Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Volume 3, Issue 34
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.
Coming Up, It's Coming Up: Next Tuesday
is our Transit Coalition monthly meeting. See Upcoming Events below for details.
The State Senate finally compromised on a
budget that would give $15.5 million to high speed rail development. The 7-week-late
budget now awaits signature by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who may make even
further cuts. (The impasse is also
affecting a bill that would set a container fee that would fund pollution
mitigation projects at the ports.)
You Can Help: Tell Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
to keep high speed rail funds in the budget. The message should be clear: "Don't
blue-pencil high speed rail!"
Even as the Exposition light rail
line moves into heavy construction, the California Transportation Commission is
waiting until September to dole out transit funds. Couple that with the ongoing
state budget crisis and it all makes for a political
game that no one enjoys. One letter to the Los Angeles Times does not
forget the political silliness
that enveloped the Expo Line during its development.
With the safety
of bridges in the nation still in question, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer looks to
the language describing the structural strength of bridges. Boxer claims that
words such as "structurally deficient" confuse the public. Boxer also
more information on which
bridges need a fix, so that she can request federal aid. Local officials
see the Sixth Street Viaduct in Los
Angeles as one bridge that could use either a major
overhaul or outright replacement. Indeed, even as state legislators celebrated
of bridge rebuilding on the 101 Freeway over the Santa
Clara River ,
some lamented the
lack of funds to rebuild highways en masse. Many of these legislators are
questions about bridge safety.
Metrolink unveiled its plan to greatly
improve grade crossings along its system. The "sealed corridor"
program aims to reduce accidents and defuse various foolish acts of drivers at
grade crossings. Improvements include adding concrete medians, longer gate arms
and "four-quadrant gates" that lower across all lanes of traffic. Crossings
in San Fernando Valley will be among
the first to get improvements.
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Much further north, Seattle
to cope with construction on the I-5 by taking public or non-motorized transportation.
Thanks to thorough publicity, many took advantage of the alternatives available.
As a result, the much dreaded fear of a traffic nightmare has not materialized.
It also helps that Snohomish
County 's Community Transit
is using MySpace
to promote public transportation to younger generations. This is a far cry from
Los Angeles ,
where, thanks to traffic, people are doing things closer
Still, some improvements are coming up. Caltrans will finance
work on a new roundabout
for State Highway Route 138 in Palmdale. Another Route 138 project in Littlerock
so as to not affect a local elementary school. San Jacinto
moves forward with
various improvements on a former stretch of State Highway Route 79 within
its city limits, after Caltrans relinquished the streets on which it traversed
to the city government in July.
Tribal leaders are working to protect
an ancient village named Panhe, which stands in the way of the San
Onofre Toll Road . Last year, the state attorney filed
a lawsuit on behalf of the Heritage Commission, in hopes that it would stop the
road. The Transportation Corridor Agencies, which seeks to build the highway,
countered that many routing alternatives have been sought to minimize the road's
impact on burial grounds and other sites.
A computer glitch made a mess
at LAX last week has sent officials into a panic. Some interpret the meltdown
as a testament to inadequate
airport infrastructure. The Los Angeles Times attributes the collapse
neglect, noting that such problems are rare at other airports. As if that
wasn't enough, a near collision prompted airport officials to commission yet
another study on the northern runways of LAX. This time, NASA
will conduct the study.
Meanwhile, a project to improve the aesthetics
of Century Blvd. near the airport broke
ground. LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl requested a study on the feasibility
on cars entering LAX. Expanded FlyAway service and a Green Line extension
towards LAX could
be funded from the tolls. Also, Ontario
residents grapple with the double
whammy of both airport noise and freight rail vibrations.
news, truckers are gearing up for a
fight to improve their lot once the Clean Trucks Program takes effect. Truckers,
who often work long hours for near-minimum-wage salaries and no benefits, are
leery of the program, which aims to reduce pollution by replacing aging diesel
trucks with more environmentally friendly models. Not satisfied with this, however,
the Port of Los
Angeles is also aiming for "green"
buildings that are "environmentally
Elsewhere, the Mexican federal government cancelled
a mineral concession that had otherwise stymied efforts to build a new seaport
at Punta Colonet , Baja
Rumors are flying that many of the
state-owned "green" vehicles are in fact being fueled
by good ol' fossil fuels. To address said rumors, state Assemblymember Ted
Lieu authored AB
236, which comes on the heels of a media investigation revealing that said
vehicles used no alternative fuel in the two years that they have been in service.
The governor shot down a similar bill two years ago, citing that the state and
federal governments already document how much alternative fuel is being used by
its green fleet.
In our human interest section, we turn to Eric Green,
who operates a pedicab in Downtown L.A. dubbed the "
Green Machine". The service is proving very popular with hotel concierges
and bar managers. Green hopes to expand his business, which relies on tips ranging
between $5 and $20 a ride, to where he can dispatch a fleet of pedicabs.
Balderdash! NewsHour with Jim Lehrer recently interviewed U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Mary Peters, who said that instead of raising taxes on gasoline to renew the nation's
sagging infrastructure, Congress should examine its spending priorities -- including
investments in bike paths and trails, which, Peters said, "
are not transportation." So she said.
Call : This is your last chance to register for the Thunderhead
Training seminar on August 24-26. The intense curriculum offered by the Thunderhead Alliance
will teach you how to effectively fight for improvements. L earn from expert coaches
and each other through Thunderhead's proven curriculum on choosing, directing,
and winning campaigns and to promote complete streets, where walking and bicycling
are safe and commonplace. You can view
the schedule or register
for the event (the latter form features registration fee information).
Here is a list of other recent developments:
14 : The Irvine City Council unanimously approved a
plan for the $280 million streetcar-bus service, which would serve the proposed
. Proposition 116: $121.3 million would come from Proposition 116
funds. The City of Irvine
would contribute $25.6 million, while the Measure M sales tax would
contribute $98.2 million. $40 million would come from the State Highway Account.
The Burbank City Council voted
to purchase a hydrogen hybrid fuel-cell transit bus. Councilmembers believe
the move will make Burbank
city when it comes to environmental sustainability. The bus will be incorporated
into the existing Burbank Bus shuttle system.
15 : Los
Angeles City Council approved a series of projects to improve
traffic flow on the Westside. The plan includes traffic signal upgrades, new
software to better synchronize lights, and new left turn signals. The nearly $6
million in projects are funded in part by developers' fees that are paid to the
city to mitigate traffic problems. (The Los Angeles Times printed two
letters in response.) The City Council also voted to apply for $27.5 million
towards bus lanes on Wilshire Blvd. Councilmembers Jack Weiss and Wendy Greuel
asked that the city transportation department develop a strategic
plan to address traffic problems.
Additionally, the City Council
voted to build 10
new gates at a site west of the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX. A peoplemover
would connect the new gates to existing terminals. The structure would be completed
by 2012. Officials hope that the new gates would discourage airlines from choosing
other cities in using the next generation of supersized aircraft. The Los
Angeles Daily News, however, interpreted the move as a sneaky
way to expand the airport.
The Palmdale City Council voted to support
a MagLev project that would connect the Antelope
Valley with Orange
County . "What's different
about this project - from Caltrans, from the MTA - is that it really is conceived
and promoted and pursued by local cities," Orangeline Development Authority
executive director Al Perdon said. Perdon estimates that the Orangeline High Speed
Maglev would cost $19 billion.
16 : The Metro Board reviewed a report on the county
Transportation Plan during a special workshop. The discussion provided
a wish-list of projects Metro would like to see in the near future. To
fund them, however, Metro would have to rely on entirely
different sources of financing, such as tolls and higher transit fares. Current
and future state
budget woes would jeopardize as much as $30 billion worth of projects through
KCRW's Which Way, L.A.
? hosted a panel on Westside traffic that featured Transit Coalition
Executive Director Bart Reed pitted against Reason Foundation Policy Analyst Ted
Balaker. The radio interview is now
Events : SCRRA (Metrolink)
Board Meeting: Friday, August 24, 10 a.m., San Bernardino Conference Room,
, 12th Floor, 818 W.
Seventh St. , Los Angeles .
attending our monthly Transit Coalition
Dinner Meeting on Tuesday, August 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!
Exposition Metro Line Construction
Authority : Thursday, September
6, 2:30 p.m., Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Board of Supervisors Hearing
Room 381B, 500 W. Temple St.
, Los Angeles .
Chapter Sierra Club Transportation Committee: Thursday, September
6, 7:30 p.m. Angeles Chapter office, 3435
Wilshire Blvd, Suite 320 , Los Angeles
County Transportation Authority Board Meeting: Monday, September 10 and 24,
9 a.m., Board Hearing Room, 600
Main St. , Orange .
SCAG MagLev Task Force:
Thursday, September 13, 10:00 a.m. SCAG Offices, 818
W. Seventh St. , 12th floor, Los
SCAG Goods Movement
Task Force : Wednesday, September 19,
9 a.m., SCAG Offices, 818 W. Seventh St., 12th floor, Los
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