Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 13

Welcome to The Transit Coalition weekly newsletter! Our organization participates in meetings with key decision makers and community leaders and our goal is to keep you informed on the latest developments in the transportation scene across Southern California.

Final Warning: Tuesday is our Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

The Metro Board faced a "humongous, earth-shattering issue" that threatens to destabilize the entire Metro rail and bus system: It is running out of line colors. The Metro Board recently delayed a decision to name emerging rail lines and existing busways with new colors. Two letters to the Los Angeles Times weigh in on the issue. Meanwhile, Metro moves along with construction of a new Orange Line station and parking lot at Canoga Avenue between Victory Boulevard and Vanowen Street. Busway patrons will now have a meaningful alternative to avoid driving further east to the Pierce College station or illegally parking at the Westfield Shoppingtown Promenade next to the Warner Center station. The station is scheduled to open by year's end.

The Cities of La Mirada and Santa Fe Springs move forward with a $44 million grade separation project on Valley View Avenue over Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks used by Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains. The Whittier Daily News praised this development.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Transportation Authority moves forward with a three-year pilot project to allow future carpoolers on 22 Freeway to enter and leave at any spot along the lanes instead of at designated areas. Construction on the carpool lanes is scheduled for completion in November. A new agency in charge of providing solutions to the 91 Freeway between Orange and Riverside Counties will study a tunnel that may carry both traffic and water. Caltrans will hold a public hearing on replacing the 80-year-old Big Bear Dam-Bridge (State Highway Route 18), where two replacement options, each worth at least $40 million, will be discussed. See Upcoming Events below for meeting date and location.

A recent article from the Daily Bulletin highlighted the health dangers of living near a freeway. UCLA Department of Environmental Health Sciences Professor William Hinds conducted two studies that revealed the areas around freeways are abundant with superfine particulate matter that can enter the body through the lungs and cause significant damage. The article focused on the new 210 Freeway in the Inland Empire, where single-family residential development is booming but potential homeowners pay scant attention to the health hazards of living near a freeway. Meanwhile, residents along the Rancho Cucamonga segment of the 210 are fighting for soundwalls, for fear that a big-rig might jump over existing guardrails and destroy their homes.

Are you still drawn in to the promise of MagLev? The San Diego Regional Airport Authority received a report indicating that a MagLev train to connect San Diego with a possible airport site in Imperial County would cost from $15 to $25 billion. An initial fare of $20 per trip is proposed. More likely, the proposed MagLev would begin at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, several miles north of central San Diego. The report in turn is receiving mixed reviews from officials. The Authority is also trying to bring numerous political, military, community and economic factions together and find a solution to replace the San Diego Lindbergh Field airport.

While academics discuss solutions to deal with capacity issues at said airport, a project to renovate an Ontario Airport runway nears completion. Ontario Airport handled a record 7.2 million passengers last year, but it grew at a slower rate than other airports in Southern California, such as Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Bob Hope itself is reaping in the fruits of its success: A parking crunch is forcing airport officials to plead with the public to use alternate forms of transportation, such as Metro, the Metrolink Ventura County line or rides from families and friends. Long Beach Airport, however, experienced a huge drop in passenger traffic last month.

The Port of Long Beach demonstrated its willingness to go green by announcing an administrative reorganization and awarding new flags to 13 compliant large shipping companies. As part of the "Green Flag" program, ships must slow down to 12 knots when arriving within 20 miles of the port, which reduces emissions at the port and environs. The Port has reduced docking fees by a total of $2.2 million to vessel operators that follow the protocol.

The five bus agencies that connect with BART will coordinate existing owl service and create a new line as part of an "All Nighter" bus service to compliment the commuter rail system when it ends service every night. A new County Connection bus line will ferry night employees to stations along the Pittsburgh/Bay Point BART branch. San Francisco MUNI, San Mateo County SamTrans, and AC Transit have provided a similar service for years, but this would the first time they would coordinate their schedules with those of the last BART trains. ( WHEELS, which serves the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and Amador Valley, is the fifth agency that will provide the new service.)

Caltrans, the California Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority are on a mad dash to find interested bidders qualified to build the $750 million suspension-span portion of the new Oakland Bay Bridge, now that Caltrans has opened an Invitation to Bid once again. The previous Invitation to Bid garnered only one response at $1.4 billion. The replacement project has been a messy issue from the get-go, as the SF Gate points out.

Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation board member David Grannis shares his thoughts on the failure of legislators to prepare a massive infrastructure bond on the June ballot in an interview with Metro Investment Report. Grannis largely blames the legislative process itself for the impasse and believes that "the system at play in Sacramento" hampered the public's desire for congestion relief.

A construction update of the Eastside Gold Line is now available.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

March 15 and 18: More than 200 people attended a pair of meetings with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) officials to offer their opinions on the future development of the Los Angeles International Airport. Participants received an update on the February settlement of the LAX Master Plan between the City of Los Angeles and six plaintiffs, which allowed "green-light" projects in the Plan to go forward. Community members expressed their suggestions to modernize the airport and relieve passenger traffic from it, including installing more FlyAway service, consolidating shuttle services, connecting the Green Line to the airport and proposing rail service between LAX and Downtown L.A.

March 20: Transit Coalition Executive Director Bart Reed addressed members of Valley VOTE on San Fernando Valley transportation issues. In addition to our monthly newsletter, a special San Fernando Valley Edition newsletter was distributed to attendees focusing on the problems of the proposed location for the Sylmar FlyAway, the status of the Lankershim Depot rehabilitation, the Orange Line half-marathon and plans to include the Sepulveda and San Fernando-Lankershim Rapid Bus corridors into the new federal Small Starts program.

March 21: The Burbank City Council approved a new law Tuesday that does away with compact parking spaces in any new development. Developers believe that the new ordinance will increase their costs. Burbank had already eliminated compact parking allowances for multi-family residential areas in April 2004. The city joins Glendale and Pasadena, which have already eliminated compact parking for commercial and industrial zones.

March 23: Current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta visited the site of last year's fatal Metrolink crash in Glendale to announce a new shock-absorbent technology that will be incorporated into the Metrolink cars procurement. According to Mineta, a recent test of the technology showed that passenger cars received little damage when colliding onto parked trains. Critics continue to contend that push-pull operations are inherently dangerous and that locomotives should pull trains to protect passengers in the event of an accident. Transit advocates and other officials reiterated that such operations are very safe and it would be wasteful for commuter rail lines to install turnarounds for trains.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Jo Strang has been appointed as the Federal Railroad Administration associate administrator for safety. Strang has been acting associate administrator for safety since October 30, 2005.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit at the Superior Court in San Diego to block construction of the San Onofre Toll Road. The suit alleges that the Transportation Corridor Agency, which prepared the environmental report on the project, failed to adequately study other route options or assess the harm it would do to the state beach it would go through. Two other groups, the Native American Heritage Commission and a coalition of environmental groups, filed lawsuits to stop the project.

Upcoming Events: Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, March 28 - 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Philippe The Original, 1001 N. Alameda St. Los Angeles CA 90012. ( Map.) We hope to see you there!

Big Bear Lake Bridge Replacement Project Public Hearing: Thursday, March 30, 4 p.m., Big Bear Municipal Water District, Conference Room, 40524 Lakeview Dr., Big Bear Lake. ( Draft EIR; WARNING: 463 pages)

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, March 31, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., Board Hearing Room 381B, Los Angeles.

Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Council: Wednesday, April 5, 6:30 p.m., Marvin Braude Constituent Center, 6262 Van Nuys Bl., Van Nuys.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Tuesday, April 6, 6:30 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

Angeles Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, April 6, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320, Los Angeles.

Southern California Transit Advocates: Saturday, April 8, 1 p.m., Angelus Plaza, Rm. 422, 255 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, April 13, 11:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

SCAG Goods Movement Task Force: Wednesday, April 19, 9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Missed last week's newsletter? Read it here!

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Contact Us:
We welcome your thoughts and comments on our new electronic newsletter. Please write us:
Bart Reed, Executive Director
Numan Parada, Communications Director

About The Transit Coalition:
The Transit Coalition is a 501[c](3) non-profit whose goal is to increase Transit Options and Mobility in Southern California by mobilizing citizens to press for sensible public policy to grow our bus and rail network.

As a grass roots group, we depend upon your contributions to allow us to pursue our important work. Add yourself to our mailing list and please donate to help us grow.

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bart.reed@thetransitcoalition.us  The Transit Coalition