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

Monday, March 23, 2015

PowerPoint: Metro’s ridership challenges


By Steve Hymon, March 23, 2015

Above is a recent presentation by Metro staff that drills down deeper on the issue of ridership. Ridership on Metro increased three percent overall between 2010 and 2014 (including a 21 percent increase on Metro Rail) but has declined on both the agency’s buses and trains since last April. (The latest monthly ridership estimates are here).

What’s happening? Some highlights of the presentation:

•There appears to be no correlation between gas prices and Metro ridership.

•There is, however, a correlation between employment and ridership on Metro Rail, the Orange Line and Silver Line.

•Ridership began declining in April; the fare increases and changes last year didn’t take effect until mid-September.

•Overall Metro bus service has declined by three percent since 1985, yet the number of boardings per hour on buses has fallen 25 percent in that time. But it’s not like bus service in Los Angeles County is in short supply. Muni agencies in Los Angeles County in 2013 were providing more than three times the service that they did in 1985.

•Bus ridership has fallen more steeply at a national level and at other local bus agencies than at Metro.

•When car sales rise, so does Metro ridership — which may be counterintuitive. The reason: the more people that are working, the more people need to get to work, even if by different means.

•Although not in this presentation, this statistic matters: for every trip not taken on Metro, the system actually loses 1.6 boardings — because many riders would have transferred.

•One other nugget from Metro staff that is perhaps relevant: although the percentage of Metro buses arriving on-time increased between 2010 and 2014, the number of complaints increased slightly from riders about buses that never arrived, buses that were off schedule or buses that passed them by. That probably results in some people no longer riding.

•Keep in mind there are likely some other factors at play with ridership on the rail side in the past year, including greater fare enforcement, service delays (particularly on the Blue and Green Lines), cutbacks to rail service due to maintenance and improvement projects (Blue Line and Red/Purple Lines) and the fare increases that took effect last September.

The Metro Board is, not surprisingly, very interested in the issue and four members — Eric Garcetti, Paul Krekorian, Ara Najarian and Hilda Solis — have authored a motion to be considered by the Board at its March meeting on Thursday. The motion directs Metro staff to find new ways to improve existing service, offer new services and better market Metro. The motion is posted below.

As for the coming fiscal year that begins July 1, a few things to keep in mind. Metro is planning to run the same amount of bus service in FY 2015-16 as in the current one and anticipates starting service on the second phase of the Expo Line to Santa Monica and the Gold Line Foothill Extension to the Azusa/Glendora border. As a result, Metro’s operating budget is expected to grow by five percent to approximately $1.5 billion.

NO SR-710 Petition

From Sylvia Plummer, March 23, 2015

We are currently at 2,697 signatures.  If we hit 3,000 during the Draft EIR comment period, it will trigger notifications once again to Jerry Brown, the California Transportation Commission, the Metro Board and the others on the list.

Let's see if we can do it.

If you have not done so, please sign the petition.  Ask your family, friends and neighbors...  all they need is an email account.  They do not have to live in the area.

Here's a direct link to the petition:

SR-710 Toll Tunnels purpose is to move Freight

From Sylvia Plummer, March 23, 2015

T he report below from the  California Planning & Development Report (CP&DR) News Brief  confirms that the purpose and need of the SR-710 Toll Tunnel project is to move freight. It also states that the people most affected by the project prefer a tunnel to a surface route.   (We prefer a multi-mode solution or no project at all.)  
March 23, 2015 CP&DR News Brief:  
Caltrans Details Options for Extending, Expanding 710 Freeway
Los Angeles County Transportation officials are considering multi-billion dollar plans to close the notorious 710 freeway gap and increase capacity along the entire freeway. The freeway, a vital trade arterial connecting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, abruptly ends in South Pasadena without connecting to the 210 Freeway, four miles to the north of the 710 terminus. This gap has been blamed for causing traffic throughout the Los Angeles freeway grid, especially because of traffic from trucks traveling between the port and the warehouses of the Inland Empire. A draf environmental impact report  by Caltrans estimates that a tunnel under South Pasadena — which is preferred by residents, who vehemently oppose the taking of homes for a surface right of way — would cost between $3.1 and $5.6 billion. It would take five years to build.

Here's a link to the report, the first paragraph is the SR-710 and the second paragraph is on the I-710.

Ignored in the SR-710 Draft ER Report

From Sylvia Plummer, March 23, 2015

Completely ignored in the SR-710 Draft EIR report is the possibility of a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) mechanical failure like the one that happen in Seattle.  

Sometimes failures can be fixed inside the tunnel and sometimes not. Bertha, the 57 foot in diameter by 326 foot long Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM)  from Seattle, could not be fixed in the tunnel, so they dug down to her, creating an access pit from above.  The access pit is 80 feet in diameter by 120 feet deep. The work area on the surface looks to be at least a city block. 

Below is a short one minute video of Bertha’s dismantling. It shows how much space around the access pit is needed to handle the huge pieces of the TBM. The workers look very small next to the first huge piece of the TBM.  There are three more pieces that will be brought up.


Below is an informational flyer that addresses the possibility of an equipment failure along the SR-710 toll tunnel route in Pasadena, South Pasadena or El Sereno. Can you imagine the lost of homes and disruption to this area if that were to happen?   The flyer has an image of a gigantic access pit and scaffolding six stories high next to the Huntington Hospital. 
 Caltrans, Metro report sets course to dig 710 tunnels
WPRA launches battle to halt that plan

Extending the SR-710 freeway by tunneling under west Pasadena got a bright-green light from a 26,625-page draft environmental impact report (DEIR) recently released by Caltrans and LA Metro.

Rivaling the complexity of Boston’s infamous “Big Dig” megaproject, the SR-710 tunnel is being promoted over more environmentally sound alternatives as the solution to commuter traffic congestion on local streets. But with tolls and no on-ramps or off-ramps for its entire length, the underground thoroughfares would largely benefit trucks on long hauls to and from the ports by offering the big rigs an alternative to the I-5 and I-10.

The largest tunnel-boring machines in the world — an unprecedented 60 feet in diameter — would be used to drill two parallel tunnels almost five miles long, crossing six earthquake faults and two aquifers. About 5 million cubic yards of earth would be removed, according to the report. During construction of the tunnels, road closures, detours and thousands of dump trucks would complicate traffic. Nearby property owners can expect reverberations and ground settlement.

Completely ignored in the report is the very real possibility of an underground equipment failure that could devastate entire city blocks.

This happened in Seattle when a mammoth tunnel-boring machine overheated and stopped in December 2013. The stalled equipment could be reached and repaired only by excavating a crater-sized hole that was 80 feet in diameter and 120 feet deep.
  Could it happen here? In this composite image, we’ve superimposed what had to be done in Seattle (to repair that project’s tunnel borer) with what might have to be done in Pasadena near Huntington Hospital (looking south along S. Pasadena Avenue at intersection with W. California Boulevard). In Seattle, a gigantic pit had to be dug to disassemble the equipment and hoist it to the surface in pieces via scaffolding rising six stories above the ground. The construction zone there encompasses numerous city blocks. A similar rescue operation could take place anywhere along the tunnel route in Pasadena, South Pasadena or El Sereno.

  Feb. 13, 2015 – Aerial photo of the 120-foot-deep pit dug to in Seattle to access and repair Big Bertha. Source: Washington State Department of Transportation.

Failures of drilling equipment, flooding and collapses have plagued almost half of the world’s large tunnel projects surveyed by the WPRA. Sometimes fixing the machinery can take place from below. However, when accessed from above, properties in the way must be demolished and cleared for rescue operations.

In downtown Seattle, the rescue and repair of a mammoth tunnel-boring machine — “Big Bertha” — has now become as challenging as the tunnel construction itself. In the above photo, a cavernous hole had to be excavated to reach the 57-foot diameter drill.

A year after Bertha stalled, the machine is still not repaired. The gaping pit is now threated by water rising from below, and buildings nearby are sinking.

Based on historical evidence, it’s very possible that one of the SR-710 tunnel-boring machines – the largest in the world — will break down somewhere along the 5-mile corridor, followed by a similarly disruptive rescue and repair operation.

March 1, 2015 – Aerial photo of the front face of Big Bertha poking into the 120-foot pit that was dug to make repairs. The entire front end must be lifted to the surface and rebuilt. Source: Washington State Department of Transportation

FACTS:  The TBM for the SR-710 project will be 60 feet in diameter (largest in the world to date).  The depth of the tunnel will vary along the Toll Tunnel route and will be approximately 20 to 280 feet.  The cut-and-cover tunnel segment at the South Portal will be approximately 5 to 60 feet deep to the top of the tunnel. The cut-and-cover tunnel segment at the North Portal will be up to approximately 0 to 30 feet to the top of the tunnel.


West Seattle Blog with pictures and report that 2nd piece has been lifted out:

New bosses at Metro, Metrolink have tough jobs ahead


By The Los Angeles News Group Editorial Board, March 19, 2015


 Phil Washington will lead the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Los Angeles County has been on overdrive, trying hard to shed its image as the nation’s traffic-clogged car capital these past years and build out a transit system befitting the sprawling metropolis it is.

With five major rail lines under construction and ongoing transit and highway projects, officials like to say Metro is engaging in one of the nation’s largest, if not the largest, public works programs.
Who leads it matters.

That’s why two recent hires, one by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board and another by the Metrolink board, which serves six counties in Southern California, are important as both agencies see a slump in ridership and face unique but different challenges.

The board of Metro, as the Los Angeles transportation agency is called, named Phil Washington to replace outgoing CEO Art Leahy, who will move over to lead Metrolink.

Washington will need not only to finish the projects already under way on time and within budget, but he comes in as transit officials are considering whether to ask voters to approve a tax that would fund continued expansion of the transit system.

Dubbed Measure R2, after a 2008 voter-approved, half-cent sales tax that is responsible for the transit boom, the potential tax could allow Washington to do what he did well in Denver.

Last week Washington resigned as the head of the Denver Regional Transportation District, where the former army veteran built a national reputation as someone who delivers.

He implemented a massive voter-approved rail expansion program that had been lagging before he took the helm, and spearheaded the agency’s first public-private partnership, a $2.2 billion deal to connect downtown Denver to the airport by rail when it’s completed in 2016. That’s promising.
Washington is described as a charismatic man who can engender loyalty. Los Angeles officials say that his ability to push big projects forward and get them done on time made him an attractive choice.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who heads the board and is wont to talk about his aspirations for a world-class transit system, said, Washington is “the ideal person to manage our $36 billion transportation infrastructure program.” He said Washington’s “track record of maximizing project efficiency, securing much-needed funding and increasing customer service will well serve Metro riders and taxpayers.”

The bar is already high for Washington, but he is not without critics. Some say he overpromised in Denver and ridership fell short. More worrisome is the state of the Denver RTD’s pension, which is going dry.

Washington needs to ensure similar mistakes aren’t made in Southern California. And he needs to focus on the details beyond the expansion — such as making it easier for would-be car commuters to take rail.

Leahy, an operations man with whom many board members were privately frustrated for his handling of construction projects, will jump to Metrolink where his challenges will be cutting costs while improving ridership and safety.

Both men have the potential to change the region’s image and build up an admirable transit system, so long as they have learned from past missteps.

The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, March 23, 2015

There’s no post-CicLAvia, pre-Easter hangover for the Week in Livable Streets Events. Great Streets is ready to roll in Northridge, the City Council is ready to fix car parking signs, the Metro Board of Directors is ready to, uhm hold a long and contentious meeting, and the Hammer hosts Seleta Reynolds and Janette Sadik-Khan in one night. And all that happens before a packed weekend.
  • Tonight – Northridge residents and Angelenos visiting Reseda Blvd. will notice some upgrades coming to the street as part of the first phase of the Great Streets project. The goal? Improve safety on a high-collision street, enhance a sense of place and community, support the local economy and deliver an innovative street design to the San Fernando Valley. Here more at tonight’s community meeting hosted by Councilmember Mitch Englander and Great Streets L.A.
  • Wednesday – At 2 p.m. the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meets to, among other things, direct LADOT to implement much easier to read “grid” parking signs. Read the agenda here. Remember what the grid parking signs look like? This.
  • Thursday – The Metro Board of Directors will meet for their monthly meeting. Read the agenda, here.
  • Thursday – The Hammer hosts Seleta Reynolds and Janette Sadik-Khan for a discussion on “busting urban transportation myths.” Sounds great. Get the details, here.
  • Friday – Rail Users’ Network (RUN), a group “representing rail passengers’ interests in North America”, will hold its 2015 national conference on Friday, March 27th, in Los Angeles. Billed as a “Making the Transition from Roads to Rail Conference” The meeting will be held from 8:00am to 5:00p.m. To read Dana Gabbard’s preview of the conference, click here. For a more traditional calendar post, click here.
  • Saturday – Cyclists Inciting Change thru LIVE Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.), invites you to The Hot SPOTS Tour, a community bicycle ride highlighting formerly blighted, empty lots that have been developed into beautiful green spaces for the entire community to enjoy. Get more details, here.
  • Saturday – Join Bike SGV at their monthly meeting to discuss various projects and programs throughout the San Gabriel Valley. If you want to learn more and perhaps volunteer, this is a great time to get plugged in! Light refreshments and snacks will be provided. Get more details on this evening meeting, here.
  • Sunday -During this two-hour “Urban Safari,” attendees will learn about the history of pedestrian walkways or “pedways” in Downtown Los Angeles with Dan Koeppel, organizer of the Big Parade L.A. and acclaimed author. The pedways are a network of pedestrian bridges and pathways that made up a never-fulfilled utopian plan for Los Angeles, the 1970s vision of City Planning Director Calvin Hamilton. Free for APA members, $10 for everyone else. Get your walking shoes on, and head over here.

Anthony Portantino Asks Caltrans and Metro a Question They Won't Answer


March 23, 2015

Second part of the article.

(Mod: The SR710 Tunnel Study is missing an important report that Metro does not want the public to see. Metro and Caltrans cannot justify the $5.5 billion they claim it will cost to build this tunnel. Nor can they answer the simple question, "How much would this tunnel cost?" The letter the former Assemblyman wrote is below. If you would prefer to take all of this in by watching the video instead, click here.)