Metro Moves Forward on Harbor Subdivision, Crenshaw Corridor, Hybrid Alternative for Route 2 Terminus and Gating for the Eastside Extension

12_10_09_gold_line.jpgGoing north on Indiana on the way to First Street.

Earlier today the Metro Board of Directors unanimously approved the light rail alternative for the Crenshaw Corridor and agreed to study making the light rail run underground for a dozen blocks between 48th and 59th street over the plans of the Metro staff. According to a press release, "The light rail alternative will be 8.5 miles in length from the Metro Green Line Aviation Station to the Expo Line, now under construction, at Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, with a travel time estimated at 20 minutes. There will be seven new stations plus an option for one more. The final Environment Impact Study/Environment Impact Report could be ready by the end of 2010, with the line scheduled to open in 2018."

The vote today followed a mobilization of the community activists for the light rail option, as opposed to the BRT option, since alternatives for the line were first being discussed. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has been actively pushing for the light rail option since his election last year and today’s vote can only be construed as a victory for his efforts. However, just because the underground alignment is being studied doesn’t mean that it will be in the final design, but it would head off another prolonged battle between Metro and the South L.A. Community over a light rail line.

The Crenshaw Corridor Light Rail line wasn’t the only rail line to move forward. The Board also voted to move forward with an extension of Metro Green Line rail service to the proposed Torrance Regional Transit Center in the South Bay area of the region. The study of bringing transit to the twenty six mile freight rail corridor is in a much earlier phase than the Crenshaw Corridor. At this point there is no "opening" date for the project.

The Board also voted to move forward on quad gates for segments of the Gold Line Eastside Extension. After Metro staff and Board members swore up and down that the line was safe when it opened last month, a car was hit by a light rail car over Thanksgiving weekend and two girls walked into cars claiming they were confused by the crossing signals.

After listening to a parade of speakers berate the Board for pushing the Gold Line Eastside Extension’s opening before all safety precautions could be taken, Mayor Villaraigosa chimed in wondering why a full Environmental Impact Review was necessary just to install barrier gates. It turns out the quad gates would cause several intersections to get a failing grade because of the traffic congestion that it would create.

However, Villaraigosa, Councilman Jose Huizar and Supervisor Gloria Molina devised a plan to work on a declaration of "no significant impact" for the gate installation that could take less time than an EIR. Just in case the environmental researchers reach the conclusion that there is a significant impact, Metro will be moving forward with an environmental review at the same time.

Noting that even a finding of "no significant impact" would still take a lot of time, Molina joked that they should just find a billionaire in the City of Industry to get the legislature to pass a law allowing Metro to do whatever they want. When Board Chair Ara Najarian asked her if she knew any, she joked that she heard the Mayor had some contacts.

Briefly, the Board also voted to approve the "hybrid" option for the Route 2 Terminus Project, support minority businesses in the Crenshaw Corridor and the Mayor’s vision to move and empowered the staff to reach an agreement with Caltrans to widen the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass.

  • Spokker

    “After Metro staff and Board members swore up and down that the line was safe when it opened last month, a car was hit by a light rail car over Thanksgiving weekend and two girls walked into cars claiming they were confused by the crossing signals.”

    A car getting hit and two girls walking into the train does not necessarily mean that the line is unsafe. More accidents are going to happen, even with gates. That we can be sure of with 100% certainty.

    By the way, if the girls are confused by the crossing signals, I wonder how they survive in the rest of the city without light rail.

  • The Metro Green Line extension as far as South Bay Galleria has $272 million to be provided by Measure R. I have to imagine anything else beyond that is unfunded.

    http://www.metro.net/measurer/default.asp

  • One car hits a train and its unsafe?

    Might as well shut down the interstate system until we can find a way to avoid ALL collisions!

    I also demand a 4 quadrant gate be installed at every intersection in this country. I saw someone run a red light the other day!

  • Spokker

    jass, Pasadena has four-quadrant gates and East LA doesn’t. That’s the issue here.

  • Spokker

    But Spokker, the CPUC does not require gates on street-running light rail, but does on the semi-exclusive right of way in Pasadena, which, by the way, was an old Santa Fe line. The street-running light rail in East LA is no different than what can be found around the nation.

  • Spokker

    But wait, Spokker, there are inherent differences in the way light rail has been constructed for communities of color and “whiter” communities. Pasadena even has gates for pedestrians and other amenities not required by the CPUC that are not found in East LA. Has Metro run out of money, or are they all out of concern?

  • Spokker

    Spokker, f’ you!

  • Spokker

    No, Spokker, f’ YOU!!!

    There, I saved us the trouble.

  • Paul

    I’m lost in this little Spokker skit. I don’t get the joke.

  • This has been one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve read online in years.

  • Matt

    I gotta say, above all the details…if all these plans go through for Expo Line Phase 2 and the Subway-to-the-Sea and the Green Line extension, etc. etc….this is gonna be a pretty good city to live in for the next generation. Hopefully we don’t screw this up like we did the last time we had good rail transit in this town.

  • Erik G.

    Spokker,

    You forgot to mention Hitler or Nazi.

  • Spokker, you need to remember to log in.

    As far as the four quadrant gates, please note that they are gating the ENTIRE intersection – including parallel traffic – when the train passes by. During the peak hour, if the gates come down, stay down, and come back up, that’s 45-60 seconds of down time for the intersection, 16 times an hour (currently the Gold Line runs 8 times an hour during the peak). 25% of the capacity of the intersection frittered away. You also have to correct the timing of pedestrian signals since there may be times where a pedestrian will not be able to get across the street before the gates come down. This is not the same as putting gates adjacent to the railroad tracks. This obviously called for an EIR, but for political reasons the consultant will declare a “mitigated” negative declaration, when in reality the only mitigation for this traffic chaos is widening Third Street – which of course would require an EIR because of property takes and increased traffic. So the predetermined decision will be made, and Drivers for Highway Safety, the Auto Club, or one of the other pro-single occupany vehicle groups will sue MTA to throw out the mitigated negative declaration – and you’re back at square one again.

  • calwatch has it right. One of the major impediments to implementing crossing gates in street running is pedestrian queuing area. If they’re placed parallel to the track then pedestrians are stranded in the middle of the street.

    During the discussion I was sitting next to a light rail operator and we both were saying, “Not one of these board members has a clue what the heck they’re talking about.”

    That said there are a few intersections where gates could likely be added. Temple/Alameda and 1st/Alameda come to mind, among others.

  • Spokker

    “During the discussion I was sitting next to a light rail operator and we both were saying, “Not one of these board members has a clue what the heck they’re talking about.””

    If they are calling for a study knowing full well gates will probably not be implemented, but just want to placate those who are calling for gates, well, they know exactly what they are doing.

  • Spokker,

    There were comments that reflected they actually had no clue how the gates system even work.

  • limit

    Sadly it seems auto traffic will not be taken off overburdened city streets by a freeway gap closure. The terminus on both ends are configured, many properties along the old alignment already State owned, …

    I love riding through Echo Park into downtown but would also love driving through it if it was not for the mass amount of buses and autos.

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