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Old November 13th, 2011, 12:15 PM   #781
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Beverly Hills bids to halt subway tunnel at school

By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's as hard to travel under the ground in Southern California as it is on top of it.
Here in the city the car built, the latest attempt to bore a subway line beneath some of the most congested roads in America is recalling civic brawls of a generation ago, when fear over where tunnels could be constructed safely left the region with a subway system so stunted it gets as much ridicule as ridership.
This time, transit planners hoping to run a 9-mile subterranean line into the city's densely packed Westside have hit resistance within a cluster of stately, red-roofed buildings surrounded by manicured hedges and lush, rolling lawn — Beverly Hills High School. Tentative plans call for drilling a tunnel 70 feet beneath the campus, where Angelina Jolie and Nicholas Cage once roamed the hallways.
Local officials say ambitious plans for new classrooms and parking would be threatened, and they worry the French Normandy-style buildings could be damaged by construction or train vibration. They want the line to run on an alternate route a few blocks north, along busy Santa Monica Boulevard, though regional transit consultants say that would take the train into the path of unstable earthquake faults.
The consultants are confident tunneling would not endanger the 2,200-student school, but some envision the worst: a tunnel collapse directly below campus, with students inside the buildings.
"It's terrible, I dislike it intensely," Theresa Pinassi said with a grimace, as she waited outside the school for her 16-year-old grandson. "It would be dangerous to have it under the school — God forbid, if we had an earthquake."
It's all deja vu to Mark Fabiani, who served as deputy mayor and chief of staff to former Mayor Tom Bradley, who in his era envisioned a subway that would link downtown Los Angeles with the Pacific coast, a line befitting one of the world's great metropolitan areas.
It never happened.
A local congressman pushed through a tunneling ban in 1986 because of fears that construction could cause an explosion of naturally occurring methane gas, a move some viewed as a thinly disguised maneuver to safeguard tony Westside neighborhoods from outsiders. The city ended up with a subway that's invisible to many of its 4 million residents — it's about 20 miles overall in a city covering 468 square miles, petering out just west of downtown's skyscrapers.
To Fabiani, Bradley's dream would have helped avert Los Angeles' traffic nightmare.
"When you have no culture of mass transit in your area, it's harder to visualize what the benefits might be down the road," he said.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, chaired by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, isn't expected to endorse a route until early next year, and it's not clear how much of the $5.4 billion line will be built, or when. The most optimistic schedule calls for construction to begin next year, with trains rolling in 2022.
Local voters boosted sales taxes to bankroll transit projects, but money is scarce in gridlocked Washington. The ban on using federal funds for tunneling was lifted in 2007, but current plans stop well short of reaching the beaches in Santa Monica. Meanwhile, Beverly Hills has enlisted its own consultants for a fight that might end in the courtroom.
The transit agency long envisioned the line running along Santa Monica Boulevard through that area, but in 2010 it floated a plan that would move the route slightly south, under the school. The MTA's experts recently concluded the route under the school would be safer than along Santa Monica Boulevard, where faults could pose a threat.
But district officials suspect that developers with ties to City Hall are influencing the decision-making.
The disputed route would take the line under the school and to a station in the nearby Century City neighborhood that's virtually at the doorstep of a planned 37-story tower proposed by JMB Realty Corp., a major landlord that owns other buildings in the area. JMB executives have invested heavily in Villaraigosa's political ventures, government records show. One company affiliate gave a committee linked to the mayor $100,000 in 2006.
"We do believe politics has driven this alignment, not transit rules or standards," said Lisa Korbatov, who heads the local school board. She calls the MTA's data "very heavy in assumption."
A statement from Villaraigosa's office said only that he is confident in the MTA's experts and the conclusions of its technical studies. A local coalition supporting the route that would cut under the high school asserts the plan is safer, given the MTA's findings, and would place a station within easy walking distance for nearly 30,000 workers in Century City.
JMB senior vice president Patrick Meara disputed that there was any connection between donations to the mayor and decisions on the subway. When asked who drafted the route that would build a station near his company's properties, which would almost certainly boost their value, he said, "I honestly don't know."
Among students, there appears to be little anxiety about a train line that wouldn't begin moving people until years after they graduate.
Justin Blaylock, a 17-year-old senior, said he supports expanding public transit and would welcome the chance to avoid the city's dirty, crowded buses. "It makes me just want to walk," he said.
In a way, the MTA is trying to rebuild the past.
Los Angeles once boasted one of the finest public transit systems in the nation, the Pacific Electric Red Cars, which trundled along 1,000 miles of track that crisscrossed the region. The last one was gone by 1961, dismantled with no small push from auto and oil interests as the car culture took hold in Southern California.
Freeways replaced trolley tracks, and huffing buses took over for electric rail. In time, a booming population led to sclerotic traffic and the blankets of smog that came with it.
Today, rush hour knows few limits on heavily used stretches of freeway around downtown, in the San Fernando Valley and on the Westside. Nearly 6 million cars are registered in Los Angeles County, and one 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 sees 500,000 vehicles on a typical day. An eight-lane ribbon of highway linking downtown and Hollywood — the infamous 101 — is often ranked among the most strangled roads in the U.S.
With a push from Villaraigosa, a transit boomlet is under way, including development of an above-ground light-rail line to Los Angeles International Airport. A light-rail line is pushing east from Pasadena, and another 6-mile spur running out of downtown opened in 2009.
But it's unlikely to do much to open a pathway for cars.
There are just too many vehicles attempting to navigate the city's sprawling geography — only a fraction of the region's jobs are located downtown, meaning drivers are crisscrossing the region in a tangled web of commuting patterns.
Even if the Westside subway extension is built, "the congestion is so terrible, it will just be sucked up," says Genevieve Giuliano, a University of Southern California professor who specializes in transportation policy. "Traffic might improve a little bit, not a lot."
A study by a team of experts conducted for MTA concluded that the Westside project "is not expected to pose new threats" to students, faculty or the community, but hasn't eased anxiety in Beverly Hills.
City and school officials don't object to transit development — just the route below the school. Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Brucker dismisses any suggestion that the city is protesting because it fears the subway would import crime from scruffier neighborhoods.
"Any association with, 'Don't come into our city,' may have been an issue for some people a decade or two ago, but it's never been a discussion" with the latest plan, Brucker says.
There's more at stake than easing traffic.
In a region with double-digit unemployment, business leaders see subways and light rail as the fast track to Los Angeles' future, and they predict that housing and other development will flourish around stations and lines.
"Local resistance has been a part of this project for a long time and actually killed it for a long time," says Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
"We believe we should put emotions aside," Toebben added. "We have a lot of people who think in their minds they would never ride a subway."
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Old November 17th, 2011, 02:59 AM   #782
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TransportPolitic

Quote:
Los Angeles’ Streetcar Plans: Too Duplicative of Existing Services?
November 16th, 2011

Los Angeles submitted an application for U.S. TIGER funds with the intention of building a downtown streetcar line. But the alignments proposed are very similar to those offered by existing rail and bus services — and each would operate in a one-way loop, a failed transit concept.



Los Angeles has big hopes for its downtown, and, like most of the country’s major cities, it has seen significant population growth in the inner core over the past ten years. Now, to extend this renaissance, the city — also like many others — is planning a streetcar line that would traverse the district from north to south. Last month, it applied for $37.5 million in U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant dollars, which it hopes to supplement with local and private funds to complete an initial route of between 3 and 5 one-way track miles at a cost of between $106 and $138 million.

Despite the fact that planning for the L.A. streetcar goes back for more than a decade thanks to the work of a public-private local advocacy group, the city will have plenty of competition in its effort to win federal funds. Requests for the third round of TIGER funding outnumbered actual funding available by 27 to 1. With so many projects up for consideration, anything funded by Washington ought to be valuable. But L.A.’s project could benefit from significant improvement.

The fundamental problem with the proposed streetcar is that its service pattern would overlap that of other transit lines either funded or in service today. Though there are several corridors under consideration (a final route alignment will be selected in February 2012), each would run within the general north-south corridor between Broadway to the east and Figueroa to the west and Pico to the south and Union Station to the north.

This broad corridor, it turns out, will be mostly duplicated by light rail once the Regional Connector — a more than $1 billion project — links the Blue and Expo lines south of downtown with the Gold Line north of it by 2020. The Silver Line, a bus rapid transit route that connects El Monte to South L.A., runs a very similar alignment. And literally dozens of local and rapid bus lines running with headways of 15 minutes or less throughout the day (shown in yellow on the map below) run similar routes. All of these lines are within half a mile or less of all of the proposed streetcar routes.



[...]
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Old November 17th, 2011, 08:30 AM   #783
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snip
They really ought to change that route, it just looks ******* ridiculous. I mean, if they can't change the route, they should at least make it a two way loop with streetcars going in both directions.
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Old November 17th, 2011, 01:51 PM   #784
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U r right, one way loops are pretty stupid.
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Old November 17th, 2011, 02:47 PM   #785
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It will be singe-track, to minimize intrusion on traffic lanes.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 03:11 AM   #786
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Old November 26th, 2011, 08:13 PM   #787
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It will be singe-track, to minimize intrusion on traffic lanes.
It does not only minimize intrusion on traffic lanes but also usability. A single loop is totally impracticable.
Just think about a possible scenario: You arrive at the major hub 7th/Metro Center and want to get to 11th/Olive. How would the tram get you there? By going three times further than necessary, probably taking longer than simply walking to the place.


They should either go for a real solution or just scrap the whole thing.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 04:27 AM   #788
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I agree that single-track loops are bad, unless they are small to allow a circulator-esque operation on the terminus area.

Most American streetcar (as trams are mostly called there) projects suffer from the same design flaws: they are thought more like an "urban enhancement" to spur real state development than as transportation. Austin recently unveiled a similarly flawed streetcar project.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 05:29 AM   #789
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I agree that the streetcar should be bi-directional. It should go down Broadway and up Grand Street but go all the way down to Pico ( and as far north as Caesar Chavez. There is a lot of potential to build south of 7th Downtown because of the many parking lots. A street car could increase the desirability of living there.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 05:22 PM   #790
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If downtown wants a tourist toy, the streetcar is fine as single loop, if it should be used as serious last mile connector for the subway/lightrail (which is not a bad idea at all), it has to be a double loop or a linear double track.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 02:16 AM   #791
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If downtown wants a tourist toy, the streetcar is fine as single loop, if it should be used as serious last mile connector for the subway/lightrail (which is not a bad idea at all), it has to be a double loop or a linear double track.
The last mile connector is a different project that will be a subway and will tie Union Station with the 7th street metro station. It should break ground in 2013.
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Old December 5th, 2011, 02:11 AM   #792
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So the Expo Line is in final testing phases, Should open by the end of January is my guess.

Expo Handed Over to Metro, Now In Final Pre-Opening Stage


Per the Expo Line's Facebook page, and now The Source too, the light rail's construction authority has handed the line over to Metro to begin pre-revenue operations, the last stage before you can ride the darn thing. This last step simulates regular service, but without picking up passengers. Posters on the Transit Coalition boards believe Sunday will be the first official day of pre-revenue, which would mean the line could open around mid-January as the last step takes about a month to complete. However, The Source stresses that no official dates have been set for either pre-revenue testing or a grand opening.

An interesting note on The Source's post indicates that it's not yet clear whether the line will initially open to La Cienega or go all the way to Culver City--the latter station is not yet finished, as it's waiting on a commuter parking lot and bike amenities.

As for the potential speed of a trip from Culver City to Seventh/Metro in Downtown, it's estimated to be about 25 minutes--The Source bloggers took the train for a test ride last week and Steve Hymon wrote that there were some amazingly fast portions, especially between Western and Crenshaw, and a sloooow section near Farmdale, where locals fought for a tunnel but got an at-grade station with several safety precautions.

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2011/1...ning_stage.php
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Old December 6th, 2011, 01:58 AM   #793
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The last mile connector is a different project that will be a subway and will tie Union Station with the 7th street metro station. It should break ground in 2013.
Maybe I should clarify that. I was not speaking about that specific subway project but about a general type of project, aimed at connecting on the last mile. Usually that is medium capacity and rather slow with many stops.

In this regard the subway connector project is not quite a classic last mile project but rather a closure of a current gap in the high priority network.
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Old December 6th, 2011, 03:47 AM   #794
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exactly. its the most important project in LA County after the purple line extension. The ease and improvement will be a massive boom to ridership and usage of the entire system.
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Old December 10th, 2011, 05:47 AM   #795
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Old December 15th, 2011, 04:05 AM   #796
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Is the Metro Gold line named after the studio company Metro Goldwyn Mayer ?
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Old December 16th, 2011, 07:15 PM   #797
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No. It's named after the color Gold.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 12:03 AM   #798
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No well,Was just asking
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Old December 18th, 2011, 08:48 AM   #799
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Old December 30th, 2011, 02:41 AM   #800
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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.

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