Burbank recently began work on a new bike path that will connect Lake/Alameda with the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station, with most of the path paralleling a tributary to the Los Angeles River. The $4.4 million project includes a pricey grade separation at Alameda Ave. Also, the City of Los Angeles has given approval to a major road diet on Broadway in Downtown LA as part of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative. $1.8 million will be spent on a small-scale road diet to be implemented this summer, while a much larger plan for the future is further refined.
Metrolink received the last batch of Hyundai Rotem cars, thus completing its initiative to replace its entire fleet with safer cars. Dubbed the Guardian Fleet, these cars use new crash energy management technology that better absorb the impact of crashes through crumple zones. Metrolink ordered the new cars in response to the tragic Chatsworth crash in 2008 and the Glendale crash in 2005, which horrifically showcased the shortcomings of the existing Bombardier fleet. However, Metrolink’s work in improving safety and regaining the trust of citizens does not stop there, as the agency continues to install positive train control throughout its network and refurbish the Bombardier cars still in service.
The Metro Board also awarded a nearly $1.3 billion construction contract for the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line to Walsh/Shea Corridors Construction, signaling a major milestone for the project. On the table, however, was a proposal to move nearly $100 million dollars in Measure R money to the Crenshaw/LAX line. South Bay leaders decried the possible shifting. Metro justified the proposal by stating that the project partially is within the boundary of what the agency defines as the South Bay.
Officials representing the area charged that Metro quietly changed the boundary in 2009 to include LAX and inferred that the move would purposely shoulder much of the cost for the new line onto the South Bay area. Cities within the sub-region approved resolutions against the proposal, citing the need to use those funds for needed road and highway improvements and that Measure R already have relatively little to offer for the South Bay to begin with. Fortunately, the Metro Board listened to their concerns and dropped the proposal.
In the event that you have not yet seen it, Metro rolled out an “under construction” map of Metro Rail lines. The new map also shows proposed extensions that have guaranteed Measure R funds and have attained approval from the Metro Board. As a result, some other Measure R transit projects are notably absent, such as the Van Nuys Blvd. and Sepulveda Pass projects, as well as the Santa Ana Right-of-Way project. The map is reminiscent of highway maps of old, where proposed freeways were marked long before they were built.
Los Angeles’ seventh CicLAvia was held Sunday from Downtown LA to Miracle Mile. A 6.3-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard (between Grand [at the "One Wilshire Hub"] and Fairfax Avenue) was closed off to vehicles from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for people to ride their bikes, roller blade, walk, run, skate board, and other related activities. Along the route were performers, sites for participants to see, and even free water handed out by a church. At the end of the trail were Oscar statues. Despite a somewhat gloomy day, more than 100,000 participated in the event. Each event costs $350,000 to host, and is sponsored by CicLAvia, a non-profit organization, and the city. The next CicLAvia is scheduled for Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Los Angeles City Council approved the environmental documents for the Southern California International Gateway project, amidst outcry from both neighbors and the City of Long Beach. Despite pleas to at least postpone approval, the City Council moved forward in the belief that the project will be the most environmentally friendly of its kind, on top of the economic benefits it would bring. Opponents contend that the project is nothing like such and vowed to fight it in the courts. Curiously, Port of Los Angeles Director Geraldine Katz asserted that the city is working to have on-dock rail facilities, but even then there would be a need for an off-port area to handle all the cargo. Perhaps Katz should look into the GRID Project, which features a ship-to-rail design that would process all cargo in one area, without the need of a second facility.
Join Move LA’s business-labor-environmental coalition in honoring LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for his efforts at addressing the city’s transportation challenges through various initiatives. Move LA will host an event on Wednesday, June 12, 5 p.m. at Los Angeles Union Station. To learn how you can attend, view this flyer or visit the Move LA website.
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.
The battle for Ontario Airport heats up as Inland Empire officials balk at the price LAWA wants to sell the airport for. Los Angeles World Airports, which owns and operates the airport, claims that the airport is worth between $243 million and $605 million when taking into account recent upgrades. Inland Empire officials counter that the steep drops in both passengers and flights suggest that the airport’s value is much lower. The Federal Aviation Administration contends that proceeds from the sale can only go towards upgrading LAX and Van Nuys Airport (also operated by LAWA), not into the City of Los Angeles general fund.
A bill to frame the investment of a significant portion of cap-and-trade revenues is beginning to make its way through the Assembly. AB 1051 would create the Sustainable Communities for All program with the goal of “providing transportation and housing choices that allow lower income Californians to drive less and reduce household costs.” The program would finance affordable housing in transit-oriented development, fund transit passes and add other ways to target high-propensity transit riders, energy efficiency improvements for homes affordable to low- and moderate-income Californians, and other vital programs and projects.
This funding is particularly important now that the state’s redevelopment funding has been eliminated and public transportation funding in California has been cut by more than $4 billion over the past decade. Cap-and-trade revenues are projected to reach nearly $4 billion per year by 2015, representing a critical opportunity to address the state’s mobility crisis while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving public health, and reviving our economy. The bill will be heard on April 17 in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 29. To learn how you can support this bill contact TransForm’s Cap-and-Trade Campaign Manager, Ryan Wiggins.