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The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on January 7, 2014.
Agencies consider plans to reduce car congestion at Ontario airport – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Liset Marquez
January 7, 2014
ONTARIO >> Despite lackluster air traffic at LA/Ontario International Airport, officials are looking at ways to reduce car congestion in the future.
Transportation officials project ONT will be bustling by 2030 with 30 million annual passengers, which worries city officials of the potential toll it can take on local roadways.
Planning officials are studying ways to connect different modes of transportation directly to ONT, which could make it the first airport in Southern California to do so.
The board of directors of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority has asked staff to initiate an alternative analysis that would study how to connect its riders to the airport, said Lisa Levy Buch, spokeswoman for the construction authority.
“Our board is very committed to the Ontario extension as a viable option to look into,” she said.
The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, overseen by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, is a $1.7 billion, 24-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail system.
The eight-mile extension from Montclair to ONT is not a formal part of the project, but the construction authority in 2008 conducted an initial study of extending the line. That study found it was feasible to go to the airport.
The alternative analysis would look at the different forms of transportation the authority may use to transport Gold Line riders to ONT, including identifying routes, Buch said.
Authority staff must also identify the funding for the study, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million, Buch said.
In the past, the authority has attempted to pool funding resources from other agencies in San Bernardino County and will continue to seek any opportunities.
Funding for the analysis is expected to be discussed at an upcoming board of directors meeting, she said.
Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner said the city has been focused on solving what is often referred to as the “last mile,” a term used to describe the issue of connecting people from a transportation hub to their final destination.
“Ontario has always been supportive of growing the airport but not at the costs of having impacts that LAX has,” he said. “What the community says is we don’t care how big you grow the airport, as long as you mitigate the impacts because we don’t want 30 million people coming here with individual cars. If we are going to go to 30 million, then we want them coming here by rail or transit or some other way. We need to start establishing that now.”
Last year, the San Bernardino Associated Governments awarded a nearly $600,000 contract to study ways to fix that missing link and bring rail access to the terminals.
The Inland Empire study would take into consideration several factors such as the mode of transportation to use — bus, shuttle or train — the possible ridership it would generate as well as costs associated.
“It will look at ways to provide reliable and cost-effective ways to connect to Ontario with a regional system,” said Jane Dreher, spokeswoman for SanBAG.
The association, which hired HDR Engineering Inc. expects the study will take two years to complete.
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Crews are working on the foundation for the side platforms at the future Azusa-Alameda station.
Posted by GoldLine
The following Letter originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News on Tuesday, December 31, 2013.
Letters: Unlike Measure J, this one a grass-roots approach
By Supervisor Michael Antonovich
Re “Metro considers asking voters for a sales tax hike to pay for transportation” (Dec. 26):
Your article is helpful in bringing public attention to the efforts to create a regional transportation plan for all of Los Angeles County.
This year, as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, I asked all of the 88 cities to list their transportation priorities to develop a plan that accurately reflects the needs of their communities — which was not the case with Measure J’s failure. Measure J was developed through a “top-down” approach where MTA and the city of Los Angeles dictated transportation needs without considering local input. Unlike Measure J, this grass-roots approach creates a comprehensive regional plan that includes rail connections to our airports, upgrades to Metrolink and projects benefiting communities previously neglected including the San Fernando, Antelope, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, and the South Bay and Gateway cities.
— Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles
The letter writer represents the 5th District on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and is a MTA board member
Posted by GoldLine
The following article appeared in The Source on December 27, 2013.
Queen says be a champion and ride the Gold Line to Tournament of Roses events – The Source
By Anna Chen
December 27, 2013
The Rose Queen, that is. Metro officials, 2014 Rose Queen Ana Marie Acosta and her lady princesses gathered at Los Angeles Union Station this morning to encourage folks to take advantage of the free rides on New Year’s Eve and the24-hour Metro Rail service to go to the Rose Parade.
Metro is the best way to get to Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses parade, the Rose Bowl game and post-parade float-viewing at Victory Park. And here are a few tips for those ready to ride:
- don’t walk on or near the train tracks
- look carefully for trains coming from both directions
- always wait for rail crossing gates to close and reopen before crossing an intersection
- do not bring any flammable liquids, barbeques, fold-out chairs, ladders, large ice chests or coolers on board trains
So ring in the new year with good times, not with flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Go Metro and be safe everyone!
Posted by GoldLine
Crews continue to make progress on the Maintenance-of-Way Storage Canopy as they begin work on the embedded tracks, which will run parallel on both sides of the internal columns.
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The following Opinion appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on December 20, 2013.
L.A. County’s transit future must be regionally balanced
By Congressman Adam Schiff
When Measure R was approved by voters in 2008, it allowed our region to move forward on a program of highway and transit improvements that benefited all areas of Los Angeles County, dramatically improving the transportation options and landscape for all county residents.
Over the past five years, significant progress has been made on the projects promised to voters. The Orange Line busway and the first phase of the Expo light-rail line have opened for service. The Expo Line’s extension to Santa Monica and the first half of the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa are both under construction and on schedule to be completed in just a few short years. The Crenshaw light-rail line, which will provide the critical light-rail connection to LAX, has also started construction. Numerous other major capital projects are moving through the required planning processes, as they are readied for construction — and many more, smaller local projects have been funded throughout the county’s 88 cities.
All of these are Measure R success stories.
As Metro considers asking voters to support a new tax for additional transportation improvements, a continuing track record of success will be critical. Equally important, the benefits of any proposed future tax measure must again be felt throughout the county.
It would be a mistake to ask voters to approve a new tax, or extension of the existing tax, that only benefits one area of the county. The belief that the majority of the tax revenues would be spent in the city of Los Angeles, for instance, was the leading argument against Measure R in 2008 and the subsequent failed 30-year extension of the tax (Measure J) in 2012. It will take a regional grass-roots approach to get the two-thirds majority vote necessary to support a new tax. This will likely take the form of a list of stakeholder-supported projects that appeal to voters from throughout the county — from Malibu to Claremont and Santa Clarita to Long Beach.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has made extraordinary outreach to all of the communities in the county and their local elected officials in an effort to better acquaint himself with local priorities and challenges facing the region. Metro Chairperson Diane Dubois, Supervisor Michael Antonovich and others are similarly reaching out to communities throughout the county seeking to build consensus around a potential list of projects.
Completion of the Measure R program will also be critical to any future tax initiative. Although Measure R will bring in tens of billions of dollars over the 30-year life of the tax, the tax provides only enough funding to complete a portion of the larger, capital projects. Tens of billions of additional dollars are needed to complete the list of important projects to their envisioned destinations, and the Los Angeles congressional delegation must work together to leverage this local revenue into a substantial federal funding commitment to go with it.
In the coming months, the local priority lists will have to be carefully weighed and considered before a final list is created. Cities throughout the region should provide ideas for new projects that could be funded through a future tax that will add to the overall Measure R program, by building important connections and efficiencies in the overall system. Mayor Garcetti understands this process must be deliberate and measured, and will incorporate the important local feedback he has been soliciting in order to develop a list of projects that can be successful if the Metro board decides to move forward with a future tax request.
In the meantime, Metro must build on the trust developing with county taxpayers by continuing to deliver the Measure R projects currently underway on time and on budget. Together with a regionally balanced list of projects, a reliable track record of project delivery will be critical to any future vote, and to the success of our region’s transportation system.
Congressman Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, represents California’s 28th Congressional District. Schiff authored legislation while in the state Senate and led federal efforts while in Congress to create what is now known as the Gold Line.
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The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on December 24, 2013.
L.A. County transit officials plan to put sales tax measure on ballot
By Laura Nelson
Transportation officials in Los Angeles County plan to offer a ballot measure next fall or in 2016 that would raise the county’s sales tax by half a cent or extend the life of Measure R, the levy voters approved in 2008.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and multiple advocacy groups say more transportation money would help expand the region’s fledgling rail network, improve complementary service on bus lines, and speed construction and repairs on rail lines and highways.
“We need to have a system that works for us,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments. “We need to maintain it, to bring it up to par, to expand it.”
Metro staff officials say the ballot measure would either create a new tax that would raise the overall rate in Los Angeles County to 9.5% or extend Measure R’s half-cent levy beyond its 2039 expiration date.
Similar proposals have found success in the past: Taxes approved in 1980 and 1990 paid for many of the county’s carpool lanes and the first three modern rail lines. Measure R will partially fund a dozen rail projects, doubling the number of Metro train stations.
Last year, a proposal to extend Measure R failed by about 2 percentage points, in part because coastal Los Angeles County cities did not support it, a Times analysis showed. Some elected officials from those areas had complained that the city of Los Angeles received the lion’s share of Measure R projects.
Metro has hired a Washington firm to poll hundreds of county residents on two tax proposals. Councils of government have drafted lists of projects they would like to see.
“There will never be enough money, obviously,” said Karen Heit, the transportation deputy for the Gateway Cities Council of Governments, which includes Cerritos, Downey and Long Beach. “But to have a say in how the funds should be divided is huge.”
Still at issue is whether the measure will go to the ballot in 2014 or 2016, but Metro planning staff members prefer not to rush. Some are concerned that the measure could compete with a $3-billion street repair bond proposed by two Los Angeles City Council members, which could go to voters in 2014.
The presidential election in 2016 will ensure higher voter turnout, Metro planning staff wrote in a memo to the board. Waiting two years would give the agency more time to work with subregions and drum up voter support.
By some measures, a new sales tax could raise more than $100 billion. Some projects that were partially funded by Measure R may see more money, including a rail link to Los Angeles International Airport. About $330 million of the estimated $1.5 billion needed to complete the line has been secured.
Other projects being considered include improvements to eight freeways, subsidies for senior and student transit fares, and a transit and freeway tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, according to Metro’s ballot measure concepts.
Denny Zane, executive director of transit advocacy group Move LA, said he hopes a portion of the money will go toward making the ports more environmentally friendly, including building infrastructure to support electric trucks. He said Move LA is also eyeing improvements to Metrolink service and bicycle lanes.
The legwork for the effort coincides with a push in Sacramento to reduce the 67% voter threshold for such measures. Former assemblyman, and current Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield recently proposed a constitutional amendment that would reduce the voter threshold for infrastructure bonds to 55%.
Adding another sales tax would allow Metro to perhaps finish some new projects within a decade.
An extension of Measure R would make money available after 2039. However, Metro says it would help agencies pay down debt, freeing up other funding for other projects.
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Our journey is well underway, with Pasadena to Azusa construction nearly halfway through and design to commence soon on the Azusa to Montclair Extension.
We pause to render thanks to all those whose hard work and dedication over the last year has made these important milestones possible and to the community for your patience as we build this important project.
Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension
Posted by GoldLine
Listen to Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian’s interview with Frank Mottek on KNX Business Hour on 1070 AM radio, which aired on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
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The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on December 16, 2013.
Residents living near Expo Line stations reduce car use, study shows
By Laura Nelson
The Metro Expo Line was already under construction when Ryan Vincent started house-hunting. His goal: to live within walking distance of a light-rail station.
“Every house I looked at, I was doing the mental calculus,” Vincent, 39, said. “Would I be willing to walk from that address to the train?”
He settled with his girlfriend and his dog in a Spanish-style home in West Adams, two blocks from the Farmdale Station. Since then, his Honda Civic hybrid has mostly sat unused.
The small changes Vincent made in his daily life, including finding a doctor and a dentist with offices near a train stop, mirror the behavior of many households living near the Expo Line, according to a USC study released Monday.
After the light-rail line opened, Angelenos who lived within a half-mile of a station tripled their rail ridership and reduced their daily driving by 40%, the study found.
In fall 2011, researchers asked more than 200 households in the Exposition Corridor, the Crenshaw Corridor and Harvard Park to track their travel habits and odometer readings for seven days. The same households repeated the exercise in 2012, when the Expo Line had been open for about six months.
Households within a half-mile of an Expo Line station reduced their driving by 10 to 12 miles a day, compared with those who lived farther away, according to the data.
Researchers said they realize Los Angeles is too sprawling for everyone to live within a half-mile of a train stop, that the line is new and that residents’ behaviors may yet change. But the study’s findings, USC researcher Marlon Boarnet said, can help transportation officials make smart choices about rail lines and the network of roads and neighborhoods that surround them.
Los Angeles County may see as many as five new rail lines and extensions by the end of the decade. “This teaches us how to make our investments count,” Boarnet said.
The Expo Line’s second phase will open to the Westside in 2016. When that happens, attorney Aryan Shommetoub expects to take the train and the Big Blue Bus from his home in Baldwin Hills to a branch courthouse in Westwood.
“It’s a treat to be able to take the line to work, when I can,” Shommetoub said. He still often drives, but takes the section of the Expo Line that opened last year when he has meetings or court appearances near downtown.
After the Expo Line opened, households living within a half-mile of the stations saw a 30% reduction in their carbon emissions, the study said. Although some people had purchased more fuel-efficient cars, Boarnet said, researchers chalked up the difference to people driving less.
The study participants who were the least physically fit also saw a health benefit: about 8-10 more minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a day.
Stations with more bus lanes and fewer lanes of traffic were most effective at reducing the number of miles driven and increasing the number of transit trips, according to the study. Streets with too many lanes of traffic discourage pedestrians from getting to stations, Boarnet said, and more people are likely to use a train if bus service complements it.
That could inform urban design as cities across the county install bike lanes and foster development around transit.
The study’s findings will become most important, Boarnet said, when the Westside subway along Wilshire Boulevard breaks ground. Currently, an extension to La Cienega Boulevard is scheduled to open in 2023.
“This is very tough for people to wrap their minds around,” Boarnet said. “But we’re going to get to the point where the system is meaningfully large.”