After reviewing the California high-speed rail project, the federal Government Accountability Office concluded that the ridership and revenue projections were reasonable. However, the agency also noted that the CAHSR Authority, which is responsible for managing the project, has adopted only some of its recommendations, to which the GAO warned that the Authority risks incurring cost overruns and delays if advice is not heeded. However, former proponent Quentin Kopp won’t hear any of that, for he is now against the current project on account of its perceived change of scope, including the blended plan through the San Francisco Peninsula. Former Congressmember Lynn Schenk has also changed alliances precisely because of this development. How can HSR succeed with friends like these?
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.
After a brief hiatus, LA City Councilmembers revived a bond proposal that would fund street repairs. The previous call made earlier in the year was aborted since the neighborhood councils expressed concern that the proposal was hastily prepared with no public input. This time, however, Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander are also adding public meetings so that the 95 neighborhood councils can weigh in on the issue. The public is also invited to give their two cents on the matter. Could this proposal serve as a Trojan horse to bring complete streets as well as repaved streets?
The Transit Coalition Community Engagement Director Nicholas Ventrone has continued to solicit public opinion and feedback regarding the campaign We want Toll Lanes done right, which advocates for free non-transponder carpooling on Southland high occupancy toll lanes. Many support the Coalition’s position. Carpoolers especially like it. Non-HOV’s who are willing to buy their way out of traffic and frequently use the 91 Express Lanes also support maintaining FasTrak as an option. Therefore, HOT lanes which support free non-transponder carpooling continues to gain steam.
However there were some commuters who questioned the 3+ occupancy requirement for carpool for the 91 Express Lanes instead of a typical 2+ HOV. Pictures such as this one show concepts of the Express Lanes with a 3+ HOV or FasTrak usage policy. So, can the 91 support dual high occupancy toll lanes in each direction with a 2+ occupancy requirement instead of three? Short answer is: Not quite. Here are the facts:
- Much like Interstate 10 east of Los Angeles, the 91 corridor through Anaheim Hills has more carpool demand than a single 2+ HOV lane can supply at most times during the day. The HOV lane through Corona is consistently congested in both directions.
- What about 2 sets of HOV 2+ or FasTrak lanes? Currently, where the eastbound 91 Express Lanes becomes a single 2+ HOV lane near Highway 71, there is a mile long buffer with two lanes dedicated to 2+ HOV’s or FasTrak traffic (set of 2 carpool lanes, FasTrak ok). These lanes are consistently high in volume, but to be fair, they sustain acceptable speeds most of the time.
- The 91 experiences surges in traffic congestion during the weekends and holidays. Most through-travelers are 2+ HOV’s.
- Other corridors like the I-10 east of LA and the Oakland Bay Bridge which have such high demands for 2+ carpools without the infrastructure to support it also have the increased occupancy requirement for carpool as 3+.
- With an overwhelmingly high HOV market demand in the area shown by the congested carpool lanes and filled park & ride lots, the focus may already be incentives to convert 2-person HOV’s into 3+ HOV’s.
To be fair, the 3+ occupancy requirement on the 91 could be lowered to 2+ during off-peak hours once future infrastructure and additional lanes are built out, but it is far too early to support such a change. Therefore, the 91 through Anaheim Hills between the 55 and I-15 Freeways would fare better under with 3+ HOV’s for its HOT lanes until additional data can be collected from the new infrastructure.