Not to be forgotten in the transportation mix are tourist-oriented companies that not only depend on the availability of transportation to and from attractions and hotels but also on the prosperity of ambulant tourism in the form of tour buses. However, a new Los Angeles city ordinance would threaten the livelihoods of those selling tour bus tickets in Hollywood. The new ordinance calls for tour operators to abstain from selling tickets on public rights-of-way. Tour operators who normally promote their services on public sidewalks opposed the measure since that would force them to lease retail space even as their revenues continue to narrow. In related news, the prospect of another future federal government shutdown, however remote, threatens to endanger the growth of business travel, according to a trade group.
The Los Angeles Daily News asked its readers if Southern California would ever grow comfortable with the idea of bicycling to work. The newspaper received a variety of responses, with most approving the notion. However, some letters to the editor note that, while riding a bicycle to work would be fantastic, the concept simply isn’t practical for the majority of people for a variety of reasons. One letter stresses the importance of both bicyclists and private automobiles to cooperate in sharing the roads. Another letter adds the idea of “bicycle freeways” that may make bike commuting even more attractive.
The Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone traveled in and out of the Colorado Plateau region and surrounding states and gathered useful information on how these western states are addressing present-day transportation, economic and environmental issues. The Coalition saw in action how a rapid transit system was established in Zion National Park to eliminate–that’s right–eliminate traffic and parking problems within the park. How about express bypass lanes along the major thoroughfares near Salt Lake City? How is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System near the California-Nevada state border faring? Would any of these solutions work in Southern California? Stay tuned for more information as the Transit Coalition places the information gathered into perspective.
Glendale News-Press contributor Ron Kaye makes his opinion on the 710 Tunnel project known, marveling at how well organized the opposition has grown. Activists took advantage of a tunnel fire at the interchange of the 5 and 2 Freeways as proof that a tunnel would be dangerous to operate. Even though Measure R allots $780 million for the corridor, Kaye suggests spending it on transit and street improvements. With new LA Mayor Eric Garcetti stating his opposition to the tunnel, Kaye surmises that the Metro Board may have enough votes to stop the tunnel once and for all.
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.
Even though the state high-speed rail project is years away from reaching the Santa Clarita Valley, real estate agents are already expressing concern as to how the proposed routes would affect house sales in the area. Realtors are obligated to disclose project plans to prospective buyers, which in turn could reduce the value of the home or even render it un-sellable. Community members continue to advocate for a tunnel through the area, even though the CAHSRA Authority ruled it out per ongoing environmental study. Fortunately, the Authority has met with local leaders to discuss the project, with hope that a resolution is reached.
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.
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.