With a $6 billion bond proposal to repair LA streets resurfacing, Councilmembers Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino are doing the smart thing by announcing a series of meetings to collect public input. This could make for a great opportunity to advocate for complete streets and the implementation of the LA Bike Plan as part of street repaving. In any case, there is no denying that something must be done to bring our streets into a state of good repair, despite the fact that repaving them as scheduled would cost the city about $300 million a year.
Speaking of HOV 2+ lanes, Caltrans has also concluded that much of Orange County’s carpool lanes are congested during peak congestion times, which could signal the need to increase the carpool occupancy requirement to three during peak hours to get the lanes moving again. Also up for discussion are converting the HOV 2+ lanes into HOT 3+ lanes. If the latter, officials must not impose a mandatory transponder requirement for usage; otherwise the county risks seeing a decline in HOV usage.
It is with profound sadness to report that Dan Turner, editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, has died of pancreatic cancer at the tender age of 49. Turner is best remembered for the humoristic yet knowledgeable tone he brought to the wide gamut of subjects he wrote about, from gun control to wildlife, from civic issues to sports. He was especially helpful with The Transit Coalition in listening to our positions and considering them whenever he wrote an editorial piece concerning a transportation issue. Turner will be missed, and our condolences go out to his family.
Also, former Metro CEO Julian Burke has died at 85. Burke led the agency during a tumultuous time when Metro Rail construction faced intense scrutiny from both local and federal governments. Burke arrived in 1997, just a year after the Consent Decree fought for by the Bus Riders Union took effect, leading to gradual increases in bus service. Burke was frequently called “turnaround expert” for his experiences in fixing ailing companies before he took charge of Metro. His actions have helped lead Metro to what the agency is today: An improved stalwart of governmental confidence. His actions are greatly appreciated and will be remembered.
- In other news, LA Times readers weigh in on what Wilshire Boulevard means to them, in response to architecture reviewer Chris Hawthorne’s piece on this special street.
- The embattled green bike lanes on Spring Street face new criticism from location scouts who believe that the lanes hinder filmmaking.
- A judicial ruling favoring construction of the Perris Metrolink extension could be more complicated than meets the eye.
- Could Southwest Airlines soon join the parade of airlines charging new and altogether novel fees on its passengers, if its recent ads are any indication?
For some years, California has regulated the content of sulfur in gasoline, allowing just 10 parts of sulfur per million parts total (ppm). The rest of the country follows more generous requirements of 30 ppm. However, the Obama Administration is proposing to bring the national limits in line with those of California. Automakers and environmentalists joined forces in supporting the proposal, stating that lower sulfur content can improve the efficiency of catalytic converters in vehicles, which in turn further reduce the amount of harmful particulates exiting exhaust pipes. However, oil companies and Congressmembers from oil-producing states are against the change, claiming that the health benefits are minimal.
A $1.6 billion harbor maintenance initiative by the federal government could mean good tidings for the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Previously, the Port of LA received nothing from this pot of cash, to which US Senator Barbara Boxer offered a bill that would provide the port with $2 million to $5 million a year initially. California ports have long suffered fiscal neglect from the federal government, raking in $430 million in taxes on shippers for the feds in 2011 but getting back $54 million. However, this effort also reveals more cunning ways lawmakers are getting around laws and rules prohibiting earmarks.
In development news, the Metro Board voted to negotiate for a mixed-use, affordable housing development at 1st and Lorena Streets in Boyle Heights, adjacent to the Eastside Gold Line. However, next-door neighbors El Mercado de Los Angeles oppose the plan, stating that the prospect of mentally ill dwellers who would also reside in the proposed development would make for an uneasy experience for families visiting the shopping center. Also, despite pleas from residents and a last-minute intervention by Councilmember Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Planning Commission approved two towers within the vicinity of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood.
We’ve all heard about bike boulevards, but bike freeways? That’s what bike infrastructure opponents in San Francisco are calling the latest proposal to install bike lanes on Polk Street. Specifically, proponents are fighting for the removal of curbside parking and replacing it with bike lanes and parklets. Proponents also cite the high number of bike crashes along the street, obviating the need for safety improvements. Opponents fear that removing parking would jeopardize businesses along the street.
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.