In the ongoing drama of who should own Ontario Airport, the City of Ontario rejected a $474 million sale price from operator Los Angeles World Airports, subsequently leading to the submission of a claim aimed at dissolving the 1967 joint powers agreement between Ontario and LAWA. LA officials charge that Ontario is acting presumptuously while negotiations for the airport are still ongoing.
An LA City Council committee endorsed the controversial LAX improvement plan, to which a vote by the entire Council will follow later in the spring. Of course, Council approval would merely mean the continuation of the environmental review process for the alternatives chosen.
While that fight continues, American Airlines announced it will add flights from LAX to 8 new destinations as a means to attract more business-class clients. Innovative sliding seats made their debut at an aircraft trade show in Germany.
The Southern California International Gateway, whose environmental documents were recently approved, was the subject of a New York Times piece. Residents are certainly incensed that LA City harbor commissioners voted to move forward with the new railyard, over the former’s objections. Channeling that fury is Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, who took exception to the notion that the City of Los Angeles stands to gain much from the SCIG at the expense of his own City of Long Beach. Of course, if anyone gives consideration to the more promising and less taxing GRID Project proposal, this whole point might be moot.
Meanwhile, the CAHSR Authority revealed the bidding prices for the first leg of the project. The joint venture Tutor Perini / Zachry / Parsons came in with a $985 million bid. The highest bid came from California High Speed Ventures (a joint venture of Kiewit Infrastructure West and Granite Construction) at $1.54 billion. Officials estimated that the first leg of construction, from Fresno to Madera, would cost between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion. The Reason Foundation will have none of that, however, as their own analysis states that (surprise, surprise) the project will cost more to build, take longer to travel upon completion and require operating subsidies from taxpayers.
Governor Jerry Brown embarked on a trade mission to China, where he was seeking funds for the state high-speed rail project, which is still short on money to the tune of $55 billion. Brown was amazed at how China built much of its HSR system in only a span of a few years. CAHSR Authority Boardmember Dan Richard asserted that certain Chinese companies are already expressing interest in the California project. However, given the spate of negative press the project continues to receive from vocal critics, Brown must return to California with results… preferably in the form of cash. Of course, it doesn’t help that one of the leaders in bringing HSR to China was recently charged for accepting bribes.
In just a week nearly 200 transportation and sustainability leaders will converge on Sacramento as part of the Transportation Choices Summit to learn about both the challenges we face and the solutions that are within reach to fund the public transportation, bicycling and walking, and affordable housing we need to propel California and our economy forward.
California’s new “cap-and-trade” climate change program could be one of those solutions. The program is projected to bring in billions of dollars in new revenue to reduce greenhouse gases and produce the clean, affordable, and efficient transportation choices Californians need. At the end of the Summit a petition will be submitted to Governor Brown urging him to dedicate significant funding from cap-and-trade for these critical investments. Help make sure that he hears the voices of thousands of Californians. Take a moment and sign the petition.
The program is expected to bring in billions of dollars of new revenue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We should use this money to take on the biggest source of climate pollution in the state: transportation. Transportation generates nearly 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, but low-carbon options like public transportation, walking, and biking have seen their budgets slashed in recent years – just when we need them the most.
In just a few weeks, the Governor will release his proposal for ways to spend the cap-and-trade revenues for the next three years. This is a pivotal moment to fight climate change, improve the health and economics of California communities, and provide all Californians with affordable and safe transportation choices. We need your help to make sure our leaders in Sacramento don’t squander this opportunity. Please sign now!
Metro Rail station gates have been the subject of tests for several months, during which patrons would have to use their loaded TAP cards to enter, though the gates themselves were left unlatched. However, that trial phase will soon end, as the gates will be locked permanently. Riders will need their TAP cards to pass through the gates starting later in the spring. Metro also anticipates the arrival of a new kind of chip-embedded Metrolink ticket that will allow passage through the gates.
The Transit Coalition reminds all those advocating for better transit to take action and make a difference! While the Coalition interacts with government-operated transportation agencies, you can improve mobility through your service to the community.
One such service is mapping trails and hiking paths in your local hillsides and mountains. Shortly after the news spread of two hikers gone missing in the Santa Ana Mountains, additional open mapping data of the Holy Jim Canyon area began to materialize by volunteer cartographers. Having geographical information on hand which shows the hillside vegetation, where the trails go, the locations of cliffs, and where the independent Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Station is located are key for future emergency rescue missions. Hikers and mountain bikers may also utilize this information to better plan their trips. In case you’re wondering, Holy Jim Canyon is approximately a 2-hour hike northeast from the nearest OCTA bus Route 82 at the Rancho Santa Margarita exit. The Trabuco Creek Road trailhead in the town of Trabuco Canyon is about a mile north of the bus route
The California State Legislature has some work to do to reform state environmental law. An April 1, 2013 court ruling on RCTC’s long-proposed Perris Valley Line Metrolink extension shows that Judge Sharon J. Waters ruled in favor of the opposing party on 5 of the 15 environmental concerns brought up in court: Negations to the soil, track lubricant usage, pedestrian safety, train wheel noise pollution, and construction related noise. This leaves the Perris Valley Line case in a complicated position under the current law, but the legislature has the power to avert further delays caused by broad court rulings through its power to change the law.
As reported, the state legislature has been working on and should follow through on its promise to close up California Environmental Quality Act loopholes so courts cannot delay, veto or overturn large projects which actually benefit the environment and reduce traffic congestion like the Perris Valley Line. Such lawsuits delay important projects which get paid for by the taxpayer. It is a common fact that a rail transit alternative for the I-215 corridor would reduce congestion and pollution by providing a multi-modal transportation option to single-occupancy automobile travel, thus fulfilling the goals and intents of state environmental law which is to protect the environment. To be fair, issues such as construction-related pollution should be dealt with by fining construction firms that excessively pollute. Same holds true for pedestrians who illegally trespass into an active rail right-of-way.
Smart Growth America just released a new report ranking the strength of new Complete Streets policies passed by local communities in 2012. Three of the top 10 cities that conform to Complete Streets policies are in California: Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park, and Rancho Cucamonga. See the full list here.