Long after the defeat of Measure J in November, pundits continue to figure out what went wrong. The Los Angeles Times performed its own analysis and concluded that opposition from traditionally anti-tax South Bay voters was largely responsible for the defeat. However, support from South Bay voters eroded considerably since Measure R was approved in 2008, which among other things funds a Green Line extension to Torrance. Support also soured in communities with a high number of fiscally conservative voters. Despite this setback, state lawmakers continue to press for a lower threshold on transportation taxes.
The fight to move (or not) the northern runways of LAX is heating up. For those out of the loop, an LA City airport panel recently approved a plan to modernize LAX, which includes moving the northernmost runway further northward by 260 feet. Now, two powerful Congressional Democrats are at odds over the issue. Rep. Maxine Waters has been an adamant opponent of moving the northern runways, while Rep. Henry Waxman has gone public in supporting the relocation. Waters accused Waxman of wafting between two opinions in order to let observers conclude that he was still undecided on the issue when his mind was already made up. Needless to say, Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern, a Westside resident, is not pleased with Waxman’s stance.
Not to be left out of the discussion is mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, who is also against moving the northern runways. Instead, Garcetti offered his support for other alternatives as part of the study, one of which includes building a peoplemover connecting LAX with rail transit. (This was the subject of a previous Transit Coalition dinner meeting.) Opposing candidate Wendy Greuel has skirted the issue, stating she will meet with both neighborhood and business groups to discuss the proposal. The Los Angeles City Council is expected to make a decision on the matter later this year.
In other news, the Fullerton City Council approved an agreement with BNSF worth $15 million to build 4 grade separations within the city. Both bicyclists and businesses took aim at a proposal by LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge to partly divert proposed bike lanes on Lankershim Boulevard onto Vineland Avenue instead, believing that Lankershim is too trafficked for bike lanes to be safe.
LA Times Architecture Reviewer Christopher Hawthorne looks back at the history of the street that essentially defines Los Angeles: Wilshire Boulevard. Much of the city’s architectural experiments lie along this street, as have many public transportation dreams of the past. At least one of those dreams will be realized through the advancement of the Purple Line subway, which will run mostly under Wilshire Blvd.
While pre-construction activities also progress on the state high-speed rail line, a new survey revealed that California voters continue to sour on the project. Just 43% of voters support the project today, compared to 54% against it, according to the survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California. (For all adults, the split is at 48% support, 50% oppose.) This comes on the heels of efforts by Congressmembers to block future federal funding for the project. However, the CAHSR Blog comes to a different conclusion and notes that the public can support the project more if costs are reined in.
However, one bit of news that largely went unreported was a UCLA study on the effects of HSR on second-tier cities. Citing examples from China, the report concluded that these smaller cities can benefit from HSR since they can serve as growth centers that can supplement already crowded cities. Applying the results to California, researchers believe cities like Fresno and Bakersfield, the latter which has grown apprehensive against the project in recent months, stand to gain greatly by having access to markets and opportunities in bigger cities.
Sigh. A new report from the California Geological Survey concluded that there are no active faults underneath Beverly Hills High School, sending the Beverly Hills Courier in a tizzy. (The article throws around the word “alleged” a lot.) The implication is that if there are no active faults under the school and along Santa Monica Boulevard, then Metro could surely move the subway route (and in turn the Century City station) onto Santa Monica Blvd., as Beverly Hills would like to believe. If the faults are indeed active, as Metro believes, then the subway must cross them perpendicularly, thus obviating a route under the school towards a Constellation station.
The route for the April 21 CicLAvia to the beach experienced a slight modification. Instead of staying on nearly all of Venice Blvd. to reach Downtown LA, organizers shifted the route to go up Hoover and Alvarado Streets to connect with MacArthur Park, before heading east on 7th Street to reach downtown.
Even though pre-construction work on the Crenshaw Line is underway, the fate of a possible subway station at Leimert Park is still up in the air. Citing funding limitations, Metro opted not to include the station when the Board selected the final route. However, a compromise was reached wherein a contractor can include the station if it could be done within the $1.8 billion allotted to the project. The Metro Board was scheduled to select a contractor this March, but according to a spokesperson the Board will instead make the decision in May.
After much nail-biting, Metro released a preliminary report on how the I-110 HOT Lanes are doing. Summarily, speeds of 45 mph were sustained on the ExpressLanes 100% of the time, a critical factor sought by the federal government, which funded the pilot project. Also, even though vehicle counts on the lanes remain the same, the number of carpoolers using the lanes is down, while the number of solo drivers increased. Ultimately, while speeds on the conventional lanes are notably down, Metro expects that other drivers will note the extra capacity on the HOT lanes and take advantage, thus leading to faster speeds on the free lanes. On-time performance for Silver Line buses has also improved. The report also lists some myths about the lanes Metro is doing its best to dispel.
Did you take that spring break trip you “needed” yet? In all likeliness, you probably opted to stay home instead on account of gas prices. That’s precisely what a survey by the Southern California AAA concluded. Just 47% of respondents said they would take at least one leisurely trip during the break, compared to 57% last year.
But don’t fret: Relief may very well be on the way,thanks to railroads, of all things. With no easy access to domestic sources, much of the crude refined in California comes from other countries, which adds to the price at the pump. However, BNSF is set to move record amounts of crude from booming North Dakota to famished California, which will help in reducing prices in the near term.
It helps that, on average, gas mileage on cars sold in the US is improving. Today’s cars average out to about 23.8 miles per gallon. However, pundits note that when a series of disasters in Japan affected car production from that country, American-made automobiles continued manufacturing vehicles with mediocre mileage, sending the overall mileage down for a period of time. The Energy Department also predicts that gas prices will remain stable for the next two years and in fact will decrease, though not by much.