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Posts from the "Paul Krekorian" Category

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Orange Line BRT Speed Improvements Caught In Inter-Agency Delays

Metro Orange Line Stop in North Hollywood.  Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/##Chris Yarzab##

Metro Orange Line passengers are waiting for improvements on the way. Photo:Chris Yarzab

I was hoping to write a couple of happy stories this week about the Metro Orange Line. The San Fernando Valley’s highly-regarded workhorse Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) opened in 2005. Lately, a new pedestrian tunnel and faster bus speeds seemed imminent. These facilities would save time for the Orange Line’s 30,000 daily riders.

Earlier this week, I reported that the tunnel, which I like, but L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne does not, is under construction. The construction site is not so friendly for pedestrians. Also, per Metro’s clarification, the heavily-used surface crosswalk across Lankershim Boulevard is being moved to a less convenient location. The crosswalk was at the south side of Chandler Boulevard North; in the future (and during construction, now) it will be on the north side of Chandler North. This means pedestrians will need to cross Lankershim and Chandler North, instead of just Lankershim. Perhaps, in front of the Metro station, pedestrian prioritization is called for. Perhaps include crosswalks at all the legs of the intersection? Maybe a pedestrian scramble? But that’s another story.

Today, I am disappointed to report that the bus speed improvements that appeared to be imminent seem instead to have fallen into a limbo of inter-agency delay between Metro and the Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT).

The Orange Line BRT runs on its own busway: basically a bus-only street built on former railroad right-of-way. The busway runs generally east-west and, at signalized intersections, crosses numerous north-south streets. In its first few months of operation, the Orange Line ran faster than it does today. There were a handful of car-bus collisions on the route, reportedly due to drivers failing to obey traffic signals. The excuse that has been repeated is that the drivers were not used to seeing any traffic on that long-abandoned right-of-way.

After these collisions, Orange Line bus speeds were reduced. Today Orange Line buses slow to 10 mph when crossing intersections.

Now that, at least, local drivers are more aware of the presence of Orange Line buses, there is movement afoot to improve the Orange Line by bringing its buses back up to speed. 

As both the Los Angeles City Councilmember representing neighborhoods along the Orange Line and a Metro Boardmember, Paul Krekorian is uniquely situated to champion Metro Orange Line improvements. With Council colleague Bob Blumenfeld, Krekorian authored council motion 14-1352 [PDF], which instructs LADOT to work with Metro to figure out how to improve Orange Line service, including increasing speeds.

The Krekorian motion was heard at the October 22 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee. During the Orange Line motion discussion (audio - at 0:40.), the following exchange took place:

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian: Well, maybe we can make this very easy then. Is it the city’s position that Metro can unilaterally change the speeds at intersection crossing points on the Orange Line without approval of the city?

Bill Shao, Senior Transportation Engineer, LADOT: Yes, it is.

Krekorian: Great. Less need to collaborate then, I guess. [laughter]

Shao: We – the city – we have to understand what the new speeds at crossings are so that we can align our signals to their needs.

Krekorian: Which actually becomes a bigger issue but that’s an issue that can happen after these changes take place.

Shao: That’s correct.

Krekorian: Great.

For many years, LADOT resisted increasing speeds on the Metro Orange Line BRT, as it would mean that some people in cars will sometimes experience minor delays in crossing the Orange Line. Shao’s October testimony was the first clear message that LADOT is fully on board, and now the ball is in Metro’s court to improve Orange Line speeds. My hunch is that this change can be attributed to Seleta Reynolds’ leadership.

At the October committee meeting, Metro Interim Executive Officer Jon Hillmer said that Metro was planning to increase Orange Line bus intersection speeds from 10 mph to 25 mph, which Metro expects will save cross-Valley commuters 4-8 minutes per trip. The next day, I reported that Metro Orange Line speed improvements appeared to be coming soon.

Last week, I inquired of LADOT and Metro regarding the timeline for these Orange Line speed improvements. Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero responded that he would check but that they “may be the bailiwick of LADOT.”

Read more…

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Metro July Meeting Re-Cap: Subway, SRTP, Active Transpo, and More

Councilmember Paul Krekorian (at podium) leads San Fernando Valley rail supporters rally this morning for Orange Line upgrades. Yesterday the Metro Board approved a motion that directs the agency to take a closer look at converting the Orange Line from BRT to light rail. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Councilmember Paul Krekorian (at podium) leads a San Fernando Valley rail supporters press event this morning. Yesterday, Metro approved a motion to take a closer look at converting the Orange Line from BRT to light rail. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s July Board of Directors meeting took place yesterday. As usual, it was four-plus hours long, with plenty of implications for the future of livability and transportation for the region. SBLA re-caps the meeting below.

Mayor Garcetti Assumes Board Chair

Yesterday’s meeting was Mayor Eric Garcetti’s first as the new chair of Metro’s Board of Directors. Garcetti opened with some remarks outlining his priorities for his Metro chair tenure. After giving the obligatory nod to disliking L.A. traffic, Garcetti assured that his transportation priorities are regional, not ending at L.A. City borders. His greatest enthusiasm is for innovation, especially using technology to make our transportation systems smarter. He affirmed that Los Angeles’ transportation future will be multi-modal.

More on Garcetti’s Metro vision: The Source, Daily News

Contract Approved for Purple Line Subway Construction

The biggest and most contentious item on the agenda was approval of the $1.6 billion contract for 3.9 miles of Purple Line subway construction under Wilshire Boulevard from Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard. As recommended by Metro staff, the board awarded the contract to the “STS” contractor team of Skanska, Traylor and Shea. The STS bid was nearly $200 million more expensive than a competing bid by Dragados, leading some board members to question the selection process. Construction will likely begin this year, and the line is anticipated to open in 2023.

More on the Subway Contract: L.A. Times, The Source

Short Range Transportation Plan Approved

Metro approved its 10-year, $88 billion Short Range Transportation Plan more-or-less as initially proposed. Metro staff asserted that the SRTP is less a new plan and more a sort of progress report on the agency’s Long Range Transportation Plan. The perception is, though, that the SRTP is a sort of early casting call for projects to get in line for a possible 2016 transportation funding ballot measure. Speakers before the board urged more funding for active transportation, building the 710 Freeway tunnel, converting the Orange Line from BRT to rail, and extending the Gold Line eastward.

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March Transpo Committee Recap: SRTS, Counts, Parking and Commish Bayne

Yesterday’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meeting featured a number of livability issues that deserve more in-depth attention: Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts, parking privatization, and more. SBLA will do a brief re-cap, and will track and report on these issues more in the future.

SRTSmap

Map of the Top 50 LAUSD Schools with most need for safer routes to school. From LADOT SRTS Fact Sheet. Click to view entire fact sheet.

The Top 50 List You Don’t Really Want Your School On: Department of Transportation (LADOT) staff reported on progress made in the city’s Safe Routes To School (SRTS) program. In the past, for a number of reasons, the city of L.A. has been unsuccessful at receiving its fair share of SRTS grant funding. LADOT’s two new pedestrian coordinators have done a lot of work to begin to remedy this: building relationships with LAUSD and using actual data to determine which schools make sense to prioritize. This Transportation Committee meeting was the first broad public vetting of the city’s new data-driven list of 50 schools with “greatest need.” The 50-school list will be used to target some city applications for the upcoming state Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant cycle.

Advocates from about a half-dozen non-profits commented on this item, urging two main requests: more LADOT resources be directed toward SRTS, and SRTS efforts be more open and collaborative.

Committee members expressed some concerns (see below) over the criteria behind the 50 school ranking, but accepted it, pending full council approval. They requested that LADOT return to the committee in 60 days (after this ATP cycle submission) to further examine the criteria.

Most Likely to be Undercounted and Undervalued: City councilmembers requested that LADOT review their traffic count methodology to include bicycle and pedestrian data. LADOT staff responded with a draft policy, including an annual count, which moves forward to a vote of the full city council. It’s unclear whether city counts will augment or replace those currently conducted by L.A. County Bicycle Coalition volunteers, though the Bike Coalition’s Eric Bruins voiced support for city counts, stating that the Coalition “wants to get out of this business.” Read more…

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Meet Your New Transportation Committee, Chaired by Mike Bonin

We just received confirmation from Council Member Mike Bonin’s office that Bonin will  replace his former boss Bill Rosendahl as Chair of the City Council Transportation Committee. The Westside’s Council District 11, which Bonin represents, is home to two of the largest infrastructure projects in the region, the 405 Widening through the Sepulveda Pass and Phase II of the Expo Line.

I didn’t notice until just now that it kind of looks like Mike has a cape slung over his shoulder too. Photo: Sean Arian

Most of the rest of the cast remains the same. Paul Koretz from the neighboring Council District 5 remains the Vice-Chair. Tom LaBonge and Bernard Parks remain on the committee as well. The only change is that Downtown and Boyle Heights Council Member Jose Huizar is replaced by Valley Council Member Paul Krekorian.

From a Livable Streets perspective,  Bonin may be the best vetted Transportation Committee Chair in the world. He appeared competent and passionate at our CD 11 City Council Forum in January, handled my questions well in a one-on-one discussion after the forum (above), answered a Bike Coalition questionaire, and built his own legacy as a heavyweight on these issues when Rosendahl chaired the committee  and Mike was his Chief of Staff.

While there has been a lot of Livable Streets related action in Huizar’s district, Krekorian has been a favorite of many activists since he took a stand against speed limit increases as a State Senator in 2008. As a Council Member, he continues to push back against LADOT/LAPD efforts to increase limits on local streets in his district.

We’re working on setting up an interview with Bonin as we speak. When we have details of how we’re going to conduct that interview, we’ll be sure to let you know.  At least this time, we won’t have to teach the Transportation Committee Chair how to ride a bicycle.

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Traffic Light Construction Begins at Deadly Intersection in North Hollywood

It's too bad that we often need to see this before we can see real pedestrian safety improvements. Photo:Daily News

The past week has been a dismal one for pedestrian safety issues.  One week ago, the K-Town Riders were probably peacefully planning out their ride, checking their tires, or otherwise going about their business with no idea the carnage that would be unleashed on them.  One week ago the fate of our city’s red light camera program was still uncertain.  But one week ago, one of the deadliest intersection in the city still didn’t have a traffic light.

Well, at least there’s some good news from the last seven days.

Over six months after Emely Aleman, 12, and Angela Rodriguez, 10, were crossing the street in a marked crosswalk when they were hit and tossed fifty feet in the air by a Jeep Cherokee.  Aleman passed away at the hospital, while Rodriguez is on the long road to recovery.  It was the third crash at the intersection of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Archwood Street. in 2010, down from four crashes in 2009.

Yesterday, Councilman Paul Krekorian announced that construction of a traffic signal at that intersection has begun.  Krekorian and School Board Member Tamar Galatzan, who ran against Krekorian for the seat he now holds, teamed together with the community to create the political pressure to expediate the light’s installation.  A council resolution in Aleman’s name was passed by the City Council late last year urging LADOT to install this signal as quickly as possible.

The Council District 2 blog quotes Krekorian: Read more…

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City Election Preview: Krekorian vs. Bisani in CD2

Paul Krekorian poses with cyclists after a press event for AB 766 IN 2009.  Photo:##http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexbct/3513993315/##Alex Thompson/Flickr##

Paul Krekorian poses with cyclists and the Bicyclists Bill of Rights after a press event for AB 766 IN 2009. Photo:Alex Thompson/Flickr

Bisani, center-right, poses with his three sons.  Photo: ##http://augustobisani.org/about_us##AugustoBisani.org##

Bisani, center-right, poses with his three sons. Photo: AugustoBisani.org

It seems as though it were just yesterday, but in fact was almost a year and a half ago, that we were first discussing which candidate would replace Wendy Greuel as the City Council Member for the 2nd Councilmanic District, located mostly in the Valley.  Streetsblog sent surveys to each of the 10 candidates in 2009, eight of whom respondedPaul Krekorian, who won that election and is running for re-election this year, answered our survey.  His only opponent this time, Augusto Bisani, finished 10th in that election and did not.

Bisani’s name is not a familiar one to Streetsblog readers, and perhaps to most of the people in the Second District.  He tells the Daily News that he doesn’t expect to raise a lot of funds for this election and slams Neighborhood Councils as not representing people’s views.  A complete reading of his campaign website doesn’t reveal even a mention of the city’s transportation issues, but of course it hasn’t been updated since 2009.

We know quite a bit more about incumbent Krekorian, and not just because he answered our survey last time around. Read more…

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Vroom! Three New Speed Limit Increases Come to City Council

3_22_10_hollywood.jpgPhoto: -db-/Flickr

The move to speed up Los Angeles’ streets continues unabated.  Less than a week after hundreds of people gathered at the L.A. StreetSummit to discuss how to tame traffic and make Los Angeles’ streets more livable, the City Council Transportation Committee is expected to hear, debate, and pass three speed limit increases in the San Fernando Valley at 2:00 p.M. this Wednesday in City Hall.  In a way, its kind of a sobering crash back to reality.  After a week of being reminded of what could be, activists are back to where we are…fighting speed limit increases that represent the exact opposite kind of thinking to what we talked about all weekend.

So what streets are up for a change? 

First up is Arleta
Avenue, in the Arleta community.  In the stretch
between Devonshire Street and Roscoe Boulevard, a cool
three and a quarter miles, the speed limit will be increased from
thirty-five to forty miles per hour so that radar enforcement of the
limit can be maintained. LADOT documented their efforts to
contact the local Neighborhood Council without getting much in return. 
It would have been nice if they had made the effort with other groups
that operate in that area, but this is where we are.  The Arleta Community is represented by Paul Krekorian in City Hall, who in the past has insisted that the neighborhood be involved in this process.  Whether the Neighborhood Council being asleep at the switch changes his view remains to be seen.   You can read all about the Arleta Avenue increase, here.

Next are two streets in Sun Valley, which is in the sixth Councilmanic District represented by Tony Cardenas.  The first is the world
famous "Hollywood Way" between Burbank city limits and Glen Oaks
Boulevard; which would also see an increase from thirty five to forty
miles per hour.  The local LAPD first signed off on the increase in
March of 2007, three years ago.  There’s some irony with this
particular increase, because just last week, Burbank implemented a road
diet on some of its local streets…which is the exact opposite of
increasing the speed limits as Los Angeles plans to do right up to Burbank’s doorstep.  You can read more about this proposal, here.

Last up is another increase from thirty five to forty miles per hour on Sheldon Street between Glen Oaks Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard.  This time, residents expressed concern that the area included a school zone, but LADOT assured them that the zone could and would remain at twenty-five miles per hour and signs would warn drivers as they approached.  How having drivers drop their speed limit fifteen miles per hour in a short period of time is safer than the way the street is now is beyond me, but that has never been taken into account in the state law.  You can read more about this proposal, here.

Read more…

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Vroom! It’s Time to Talk Speed Limit Increases at City Council

When we last checked in with the City Council Transportation Committee, they decided to table a motion to increase the speed limit on Chandler Boulevard, where the limit would increase from 35 MPH to 45 MPH along the Orange Line, and Riverside Drive which would change the limit from 35 MPH to 40 MPH for its entire length between the Burbank border and Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. The Councilman for the area, Paul Krekorian, wanted a chance for the community to give input on the increases before the proposal went through, and now the increases are back on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting.

So what was the community's feedback? Unsurprisingly, they are concerned that faster speeds for cars will lead to roads that are less safe for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those observing a religious holiday, senior citizens, and school students. Last year, we saw the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborhood Council voice similar concerns but that didn't stop speed limits from being increased near schools, places of worship and shopping malls.

Those fighting the limit increases are in for a long haul. As we've seen before, the scapegoat for speed limit increases used by the LADOT and Council is a state law that mandates that a speed survey be completed every five to seven years and that the new limit be set within five miles per hour of the 85th percentile of drivers. Last year, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian sponsored legislation that would have changed the way limits are calculated across the state; but with Krekorian moving his offices from Sacramento to 200 Spring Street, a new leader on this issue has yet to emerge.

I've been corresponding on this issue with staff from Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Mike Eng, who have been nothing but polite and helpful despite the pounding Eng took on this blog after Krekorian's legislation was bottled in his committee last year. When I asked them if any new legislation had been submitted on this issue, they pointed me to committee staff who basically said, "not that we know of." Last week, over 400 pieces of legislation were filed before a 2/16 deadline, but to the best knowledge of both the Chairman's staff and Committee staff, none of them dealt with reforming the way the state looks at speed limit increases.

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Vroom! Speed Limit Increases in Front of City Council

As mentioned in a post yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee will vote tomorrow at 2:00 P.M. in City Hall on whether or not to raise speed limits on three local streets Chandler Boulevard, Riverside Drive and Beverly Glen Boulevard. In the past day, three outraged pieces have attacked the limit increases and challenged the Council to defy state rules that require the increases for the LAPD to use radar to enforce the law.

There is some debate over whether or not the speed limit changes at Beverly Glenn Boulevard are necessarily a bad thing.  Instead of just raising limits, the proposal seeks to normalize the speed along the road so that the limit is consistent and predictable.  In some areas, the speed limit could actually be decreased.  You'll note as you read some of the coverage of the increases, that some of the articles, notably the one by Stephen Box in City Watch, only refer to two of the changes as "increases" worth fighting.

For anyone that doesn't remember last year's fight over speed limit increases, allow me to summarize what's going on and where we stand.  Last year, a series of increases were proposed by the LADOT throughout the San Fernando Valley.  The shocked reaction of the local neighborhood councils and a coalition of bicycle and pedestrian advocates managed to stall some of the increases, but an arcane state law meant to stop small towns from creating speed traps requires regular engineering surveys that set the speed limit at the upper fifteenth percentile of drivers.  An attempt to change that law by Assemblyman, and now L.A. City Councilman, Paul Krekorian was stopped in committee.

And now here we are a year later, with new speed limit increases moving through the city's Transportation Commission and now City Council Transportation Committee with no fix at the state level in site.

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CD 2 Questionnaire: Paul Krekorian

9_2_09_krekorian_at.jpgAsm. Krekorian gives an interview after a press conference supporting his "Safe Streets" Legislation, A.B. 766. Photo: Dr. Alex Thompson/Flickr

Regular readers of Streetsblog are familiar with Assemblyman Paul Krekorian because of his efforts to change a state law which pressures the LADOT and LAPD to raise speed limits on local roads. While his legislation was stalled in the Assembly Transportation Committee, he has vowed to push forward with his efforts this fall starting with a public meeting on the legislation on September 15 in Burbank.

As you might expect, his questionnaire answer for the one on speed limits is pretty detailed. Other highlights include another Stephen Box reference and an aggressive stance towards improving streets for cyclists and pedestrians. His full answers are below, and you can see the other candidates' responses here:

1) When you commute to work, how do you do it? What percentage of the trips that you take don't involve an automobile?

While in the district, I drive a Toyota Prius. In Sacramento, I drive one of the Assembly's hybrid Camry pool cars when necessary, but I frequently walk home from the Capitol to my apartment (depending on how late I'm working).

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