Opponents of moving an LAX runway further north were handed a defeat by the county Airport Land Use Commission, which approved plans to modernize LAX that included the reconfigured runway. Supporters charge that moving the northernmost runway further north by 260 feet would improve safety for planes landing and taxiing at the airport. Supporters counter that the reconfiguration would degrade the quality of life for Westchester residents and businesses that abut the airport. In contrast, Bob Hope Airport officials are considering demolishing their existing terminal to meet the same safety requirements. To wit, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority presented plans for a new 14-gate terminal this week.
Some pundits are having their way with transportation issues. Columnist Jack Humphreville expressed consternation regarding an LA city ballot measure that would ask voters to approve $3 billion in bonds towards street rehabilitation. Transit Coalition Chair Ken Alpern emphasizes the importance of linking transportation with land use when directing growth in the burgeoning “Lower Westside”. Public policy professor Lisa Schweitzer made three suggestions that would improve the outlook of the state HSR system: Don’t take voters for granted, don’t trump environmental laws and be realistic about where further funds for the project will come from.
The proposed Sherman Oaks development Il Villaggio Toscano netted the approval of the LA City Council in recent weeks. The project faced criticism from the local neighborhood council when it was proposed 10 years ago. Since then, development firm M. David Paul worked with community members to design a project that met the needs of its neighbors, resulting in a more modest structure that will include retail space. The path to the project’s approval shows just how much trouble it is ( second part here) to build dense housing when moving through byzantine design requirements and an ever hostile public.
Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that many commuter and freight railroads will not meet the December 2015 deadline to install positive train control on their networks, Metrolink being a notable exception. More frustrating is the fact that, far from trying to implement the system, many of these railroads are actively lobbying for an extension of the deadline. National Transportation Safety Boardmember Robert Sumwalt wrote an op-ed that stressed the importance of incorporating PTC before the existing deadline, citing examples of fatal train crashes that could have been avoided had PTC been implemented.
In New York, “Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening” art train kicked off and started its trek across the nation. This brain child of video artist Doug Aitken uses an Amtrak train to transport musicians and artists who will perform at 10 stops on the train’s trek from New York to California. The sides of the train would be fitted with LED lights forming a very long video screen that responds to the speed of the train and surrounding weather. LACMA is one of seven museums along the route that will partner with Station to Station and receive a portion of sales from tickets sold for music performances. The train will stop at Los Angeles Union Station on Thursday, September 26. Follow the train by visiting the official website.
Truckers have allied with state air quality regulators in targeting trucks and their respective companies who willingly ignore new laws requiring new pollution-reducing mechanisms in their vehicles. Diesel exhaust products account for 85% of Southern California’s cancer risk from air pollution. Individual truckers have formed the majority of tipsters who report non-compliant trucks and believe that the state is not doing enough to enforce the new provisions set to take effect in January. Approved in 2008, the provisions in full force would reduce diesel truck emissions by 90% in 10 years and avoid 3,500 premature deaths, according to the state Air Resources Board.
Caving to pressure from the film industry, the LA City Council directed the LADOT to remove the green paint from the Spring Street bike lane in Downtown LA. (This is in contrast to simply letting the green paint chip away, which has been a problem for this particular bike lane since its inception.) However, the buffered space adjoining the lane will remain. A previous study revealed that bike usage increased, especially during the weekends, when the new bike lane was painted on Spring Street, both buffered and green. How safe and inviting the Spring Street bike lane will be just as a buffered lane remains to be seen.
A study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy claims that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) spurs just as much development as light rail (LRT), a phenomenon that has not been objectively studied before. The boon comes from the fact that BRT is generally cheaper to build than LRT. Fortunately, the authors recognize that many more factors may have led to the increase in development along BRT lines.
Check out these pictures of the new livery for Metro Rail LRT vehicles, courtesy of Gökhan Esirgen.
Eight people were hurt when a Foothill Transit Silver Streak crashed on the 10 Freeway in Alhambra last Thursday. While this in itself is not exciting news (and is in fact a relief that no one was seriously injured), the bus operator involved in the crash was an employee of First Transit, a company with serious safety violations according to investigators. Even though First Transit has fewer violations overall compared to the national average, the company was faulted for allowing one of its employees to operate without a required medical certificate.