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What a Vermont Avenue BRT Line Could Look Like

Future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Vermont Avenue could resemble Eugene, OR's EmX BRT line. Photo: ITDP

Future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Vermont Avenue could resemble the Emerald Express BRT line in Eugene, OR. Photo: ITDP

At this month’s board meeting, Metro staff reported that they are hiring consultants to shepherd two Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects. Today, SBLA previews one of those: Vermont Avenue BRT.

For the uninitiated, what is BRT? Bus Rapid Transit is high-quality bus service running in its own dedicated right-of-way. It comes in a lot of flavors, but generally operates like a rail line. There are two BRT examples locally. The best one is the Metro Orange Line, which runs on bus-only roads in the San Fernando Valley. Arguably the Metro Silver Line is also BRT as it runs mostly in highway toll lanes. Read this Daniel Jacobson editorial about the potential for BRT to play key roles in L.A. County’s transportation networks.

Briefly, the other BRT project will extend from the San Fernando Valley to the San Gabriel Valley. Connections would include Burbank Airport, and the Metro Gold, Orange, and Red Lines. SBLA will cover this project more as it progresses.

The two BRT projects were given momentum by a July Metro Board motion [PDF] directing Metro staff to advance these projects, including developing a budget and timelines. The Metro Board re-affirmed the July direction in this October board motion [PDF]. This month, Metro staff stated [audio - item 70 at 3:04] that they are preparing scopes of work and that consultant contracts are expected to be awarded in early 2015. Metro Board chair L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti had pressed for Metro to pursue federal Small Starts funding for these BRTs, but Metro staff sounded pessimistic about that program, due to maximum funding of $250 million for each project.

The Vermont Avenue BRT project route has not been finalized, but it is likely to be similar to the current Metro bus lines on Vermont Avenue. Vermont Avenue is one of the nation’s highest ridership bus corridors, and ridership is second only to Wilshire. The Vermont bus lines extend about 12 miles from the Metro Green Line (at the 105 Freeway) to Sunset Boulevard, including connections with Red, Purple, and Expo Lines. Depending on funding and other constraints, BRT could run on some of all of this corridor, converting to express/Rapid service in unimproved areas.

Other alternatives might be under consideration, but the Vermont line is anticipated to be “center-running” (also known as “median-aligned”) BRT. Center-running BRT has been shown to be faster and safer, compared to running along curbs. For a great explanation, watch this fun Lego-animation video.

Here’s a quick tour of some center-running BRT systems up and running elsewhere:  Read more…

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L.A. Planning Commission Won’t Approve Mobility Plan Before April 2015

Planning Commission

Department of City Planning staffer My La summarizes Mobility Plan 2035 before L.A.’s Planning Commission. The Commission continued the plan until April 2015. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission hosted its initial review of the city’s proposed new transportation plan, called Mobility Plan 2035. The meeting included Department of City Planning (DCP) staff presentations, public testimony, and discussion by planning commissioners. At the end of today’s hearing, the Planning Commission voted to direct planning staff to:

  • incorporate planning commissioner comments into a revised version of the plan
  • create a separate document specifying priorities and implementation strategy
  • return to the Planning Commission in April 2015, when the plan’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is expected to be complete

DCP has made 34 pages of revisions to the draft plan released two weeks ago. Planning staff stated that they expect to post the revisions document later today at the LA2B website.

It is encouraging that among its revisions the plan will use the broadly accepted meaning of Vision Zero, not the partial version proposed in the previous draft. The plan, as currently proposed, includes this goal:

Vision Zero: Decrease transportation-related fatality rate to zero by 2035.

Public testimony included representatives from various business groups, L.A. Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), the L.A. County Business Federation, and others speaking in support of keeping the plan’s proposed Vehicle Enhanced Network (VEN – profiled here.)

The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) supported the Bicycle Enhanced Network, and the plan’s overall “aspirations.” Los Angeles Walks founder (and Streetsblog L.A. board member) Deborah Murphy suggested that the plan needs to “go further,” including by outlining a clear “strict process” for making streets more livable.

Also testifying were South Los Angeles groups, including TRUST South L.A. and Community Health Councils, which supported the plan’s focus on safer streets.  Read more…

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Speaking with Steven Cliff, Caltrans’ New Sustainability Director

Steven Cliff, Caltrans’ first Assistant Director of Sustainability. Photo: Caltrans

As part of its ongoing work to expand its focus beyond just highways, California’s Department of Transportation, better known as Caltrans, recently created a new position — the Assistant Director of Sustainability. Steven Cliff, the new hire, will oversee the integration of one of the department’s newest goals: “Sustainability, Livability, and Economy.”

Cliff comes from the California Air Resources Board, where he helped develop ways to implement AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, and helped develop the cap-and-trade program. He has a background in global climate science and air quality research at the University of California, Davis, where he held a research faculty position before taking on policy work at the ARB.

Changes at Caltrans

Caltrans’ sustainability goal is part of the department’s newly formulated mission and vision statements. Those statements resulted from months of intensive work in response to outside pressure on the department to face the fact that its car-focused, highway-loving, bureaucratic ways were not serving Californians.

The pressure came from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), the new-ish agency with oversight over Caltrans and several other agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol, that before 2013 answered only to the governor.

One of CalSTA’s first actions was to commission an outside study on the state of affairs at Caltrans.

The resulting report, from the State Smart Transportation Initiative [PDF], ripped into Caltrans, calling it rigid, out of step, and overly risk-averse. The report led to several legislative hearings last year, and led to Caltrans’ endorsement of the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide as an alternative to the department’s own hidebound guidelines, which squelched safer and innovative street designs — especially bicycle infrastructure.

Caltrans dumped its old mission statement, “Improve mobility across California,” for a new one: “Provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.”

In the process it also came up with a new vision statement and formulated ten new goals to help achieve that vision. The newest one, “Sustainability, Livability, and Economy,” Caltrans explains as: “[Making] long-lasting, smart mobility decisions that improve the environment, support a vibrant economy, and build communities, not sprawl” (emphasis added).

Cliff, the new Assistant Director for Sustainability, has the job of leading up the effort to develop the sustainability goal, create objectives for it, and formulate performance measures to evaluate how well those objectives are achieved. When the work is finished, it will help inform the department’s five-year strategic plan, due next spring.

Read more…

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Ten Reasons L.A.’s Mobility Plan Needs to End Road Widening

The Department of City Planning thinks that Beverly Boulevard needs to be 32 feet wider. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Department of City Planning thinks that Beverly Boulevard needs to be 32 feet wider. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The City of Los Angeles is updating its primary transportation plan, something it hasn’t done since 1999. The new Mobility Plan 2035, authored by the City Planning Department (DCP), will be before the city’s Planning Commission tomorrow.

There is some welcome stuff — especially in the vision statements — in the latest draft Mobility Plan. It is better than 1999′s plan. But what gets most stuck in my personal craw is road-widening.

This is 2014. Vehicle miles driven are declining. We’re building five rail lines. We spent a billion dollars widening the 405 Freeway only to experience slower commute times. Greenhouse gas reduction legislation is mandating sustainable communities. And Los Angeles is about to reaffirm its self-destructive policy of continuing to widen the crap out of the majority of our already built-out road network.

Briefly, how street-widening plans work in L.A.: Perhaps 100 years ago, someone (usually the city or developers) built a street. Let’s say said street was and is 50 feet wide. During the post-WWII car-centric planning era, following the latest car-centric traffic engineering standards, DCP decided that the 50-foot wide road should really be 60 feet wide. Someone buys a property on this street with the intention of tearing down the existing building and replacing it with a new one. DCP mandates that when that new building goes up, the developer must pay to widen the street to some or all of that now “missing” 10 feet, typically half of it, sometimes more. So, in this case, the developer loses a 5-foot strip of land which goes toward widening the street. Corner lots, perhaps the most desirable for visibility and foot traffic, often lose two strips of land, one for each street that they front. In theory, all of the properties on the street would be redeveloped and the whole length of the street would be up to the new standard, but that could take hundreds of years.

Civilized nations like Pasadena and even Downtown Los Angeles ended street widening practices a while ago.

Some folks already read this when I opined about it this past May, but one especially heinous example just three blocks from where I live, walk, and bike is Beverly Boulevard. In L.A.’s most population-dense neighborhood, alongside the Metro Red Line subway station, Beverly would be widened from 78 feet to 110 feet. Really. Beverly is just one of many streets that DCP wants to widen.

I urge the Planning Commission to reject the Mobility Plan unless it explicitly ends road widening.

Here are my top ten reasons to end road widening:

1. The City Can’t Afford to Maintain Wider Streets - Wider roads are more expensive for the city to maintain. With gas tax revenues at their lowest inflation-adjusted levels ever, transportation funding is scarce at the federal, state, and local level. The feds resorted to budget gimmicks, including “pension-smoothing,” to make up for huge transportation funding shortfalls. Los Angeles is looking to its own budget gimmicks, including closing parking tax loopholes, to fund street resurfacing, which L.A. already has trouble keeping up with. Though it is apparently on hold, L.A. was also looking to float a $3+ billion road repair bond.

The first thing we should be doing when we find ourselves in a hole like this is to stop digging. Stop the bleeding. Stop the road widening. Though roads seem cheap when the feds or developers pay to build or widen them, excessively unnecessarily wide roads come with excessive maintenance costs. They are ticking fiscal time-bombs for cities. (Thanks to Strong Towns for getting me thinking about this in this way.)

2. Widening Hurts the Local Economy – Street-widening requirements drive up the cost of new development. New housing, retail, etc., is not only required to pay to build a chunk of new street (up to 32 feet wide in the Beverly example above), but that development also loses that strip from what can be developed, meaning a smaller building footprint, so less housing, less retail… not to mention impacts on public projects: less park, less school, less library, less transit station, etc. 

3. Widening Hurts Affordable Housing – A noteworthy subset of item 2 above, shaving that road-widening dedication off of housing parcels drives up the cost of housing. This is especially true in core older neighborhoods where streets are at sane dimensions but not up to the latest car-centric standards. As Mayor Garcetti pushes Metro to step up joint development of affordable housing at transit stations, let’s not dedicate a bunch more of that land to streets when it should go to housing.

Read more…

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Lightly Revised L.A. City Mobility Plan At Planning Commission Thursday

Cover of L.A.'s revised Mobility Plan 2035. Apparently lots of empty transit platforms in L.A.'s future. Image via DCP draft [PDF]

Cover of L.A.’s latest draft Mobility Plan 2035. Apparently Los Angeles’ future includes lots of mostly-empty gray transit platforms, with prominent restrictive signage and surveillance cameras. Image via DCP draft [PDF]

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning (DCP) recently released an updated version of its proposed Mobility Plan 2035, the transportation element of the city’s General Plan. The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed plan at its meeting this Thursday at 8:30 a.m. [agenda PDF - see item 7]. The revised plan documents are available online via the LA/2B project document page; they include a staff report [PDF], the Mobility Plan, Map Atlas, Complete Streets Guidelines, and Environmental Impact Report.

Though the staff report summarizes a number of changes, the revised plan appears to be very similar to the earlier version, analyzed in earlier SBLA articles. See this March article for overall background.

One new inclusion in the plan is Vision Zero. Well, sort of.

Vision Zero, from Sweden to LA’s Department of Transportation (LADOT), has always meant eliminating all traffic fatalities. Zero dead drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or cyclists. DCP’s new draft Mobility Plan (p.38) re-defines the term as:

Vision Zero: Decrease pedestrian and bicycle fatality rate to zero by 2035.

DCP’s version is more like “Vision 108,” well below the current “Vision 219,” based on 2010 traffic fatalities enumerated in DCP’s Health Atlas (219 overall traffic fatalities, including 100 pedestrians and 11 cyclists.)

People who identify as cyclists and pedestrians certainly welcome the end of bicycling and walking fatalities. Keep that in the plan! 108 annual deaths are better than 219. Unfortunately DCP is re-defining an already widely-used term, taking an all-inclusive safety framework and carving it into a benefit for what is currently a minority slice of road users. This could confuse or mislead the public, and might erode public support for the truly universally-beneficial Vision Zero.

As SBLA noted for the earlier version, the revised documents remain full of mealy-mouthed non-committal language when it comes to describing safety and livability advances, for example:

The Plan builds upon the bike plan framework and goes a step further by proposing fully protected bicycle lanes. (Staff Report, p.19, italics added)

L.A.’s past car-centric road-widening, parking, funding plans don’t just “propose” or “consider” car-centric infrastructure, they very clearly plan it, designate it, and then it gets built. Perhaps some wiggle-room is needed in the volatile current period where travel modes are shifting, new technologies are emerging, and car miles traveled are declining. Unfortunately ambiguous non-committal road designations are likely to mean that car-centric streets will remain the city’s default. While road-widening and speed-limit increases continue, livability and safety projects could continue to face long-drawn-out community dialogue processes. Look no further than the city’s “Year Two” bike lane projects: eight months down the road with zero mileage completed or even finalized.

Other earlier critiques remain applicable. Read more…

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Metro Extends Sheriff Contract 6 Months; What’s In Metro Policing’s Future?

Los Angeles County Sheriffs have, at least anecdotally, had an increased presence on Metro in recent months.

Last Thursday, Metro’s policing contract decision was postponed in favor of a 6-month extension of the current L.A. County Sheriffs Department contract. Photo of Sheriff deputy on Wilshire Bus in September 2014. Photo by Dana Gabbard/Streetsblog L.A.

Last week, the Metro Board of Directors finally took action on its repeatedly-extended, repeatedly-about-to-expire contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).

Metro approved a $44.44 million 6-month extension of the $83 million annual contract covering policing for its entire bus and rail transportation networks. This is the eleventh modification of the contract; most of those modifications have been to extend the current contract, which has been in place since 2009.

The extension kicks the ultimate contract decision down the road to a new set of Metro directors, as supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina will be replaced by Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, respectively. There will also be a newly-elected L.A. County Sheriff: former Long Beach police chief Jim McDonnell.

The extension also, for better or for worse, puts some time between contract deliberations and the recent LASD audit. Ostensibly, it gives the LASD six months to fix problems identified by the audit, or perhaps enough time for any heat generated by the audit’s criticism to dissipate.

In April 2014, Metro received the results of its audit of LASD policing work. Both Metro and LASD’s Transit Services Bureau (TSB) wrote official responses to the audit; the agency responses were included as attachments in a June 2014 final report. Though a 4-page board report summarizing the roughly 200-page LASD audit document was soon made available, it took some persistence to obtain the actual public document. Transit advocate Dana Gabbard obtained and posted the audit here. Gabbard also penned this article previewing Metro’s September 4 board meeting to receive and file the audit.

At that September meeting, Metro’s Inspector General staff asserted that the audit, not yet posted to Metro’s website, was publicly available, as anyone could file a public records request to obtain it. The Metro board differed, directing staff to post the full public document online. After that meeting, Metro posted a revised version [PDF].

Though there was media coverage at the time, much of it more-or-less summarized the summaries, rarely going into detail regarding issues raised. Largely missing was LASD TSB’s responses on items where they differed with auditors. Press included:

  • The L.A. Register stated, “Auditors made 50 recommendations to correct or improve deficiencies in nearly every performance area, including staffing, billing, strategic planning, communications, oversight, and achievement of goals.”
  • In July, the L.A. Times ran highlights of audit findings regarding crime statistics, fare evasion, and staffing issues.
  • After the September Board meeting, the Times ran a follow-up article stating, “Their blistering [LASD Audit] report found a host of management and safety problems over the last five years of contracted service” and that “Sheriff’s Department officials [...] are working to correct the issues raised in the audit.”
  • July coverage at County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website outlined that the audit “faulted the Sheriff on a number of fronts, including lack of a community-policing plan for the nation’s third-largest bus and rail system, perennial staff vacancies, tardy responses to citizen complaints, and inadequate records to support its billings” but assured readers that “reforms already are underway.”

Metro staff reporting on the audit have been similarly opaque about audit responses. Here is a chart showing how the agency is complying with audit recommendations:

Metro is about xx percent done address issues raised in their audit of LASD transit policing performance. From Metro Staff Report September 2014

Metro is about 50 percent done addressing issues raised in their audit of LASD transit policing performance. Which 50 percent have been addressed is not indicated. From Metro Staff Report September 2014

The brief September staff report shows various percentages of work completed and in progress, with no supporting documentation indicating which audit items have been completed and which remain.

So, what’s in that audit?  Read more…

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Where Should ‘Barnes Dance’ Diagonal Scramble Crosswalks Go?

LA Gets Diagonal Crosswalks (again) from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Last week, the L.A. Times ran this article announcing that the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) is planning to add new diagonal “scramble” or “Barnes Dance” crosswalks at three pedestrian-heavy Metro-rail adjacent intersections:

  • 7th Street and Flower Street, Downtown Los Angeles
  • Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, Hollywood
  • Aliso Street and Alameda Street, at Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles

Though scramble intersections are working just fine thank you in Pasadena, at USC, and at UCLA, the Times trotted out an unnamed L.A. transportation engineer who, in 1995, said they wouldn’t work here.

This got SBLA thinking: This is a great idea, but LADOT just isn’t going far enough! What other pedestrian-heavy intersections would be great for scramble treatments? Why not MacArthur Park? Wilshire and Vermont? in front of L.A. Trade Tech? And why not go further? Can we close some streets around our rail stations, maybe even around our schools, too – make them only for walking and bicycling? At certain hours? or all the time – like plazas or mini-CicLAvias?

Comment away, dear readers! Where would you put pedestrian scrambles? In L.A. or elsewhere? Where could we go further?

 

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Metro Postpones Approving ENA for Mariachi Plaza, Gets Blasted for Having it on Agenda in First Place

Recognize this place? Me, neither. But it's a rendering of the potential future of Mariachi Plaza. (Source: Metro)

Recognize this place? Me, neither. But it’s a rendering of the potential future of Mariachi Plaza. (Source: Metro)

“Injustice. [...] Lack of accountability. Lack of outreach in our community,” a frustrated Teresa Marquez, president of the Boyle Heights Stakeholders Association, told the Metro Board of Directors this morning. “Nobody’s talking to us!”

She was right.

Metro had apparently reneged on promises in 2012 that, “prior to seeking Metro Board approval [for a project at Mariachi Plaza], staff will be conducting a meeting to update the community regarding the development site.

Instead, only a handful of people were made aware of the plans for an 8-story parking garage with medical offices and a 3-story retail and fitness center adjacent to the plaza, the motion before the Planning Committee last Tuesday to grant developer Primestor an 18-month Exclusive Negotiation Agreement and Planning Document (ENA) for the site, or the motions to grant ENAs to two other affordable housing projects slated for Cesar Chavez/Soto and 1st/Soto.

The firestorm the Mariachi Plaza plans and the lack of community outreach ignited (not even the neighborhood councils had been advised of the plans) prompted the Board to pull the item and the two linked to affordable housing from the consent agenda. All three were postponed until February of 2015 in order to give the developers time to engage the community in the planning process. *(The extension of the ENA for the 1st/Lorena site, which some hoped to also see postponed, was granted to A Community of Friends.)

It was a move that Primestor CEO and Co-founder Arturo Sneider said he applauded.

During the public comment period, he spoke of Metro’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process as keeping them from being able to do extensive community engagement.

Although Metro had released the RFP almost a year ago, Primestor could do no outreach during the “blackout period” while its proposal was being considered. And since Metro had only conducted the final interviews in September and decided upon the winning proposals some time after that, there really had been no time for a community process. (The same had been true with the proposals for housing at 1st/Soto and Cesar Chavez/Soto)

Sneider reassured Metro that Primestor was committed to community engagement and local hiring, and was looking forward to beginning that process.

It was not enough to reassure those present to protest the project. While they were pleased that Metro had (finally) listened to the community, they were frustrated at their sense they were never seen as a partner in development and that their voices only tended to be heard when there was a massive outcry in the eleventh hour.

Many of the speakers wanted to make it clear that community engagement was not only important for a productive planning process, but also essential to ensure that current residents would be able to reap the benefits of any investments in the area. Read more…

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Garcetti Motion Encourages Affordable Housing At Metro Stations

California's Strategic Growth Council has awarded the city of Los Angeles a half-million dollar grant for a study that will make it easier to build infill housing in Transit Priority Areas, similar to this transit-oriented development above the Metro Red Line Wilshire/Vermont Station. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

A Metro motion passed today should help the agency play a significant role in joint development of affordable housing at Metro stations, similar to this housing at the Wilshire-Vermont subway station. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Earlier today, the Metro board of directors passed a motion [PDF] encouraging Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and affordable housing.

The motion may give some indication of where the board’s newest chair, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, hopes to take the agency. Garcetti has been a vocal proponent of siting affordable housing along transit lines. Garcetti authored the motion and shepherded its passage in the face of concerns expressed by other Metro boardmembers.

The motion helps Metro to play a greater role in fostering affordable housing at its rail stations and along its transit corridors. There are six components to the motion; the agency will: (full text in this PDF)

  1. Inventory current and potential future joint development sites along Metro’s Gold, Expo, Crenshaw/LAX, Regional Connector, and Purple Lines.
  2. Partner with local cities and L.A. County to work together to invest in transit corridor sites, potentially leveraging municipal housing funding.
  3. Set a goal that a minimum 30 percent of Metro’s jointly-developed housing will be affordable housing.
  4. Allow property value discounts to incentivize affordability.
  5. Collaborate on the creation of a Countywide Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) loan fund.
  6. Establish a TAP purchase program for residents of joint development housing.

The motion directs Metro CEO Art Leahy to report to the board in February 2015 with a preliminary assessment of the above. From its preamble, the motion readies Metro to support the region in taking advantage of new State of California programs that will grant cap-and-trade funds to promote Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC.)

The motion was approved at last week’s executive committee meeting, so it could have sailed through this morning without debate. Boardmember Diane DuBois removed the item from the meeting’s consent calendar. Though DuBois ultimately voted in favor of the motion, she offered a long list of concerns, including: Metro shouldn’t “dictate” affordable housing goals, Metro doesn’t have authority over land use, affordability targets will discourage development, existing TAP outlets are sufficient, and affordable joint development is “diverting transit dollars.”

Overall, Dubois’ comments encouraged Metro to tightly focus on its mission to provide transit, hence joint development would merely “generate value” that the agency can use to fund transit.

The motion was then defended by its co-authors, Garcetti, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Garcetti-appointees Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker and Mike Bonin. Garcetti cited a recent report showed that L.A. City has the least affordable rental housing market in the nation.

Councilmember Bonin stressed that Metro does have significant influence over development, and that it was a “moral imperative” to play a role in addressing the great need for affordable housing. Overall, Garcetti and these co-authors affirmed that Metro’s mission does extend beyond the strict boundaries of its stations, and that the agency plays a big role in the quality of life in transit-adjacent communities.  Read more…

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Metro Breaks Ground on Purple Line Subway Extension

Assembled dignitaries break ceremonial ground on the 4-mile Purple Line subway extension this morning at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Assembled dignitaries break ceremonial ground on the 4-mile Purple Line subway extension this morning at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This morning Metro broke ground on its fifth simultaneous rail construction project: the Purple Line Extension. The new phase will extend the subway from downtown to La Cienega Boulevard, with two additional future phases planned to extend the line to Century City and Westwood.

The ceremonies took place at the L.A. County Museum of Art, which will be served by the future Wilshire/Fairfax station. Attendees numbered roughly 500, mostly governmental and consultant staff. The Master of Ceremonies was KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak.

Speakers included Federal Transit Administration acting head Therese McMillan, Senator Diane Feinstein, Congressmembers Karen Bass and Henry Waxman, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and L.A. City Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz, and Tom LaBonge.

Numerous speakers acknowledged the long series of leaders that brought this latest construction project to fruition: from former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa to former Metro CEO Roger Snoble. Administrator McMillan spoke enthusiastically about bringing transit to Wilshire Boulevard, “where car culture was born.” Mayor Garcetti spoke of Los Angeles as a multi-modal city, where people can walk, bike, ride, and “if you want to stay in your car, God bless you.”

Maybe most tellingly, Senator Feinstein singled out the need for continuity of leadership, specifically mentioning County Supervisor-elect Sheila Kuehl who was seated in the front row of the audience. Feinstein also spoke of the importance of the task of keeping full federal funding on track in the current Congress.  Read more…