Weekly Transit eNewsletter
Monday, November 20, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 47

Welcome to The Transit Coalition Thanksgiving Edition of our 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.

First Call: Next Tuesday is The Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.

Now that the bonds have been approved, Metro will ask the state for its share of the funds. For the moment, the agency will seek money for road projects, including the widening of the I-5 through southeast Los Angeles County and new carpool lanes on the 405 Freeway. Some acknowledge that even with the bond money, agencies must spend years studying the projects. Still, no one is poised to turn down the opportunity when the California Transportation Commission selects its first round of beneficiaries in January.

Now that the Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, those who were travelling on the I-15 through the Cajon Pass were in for quite a backup. The resurfacing project closed a portion of the freeway at its junction with the 215 Freeway in Devore, which was a headache for pre-holiday drivers. Caltrans urged drivers to seek alternative routes farther away, such as through the Antelope Valley or on State Highway Route 62 near Palm Springs.

A USA Today article shed light on the many possible revenue generators for transportation projects. Some are eyeing statewide sales taxes that would be pegged to inflation and outright replace gas taxes. Many agencies are keeping a close eye on Oregon, where a pilot project that charges drivers by how much they have driven is in full swing.

As a response to the move to cancel an existing bus lane on Wilshire Blvd. in West Los Angeles, LA City Planning Commission member Michael Woo and Planetizen managing editor Christian Peralta wrote an op-ed piece extolling the purported virtues of installing a cheaper busway on Wilshire instead of building the "subway to the sea". Woo and Peralta claim that the money saved from building a subway could go to traffic and parking mitigation. The two are getting inspiration from Bogota, Colombia, which has an extensive network of "Bus Rapid Transit", while cities with mature rail systems are studying some form of Rapid buses.

Several letters to the Los Angeles Times, responding to the unrelated news that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa uses an SUV instead of transit, will quickly remind readers why such a dependence on above-ground mass transit is doomed to failure.

The popularity of the Waterfront Red Car Line in San Pedro is moving officials to study practical extensions of the streetcar. Though any extension would cost millions, they are certain to bring meaningful connections between communities while serving various tourist attractions not currently served by the streetcar. Possible extensions include south to Cabrillo Beach, north to Wilmington and west into Downtown San Pedro, as well as a spur into the Ports O'Call Village.

The news keeps getting worse for the Grand Avenue project in Downtown L.A. The Los Angeles Times reports that the project is behind schedule and in the red, creating anxiety among champions of the project. Developers are now asking for tax rebates to finance the project, whose first phase would have broken ground next month. Most believe that the project is a bellweather to the slumping real estate market in downtown, where several other projects are behind schedule for various reasons. The slowdown in said market may create a looming deficit on the state budget, according to analysts, though transportation dollars should be protected now that Proposition 1A has passed.

In a prelude to future flight path wars in Los Angeles, Las Vegas citizens are moaning and groaning about planes encroaching their communities as they take a new flight path to and from McCarran International Airport. The airport has seen a 31% jump in air traffic in the last five years, forcing the airport to move flights onto another runway. This would require planes to fly over communities unaccustomed to the din of airplanes, among other things. A similar change is in the works for Southern California airports and will include a rework of flight paths to and from all airports. Meanwhile, columnist Tom Hennessy laments a lack of consistency regarding airport security screenings.

Cal State Long Beach researchers recently concluded that MagLev for the ports would be economically feasible and environmentally beneficial. As concluded through various simulations, one possible MagLev line would ferry containers between the ports and nearby freight yard switching facilities. Though researchers believe it would cost only reasonably more than new freeway capacity, a lack of money and political support continues to deflect interest on such a system. In more practical developments, two letters to the LA Times extoll efforts by the ports to crack down on polluting tractors.

In other local news, several San Gabriel Valley cities will receive a total of $2.4 million that will mostly go to trail restoration. The revitalization of Hollywood has come with a steep price for those who decide to drive there, as parking rates continue to rise and thefts of all sorts are taking place, according to the LA Weekly.

The San Bernardino Associated Governments are asking cities in seven potential sites to adopt land use policies that would favor transit oriented development.

Here is a list of other recent developments:

November 14: State lawmakers in Orange County held a hearing regarding properties held by Caltrans. Director Will Kempton was on the defense, stating that his agency is not a "slumlord". Lawmakers were particularly irked with the inconsistent data given to them on just how many properties are owned by Caltrans. Kempton promised to work with legislators on forging a new state law that would require Caltrans to be held accountable for its properties to county governments and strip its responsibility of property manager.

The south Orange County Major Investment Study Stakeholder working group had its first meeting. South Orange County will experience increasing traffic as growth south of the 55 Freeway inundates the area with new residents and jobs. Freeway travel times could double and local surface streets could have 10 times the traffic in 25 years. Officials at the meeting were pleased to remember that Measure M, the local sales tax dedicated to transportation projects, was renewed by a wide margin. The next meeting is set for Tuesday, January 9. (The Transit Coalition thanks reader Richard Gardner for his contribution.)

November 16: One of the two tunnel boring machines digging the tunnels for the Eastside Gold Line, nicknamed "Lola", completed its work. The second tunnel boring machine, nicknamed "Vicki", still has 1,000 feet to go. Residents envision faster commutes and easier access to areas across Los Angeles once construction is finished and the line opens in 2009.

November 20: Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency celebrates the completion of 292 new lofts built by developer J.H. Snyder Co. next to the North Hollywood Red and Orange Line stations. After decades of work, officials are pleased to see that the "transit village" is finally taking shape. Other projects in motion include a new high school, the Lankershim Depot restoration and the 15-story NoHo Tower.

Upcoming Events: Orange County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, November 27, 9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600 Main St., Orange.

Consider attending our monthly Transit Coalition Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, November 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!

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

LAX Specific Plan Amendment Study Public Outreach Meetings: Wednesday, December 6, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, December 9, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Proud Bird Restaurant 11022 Aviation Blvd., Los Angeles. The meetings will discuss the North Airfield Preliminary Concepts. Those who wish to come can attend either one of the two meetings.

Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, December 7, 9:30 a.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority: Thursday, December 7, 2:30 p.m., Board Room, Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza (adjacent to Union Station), Los Angeles.

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

Metro San Gabriel Valley Governance Council: Tuesday, December 12, 5 p.m., 3369 Santa Anita Ave. (near El Monte bus station), El Monte.

Metro Westside/Central Governance Council: Wednesday, December 13, 5 p.m., La Cienega Tennis Center, Sunset Room, 325 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

SCAG MagLev Task Force: Thursday, December 14, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los Angeles.

Metro Gateway Cities Governance Council: Thursday, December 14, 2 p.m., Gas Company ERC, 9240 Firestone Bl., Downey.

Metro South Bay Governance Council: Friday, December 15, 9.30 a.m., Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson.

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