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Posts from the "light rail" Category


Move L.A.’s Measure R2 Draft Proposal, Including Their Rail Fantasy Map

Move L.A.'s draft breakdown for a possible 2016 transportation funding measre. Source: Move L.A.

Move L.A.’s draft breakdown for a possible 2016 transportation funding measure. Source: Move L.A.

Last week, Move L.A. convened its annual transportation conversation conference under the banner of “Imagining Measure R2.” The daylong conference was profiled in the L.A. Times and at the Source. Today SBLA takes a look at Move L.A.’s “strawman” R2 proposal presented that day. It’s a draft for purposes of discussion, very likely to change some before it would reaches the ballot in 2016. It looks a lot like Measure R, but there are also a few big differences.

Measure R was a 30-year county-wide half-cent sales tax narrowly approved by L.A. voters in 2008. Measure R funding has been key to Metro’s rail expansion underway, including the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Expo Line Phase 2, Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail, the Regional Connector, and the Purple Line Extension. In 2012, a subsequent transportation bond proposal, Measure J, received 66 percent approval, but narrowly failed to pass the two-thirds needed.

Measure R2, under Move L.A.’s initial strawman proposal, would be a 45-year county-wide half-cent sales tax, with project revenues approximately $90 billion. It would run concurrently with Measure R for R’s remaining 20+years, which presents some issues with overall sales tax limits in some L.A. County cities. R2 is anticipated to be on the 2016 ballot and would need to pass by a two-thirds majority.

The overall R2 breakdown (see pie chart graphic at top of post) is somewhat similar to Measure R.

category 2008 Measure R 2016 draft Measure R2
New rail & BRT capital 35.00% 30.00%
Metrolink capital 3.00% 5.00%
Rail capital existing lines 2.00%
Rail Operations 5.00%
Bus Operations 20.00%
Transit Operations 20.00%
Highway Capital 20.00% 20.00%
Local Return 15.00% 15.00%
Active Transportation (bike-ped) 4.00%
Goods Movement 6.00%

There are a few important differences. The strawman proposal includes funding for active transportation: pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Read more…


Report: In Cutting Emissions, CAHSR Expensive Compared to Local Upgrades

Streetfilms featured Los Angeles’ Orange Line BRT and bike path in 2009. A new UCLA report says infrastructure projects like the Orange Line are a better way to invest cap-and-trade funds than CA High-Speed Rail.

UCLA’s Lewis Center published a report yesterday finding that California’s High-Speed Rail project is a relatively expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the near-term, compared to upgrading local transit and bicycle infrastructure.

Comparing CAHSR to Los Angeles Metro’s Gold Line light-rail and Orange Line bus rapid transit route and bikeway, the report finds high-speed rail to be the least cost-efficient investment the state could make.

The high-speed rail project costs more per metric tonne of GHG emissions than the current cost of allowances under cap-and-trade, the report says. If the savings costs to users are included in the calculations, then the light-rail, busway, and bikeway projects cost far less than the cap-and-trade auction price, which makes them more cost-effective ways to meet the emission reduction goals set out in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, A.B. 32.

“There are a lot of projects that can reduce GHG emissions,” said Juan Matute, one of the report’s authors. “And differentiating between them will become more important in the future. One way is to look at the cost-effectiveness of the reductions.”

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed cap-and-trade expenditure plan includes $250 million for high-speed rail to be spent in the next year alone, but very little for other transit or bicycle and pedestrian projects. High-speed rail isn’t scheduled to be online until 2022, so the savings it yields won’t help meet the state’s 2020 emission reductions goals. Meanwhile, the funds could be used for more local investments such as transit services or bicycle and pedestrian connections that would reduce GHG emissions more quickly. Read more…


Ethan Elkind’s Railtown – How Planning, Engineering and Mostly Politics Shape L.A. Rail


Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City, published by UC Press, 2014

The UC Berkeley Faculty Club meeting room was packed on Tuesday evening with people who came to hear Ethan Elkind talk about his book, Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City.

Elkind, who holds a joint appointment as Climate Policy Associate at the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools, entertained the crowd with a wry, rapid-fire summary of some of the complex political forces that quite literally shaped the current and future Metro system.

Like many contemporary cities, L.A. originally grew along streetcar lines. Then, as cars became more ubiquitous, it spread out into interstitial areas and beyond, becoming an “endless expanse of subdivisions.” A map of the oversized extent of Los Angeles County (“the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined….Why does Delaware get to be a state?”) gave an idea of the vast areas overseen by only five county supervisors, with huge and varied constituencies. The mottled shape of the city of LA showed the relatively minor power base of its mayor.

Federal money for transit helped start the conversation. “If the city could put up 20% of the cost of building an urban rail system,” said Elkind, “then the federal government would pay 80%–this was a very enticing deal.” Terrible air quality and bad congestion added to a general frustration with the existing transportation in LA, helping set the stage for rail.

He showed a slide with an overhead photo of the city (“That photo cost me some money,” he said—which is why Streetsblog didn’t post it here). It showed an endless cityscape, and jutting up were tall buildings clearly outlining the Wilshire Boulevard corridor.

“If you’re going to build rail,” said Elkind, “This is where you should do it, along the most densely populated corridor in the western U.S.”

Read more…


First Look at Farmer’s Field Traffic EIR: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Earlier today, AEG announced the completion of the first draft of environmental documents for Farmers Field, the proposed football stadium for Downtown Los Angeles.  The document, available on City Planning’s website, is a mammoth 10,000 pages and the ceremonial handing over of the documents to the city at today’s event involved 13 overflowing three ring binders.

Of course, the EIR was already available on City Planning’s website.

With only 45 days to examine all 10,000 pages, the clock is running.  Here is our first thoughts on the transportation planning for Farmers Field.

Increasing Capacity on the 101

Be careful what you plan for. This graphic explains how building highways begets more highways in rural areas, but the conclusion is the same. Building a highway expansion creates a need to expand a highway somewhere else.

When the Daily News published its exclusive report on the transportation planning for the Downtown Stadium last night, it focused on a proposal to widen the 101 freeway from Downtown Los Angeles to Glendale Boulevard.  While the idea of eliminating a bottleneck probably appeals to car commuters from the Valley to Downtown and football fans alike, Caltrans and the other agencies who will spend AEG’s $2.5 million to study the project need to be vigilant.

Lat month, the Metro Board authorized a funding agreement (Item 8) with Caltrans of $100,000 for development of Project Study Report (PSR) for the “Highway 101 Auxiliary Lane Project” that appears to be the same project proposed by AEG.  It should take up to six months for Metro, Caltrans and other participating agreements to be ready for the study.

Increasing capacity on one highway in an area where it connects with so many other highways in such a short area is fraught with peril, even if one only measures a highway project’s success by traffic flow.  True, traffic may flow through the couple of miles that are bottlenecked now, but opening the flow in that area could encourage more people to drive to more destinations and increase congestion elsewhere.

Of course, the new traffic patterns will impact congestion, air quality, and life in general on a daily basis, not just on game day.  If the traffic study shows an increased amount of cars on the 101 and connected highways, and it probably will, officials will have to decide whether or not increasing the amount of cars on L.A.’s freeways is a cost the region is willing to pay to increase access to a special event’s center.

Blue Line Station Read more…


Crenshaw Subway Coalition Gears up for Legal Battle. Metro Pushes Date for EIR Review

The Crenshaw Subway community group is kicking its planning for a legal challenge to the Crenshaw Line in to high gear, announcing an “emergency meeting” tonight to brief their members on their preparations.  Originally, the meeting was scheduled because of Metro’s plans to certify the environmental documents at their August 4th Board Meeting, despite the fact that the documents have not been made available for public review.  However, I just received word that Metro will delay the vote on the documents until their September 22nd meeting or later.  Plans to vote on Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ motion on the community benefits package remain on the table for next month’s early board meeting.

Residents near the Crenshaw Corridor came out in force to try and get a station at Leimert Park and a subway for the entire route. We

Regardless of the timing of the vote on the final plan for the light rail line, the emergency letter that has been widely distributed to community groups, Metro staff, and Metro Board staff shines light into the planning of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition’s strategy.

An email signed by former City Council Candidate Forescee Hogan-Rowles (viewable here, although Hogan-Rowles signature is missing) is asking community members to come to a meeting tonight to discuss the plans to potentially approve the Crenshaw Line this month and that members should bring a checkbook so the Coalition can afford the legal help it would need to mount a challenge to the plan arguing that the agency is in violation of state environmental laws, specifically the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

In the community letter, Crenshaw Subway Coalition doesn’t spell out the specifics of their challenge, but they do believe that a flawed environmental study has led to the exclusion of a below-grade alternative between 48th and 59th streets and the station for Leimert Park. Read more…


Gold Line Foothill Extension Station Planning Workshops Upcoming

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority is co-sponsoring workshops with the cities in the 12.6-mile corridor between Azusa and Montclair along which the Authority hopes to extend the Gold Line. The subject of the meetings are proposed station sites in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair. The meetings begin this coming Monday.

Meeting details can be found in a flyer posted on the Authority’s website.

Some folks are gung-ho for this extension. Others of us much less so. But I will acknowledge the Authority has been quite pro-active in its public outreach, which these workshops are an example of.

In the coming months, the Authority will host tours of the Metro Gold Line light rail line between Pasadena and Los Angeles. Streetsblog is going to sign up for one of those tours, and we want you to come along.  Contact Damien at if you’re interested in riding the rails with a group of Streetsbloggers.  The Authority claims that the tours will provide an opportunity to experience how light rail interacts within communities, the design of stations and street crossings and the various train sounds.


A Sustainable Ending for the 710 Tunnel Debate – Let’s Build Light Rail for Everyone

The Orange Line is the proposed light rail line to be built instead of the 710 Connector Project.  Image by Carlos Vazquez

The Orange Line is the proposed light rail line to be built instead of the 710 Connector Project. The other lines are the same color as their name. Image by Carlos Vazquez

The never-ending debate over whether or not to “complete” SR-710 so that it connects with the 210 provides a  great opportunity to create a sustainable option for the 710 Tunnel.  Instead of a tunnel designed to move trucks and cars, we need to create a light rail alternative that connects the region’s biggest job centers with the poorest, transit dependent communities.  Yes, let’s build a light rail alternative between Long Beach and Pasadena!

This public transportation line will connect Pasadena, Alhambra, Monterey Park, East Los Angeles, City of Commerce, Maywood, Bell, South Gate, and Long Beach. This is a much needed North-South connector that can rival the Long Beach Blue line, one on the heaviest used light rail lines in the nation. This rail line will connect the Blue Line, Green Line, and East Los Angeles and Pasadena Gold Lines.  Moving around the region via transit would be much easier and more people would be attracted to our transit system. Read more…


Ridley-Thomas Wants “Subjective” Analysis When Determining Grade Crossings

Farmdale Station appears to be a "go," but will Metro's grade crossing policy be a victim of the Battle of Farmdale?

Farmdale Station appears to be a "go," but will Metro's grade crossing policy be a victim of the Battle of Farmdale?

A proposal by County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas could create major changes in how Metro decides which grade-crossings are designed at-grade and which will have grade separation.  Ridley-Thomas represents the communities fighting for a grade-separated Expo Line in South L.A. and much of the area that will be covered by a rail line for the Crenshaw Line.  The proposal would greatly increase the power of neighborhoods in deciding the design of grade-crossings in their community.  Some rail advocates worry that the motion would effectively derail the Measure R light rail projects.

The Supervisor has a dual reputation among rail expansion advocates.  On one hand, as a State Senator he was a champion of Measure R and helped steer the legislation through the Senate.  On the other, his constant criticism of Metro’s grade crossing policy has led many to believe he’ll endanger rail projects at the behest of the surrounding communities.

The resolution, which passed the Planning and Programming Committee this week and will head to the Metro Board next week, would make two major changes.  The first change allows for “subjective” information such as community concerns about redevelopment or safety to enter into the equation.  Second, the Metro Board will be tasked with examining all of the information and making a grade-crossing decision.  Under the current grade crossing policy, staff makes a decision which is then certified by the Board.

Both of these changes can be found in points four and five of the Ridley-Thomas resolution.

4. Analyses of grade crossing alternatives shall include thorough consideration of non-traffic and non-rail issues affecting each crossing. These analyses shall be in narrative form, with special attention to schools, parks and social service facilities, areas of high pedestrian activity and anticipated changes in land use or demographics. These analyses will allow for community input, and for the evaluation of subjective community considerations, such as safety and economic development, which do not lend themselves easily to quantitative analysis. Read more…


StreetVids: Politicians Laud the Crenshaw Line

Yesterday was a rare treat for me, as Streetsblog had two writers at the press event in the Crenshaw District’s Leimart Park celebrating the $545 million loan from the federal government to accelerate construction of the Crenshaw Line. Since Carter Rubin did the yeoman’s work of writing the story, I had a chance to capture as much video footage of various political figures praising the USDOT, Crenshaw Community, transit and most of all, each other.

While Antonio Villaraigosa served as master of ceremonies, it was Senator Barbara Boxer who seemed to be the focus of attention. Her speech to the audience is above. Speeches by Villaraigosa, Congress Woman Jane Harman, Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, USDOT Undersecretary of Transportation Roy Klienetz, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas can all be found after the jump.

Before the event, Damien Goodmon joked with me that the Leimart Park was an ironic place to hold a press conference celebrating the funding of the Crenshaw Line because the Leimart Park Station is “optional” in the current environmental studies. If you watch closely, it seems like most of those speaking yesterday weren’t aware of that. However, it’s always great to hear so many political leaders talk about the transformative power of transit and clean transportation options. Read more…


New York Times Looks in on Development and the Expo Line

7_7_10_legado.jpgThe future Legado Crossing in Culver City got mixed reviews because of its low height.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a piece on the coming Expo Line and what it's going to mean for development in South L.A. and West L.A.  In truth, you should find time to read the entire article, but here's a quick summary in the mean time.

  1. Developers are a lot more excited, and the development plans are a lot farther along, for Phase II projects along the Westside than for projects within Phase I in South L.A.
  2. A focus of the article is how transit and T.O.D. (even though the article avoids that term) will change Los Angeles from a sprawling car-town to a dense transit-town.  However, there's a lot of places that want to avoid density, especially amongst the people who complain most traffic on the Westside.
  3. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas believes development along Expo and the future Crenshaw Line are crucial to the development of South L.A.
  4. The development that will run adjacent to the Expo in Culver City is five stories high which makes the residents happy; but many development experts, including those at Metro, think it's too small.
  5. Westsiders want bike parking.