that in the official summary of reasons for constructing I-11, traffic and congestion are mentioned last, and only in terms of the potential of “reaching unacceptable levels of congestion, threatening economic competitiveness.” Recent trends in travel along the corridor show that at nearly all of the highway’s traffic counter locations, traffic growth has been slower than is forecast in project documents or has actually declined.

Arizona DOT and Nevada DOT show 12 locations between Phoenix and Las Vegas where projected traffic counts and actual traffic counts can be compared. In all 12 locations the DOTs projected that traffic would increase. In 10 of those locations traffic counts failed to reach DOT forecasts. In only two locations did traffic counts actually surpass the forecasted level; the only such location in Arizona was the six-mile stretch of U.S. 93 between the Nevada border and the remote Kingman Wash Road. In six locations along the route, traffic counts actually declined.

Indeed, the argument proponents make for I-11 seems to be as much about attracting more traffic to the Las Vegas-Phoenix corridor as reducing congestion.

The Corridor Justification Report released by the Nevada and Arizona Departments of Transportation claims that 9 percent of existing highways in the surrounding megaregion — which the report defines as reaching all the way to Los Angeles — were “unacceptably congested” in 2011. It claims that if no major road-building investment is made, and economic and population growth continue along current trend lines, 28 percent of the megaregion’s highways — again, many of them in the Los Angeles region — will be “unacceptably congested” by 2040. In other words, the justification for the project in the middle of the desert is based largely on expectations for worsening traffic in Los Angeles. Project proponents argue that I-11 will reduce congestion in this broader region by siphoning off interstate traffic that had once passed through southern California and directing it to the Phoenix-Las Vegas corridor instead.

Proponents of the project hope it will spur economic development by drawing long-distance truck traffic to the corridor. Regional economic-development planners have been trying since at least 1991 to take advantage of opportunities they see in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to create a high-capacity freight corridor running north-south between Canada and Mexico in the region between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges.

Backers of the widening also include major real-estate developers along the highway route, who hope to build major new residential and commercial projects. One developer sees so much potential to develop sprawling housing and commercial projects in the desert between Las Vegas and Phoenix that he is offering to donate land on which to build the highway.

While construction of Interstate 11 might have a limited transportation benefit, other investments being made in the region are beating expectations at meeting pressing needs and could use additional support. From 2003 to 2013, Phoenix’s transit ridership rose 45.9 percent, from 50.3 million to 73.4 million trips. Its light rail system, opened in 2008, is already beating ridership expectations, a stark contrast with driving failing to reach forecasted levels. With 20 miles of track in place, there are plans to add 10 more miles in the next decade, and to triple ridership in the next 30 years.

Letter: Don’t count out LA as a transit-friendly choice


By Anson Stewart, September 23, 2014

John Powers writes that Boston’s advantage in an Olympic bid could be transit and walking, and, “by contrast, Los Angeles would have five of its facilities in Long Beach, 25 miles to the south” (“Possible advantage in Olympic bid,” Page A1, Sept. 16). This comparison ignores the LA Metro Blue Line, a light-rail line opened in 1990 between downtown LA and downtown Long Beach. It carries 90,000 riders daily, a level of demand that would overwhelm any of the MBTA Green Line branches.

The comparison also ignores pedestrian and bicycle master plans that both LA and Long Beach have undertaken recently, as well as a revival of Olmsted’s Los Angeles River plans. And it ignores the half-cent sales tax that LA County voters approved in 2008 to accelerate transportation projects, including five rail corridors.

Meanwhile, the Green Line extension to Somerville is years behind its legal obligations, and Massachusetts voters are contemplating further undercutting transportation funding by removing inflation adjustment for the gas tax.

True, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics relied so heavily on freeways that organizers reputedly had helicopters ready to airlift stalled cars that might cause gridlock. Boston may have had a transit and walking advantage then, but we’ve fallen behind in the past 30 years.

Opinion: Are toll lanes elitist or progressive?