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Posts from the "30/10" Category

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Could the Sepulveda Corridor Congestion Reduction Plan Equal Carmaheaven?

Plan_Map_legend.jpg

A map of the plan. Image: Google Maps and Juan Matute

With Carmageddon once again looming over Los Angeles, we have another opportunity to reflect on the 405 freeway: what does it mean and what do we want from it? 

What does it mean that the 405 between the 90 and the 101 has been under construction for the better part of this millenium, yet it still ranks as one of the most congested freeways in the U.S?  To myself and other transportation researchers, this means that adding capacity and managing the system at the margins doesn’t work for the 405.  It means that more innovative strategies are required for Los Angeles to have a transportation system that works better for everyone.

While millions of Southern Californians dread the weekend closure (perhaps not enough this year), a typical weekday on the 405 leaves hundreds of thousands of Los Angeleños wanting something better.  First, they want to spend less time stuck in traffic and more time doing other things.  Second, they want alternatives, like a robust transit connection between the San Fernando Valley, the Westside, and LAX.  Adding a northbound carpool lane and reconfiguring ramps between the 10 and 101 will not make the 405 any less congested at rush hour on a Friday.

Read more…

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Federal Transportation Bill Includes America Fast Forward Provisions

Congressman John Mica and Senator Barbara Boxer at the February 2011 "local hearing" on the federal transportation bill held in Los Angeles. The two are surrounded by Congressional leaders and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Photo: Darrell Clarke

Amidst all of the negative news about the federal transportation bill recently agreed to by members of the House of Representatives and Senate agreed to, there is a silver lining.  The “America Fast Forward” provisions, a group of changes and funding increases that will help cities expand their rail transit systems, survived the conference committee.  Thus, instead of angry headlines such as those that have crowded the pages of Streetsblog Capitol Hill, the Los Angeles Times proclaims, “Congress Set to O.K. Bill That Would Help Fund L.A. Transit Projects.”

Antonio Villaraigosa, in his roles as Mayor of Los Angeles, Chair of the Conference of Mayors and Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, pushed and pushed for America Fast Forward, expending much of his political capitol but making a national name for himself as a leader on transportation.  The movement began as an effort to speed up local transit projects funded by the 2008 Measure R transit tax before Villaraigosa took it national.

Specifically, America Fast Forward would increase the amount of money in a federal loan program designed to help fund new transit projects that have a high amount of local funding, enable the USDOT to make loans to related projects at the same time, and authorize USDOT to make long-term funding commitments to help transit agencies make long-term plans that better reflect reality.

“With America Fast Forward in place, cities across America will be able to speed up the construction of locally funded road and rail projects and get our economy moving again,” explains Villaraigosa in a statement.  ”Here in Los Angeles, this agreement on the Surface Transportation reauthorization and America Fast Forward will mean more jobs for Angelenos and will make it possible for us to accelerate our vision of a 21st century transportation network.”

So here’s a simple question to Streetsblog readers: are the America Fast Forward gains enough for you to support the federal transportation bill?  As Los Angeles continues to build out its rail transit system, it can use all the help it can get.  Outside of the Bus Riders Union, it’s hard to find anyone opposed to America Fast Forward locally.  However, it’s easy to find people shocked by cuts to bicycle and pedestrian funding in the federal transportation bill. Read more…

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10 Minutes with the Mayor: Still Upbeat on America Fast Forward, Loves CicLAvia

Earlier this week, the Mayor’s Office called to set up a brief chat between Streetsblog and Mayor Villaraigosa during his trip to Capitol Hill as part of “L.A. on the Hill,” a yearly lobbying sojourn of L.A.’s elite.  The trip coincided with a crucial vote on the reuthorization of the Surface Transportation bill, which failed yesterday to get the needed 60 votes to move to the Senate floor.

Mayor Villaraigosa and Secretary LaHood at Union Station in Los Angeles last month.

But the Mayor is still positive that his signature project, America Fast Forward, will move forward in some form when the legislature finally does pass some sort of extension of the legislation that guides federal transportation policy and funding. Whether that happens sooner, as the Mayor hopes, or after the election, as many Hill watchers fear, remains to be seen.

In private meetings with other elected officials and Secretary LaHood, Villaraigosa isn’t hearing a lot of buzz about efforts to strip bicycle and pedestrian funding proposals from the transportation funding legislation.  After commenting that such proposals didn’t make any sense, he seemed to hedge his bets a little noting, a “there’s folks that don’t make any sense here in teh Beltway.”

In the meantime, Villaraigosa is looking forward to CicLAvia, an event he is “very proud of.”  The mayor noted that each CicLAvia is bigger and better than the one before.  He looks forward to being out on the street to see what the next CicLAvia holds.

Read on for our full interview.  Streetsblog’s comments are in bold.:

Your office called us, I’m guessing you had something you wanted to talk about?

First off, thank you for the work that you do to really promote our roads and our streets as places where we should be able to get in our car, hopefully in a carpool, or buses, or public transportation or walk and bike as well.

I would prefer to do more of a question and answer.  What do you want to talk about?

I’m here in D.C. as you know with “L.A. on the Hill” which is the opportunity for Angelenos, business leaders and non-profit leaders, labor,  to come together with the Mayor to the hill with the mayor and advocate for the city of la and advocate for the region.  In this case, we’re hear focusing on the surface transportation bill which you know Is so important. We must pass this legislation.

It’s on the floor of the Senate as we speak.  It’s my  hope that it will pass the Senate next week at sometime then goes to the House and get approved there.

It’s a $110 billion two year bill.  If we pass it, we save about 1.8 million jobs, but we also have a chance to add another 1 million jobs with America Fast Forward.  This is L.A.’s plan that we used to call the 30/10 Plan.  It accelerates 30 years of transportation projects to a ten year period.  It now has the support of 124 mayors and we call it America Fast Forward.

It would extend the TIFIA Loan Program from the current $124 million to $1 billion.  And it incentivizes cities such as ours to invest in transportation, transit and infrastructure.

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the House version of the transportation bill.  Has any of the backlash against the bill impacted the House Republican’s feelings about America Fast Forward?  Is the enthusiasm still there on the House Side? Read more…

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Move L.A. Hosts “L.A. on the Verge” This Friday, What Would You Do with Measure R+

The current "Measure R" map.

Is Los Angeles on the “verge of a transit breakthrough” as Move L.A. states in the promotions for Friday’s all day conference featuring Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other political leaders, labor organizers and environmental groups? Or, is Los Angeles decades away from fulfilling the dream of a workable rail system promised by Measure R?

For more on Friday's conference, click on the image.

If you talk to Denny Zane, the executive director of Move L.A., the county is on the verge of something big, but if politicians and voters don’t act quickly we might be years away from real change.

“Now is not a time to get shy. We are at a transformational moment, and votes have shown they are ready to make a transformational investment in the economy,” Zane states.

He’s talking about what transportation watchers are calling “Measure R+,” a possible extension of the Measure R sales tax passed by voters in 2008 that helps fund Metro operations, a slew of highway projects, 12 transit expansion projects, and “local return” to help municipalities with their own transit projects. Before such a plan could go to the voters, it would need the blessing of the legislator, Governor, Metro Board of Directors and L.A. County Supervisors. Even then it would take a 2/3 vote of the electorate to pass the measure.

Seem like a long shot? The odds of passing Measure R were even longer in 2008. After all, an extension of the 30 year tax doesn’t add an additional burden to today’s taxpayer, but to people paying taxes thirty one years from now. If it seems unfair to dedicate decades of taxes to people not even born, it seems doubly unfair to leave the next generation with a transportation system in shambles. Read more…

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America Fast Forward Moves Closer to Becoming Reality

Villaraigosa and other leaders look on as Barbara Boxer announces $543 million in loans for the Crenshaw Line. Because of the loan, the Crenshaw Line was referred to as the "first 30/10 project."

Yesterday, The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released an outline of some its core principles for a federal transportation reauthorization bill.  One of the main planks of their proposed program would be expanding the TIFIA loan program from a $110 million program to a $1 billion program and re-branding the program “America Fast Forward.”  The policy statement was signed by committee leadership from the Republican and Democrat side of the aisle, including California Senator Barbara Boxer.

Capitol Hill Streetsblog Reports:

TIFIA is currently funded at $110 million a year but demand has far outstripped the availability of loans. Boxer’s committee is proposing to increase that funding nine-fold, to $1 billion a year. She says that amount could leverage $30 billion a year in private investment. They also plan to increase the maximum federal share from 33 percent to 49 percent, with even more favorable terms for rural areas. The TIFIA program will keep its name but be folded into a new, larger program called America Fast Forward.

While inclusion in a proposed piece of federal legislation is doesn’t assure anything in Washington, D.C., this news does make one thing official.  The vision of Move L.A. to accelerate transit programs for areas willing to spend their own money to build them, a program that was championed by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has evolved from a local “good idea” to a national policy initiative.  In 2008, L.A. County passed a sales tax to fund transit projects over the next thirty years.  Unhappy with that timeline, a coalition of activists, politicians and labor leaders created the 30/10 initiative to create a federal loan program that would speed up the funding and construction of these programs.  The program was re-branded America Fast Forward earlier this year in an attempt to show the national benefit of changing the way the government funds and loans funds for transit programs.

But the idea and movement started here.  Following the release from the Senate Committee yesterday, Villaraigosa was in the mood to celebrate. Read more…

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Boxer Tests Out “America Fast Forward” at Senate Committee Hearing

Committee chair Barbara Boxer asked panelists for their thoughts on an expanded role for the TIFIA loan program.

With House GOP leadership making it abundantly clear that they would be pleased to return federal transportation policy to the 1950s, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works met today to get serious about the who, what and how of funding a 21st century transportation system.

Meeting with a panel of transportation officials and local-level policymakers, committee chair Barbara Boxer repeated her interest in indexing the gas tax to inflation and expanding the TIFIA loan program to become the more robust funding option outlined in the America Fast Forward plan. Support for a “robust” bill came from across party lines, but as usual there were divisions between those from rural and urban areas.

Indexing the federal gas tax from its current rate of 18.4 cents per gallon to an ‘ad valorem’ tax based on the consumer price index would increase revenue for federal transportation programs over time without, technically, raising the gas tax. Of the committee members at the hearing, only Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders expressed concern, worrying that anything that might raise the cost of gasoline would adversely affect rural communities, but he did not object to indexing outright.

The hearing was the committee’s first since a bi-partisan show of support last week for America Fast Forward. Boxer made it clear that she believes TIFIA can “fast forward” infrastructure projects across the board — lending big sums upfront if the local recipient has a revenue stream to back up their borrowing. She said that the Fed could potentially come in at the beginning of a project and put up the initial funding, perhaps as much as 50 percent of the total projected costs.

Read more…

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Villaraigosa on Time Magazine Webisode on “Tackling Traffic in L.A.”

As 30/10 morphs into the national campaign known as “America Fast Forward,” so does the media campaign to make a federal loan or bonding program a reality that would allow Los Angeles to build the Measure R transit projects in the next ten years.

Yesterday, Time Magazine posted a video featuring Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discussing the future of transit funding and the bi-partisan coalition backing infrastructure investments.  If you’ve been following the local discussions around 30/10 or America Fast Forward, most of the video won’t be anything new.  The timing of the placement is perfect as the Mayor heads to Washington D.C. today to lobby Congress and speak to the progressive economics organization Move America Forward.

A feature in TIME Magazine, even in the form of a web video, is important national exposure for the Mayor and America Fast Forward.  The Mayor doesn’t waste the opportunity, pointing out that changes in federal law that allow for faster infrastructure investment are good for other major cities, such as New York and Chicago, as well as Los Angeles.

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Goodbye, 30/10. Hello, Fast Forward America.

All pictures were taken by Darrell Clarke. Here, the committees and Villaraigosa take questions from the media. Mica is at the podium flanked by Villaraigosa and Boxer.

Goodbye “30/10″ and hello “Fast Forward America.”

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) brought their road show to Los Angeles earlier this morning to get feedback and elicit testimony on how to improve the federal transportation bill.  While Boxer was on her “home turf,” it was Mica who sounded like a local finding time to complain about traffic, needle Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about transit connections to LAX and repeatedly honor Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) who was attending her last public event as a Member of Congress.

While there was some talk of the need to better move freight through the Southland, much of the conversation was dominated by ways to expedite project delivery of all sorts.  There was no talk of America’s obesity epidemic, rebuilding our cities and communities or even a mention of the words “bicycle’ or “pedestrian.”  The focus was almost completely on transit and goods movement.

Back in 2008, as soon as Los Angeles County passed a half cent sales tax dedicated towards expanding it’s transportation network, the question was asked, “when are we going to start seeing projects on the ground.”  Thanks to some innovations from the Move L.A. Coalition and the support of the Los Angeles Mayor’s office, the 30/10 Initiative was born.  The plan was to leverage the funds  that would be collected over the thirty year sales tax to build the transit projects within the next ten years. By borrowing the money from the federal government up front, projects would be delivered sooner, taking advantage of today’s low construction costs and creating 160,000 construction jobs when the industry needs it most.

Because the plan would require some changes to federal law, there had always been some discussion of how these changes would help communities outside of Southern California.  Today, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa re-branded the 30/10 Initiative as a national initiative focused on putting more construction workers to work on more projects through “America Fast Forward.” Read more…

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With Los Angeles as Inspiration, San Diego Enviros Call for 50/10 Plan

Environmentalists from San Diego are echoing the rhetoric of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the battle to expand the local transit network and reduce funding for highway expansion.

Transit, as it would exist in San Diego under SANDAG's hybrid option.  For links to maps for all the potential plans,##http://www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=368&fuseaction=projects.detail##click here.##

Transit, as it would exist in San Diego under SANDAG's hybrid option. For links to maps for all the potential plans,click here.

Enter the newly branded, “50-10″ plan.  Los Angeles’ 30/10 advocates can eat their hearts out.

Brought to you by the Save our Forest and Ranchlands (SOFAR) and the Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF), “50-10″ is an attempt to influence the “2050 Regional Transportation Plan” being proposed by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). Advocates are calling on the agency to build all of its planned transit projects for the next fifty years in the next ten and to leave the highway projects for another day. Even if the agency falls short of the ten year goal, it would hold off on any highway expansion projects until the local transit network is completely built out.

“The foundation of the 50-10 plan includes the development of a preferred regional land use plan – a smart growth land use plan – and the development of a transportation mobility network that support the needs of this smart growth plan,” said Duncan McFetridge of SOFAR in a press release.

Currently, SANDAG staff is proposing a long range plan that actually includes more funding for transit investments ($24 billion) than highway investments ($21 billion). This plan is a combination of the three major options that were considered by the SANDAG Board of Directors and would have transit and highway projects built concurrently. While SOFAR and CNFF concede this is a step in the right direction, they also argue that planning such a large investment in highways as the region is trying to grow its transit mode share is somewhat incoherent.

While SOFAR and CNFF may be borrowing Villaraigosa’s rhetoric, there are many differences between 30/10 in Los Angeles and 50-10 in San Diego. Read more…

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Is Los Angeles Ready for 30/10?

Not a one trick pony, LANU has also been involved in city budget negotiations.

Not a one trick pony, LANU has also been involved in city budget negotiations.

As a city, is Los Angeles ready to create communities that best integrate with the new transit system promised by Measure R and the 30/10 proposal?

According to a group of community activists calling themselves “LA Neighbors United” (LANU), the answer is “no.”  The coalition of neighborhood activists are incensed by changes to the city’s planning code that they claim will make it easier for projects to gain approval even if they do not meet the requirements of the local, city-approved, neighborhood plan.  As a result, LANU has written to the Federal Transit Administration urging them to halt funding of L.A.’s transit expansion projects until the city has the planning codes in place to support all of the planned transit expansion projects.

The changes to the code were passed on consent at Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council.   You can read the ordinance and committee reports here

In short, their point is that if we rush transit expansion before the proper planning codes and zones are in place; we’ll end up with sprawl development patterns around transit stations which would undermine transit ridership and the promise of a new Los Angeles.  And if the city is actually undermining those plans, then it shouldn’t be rewarded with an accelerated transit expansion plan.  Or, put less succinctly, from their letter to the FTA:

The proposed law makes no effort to target growth, including population and housing development, around transit corridors generally or Measure R funded transportation projects specifically.  Rather, the new system would perpetuate the City’s historically Wild West approach to anything-goes-anywhere planning, regardless of proximity to transit, and in clear violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Such an approach, which effectively decouples land use planning from transportation planning in the City of Los Angeles, is reckless, conflicting and incoherent.  It jeopardizes the ability of Measure R projects to perform as anticipated.  It also undermines Southern California’s ability to meet the greenhouse gas emissions targets to be set under a new state law. Read more…