Summary of the Major Decisions from Today’s Metro Board Meeting

If Downtowners want to see a Regional Connector Station at 5th and Flower, they're going to have to find the money themselves.  Photo:##http://www.pbase.com/clovis86/profile##Clovis Bouhier/PBase##
If Downtowners want to see a Regional Connector Station at 5th and Flower, they're going to have to find the money themselves. Photo:##http://www.pbase.com/clovis86/profile##Clovis Bouhier/PBase##

Here’s a quick rundown of the major votes by today’s Metro Board. Each of these five motions were discussed at Streetsblog over the last couple of weeks, and links to those stories can be found at the end of each summary.  Streetsblog will have links to all news reports on today’s meeting tomorrow.

Westside Subway Locally Preferred Alternative/Environmental Studies
As expected, the Metro Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the Westside Subway “Locally Preferred Alternative” as the 9 1/2-mile route to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Brentwood from the current end of the Purple Line at Wilshire/Western in Koreatown.  Despite over an hour of public comment from the Beverly Hills’ NUMBY’s, there was no decision made on whether the subway should have a stop on Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City or Constellation Avenue.

Yaroslavsky’s motion, which seemed to place the concerns of Beverly Hills regarding the Constellation Avenue/Santa Monica Boulevard debate ahead of those of other communities, was amended by the author to urge the staff to provide a detailed account of the impacts of both alternatives through the Westside.  This would have happened regardless under the Final Environmental Impact Statement that the Board approved funding for today.  For background on this motion, read yesterday’s Streetsblog story or an update on today’s vote from LA_Now.

Regional Connector Locally Preferred Alternative/Environmental Studies
The Metro Board also approved the “Locally Preferred Alternative” and funding for the environmental studies needed for the Regional Connector.  The debate was dominated by Little Tokyo business groups concerned that “cut and cover” subway construction would disrupt the community and cost them business. Downtown interests and LA City Councilwoman Jan Perry also expressed concerns about the exclusion of the 5th and Flower stop from the LPA.  The Board narrowly voted to exclude the 5th and Flower for now, but left the door open to include it in the environmental studies, if local businesses raise the roughly $2 million needed for that part of the study.  For more background, read this story at Streetsblog or an update on today’s vote from Blog Downtown.

“BikeWood” Hub at Hollywood and Vine
The motion allowing the creation of a street level, highly visible Bike Hub a the Hollywood and Vine Transit Oriented Development passed without much discussion.  Streetsblog provided the background for this motion on Monday.

Ridley-Thomas Grade-Crossing Motion

Good use of everyone's time, Supervisors.  Photo: Los Angeles County
Good use of everyone's time, Supervisors. Photo: Los Angeles County

The Metro Board quickly passed County Superviser Mark Ridley-Thomas’ controversial grade crossing motion that appeared to introduce a more “subjective” tone into the analysis of whether light rail should run at-grade or grade-separated at major street crossings.  Board Member O’Conner asked that the motion be tabled for a month so Board Members could have more time to analyze the motion.  But, after Metro staff argued that the motion was just a re-emphasis on community concerns from the current grade-crossing policy and that it would have no impact on how these decisions are actually reached, the Board voted to accept Ridley-Thomas’ motion.

During a public discussion segment, Southern California Transit Advocates’ policy director, Kymberleigh Richards, warned that the changes would lead to “days of public comment” over controversial crossings when communities felt their concerns weren’t being addressed.  We’ll have to wait and see if that prediction holds true once debate on specifics of the Crenshaw Line reach the Board in 2011.  For background on this motion, click here.

710 Tunnel Cost Estimate
Ha!  Najarian was listening to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, siting his “wisdom” as a reason to get a new cost estimate.  The official estimate was based on figures from 2006.  While Najarian was able to read his motion into the record, the motion won’t have a full hearing until the next Board Meeting.  For background on this motion, click here.

  • Beyond surreal. “Metro staff argued that the motion was just a re-emphasis on community concerns from the current grade-crossing policy…” respectfully I think a plain reading of the motion makes clear it is in fact a lurch toward micro-management that will have dire consequences. Staff sadly followed their regular practice of telling the Board what it wanted to hear not what it needed to hear. And my generally poor opinion of Ridley-Thomas is re-confirmed…

  • John Gilhuly

    Has anyone – MTA, Board of Supes – L A Council – ever voiced a thought of extending light rail from Downtown to Wilmington and San Pedro? There is a bus service with a not too convenient schedule or routing, and a less than convenient bus line to Long Beach to serve the Blue Line to LA. The PE ran a branch off the LA/LB line from Dominguez Junction through Wilmington to San Pedro. Why couldn’t this be done now with the Blue Line? Doesn’t have to be Dominguez; any suitable junction point would serve.

  • LAofAnaheim

    @John, Measure allocated $500 million to a southern extension of the Green Line to Torrance. A discussion involving connecting San Pedro via a Blue and Green Line connection has been started. It won’t be for a while, unless we pass another half cent sales tax.

  • The same board that voted in fare gates has done it again and voted in Ridley-Thomas’ poorly thought out motion.

  • Darrell

    Here’s the final version of Ridley-Thomas’ Grade Crossing motion. As trimmed down (with the help of the Mayor’s office, who became a co-sponsor) it shouldn’t change much from current practice.

    ————-

    Motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa
    Item 25 Revised

    Grade Crossing Safety Policy

    The MTA Grade Crossing Policy for Light Rail Transit (the “Grade Crossing Policy”) was adopted by the Metro Board of Directors on December 4, 2003. The Policy was created to guide the evaluation of alternative grade crossing designs, and possible grade separation alternatives, where proposed light rail alignments cross major streets.

    The Grade Crossing Policy incorporates many Industry-Standard technical reviews, including Influence Zone Queue and Crossing Spillback Queue at Grade analyses. These technical calculations provide a methodical process for analyzing the traffic flow impacts of grade separation alternatives.

    It is appropriate that Metro periodically review the Grade Crossing Policy and make adjustments in response to community concerns and “lessons learned” from recent experience.

    I THEREFORE MOVE, that the Metro Grade Crossing Policy for Light Rail Transit be revised as follows:

    1. The name of the Policy shall be changed from “MTA Grade Crossing Policy for Light Rail Transit” to “Metro Grade Crossing Safety Policy.”

    2. The narrative of the Policy shall be revised to include consideration of public safety and economic development.

    3. Traffic flow analysis of grade crossing alternatives shall be calculated under three scenarios: 1) current automotive traffic levels, 2) traffic levels adjusted to reflect “natural growth” in traffic over 20 years, and 3) traffic levels adjusted to reflect the local jurisdiction’s land use forecasts within one half mile radius of each crossing over 20 years.

    4. Final determination of each grade crossing or grade separation configuration will be made by the Metro Board of Directors in conjunction with approving project environmental documents. Each decision will be based on analysis consistent with current technical standards and methodologies, including consideration of public safety and economic development.

  • Scott Mercer

    This sounds like everybody got what they wanted. Ridley-Thomas can claim that he held the board accountable, and the Board seems to have the feeling that nothing has changed.

    More typical politics over common sense. But actually, I am thankful that the concept put forth by Mr. Ridley-Thomas seems like it will not have any teeth. It was not a good idea, and if enforceable would give low information locals too much sway over construction of a transit network that serves most of the county of Los Angeles.

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