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Old December 18th, 2011, 08:48 AM   #701
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Old December 30th, 2011, 02:41 AM   #702
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http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec...blems-20111225

Technical problems delay Expo Line's debut
Metro says issues with circuitry and ventilation must be fixed before it can finish testing the Expo Line and training operators.

December 25, 2011|By Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times

The opening date for the long-awaited Expo Line has been postponed several times, and a test ride last week showed how a spot of bad circuitry and a debate over six-letter words — "subway," "tunnel" and "trench" — continue to delay the system's operation.

While examining a 0.6-mile stretch of railway that dips below ground level near USC, transportation officials on Thursday argued over nomenclature.

"I think it's a subway, it's not a trench. There's special ventilation requirements on a subway," said Art Leahy, head of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Rick Thorpe, head of the Exposition Construction Authority, insisted the feature was a trench.

"You say po-TAY-to, I say po-TAH-to," Leahy said. "When I look up and I see a roof and I'm on a train, I'm in a subway."

"But you can also look up and see the sky," Thorpe said.

"In certain places, that ... would be a trench," Leahy said.

Ventilation in the trench — or tunnel — is one of a handful of technical issues that officials with Metro, the agency responsible for funding and operating the line, say need to be fixed before they can finish "pre-revenue operations": training operators and testing the line.

Officials with the Exposition Construction Authority, who announced Nov. 28 that they had turned the system over to Metro for those pre-revenue operations, are complying despite saying that some of the requested changes — like fans in the trench or tunnel — are unnecessary.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who sits on the Metro board of directors, described the tension between Leahy and Thorpe as "sibling rivalry."

"The older child is giving the younger child a hard time," he said.

The two agencies do agree on some of the requested changes. One is to fix the line's primary technical problem at the junction where the Expo Line shares tracks with the Blue Line, which runs between Long Beach and downtown L.A.

Thorpe explained that rail operators receive signals from the track ensuring that the train is going the right speed, and in one area those signals were not going through.

Leahy said the junction is already tricky because trains will run frequently — minutes apart — in both directions, but the problems with the circuitry make full testing impossible.

"We can simulate service south of 23rd [Street]. We cannot simulate service north of 23rd because of the junction," Leahy said. "We can't get the trains through there fast enough. We've got to work out some signal system issues with the junction," he said.

"I think optimistically we're a few days away in solving it," Thorpe said Thursday.

Metro officials said they were working with the city Fire Department and are pushing for certain changes because the line can't open before the California Public Utilities Commission certifies it as safe. The first part of the line to open will go 7.9 miles, between the downtown 7th Street/Metro Center station and La Cienega Boulevard.

Leahy said that soon after problems at the junction are fixed, he'll be able to begin pre-revenue operations — which can take up to three months — and set an opening date shortly after.

Predictions for when the Expo line would begin service have repeatedly proved inaccurate. On Thursday, Leahy and Thorpe declined to specify a date.

The technical issues are the latest kink in a project that has faced numerous delays and cost increases, most often because of design enhancements, safety concerns and increases in construction prices.

Some officials said the problems occurred because of an initial bewilderment about funding sources and a disjointed process of construction, design and other contracts.

The first phase of the line originally carried a price tag of $640 million and was considered a cheap way to get rail into the Westside, but the cost grew to exceed $930 million.

When complete, the first phase will take commuters 8.6 miles between downtown Los Angeles and downtown Culver City at speeds of up to 55 mph.

But the 0.7-mile stretch into Culver City will not be ready for several months. Officials decided to first open the line as far as La Cienega, just east of Culver City.

The second phase of the project is budgeted at $1.5 billion. When fully built, the Expo Line will transport riders from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica in 46 minutes with 19 stops. It will be the first light rail line into the Westside since the days of the Red Car trolleys and is expected to become one of the most heavily used in the country.

Most of the line's first phase is complete. Each rail station will feature original artwork based on local history, including an interpretation of when the Baldwin Hills Reservoir dam burst in 1963.

At the above-ground La Cienega station, commuters will enjoy a 360-degree view of the region including the Hollywood sign, West L.A. and the Federal Building, Baldwin Hills and downtown L.A.

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com
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Old January 15th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #703
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Old January 16th, 2012, 01:06 AM   #704
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Expo Line could be ready for rail passengers in early April
January 9, 2012 | 4:34 pm



Metro officials Monday said they have entered the final phase of testing along the first segment of the Expo Line, a signal that the train could open to the public by early April.

The final testing phase, called pre-revenue service, generally takes about three months and simulates actual service but without passengers.

It includes training some 100 operators and supervisors along the full segment from the 7th Street/Metro Center stop downtown to the La Cienega/Jefferson stop 7.9 miles away at the eastern edge of Culver City.

Officials have not yet set an opening date and said the final testing phase could run shorter or longer.

Technical problems previously held up the testing, specifically at the junction where the Expo Line shares tracks with the Blue Line. The issue was that signals from the track were not reaching rail operators along that part of the line.
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 07:30 AM   #705
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http://www.metro.net/board/Items/201...m44Handout.pdf
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Old January 25th, 2012, 04:54 AM   #706
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Congestion Reduction Demonstration?? is that the toll lanes project for the 110 and 10 freeways?
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Old January 25th, 2012, 04:55 AM   #707
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oh and angels flight is back up and running i believe.
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Old January 25th, 2012, 09:54 PM   #708
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A UK based Bus Magazine last month featured a journalist's experience of the Orange Line, which you can read Here, by clicking '>' on the toolbar, then highlighting the Orange Line report on page 42.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:08 AM   #709
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Los Angeles Leads Full-Throttle Dash for U.S. Transit Cash
By ANNE C. MULKERN of Greenwire

LOS ANGELES -- Tony Lepre looms 6 feet 2 inches and wears a thick goatee and dark clothing. He's hard to miss amid a crowd waiting for the train at a downtown subway station.

Lepre, 48, takes trains several days a week while many here spend hours daily driving congested roads. The Los Angeles native, who cannot afford a vehicle right now, joins those who are watching with anticipation as the region's rail network attempts a high-speed upgrade.

"It's long overdue, any kind of public transportation system that takes us where we want to go," Lepre said recently as he prepared to board the Blue Line train to suburban Long Beach. "This is one of the largest cities in the world and the public transportation system's a joke."

[COLOR="rgb(46, 139, 87)"]Opened in 1990, Los Angeles County's modern-day rail system remains small.[/COLOR] Five lines reach a sliver of this sprawling metropolis where 9.8 million people live. But a major expansion is under way, with hope that Congress might help accelerate the time table.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency known as Metro, wants to build 12 projects over the next decade, compressing work that otherwise would occur over 30 years.

Goals include extending existing rail routes to Los Angeles International Airport and adding a line along part of the San Diego (I-405) Freeway. There is also the long-sought dream of building an underground "Subway to the Sea," which would start downtown, travel through heavily congested West Los Angeles and ideally end near the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica.

In seeking the growth, LA Metro typifies efforts by many cities to offer drivers an alternative to their cars.

"It's happening in a lot of places, and unlikely places from Houston to Dallas to Salt Lake City to Seattle," said Tom Murphy, senior fellow at Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit working to anticipate land-use trends. A train line in Charlotte, N.C., was "so successful they want to do one or two more," Murphy said, while "Houston is looking to do several transit lines."

But the quest for more rail lines could hit a major roadblock.

Cities that want to expedite transit development need federal money. Obtaining funds could be tough as Congress battles over how deeply to cut spending. As well, there could be fights about how to spend the Highway Trust Fund money that comes from the gasoline tax. Some regions want highway repairs over rail.

To buttress their lobbying, those urging rail expansions have amassed a powerful lobbying force.

LA Metro in concert with the city of Los Angeles and the group Move LA solicited other municipalities that want to build train lines in shorter time frames. Together they formed a proposal called America Fast Forward. So far, 120 mayors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor group AFL-CIO have backed the plan.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) in March 2011 lobbied lawmakers on America Fast Forward while he was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The rail plan calls for a major increase in funding from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which provides loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit. LA Metro also is advancing another funding mechanism that would have the government pay as much as 100 percent of the interest on certain bonds issued by cities.

LA Metro compared its chances for success to when -- in November 2008 -- it asked voters to increase their sales tax by a half-cent to pay for rail, a bid that came on top of two earlier half-cent increases. The proposition passed by 67 percent, clearing the two-thirds margin needed for success.

"The odds were long then and we succeeded," said Raffi Haig Hamparian, government relations director at Los Angeles County Metro. "We expect to face long odds now in a tough fiscal environment in Washington. At the same time we expect to succeed."

Will people walk in LA?

Of LA Metro's five rail lines, four connect suburbs to downtown. The fifth draws a roughly east-west link between towns south of Los Angeles International Airport. A new light rail line is under construction and will draw the first link between downtown and West Los Angeles.

Called the Expo Line, the train will have stops at the University of Southern California and major intersections before phase one of the project ends in Culver City, about 10 miles northeast of the airport. When it is completed in 2014, Expo Line will terminate about four blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica.

In pushing to expedite its other rail projects, LA Metro is betting that more drivers can be persuaded to take rail. Drivers here are known for loyalty to their cars.

LA Metro sees a good omen in the fact that 67 percent of voters approved the sales tax increase to fund new projects.

"You've got a whole sea change, a paradigm shift with Los Angeles being a car culture," said Roger Moliere, LA Metro's chief of real property management development. Rail has so far failed to "connect the dots," he said, between the area's six or seven downtowns in places like Century City, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. "It's just now happening," he said.

In terms of converting drivers, Moliere said, "congestion is your friend, for the transit developer, for transit in general." Driving a car in LA, he said, "it takes hours to get where you're going to go."

For now rail ridership remains tiny. Weekday passengers on the lines are less than 300,000, LA Metro data shows. The average weekday total for rail and bus combined is about 1,433,000 compared to the population of 9.8 million. (About 10 percent of that total is people younger than 18 years old, according to the 2010 Census.)

Some residents said they would happily give up their cars if they had options.

"I don't know if it's so much that people love their cars, but there's no public transportation," said Amber Lopez, 21, of Los Angeles as she strolled a pedestrian mall in Santa Monica near where the new light rail eventually will end.

It takes 90 minutes by bus to travel the 16 miles between USC and UCLA, she said, adding "in Los Angeles you can't be on a schedule and take public transportation."

Others said they would stop driving for some trips, but only if the expansions bring rail close to their homes.

"If we had better mass transit, yes, but our mass transit is not good and it's not consistent," said Betsy Waak, 36, of Glendale, a suburb north of downtown. "There's not one near me so it's not convenient and it doesn't go many places."

Waak, who talked about Metro as she ate gelato on the Santa Monica pedestrian mall, said she only takes rail when going to basketball games at Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Lakers play. She would consider taking the new light rail when it is finished, she said, if that means avoiding traffic to the beach.

"Again, it's all about convenience," Waak said. "They say it's going to come down here, but that could be 10 years. It took forever to open [a stop at] Hollywood [Boulevard) and Highland [Avenue]. I remember that."

The new light rail line probably will make only a small impact on vehicle traffic, predicted John Molloy, project manager at Samitaur Constructs, a developer building near new Expo Line rail stops.

About 30,000 people daily will probably use Expo Line, he said, compared with the more than 100,000 that would take Subway to the Sea if it ultimately is built. That underground line would more closely track Wilshire Boulevard, one of the busiest east-west roads.

"I mean this one's important, and it will help a lot," Molloy said. "But it's not like Wilshire."

Congressional allies

Most of the desired LA projects are funded through its sales tax increase, but that money will come over 30 years. The best option, LA Metro argues, is to use the anticipated funds as collateral toward a loan from the federal government.

"We have a steady source of revenue that brings in $600 to $700 million a year," and in its later years will generate $1 billion each year, said Hamparian with LA Metro. The rail authority would "use that as the form of repayment for federal loan," he said.

That structure could also be used by other cities under America Fast Forward.

The plan has won key allies on Capitol Hill. Last month, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and the panel's Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) released their principles for a new transportation authorization bill.

Their agreement proposed boosting Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) authorized funding to $1 billion from its current level of about $110 million. It also would increase the maximum federal share on projects to 49 percent from 33 percent (Greenwire, April 23, 2009). That comes in a new section of the bill called America Fast Forward.

"This is the way we are going to increase jobs," Boxer said, "because remember, every billion we spend is roughly 32,000 jobs in construction."

TIFIA leverages federal monies by spurring investments from cities and counties, as well as private dollars, Boxer aides said. TIFIA projects are not limited to rail. They can include highways, freight and port developments.

The current $110 million funding supports about $1.1 billion in credit help, the Transportation Department said. The lower number represents the cost of making loans, with TIFIA essentially borrowing money from the Treasury Department.

But even with that larger funding ability, there already is far more demand for TIFIA than there is money. For the current fiscal year, there is $14 billion in desired projects.

The total transportation proposal from the EPW Committee is pegged to current levels of funding plus inflation. That exceeds what estimated gas tax revenues would cover by a sizeable margin.

"The Highway Trust Fund would need an additional $75 billion in revenues in order to support a $339 billion six-year bill," an EPW spokesperson said, requesting not to be identified because of committee policy. "Over two years, the shortfall is about $12 billion.

In cooperation with the Finance Committee, the EPW Committee is exploring a wide range of options to support and sustain the Highway Trust Fund," the spokesperson added.

The Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs, ultimately will decide on money levels and might not agree with the bump for TIFIA.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has backed TIFIA expansion but also said he needed more information about how the Senate committee would fund its spending. Mica previously indicated that he might seek a measure limited to current gas tax revenue amounts.

"The TIFIA program has been successful in the past and Chairman Mica and the committee are examining whether the program can be improved upon," said committee spokesman Justin Harclerode. "The chairman and the committee do not support an increase in the gas tax, and we must ensure that funding levels can be supported by available revenues."

Spawning development

Ongoing rail expansion and the hope of more to come have spurred interest in building homes and businesses near stops.

Several commercial developers have expressed interest, LA Metro officials said, although financing remains tight and only a few have proceeded.

Samitaur Constructs, has about 50 projects under development within walking distance of the new line, said owner Frederick Smith.

Smith started his development business in Los Angeles in the 1970s and has been waiting for useable rail to come along. Many of his company's projects were built in anticipation of the new line, he said.

"It's probably going to impact the area more than anything has so far for the last 40 years," Smith said. "To have something like this creates a whole new sense of place."

Samitaur is developing office buildings with the hopes that companies will choose to locate near rail stops. Businesses can attract employees from a wider area, he said, if workers know they won't have to sit in freeway gridlock. Smith plans to own the new structures and rent them out.

Despite the popular belief that Los Angeles residents are wedded to their cars, Smith believes people will shift and take subways and light rail, especially when it stretches to the Pacific Ocean.

"Many people are here because of the ocean," Smith said. "To be able to get to the beach in an efficient way is going to make anything along that line all the more valuable."

It will make other trips more appetizing as well, he said. Right now from his Culver City office it can take an hour to drive about 10 miles northeast to downtown LA, where there are theaters and music halls. The train between the two spots will be about 20 minutes, he said.

"It's going to revitalize the center of LA as well as the artistic center," Smith said.

The city of Los Angeles also owns land that it hopes to have developed, as do Culver City and Santa Monica. That beach city in 2006 bought property near where the Expo Line eventually will end. The lot right now sits vacant, surrounded by a chain link fence covered by green tarps.

Santa Monica also owns land adjacent to another planned Expo Line stop in the city, as well as a site close to where the Subway to the Sea would terminate, if eventually it is financed and built.

The Expo Line stops will serve as major places to install transit-oriented development that includes new housing and a variety of businesses, said Francie Stefan, Santa Monica's strategic and transportation planning division manager.

"The coming of the Expo Line is an incredible opportunity to help with our local sustainability," Stefan said. "It's good for our environment. It's good for our local traffic. ... When you talk to people in the community, when they find out it's going to the beach, they're very excited."

Copyright 2011 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
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Old January 31st, 2012, 07:55 AM   #710
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redspork02 View Post
There is also the long-sought dream of building an underground "Subway to the Sea," which would start downtown, travel through heavily congested West Los Angeles and ideally end near the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica.

While LA can't expand its metro to everywhere, a subway connecting downtown to Santa Monica seems long overdue!
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Old February 1st, 2012, 05:38 AM   #711
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Streetsblog Los Angeles

Monday, January 30, 2012
The Mayor’s Office, Measure R and Multiple “Plan B’s”
by Damien Newton


When the Mayor and his staff in city hall say that nothing is off the table when it comes to accelerating project development and construction for the transit projects funded by the Measure R sales tax, they aren’t just talking. While the Mayor promised that there was a “Plan B” if his efforts to change federal law to favor communities that tax themselves to build transit don’t go anywhere in D.C.

Now, on the eve of announcement of a new federal transportation bill from leadership in the House of Representatives, the Mayor’s office is pursuing three different options to leverage the expected $40 billion in sales tax revenue over the 30 years between 2009 and 2039. Besides the pursuit of federal dollars, there is also the possibility of asking L.A. County voters to tax themselves again and working with equity firms in China to finance the projects.

Last week, Streetsblog talked to Deputy Mayor for Transportation Borja Leon about the different options being pursued and where the city is in the process.

Plan A: America Fast Forward Née 30/10

“Plan A” is still the 30/10 or America Fast Forward plan to change federal law to reward communities that choose to tax themsleves to expand transit. If enacted, the Mayor’s proposal would create interest free loan programs that would allow projects to get started earlier and would re-prioritize federal grant programs. When Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and Democratic leadership in the Senate announced proposals last year, both included major increases in the TIFIA loan program which is a major provision of America Fast Forward.

The Mayor’s Office appears confident that this increase will remain. ”We have been working with the Federal Government and have a great partnership,” explains Leon. ”A lot of things have been moving in the last week with America Fast Forward.”

We should find out if the confidence, and Mayor’s lobbying efforts, have paid off this week.


When considering the prospects for Measure R+, it's important to remember the role that highway expansion planed in selling the "transit tax" in 2008.

Plan B: Measure R+

Earlier this month Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a close ally of the Mayor when it comes to transportation expansion in Los Angeles, announced new legislation that would allow L.A. County voters to vote on extending the Measure R transit tax, creating opportunities to speed up the construction time of projects through bonding and perhaps add to or improve existing projects. Supporters of transit expansion have dubbed the proposal “Measure R+.” But it could also be dubbed, “Plan B.”

Getting “Measure R+” from legislative proposal to passage by L.A. County voters is a tall bill. First, AB 1446 must be approved by a pair of committees in the State Assembly before moving to final passage on the Assembly floor. Then the process has to repeat itself in the Senate.

On this front, Leon is confident that Feuer can shepherd the bill through the process. “Assemblymember Feuer has been a great partner; he helped the Mayor with Measure R at the State Legislature. If its the Extension or anything else to accelerate Measure R, the Mayor will fight hard to get it done,” Leon says.

From there, passage of a sales tax still has a long road to go. The bill has to be signed into law by the Governor, the same Governor that hopes to have a statewide tax to balance the state budget on the ballot. Some tax experts believe that the more tax initiatives on the ballot, the less the chance that they will pass. It’s also possible that funding for High Speed Rail could be on the ballot. Will Jerry Brown want to risk one his statewide projects to allow a local sales tax proposal? With this governor, it’s hard to predict.

Even if the Governor signs the bill into law, then the Metro Board of Directors and L.A. County Board of Supervisors has to act to put a measure on the fall ballot. Even then, it would take a two-thirds vote of L.A. County voters to pass the measure.

The stars were in alignment to pass Measure R in 2008. Are they similarly aligned in 2012?

Plan C: Financial Support from Chinese Investors

Many were surprised when L.A. Times transportation writer Ari Bloomekatz reported that [COLOR="rgb(46, 139, 87)"]Mayor Villaraigosa was talking to Chinese investors about financing a front-load of Measure R transit projects a mere ten days ago. Leon writes that negotiations began in the fall of last year and are ongoing, but are still in the early phases.[/COLOR]

“In Ocotober 2011, the MTA was approached by several parties concerning unsolicited offers of low-interest financing. Soon after, the CEO released a memo to the Board explaining the interest from Sovereign Wealth Funds. If there are parties that offer financing terms that are below current U.S. market rates, we should be willing to explore them. If the Chinese and/or any Sovereign Wealth Fund is willing to provide such terms we shouldn’t automatically discount it,” he explains.

There are several barriers to bringing this proposal to reality as well. Working with investors in a foreign country is never easy, even if the investors have experience working in other countries. Even if the county, Metro and the investors are all in agreement, there’s always the chance that such a deal could become politically problematic.

The other question is whether there will be other “add-ons” to a proposal with the Chinese that could make the loan less valuable than one from a more local equity firm. Will L.A. have to buy passenger cars or other technologies from Chinese manufacturers? Will L.A. County actually get a better deal by getting a higher interest loan from an American firm that has less strings attached? All those details remain to be worked out.

Going Forward

Denny Zane, the executive director of Move L.A., the organization most known for pushing the original Measure R believes there is merit in all three proposals, but sees “Measure R+” as the key to getting the eight transit projects that aren’t under construction, under construction.

“If you have to borrow to accelerate 12 transit projects, and gain the jobs, the economic development and environmental benefits soon, the real issue is [COLOR="rgb(0, 191, 255)"]your borrowing costs[/COLOR],” Zane writes.
“We should be willing to borrow from the federal government, from private entities like pension funds, or from the Chinese government – whoever gives us the most favorable terms. But we need to put ourselves in the best position to negotiate favorable terms; that is why I think the extension of Measure R proposal is a very smart idea.”
As the clock is ticking on Villaraigosa’s term, which ends in June of next year, there’s clearly a lot of work to do to see the Mayor’s transit vision become reality in a near-term timeline. And as if these three ideas weren’t enough to pursue, Leon hints that there could be another surprise proposal come our way.

“We’re always looking for our next Plan B,” the Deputy Mayor concludes.

http://la.streetsblog.org/2012/01/30...ce-and-plan-b/
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Old March 16th, 2012, 03:31 AM   #712
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Senate OKs Transpo Bill That Would Provide Billions for LA Rail

Thursday, March 15, 2012, by Neal Broverman



The US Senate passed a $109 billion transportation bill yesterday that includes mucho money for Mayor Villaraigosa's "America Fast Forward" program (formerly 30/10), which provides federal loans for local transit projects. In LA's case, the money would speed up transit and freeway projects planned under Measure R, the 2008 County-approved tax initiative. LA would pay back the loans with the Measure R taxes that will trickle in over the course of 30 years. The extension of the Purple Line subway on Wilshire could get a shot in the ass, reports the Los Angeles Times, and possibly open to Westwood much earlier than the planned 2036. Other projects that could get a boost are the LAX-adjacent Crenshaw Line (scheduled to open in 2018 without AFF), the Regional Connector project that will link the Gold, Blue, and Expo Lines in Downtown, the Gold Line (possibly helping it reach Montclair or Ontario and El Monte or Whittier), and the mysterious transit line down the 405, which could either be a train or a busway--Metro is seeking $3 billion to advance these projects through AFF, which should provide about $20 billion nationally.

The loan program is expected to survive the final version of the Senate bill as it's seen as a job creator and is supported by Senator Barbara Boxer. The House, meanwhile, is under pressure to pass their version of the bill as the government's ability to collect gas taxes will lapse by the end of the month if new legislation is not enacted. More projects could get greenlit (extending Crenshaw Line to WeHo, linking the

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Old March 19th, 2012, 03:35 AM   #713
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LACMTA has not stated an official opening date for the Expo Line, though they did announce that expanded train testing would begin March 18 < http://www.metro.net/news/simple_pr/...g-on-new-expo/ >, which might be an indication that the line will open in one month if the testing does not uncover problems. The Santa Monica Mirror is reporting that the line will open in mid-April.

http://www.smmirror.com/#mode=single&view=34278

Phase 1 Of Expo Light Rail To Open To Culver City In Mid-April
posted Mar. 16, 2012, 8:41:00 am
Roger Morante / Mirror Contributor

The final phase of testing for the Expo Light Rail Line Phase 1 is now underway with trains set to begin operating out of the La Cienega/Jefferson station come mid-April.

The Venice/Robertson Station will open six to eight weeks after the opening of the La Cienega/Jefferson Station, which will provide commuters from downtown Los Angeles their first chance to reach Culver City and the outer rim of the Westside via light rail, according to Eric Olsen, Chief Project Officer of the Expo Authority.

Olsen said safety protocols were the reason for the delay of the opening of Phase 1 of the Expo Line. It was initially scheduled to open in January and then March of 2012.

“We just put in a high tech automatic signal protection system,” Olsen said. “It is an added safety measure and will override an operator if an operator misses a signal.”

The new auto stop technology is being applied to vehicles that are more than 20 years old and the task, now completed, has been passed onto the Metro authority to operate test runs on the system to make sure it is ready for commuter travel to and from Culver City.

Phase 2 of the Expo Line, which is currently under construction, is expected to start operating all the way to downtown Santa Monica in 2015.

Phase 2 will link the Expo Line from Culver City to the Santa Monica terminus at 4th and Colorado, which is a block away from the Third Street Promenade.
“It’s a $2.4 billion regional project,” said Santa Monica Deputy City Manager Kate Vernez. “It will go from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles in 45 minutes.”

The Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica had initially been scheduled to open in 2014, but has been pushed back until 2015.

City officials believe that this project will be worth the wait.

“Without Expo Light Rail there is a major missing link to the regional transportation system,” Vernez said. “It will be the first mass transit system created. It will be of very substantial benefit to both the environment and the city.”

Commuters who drive their cars through the city of Los Angeles to reach Santa Monica and Los Angeles during rush hour frequently experience a daily ‘carmageddon’ en route to their jobs with traffic along the 10 Freeway.

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom said the Expo Line would provide for a better experience for residents in the business community as well as benefit tourism.

“One thing we don’t think about is the freeway system,” Bloom said. “The 10 (Freeway) has effectively removed us from various communities and Expo is going to help bring these communities back together.”

The City of Santa Monica has been working to implement the Expo Light Rail Line since the late 1980s and preliminary construction of the line has already begun with the recent demolition of old buildings such as Sears Auto Center and the bank training facility on Colorado and 24th.

“It takes decades of concerted effort by people in the City Council who really worked hard to get this type of rail system opened and we are thrilled that it is within reach,” Vernez said. “I think it will be great for the region and Santa Monica and the tourist economy.”

The Expo Light Rail Line will also feature the Bergamot Station that will be located near the intersection of 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard. Its inclusion will offer commuters the chance to reach the Pico district along the southern edge of Olympic Blvd.

In the meantime, the Big Blue Bus will be offering some new bus routes once the Robertson/Venice station is complete. This will allow for commuters to take a combo ride of light rail and bus to reach their destinations in the UCLA area and downtown Santa Monica.

“We’re currently planning to serve the Expo Robertson/Venice station to the UCLA area sometime after the completion of the station,” said Joe Stitcher, Chief Administrative Officer for the Big Blue Bus. “We are looking to change line 5 to that station. We’re (also) looking to change our line 12.”
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Old March 19th, 2012, 07:38 AM   #714
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i really think the ridership is going to be through the roof for the expo line. i wouldnt be shocked if it reaches blue line levels very quickly.
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 08:32 PM   #715
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Expo Line to open to La Cienega to the public on Saturday, April 28

http://thesource.metro.net/2012/03/2...urday-april-28



The long-awaited and much-anticipated Expo Line will open to the public on Saturday, April 28, said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa before a test ride with members of the media on Friday morning.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Metrolink Chairman Richard Katz, who serve on the Metro Board of Directors, were on board the test ride for the announcement.

The line will initially open between 7th/Metro Center station in downtown Los Angeles and the La Cienega station. The final station on the first phase of the project, at Venice and Robertson in Culver City, will open this summer.

Meanwhile, construction has begun on the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and Santa Monica. That part of the project — funded by the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 — is scheduled to open in 2015.

Here is the news release issued by the Mayor’s office:

Mayor Villaraigosa Announces Opening Date of Expo Line Phase I

Expo Line Phase I will officially open on Saturday, April 28, as the newest addition to L.A.’s expanding rail network

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Villaraigosa, Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, today announced that the Expo Phase I line connecting downtown Los Angeles south to USC and west to La Cienega/Jefferson via Exposition Boulevard will open Saturday, April 28, 2012.

“The opening of Expo Line Phase I is a critical step towards creating the multi-faceted transit network that Angelenos deserve,” said Mayor Villaraigosa during the morning media tour of the new Expo Line. “When Angelenos rallied together to pass Measure R, voters sent the message loud and clear that we want transit options beyond the single-passenger automobile.Los Angeles has been leading the way to improve and expand our infrastructure and support jobs.”

Phase I of the Expo Line will officially open on Saturday, April 28, 2012, as the newest addition to LA’s expanding rail network. The line will initially run 7.6 miles from downtown 7th/Metro to La Cienega/Jefferson. This summer, the Culver Citystop will extend the line a mile further. Including theCulver Citystop, the Expo Line Phase I will share two stations with the Blue Line downtown for a total of 12 Expo Line stops.

“Metro is excited about opening the new Metro Expo light rail line, the first time the traffic choked Westside will see rail passenger service in half a century,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “And we’re also gearing up to soon open the Metro Orange Line busway extension to Chatsworth in theSan Fernando Valley. These and other transit projects in the pipeline will give commuters and others real options for parking their cars, hopping on the bus or train and beating high gas prices.”

MTA will operate the Expo Line seven days a week starting at about 5 a.m. and ending at about 12:30 a.m., and is expected to have 27,000 daily boardings.

Phase II of the Expo Line, whose construction began last September and is scheduled to be completed by 2015, will extend from Culver City 6.6 miles out to Santa Monica ending at 4th/Colorado. Together, Expo Phase I and II will be the first mass transit line to connect Downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Monica in half a century.

“We want to see a region that leads in transit ridership, not gridlock,” the Mayor continued. “To build our transit system faster, we launched the 30/10 initiative and expanded the idea nationwide as America Fast Forward and I continue to urge the House of Representatives to pass a long term transportation bill that includes America Fast Forward.”

The surface transportation bill passed by the US Senate with a bipartisan 74-22 vote would save or create 1.8 million jobs nationwide. The America Fast Forward component of the bill can create up to 1 million additional jobs across the country.

If the House follows the Senate and passes a transportation bill with America Fast Forward, local transit agencies will be able to compete over the next two years for $2 billion in low-interest TIFIA loans. This would allowLos Angelesto create 166,000 jobs now by accelerating bus and rail projects.

ButLos Angelesis not waiting forWashington. In a little over one year,Los Angeles will open three major transportation projects—the Expo Phase I Line, the Orange Line expansion, and the I-405 expansion.Los Angeleswill also break ground on three more major projects—the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, the Purple Line Subway extension, and the Regional Connector. These projects are expected to support over 100,000 jobs.

Expo Line Phase I Station stops:

7th / Metro (Shared with Blue Line)
Pico (Shared with Blue Line)
23rd Street
Jefferson/USC
Expo Park/USC
Vermont/Expo
Western/Expo
Crenshaw/Expo
Farmdale
La Brea/Expo
La Cienega/Jefferson
Culver City(set to open Summer 2012)
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Old March 23rd, 2012, 11:02 PM   #716
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the long long wait is over! thats gonna be one popular line
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Old March 24th, 2012, 02:15 AM   #717
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Finally! ¡Por fin!
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Old March 30th, 2012, 06:04 AM   #718
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L.A.’s Westside Subway is Practically Ready for Construction, But Its Completion Could be 25 Years Off
March 25th, 2012 | 74 Comments


» The Wilshire Corridor metro extension’s final environmental impact statement is released.

Of the nation’s public transportation improvement projects, Los Angeles’ Westside Subway is one of the most important: It would offer an alternative option for tens of thousands of daily riders and speed travel times by up to 50% compared to existing transit trips. It would serve one of the nation’s densest and most jobs-rich urban corridors and in doing so take a major step forward towards making L.A. a place where getting around without a car is comfortable.

L.A. County’s transit provider, Metro, released the final environmental impact statement for the 8.9-mile Westside Subway project last week, providing the most up-to-date details on a multi-billion-dollar scheme that is expected to enter the construction phase next year. The project received a positive review by the Federal Transit Administration in the Obama Administration’s FY 2013 budget, and it is likely to receive a full-funding grant agreement from Washington later this year. Local revenue sources generated by taxes authorized over the years by voters will cover the majority of the project’s cost.

[COLOR="rgb(0, 100, 0)"]But questions about the project’s completion timeline remain unanswered: [/COLOR]Will L.A. have to rely on conventional sources of financing, or be able to take advantage of federally-backed loans to speed construction?

In addition, the project’s specific plans for station construction suggest that there are opportunities to improve station layout and do more to develop land around certain stops.



(I) The Project’s Significance

Many of the rail expansion projects being built in the United States today serve corridors with rather limited existing bus service — there are few people who currently take the bus from downtown Washington to Tyson’s Corner or Dulles Airport, for instance, but a huge Metro extension is currently being built to connect the three, fundamentally to build a new market of transit riders.

L.A.’s westside, on the other hand, already has a very large base of transit users, and most of them are concentrated on the Wilshire Boulevard Corridor, which runs from downtown, through Beverly Hills, the Century City business district, and UCLA, before reaching Santa Monica. The three intermediary areas together contain about 150,000 jobs, about as many as downtown L.A. — and most of them are concentrated within a quarter mile of the street. The city’s famed congestion, especially severe in this area, has attracted people to transit: The local and express bus routes along the line — the 20 and 720 — carry about 60,000 daily riders.

It is no surprise, then, that the corridor has been a focus of L.A. transit investment proposals for decades. The Purple Line subway, which currently terminates at the Wilshire and Western station, was supposed to extend much further into the city when it was first designed, but the threat of gas explosions, a lack of adequate funding, and significant political opposition delayed that action. Yet the election of Antonio Villaraigosa to the mayoralty of L.A. City in 2005 altered the situation entirely, as he ran on a platform that explicitly endorsed the project’s completion and he later campaigned for a sales tax increase to pay for the project — 2008′s Measure R — passed by a large majority of voters. An alignment with seven new stations was selected by Metro in Fall 2010 after three years of studies, though final decisions on station locations were not announced until this week.

Estimates released by the agency point to the degree to which the subway will improve the performance of the transit system, whose service to the westside is currently plagued by traffic-induced delays. Trips from downtown’s Pershing Square to UCLA will decline from 55 to 25 minutes. Riders travelling from South L.A. will save 23 minutes on their journeys; those from east L.A. and Pasadena will save 29 minutes (see above image). These travel time savings are enormous — more than almost any other transit project in the country — and will attract a projected 49,300 daily riders to the line.

Though the subway’s completion will likely not reduce congestion on the highways (because automobile capacity, it seems, never ceases to be consumed), those who need to travel within the corridor will get a new, much faster travel option that is in many cases faster than that which is offered by private automobile, a remarkable achievement in the realm of public transit.

[COLOR="rgb(75, 0, 130)"](II) Questions of Time[/COLOR]

Because all of L.A. County’s voters approved the Measure R sales tax increase, it would have been unreasonable to focus all revenues in one corridor (and indeed, one suspects that such a plan would not have been approved). Thus the Westside Subway shares the stage with a blizzard of other transit projects being funded over the next twenty years, including the Regional Connector, Crenshaw Corridor, Exposition Line, Gold Line Extensions, South Bay Green Line Extension, and Orange Line Extensions, among others. The large quantity of funds being consumed to build these lines mean that under conventional financing techniques, the Westside Subway will not be completed to its proposed terminus at the V.A. Medical Center until 2036. Only the first phase — a 3.9-mile link to the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega — would be done by 2020.

For Mayor Villaraigosa and much of the L.A. community, this timeline is unacceptable: To have to wait almost twenty-five years to see a long-planned project completed is scary. Yet the Westside Subway’s $4.4 billion cost (in 2011 terms) is too large for the county to raise money for in a short time period.

Thus L.A. proposed its 30/10 initiative — later renamed America Fast Forward — to use federal loan guarantees to reduce the cost of borrowing and essentially use tax revenues expected to be raised in the future to pay for projects today. This proposal, concretized in the expansion of TIFIA proposed by the U.S. Senate in its transportation reauthorization bill earlier this month, would make it possible for L.A. to build its full subway line by 2022, fourteen years ahead of schedule. Advancing the project’s completion would reduce year-of-expenditure costs for the project from $6.29 billion in the 2036 completion date scheme to $5.66 billion in the sped-up scheme. And it would do it without increasing the level of federal grant commitments to the project, just by reducing borrowing costs for the local agency. Because future residents of L.A. will benefit from transit expansion now, it does not seem unreasonable to use future revenues to pay for the project.

Yet there remains a possibility that the U.S. House, controlled by a GOP delegation that has opposed practically all legislation that Democrats have proposed, will decide not to pass the Senate’s bill and therefore prevent the expansion of the TIFIA program. This would put the timely completion of the Westside Subway in serious doubt.



(III) Station Location

Whatever the Westside Subway’s overall merits in terms of travel time improvements, there remain significant questions about how exactly the line will be constructed. After all, a well-designed transit project is not only one that moves people quickly from station to station but also one that cultivates dense, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

Though for the most part the project’s construction has been welcomed by affected neighborhoods, the Century City station — about halfway down the line — has undergone significant opposition because of the proposed alignment. Metro supports the construction of a stop under Constellation Avenue, in the heart of the Century City business district, compared to an alternative under Santa Monica Boulevard, about two blocks north. This is the reasonable choice as the latter alignment runs through an earthquake-prone zone, faces a golf course, has half as many jobs within a quarter mile (10,000 versus 20,000), and would see a third fewer daily boardings according to current estimates (5,500 versus 8,600). Though some locals have complained that the Constellation routing would run under Beverly Hills High School and therefore put students in danger, those concerns are hyperbolic considering precedent in other cities and the obvious advantages of that alignment.

Although most of the stations on the proposed line will have entrances at street intersections in relatively dense, urban areas,* the stop at the end of the line, at Westwood/V.A. Hospital, is an exception. The station exit as proposed would deposit people onto a series of winding paths just adjacent to a parking lot and a section of Wilshire Boulevard that is effectively an expressway (at the intersection with Bonsall), about 1,200 feet away from the entrance to the V.A. Medical Center (see above image). The situation is made worse by the parkland just adjacent to the stop and the impassable barrier of I-405 northeast of the stop. This is a pedestrian-hostile environment that will offer a disincentive to taking the train.

As Metro’s Steve Hymon notes, the V.A. Hospital stop will play an important role in serving the region’s veterans, but terminating the line there misses tens of thousands more people living further southwest along Wilshire in dense neighborhoods. They, too, should be provided improved transit service, but they will have to wait until 2036 or later to see another subway extension because of budget limitations. Many of them will likely want to drive to the station in order to take the subway because of the significant time savings offered, but Metro proposes no park-and-ride facilities there. Though bus connections will be important, the agency is effectively losing out on potential passengers by not providing for that need.

It would make sense for Metro to consider working with the V.A. Hospital to develop the parking lot directly abutting the stop into a high-density residential or office use, considering the significant demand likely to be spurred on by the completion of the subway.

* With stations spaced at about one station per mile, the argument could be made that these neighborhoods are not being served well enough, especially the community situated between the proposed UCLA and Century City stations, which would be about two miles apart.

See the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, Final Environmental Impact Statement Executive Summary and Accelerated Financial Plan.

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...-25-years-off/
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Old March 30th, 2012, 06:06 AM   #719
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http://www.metro.net/projects/westside/final-eis-eir/

This is a link to the EIS mentioned above.
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Old April 12th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #720
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In reference to post #715, there's now a sped up train ride on 'Phase 1' of the new Expo line on Youtube:-

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