What is happening with Alameda Corridor East? Find out in the spring issue of The ACE Report. This grade-separation program for the San Gabriel Valley has successfully secured $1.5 billion of the $1.7 billion it needs to complete various projects. Dignitaries held a groundbreaking for a new Nogales Street overpass in the City of Industry. Meanwhile, work has begun on a new grade separation at Baldwin Avenue in El Monte, requiring a 24-month closure of the existing crossing. Various utility relocations in San Gabriel are also underway.
In an attempt to stop the decline of passengers using Ontario International Airport, Los Angeles World Airports announced a campaign consisting of reimbursements for advertising related to Ontario flights, a reduction of terminal fees and the summoning of private firms to handle certain airport functions. Officials from the City of Ontario and San Bernardino County believe these efforts are too little, too late, even as they attempt to wrest control of the airport from the City of Los Angeles. However, these latter officials should probably note that other mid-sized airports have seen similar declines, since airlines are shedding off less profitable routes to smaller markets just to stay alive.
However, San Bernardino officials are getting some criticism in reverse for their seeming indifference to the Gold Line project. Montclair leaders are asking the San Bernardino Associated Governments tofund the $55 million extension from Claremont to Montclair using money appropriated for carpool lanes on the 10 Freeway. SANBAG Executive Director Ray Wolfe counters that such a transfer would be impossible since Measure I, the local sales tax that funds transportation projects in San Bernardino County, allots money to specific projects and modes through voter-approved formulas set into law.
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.
It wasn’t too long ago when bike transportation was mostly an afterthought for transportation heads. Today, however, bicycle use is on the rise, mostly as an alternative to car use. Cities like Los Angeles are quickly adapting to this new reality by preparing and implementing bike plans that provide a smorgasbord of solutions that make bike travel easy and safe. Sharrows, protected bike paths and painted bike lanes are just some of the innovations that have sprouted in recent years. However, some of these efforts have experienced growing pains, as vehicle drivers continue to resent sharing road space with bicyclists and residents and businesses remain hostile over certain designs.
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.
After years of driving much less than historic trends, Americans’ average number of vehicle miles travelled (VMT) per capita are down to levels last seen in 1995. A new report from the US PIRG Education Fund shows that this is not a one-time blip. Rising vehicle operating costs, new technology, aging baby boomers and a younger generation driving much less are all propelling a long term shift. The report’s three scenario projections from business as usual to a more radical shift show sharp declines from the prevailing assumption that VMT will continue increasing as it had for decades.
What does this mean for the future of our transportation programs? A lot less money, for one thing, unless we change our dependence on the gas tax; these revenues are collapsing as vehicle efficiency increases and people drive less. With tightening revenues, we must make sure we are setting aside funds to fix our existing system. We must also continue to invest in the metropolitan regions and mid-sized cities that are trying to give their citizens more reliable and affordable options. This suggests that we must shift towards mixing revenue sources to build a unified transportation fund that can cover all our infrastructure needs.
Read more about the new report and what these trends meann the Transportation for America blog.
City officials also identified $42.6 million in transportation money collected over 17 years that remained unspent. While it will undoubtedly help the city by giving a little breathing room for its next budget, officials are flummoxed as to how it happened in the first place. Not knowing about the lost cash, the city made transfers from the city general fund to make up the difference. These funds in turn were used to fill the gap and pay for employee health benefits and pensions. Meanwhile, Metro and Kiewit are discussing and employing solutions on some of the issues that have affected the Sepulveda Pass HOV Lane project, even as the two sort out the blame for project delays.
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.
With Metro releasing its preliminary findings on the I-110 HOT lanes, the Los Angeles Times gets in on the action. Notably, tolls have reached as high as $15.40 per trip (though the article does not make it clear whether this is for the entire length of the HOT lanes). As expected, travel times on the free lanes increased, while those on the HOT lanes decreased. Metro attributes this to the removal of illegal solo drivers from the formerly free carpool lanes. Seeing that vehicle numbers on the HOT lanes are slowly recovering, however, Metro and Caltrans hope that traffic volumes will even out as the one-year pilot project continues. Readers responded with grumblings on how their travels have been hampered on account of the HOT lanes.
Elsewhere, Silver Lake State Assemblymember Mike Gatto expanded the scope of a bill to allow solo drivers to use carpool lanes during off-peak times. Instead of applying the proposed law only on the 134 Freeway as originally proposed, the amended bill now includes other freeways with their own carpool lanes. Down south, the operator of the Orange County toll roads received a report criticizing the less-than-effective methods to stem the financial problems of the agency.
In the ongoing drama of who should own Ontario Airport, the City of Ontario rejected a $474 million sale price from operator Los Angeles World Airports, subsequently leading to the submission of a claim aimed at dissolving the 1967 joint powers agreement between Ontario and LAWA. LA officials charge that Ontario is acting presumptuously while negotiations for the airport are still ongoing.