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Posts from the "Mike Antonovich" Category

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It Might be Hot, but Antonovich Wants It HOTter on the Westside

Just when you thought the I-405 Widening Project through the Sepulveda Pass couldn’t get less popular.

Antonovich talks to fellow Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the area covered in the 405 widening. They were talking fire safety, not congestion pricing. Photo:ZevWeb

Last week, news broke slowly that then Metro Board Chair and County Supervisor Mike Antonovich wants Metro staff to examine whether or not it makes sense for the HOV lanes on the I-405 to become  High Occupancy Toll Lanes to offset the ever expanding budget of the widening.

The motion cleared committee and was passed by the Metro Board. Staff is expected to have a report in the next month or two. Metro currently oversees a pilot program its version of congestion pricing, known as ExpressLanes, on portions of the I-10 and I-110. The results of the program are still up for debate.

It might seem odd for Antonovich, who tells Fox 11 he doesn’t actually like congestion pricing, to sponsor such a measure.  The Supervisor explains that it’s not a love of congestion pricing, but an over-arching sense of fairness that moved this proposal. Metro is proposing to create HOT Lanes for the I-5 to pay for expansion of the local HOV network. Since federal funds are no longer enough to cover the 405 project, it’s unfair to expect the entire county to foot the bill while only drivers on the I-5 have to pay the bill for that road widening.

So what say you Streetsbloggers, should the new HOV lane on the 405 be immediately converted into a HOT Lane? Is Antonovich right?

Should the new HOV lane on the 405 become an ExpressLane when it is completely opened?

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The High Desert Corridor Is Back, and This Time It Includes Bikeways?

Yes. Let's.

Returning from paternity leave, I made a joke promise that if Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s office would get behind a transit line for the High Desert Corridor, a proposed new freeway connecting Highway 14 in Los Angeles County to Highway 18 in San Bernardino County, Streetsblog would give a week of exclusive coverage to the area he represents and praise him effusively.

Support Streetsblog by joining us for the ARTCRANK poster and art show at Orange 20 on December 4.

About an hour later I got an email from an acquantince familar with the project warning me, “be careful what you wish for.”

Now I know why. While Metro has promoted the project as a “$6 billion dollar,” “50 mile 6 lane highway” that will “accomodate an expected three to six fold increase in truck traffic,” a series of new meetings for the project are promising two give the project a second look, and perhaps a complete makeover. A list of the meeting times and locations is available at the end of the article.

The High Desert Corridor project team is now considering  a bike path, a green energy production/transmission corridor, and a high-speed rail feeder service connector for the area either as a replacement the project or addition to a smaller highway project. Politicians in San Bernadino have already heard presentations on the changes being studied and Supervisor Antonovich’s office confirmed that the environmental impact report will include all of these options both in companion to the freeway and as alternatives.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report is expected to be available for public review late 2013.

 Streetsblog was unable to get the Supervisor or Metro to comment on the record about the project until after the public meetings. In the meantime, if anyone has good ideas for stories in the Antelope Valley for Streetsblog to cover, leave them in the comments section.

Read more…

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Shakeup at Metrolink Board: Najarian Out. Ridley-Thomas In?

Antonovich, Palmdale's Mayor, Metro CEO Art Leahy and Najarian pose with a check. Photo: The Source

One of the powers of the Chair of the Metro Board of Directors, is the right to appoint three members to the Board of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, commonly known as Metrolink.  Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who took over as Metro Board Chair on July 1, wasted no time in exercising that power, replacing Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The move has surprised and baffled local rail watchers, not the least of which is Najarian.  The Glendale City Councilman responded to the switch with shock, pleading with the Supervisor to change his mind through a formal letter and later criticizing the decision at a meeting of the Glendale City Council.

“If you’re wondering how many miles of Metrolink rail is in Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ district, that number is zero,” Najarian testified.

Najarian served on the Metrolink Board for six years and was one of two practicing lawyers on the Board during a time of legal crisis.  He was appointed by the following Metro Board Chairs: Supervisor Gloria Molina, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor, Villaraigosa (again), Supervisor Knabe and Villaraigosa (a third time.)  He also served as Metro Board Chair in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, where he automatically sat on the Metrolink Board.

Staff for both Antonovich and Ridley-Thomas defended the decision.

A spokesman for the Metro Board Chair told Streetsblog that Antonovich was most interested in filling his appointments to the Metrolink Board with people who share his vision for regional rail.  The spokesman outlined a vision where one could take rail to every major airport in the area and where a regional rail network didn’t just connect the major population centers in and near the City of Los Angeles, but the entire county.  According to the spokesman, Antonovich was simply more comfortable with Ridley-Thomas than with Najarian. Read more…

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What High Speed Rail Funding Bill Means for Southern California in the Next Decade

(High Speed Rail is a hot topic on the Streetsblogs.  For more check out CA Senate Approves Funds for High-Speed Rail, Commuter Rail Upgrades at Streetsblog San Francisco, A Victory for CA High Speed Rail but Still a Long Fight Ahead by  ”Streetsblog.net” director Angie Schmitt)

Last week, the State Senate and Assembly passed legislation that approved the sale of $4.7 billion in state bonds to begin construction of the California High Speed Rail project that will one day provide high speed travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  The $4.7 billion will fund 130 miles of high speed rail service between Bakersfield and Merced in the Central Valley and “local improvements” surrounding Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The "blended route" calls for full High Speed Rail route through Palmdale all the way to Los Angeles. While the funding for that gets worked out, there will be full high speed rail between Bakersfiled and Merced, with the L.A. area seeing modest, but needed improvements between Palmdale, Union Station and Anaheim. Double tracking for Amtrak and Union Pacific rail lines are also in the works.

Most press accounts of California’s High Speed Rail victory last week spends a paragraph, maybe two, saying something along the lines of, “The bill provides $2.1 billion to upgrade the Metrolink and Amtrak systems in Southern California and electrify Caltrain in Northern California.”

While it’s nice to hear that Metrolink’s aging infrastructure is going to receive a boost, at this point the $950 million isn’t yet dedicated to specific projects.  For example, we know that the project will provide for upgrades to Palmdale Station, which could potentially be a HUB for Metrolink trains, Amtrak, and both the California High Speed Rail project and Desert XPress.  Pending how Metrolink grows, it could also provide rail access to both the Palmdale and Burbank airports.  At this point, it would be very difficult to make an acurate prediction on how the $950 million would be spent.

To create a specific plan for those funds, a team of staff for many Southland transportation agencies (page 2-7) signed a Memorandum of Understanding and agreed to create a project list that will be completed by 2020, the same year that High Speed Rail in the Central Valley will come online.  The agencies on the task force are the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Southern California Regional Rail Authority (aka Metrolink), Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (aka Metro), San Diego Association of Governments, Riverside County Transportation Commission, San Bernardino Association of Governments (SANBAG) and the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

This isn’t to say that the Senators and Assembly Members that voted last week had no idea what the project list for the region would include.  SCAG announced details of the MOU earlier this year, which was a key point in gaining the support of politicians and leaders in the San Gabriel Valley.  The plan included major upgrades to Palmdale and Anaheim’s Metrolink/Amtrak stations to handle high speed trains in the distant future and increased local service in the near-term.  On the rails, money could be used to “double track” Union Pacific Rail Lines in Industry, West Covina, Irwindale and Alhambra.

For Metrolink rail, a series of crossings will be grade-separated, better safety features will be put in place, and the oldest of the current tracks will be modernized.  At this point, there is no discussion of electrifying the Metrolink rail tracks in local plans, so for the forseeable future, passengers on the official High Speed Rail train would be transferring at Palmdale to signifigantly improved local service to Los Angeles and Anaheim or faster Amtrak service to San Diego. Read more…

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Mike Antonovich’s Tortured Point and How the Mayor Should Have Reacted

Villaraigosa, Antonovich, and Frank McCourt in the Dodger Shuttle. For the past two seasons, Antonovich has found the funds to keep the shuttle running. Photo:Mike Antonovich/Flickr

Yesterday, at a meeting of the Metro Board of Directors Construction Committee, L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich became the first public official to throw cold water on Mayor Villaraigosa’s transit dreams by denouncing plans to place an extension of the Measure R half cent transportation sales tax indefinitely.

Much of the coverage of Antonovich’s complaints have focused on his choice of words and the Mayor’s reaction.  Even in the sometimes childish world of the Metro Board of Directors, “gang rape” qualifies as over heated rhetoric.  In response, the Mayor walked out.

While I understand the sentiment, it’s always better to disengage from a bully than roll around in the mud, the Mayor also missed a teachable moment.  Lost in the theatre of the day is that the idea that Antonovich’s rural and suburban Supervisor District is not being served by a thirty year transportation tax.  While I can appreciate the Mayor’s reaction, it would have been better if he had let the Supervisor have his say, and then responded with some facts.

Gang rape?  Really Mike?  Gang rape?

Let’s look at what the 5th Supervisor’s District gets out of Measure R, and then you tell me what is and isn’t ‘gang rape.’ Read more…