Today’s Headlines

  • Today’s Times Puff Piece on the Efforts to Clean the Ports.  No Mention of VMT.
  • Sac. Bee Columnist Really Wants More Highway Expansion, Especially on the 710
  • Goodmon: How Can Villaraigosa Call for Transit Unity When He’s Shafting South L.A.? (Fix Expo)
  • Scag Boss: Just Because There Is a Recession, There’s No Need to Stop Widening Highways (Press-Enterprise)
  • Women Kills Child, Maims Family While Turning Into Crosswalk.  No Charges Filed (Times
  • Know Your Transportation Lobbyists, the American Trucking Association (DC Streetsblog)
  • High Speed Rail Is Good for the Environment (Curbed)
  • Study: Cyclists Cause Fewer Than 10 Percent of Bike/Car Collisions (TreeHugger)
  • David Galvan

    Gotta say, Damien Goodmon is starting to pull me over to his side on the whole expo grade-separation thing. If Villaraigosa is going to make a real push to get more federal money, why not get 500M of that to grade separate a good section of Expo?

    I know, I know, it’s a LOT of money. But since sections of the expo will be street running more like the blue line street running sections than the gold line street running sections, it seems justified to take extra measures.

  • There’s already an available ROW for Expo. There is no such ROW for the subway and you can’t run a train on Wilshire Blvd. You CAN, however, run a train on the ROW that already exists along Exposition.

    It’s an apples to oranges comparison and makes absolutely no sense.

  • Also, good luck trying to leave a comment on the FixExpo blog. He doesn’t even allow moderated comments.

  • David Galvan

    I was thinking more of the comparisons Goodmon was showing between the expo ROW and the blue line ROW, showing that expo will be more like the blue line than the gold line.

    here:
    http://fixexpo.blogspot.com/2008/11/prof-meshkati-explains-why-expo-is-like.html

    If MTA wants to learn from the mistakes in designing the blue line, which is undeniably the deadliest light rail in the country, then more effort should be taken to avoid alignments similar to the blue line.

    I’m not saying the whole expo line should be completely grade separated, but if we keep building blue lines, it doesn’t really show an effort to learn from mistakes of the past, you know? Maybe divert some more funding to add more automated barriers or something, at least.

    My real worry is that, after all the yelling and race wars at meetings and on messageboards, etc., when the expo line is built largely at grade, it will indeed have a higher accident/fatality rate than other rail lines in the county save the blue line, and we’ll look back on this period of construction/design as a missed opportunity to avoid having two of the deadliest light rails in the country.

  • Having the deadliest light rail lines in the country is a step up from relying on freeways and roads for all our travel needs.

    If you support “deadly” at-grade light rail over freeway expansion, you’re already helping to save lives.

  • David Galvan

    Uh. . . yes the blue line is still statistically safer than driving. . . so is taking the metrolink. Is that any reason to NOT make efforts to improve safety even further?

  • James Fujita

    although I don’t agree with Damien, it’s hard not to feel a little sympathetic towards his position.

    first of all, until he did his big Face-Heel Turn, he was part of the big “rail transit advocate” fraternity/ coalition/ group in Los Angeles, so he knows the rail transit advocate playbook pretty well.

    he’s not just some random NIMBY who suddenly decided he was worried about property values, noise or thieves who ride trains to steal big-screen televisions.

    to be blunt, grade separation would be faster. and it would probably be safer. there is a reason why you see a lot of grade separation in Japan.

    but, it would also be more expensive, and unfortunately, in the state of California, we can’t always afford the more expensive option when a cheaper one would suffice.

  • Erik G.

    The Blue Line wasn’t design by LACMTA or SCRTD or LACTC. It was designed by the Pacific Electric.

  • David Galvan

    That’s another very important point, Erik. And the mostly-at-grade design from the early 20th century is perhaps no longer appropriate for the population and automobile density of today, not to mention the higher speeds that the modern light rail cars are capable of.

    Don’t get me wrong: I know that pedestrians and cyclists and autos and railcars can all co-exist and don’t always have to be separated etc. It just seems like some effort should be made to avoid the high accident-rate of the blue line on a new light rail system, if at all possible. Perhaps the efforts already being made for expo are sufficient. . . but the evidence goodmon was presenting in the post I linked to above was pretty convincing that they are not, at least to me.

  • David Galvan

    At the end of the day, I think James summed up the main issue pretty well:

    -We all agree that grade separation leads to a faster, safer system.
    -We all agree that grade separation is more expensive.

    Critically:
    -There is disagreement over how much money we should be willing to spend to grade separate.

    I suppose a case-by-case policy should be taken, looking at each of the intersections such lightrail crosses, to see if they represent significant safety hazards. Disagreement over the results of this type of study appears to be the basis of the whole expo debate. The schools are a case in point.

    I don’t mean to uselessly generalize this issue, and I know this has been discussed to death on these boards. I myself have argued with Goodmon about his characterization of the decisions to not grade separate Expo as a form of environmental racism. b
    But, that said, I would say that at least adding barriers to the intersections where the expo line is street running would seem appropriate to avoid auto accidents. Tunnels, elevation bridges for the train over other problem intersections may also be appropriate.

  • The Expo Line follows the mostly-at-grade standard of many recent lines (photos) in Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Houston, and Minneapolis, not to mention the very-safe Pasadena Gold Line and about-to-open Eastside Gold Line.

    Phase One’s design was approved by Metro in December 2005, and its construction is well underway. To shut it down for redesign would double the cost and kill the project. Measure R funds new projects, not massive change-orders.

  • There will, however, be deaths on the Expo Line. It’s a fact of life. I’m thinking a week or month after it opens, the first drunk or high asshole is going to ram his car into it or some grandma who shouldn’t be driving anyway will be crushed by an overweight Breda car and it’s going to be a big to-do and Goodmon will post a video of it on YouTube. Bonus points if the “victim” is black.

    Can’t wait for that.

  • “Is that any reason to NOT make efforts to improve safety even further?”

    Of course it makes sense to improve safety on the Blue Line. Right after we tear down the 110. I mean, let’s be honest here. If you really want to improve safety, get rid of these freeways.