Sunday, November 23, 2008

After Measure R passes

Now that we can celebrate Measure R passing (67.65% YES on 11/21/08 provisional vote update), what projects will be built first and how can advocates help?

As specified in Measure R (Metro Map, click to enlarge), the new 1/2-cent sales tax begins collection on July 1, 2009. Its funding breakdown is:

35% new Metro Rail and Bus Rapid Transit capital
3% Metrolink commuter rail capital
2% Metro Rail capital improvements to existing lines
5% Rail Operations
20% Bus Operations
20% Highway Capital
15% Local Return for streets, bikeways, pedestrian improvements

The transit projects funded for completion in its first ten years are:

1-A Expo Line phase 2, Culver City to Santa Monica, $925M, starting construction 2010, opening FY 2013-15
1-F Gold Line Foothill Extension, $735M, starting construction 2010, opening FY 2015-17
1-H Green Line LAX Extension, $200M, FY 2015-28
1-B Crenshaw Corridor, $1,207M, FY 2016-18
1-I S.F. Valley Canoga Corridor BRT, $182M, FY 2016-18
1-J S.F. Valley N-S Corridors BRT, $68.5M, FY 2016-18

Even better, Roger Snoble said on KPCC 11/6/08 that construction of the Foothill Gold Line "is able to move ahead very quickly, right along with Expo" Line phase 2 to Santa Monica in 2010 (21:00), as well as the Green Line to LAX (19:30). He also emphasized, "the ordinance ... has a very clear expenditure plan ... when the project would be expected to be delivered ... the people voted on that schedule ...."

On accelerating the Purple Line Wilshire Subway (1-D Westside Subway Extension, $4,074M, FY 2034-36), the LA Times Bottleneck Blog reported: "During the news conference about Measure R's passage, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Roger Snoble said it may now be possible to extend the line to Fairfax Avenue within six or seven years and the line could get to Westwood in 20 years."

The important Regional Connector (1-C) between the Expo/Blue and Gold lines is expected to be competitive for federal funding (estimated $708M match to $160M local), which we hope can advance it from its current FY 2023-25 scheduled completion.

How can advocates help? With funding in place, we can now focus on helping Metro's planning process complete their designs well and move forward to construction. And advocate for cities to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects with their Local Return share.

Also see Ken Alpern's CityWatch column this week and my earlier posts Metro's sales tax would fund... and Sales tax comments for more.


surfdaddy said...

I need some info/clarification concerning the talk of extending a spur off the GeenLine to LAX. Looking at the map I believe that the LAX is NorthWest of the West bound Green Line so that a person going to "Downtown" L.A. would travel SouithWest from LAX to connect with the Green Line, then East to TRANSFER, with baggage, to the Blue Line to then head North for Downtown. I believe the average passenger would opt for the L.A.DOT non-stop, direct to Downtown bus for $3. The talk about the Green Line to LAX started way back when Mayor Riordan left office. The Mayor, a conservative Republican businessman, was very angry about the Red Line tunnel cave-ins, gas pockets, and cost over-run situation. When the local self-appointed transportation planners and "rail fans" heard that plus the Feds. cutting off funds due to the gas pocket question they assumed that "...rail in L.A.'s future was going to be put off INDEFINITELY..." so they began talking up the Green Line in a "Monday Morning Quarterback" fashion; with stories abounding that "...the cab companies were against it...", etc. They, and most others, believed that no Expo Line nor a realistic shot at major tax/bond issue(Measure R) was on the horizon. It seems to me that a branch off the Expo Line to LAX would be more direct, maybe this new "Crenshaw Corridor" schedule could be moved up to accomodate the LAX need. I've grown up in L.A.(8th and Normandie, L.A. High Class of 1955) and what is needed is more Red Line type of transportation, i.e., a first class subway system. If L.A. has to do it "on the cheap" due to politicians short shelf-life and use the so-called "Light Rail" then it MUST be with total grade separation. I say this not only for safety but also because the taxpayer will not receive full-value of their tax investment if the routes are put in with grade crossings. The real failure of the old "streetcar systems" was that they were put in at the turn of the century before the auto was a viable product(Henry Ford Model "T" 1909) so they had the streets to themselves. If you study history, in every city it was the conflict with traffic that was the demise of the streetcar and where they have survived and have been morphed into Light Rail, E.G. San Fran., Phila. , etc. they have been kept mostly grade spearated. The elevated structures on the Green Line in the El Segundo area(I had a grandson playing in a hockey league at the Toyota Center and it runs above) are very nice looking structures with single column smooth cement supports; the cars are quiet and smooth brunning.

Anonymous said...

The crying need for rail transport to and from the west side/Santa Monica will not be satisfied by the Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica, since the Expo Line was born of the belief that money would be saved by using what is left of existing rights-of-way from old freight lines. To get to downtown L.A. from downtown Santa Monica, the Expo Line will take a passenger southeast, through Culver City, to transfer to the Blue Line around USC. How long will this journey take? Moreover, one of the proposed routes from Culver City to Santa Monica tries to follow the old freight lines that were abandoned and built over -- unless the plan is to run the tracks in the center of Olympic, obliterating the trees and grass on the center divider. The people who have cooked up the projected ridership for this line should be held fiscally responsible: if it fails to live up to their numbers, they should pay. (Ah, that would thin the ranks of the number-providers.)

Darrell Clarke said...

Anonymous, I support both the Expo Line and extension of the Wilshire subway to serve different parts of the Westside.

I should also clarify that the Expo Line is a direct route from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles (7th & Flower), no Blue Line transfer required, in around 35-40 minutes.

There are two routes being considered in Santa Monica west of Cloverfield, along the median of either Olympic or Colorado (I prefer the latter) to 4th Street. See Friends 4 Expo for more details.

Darrell Clarke said...

SurfDaddy, yes, a likely concept for the Green Line is to turn north (but probably not needing a transfer) to meet an LAX people mover at Century, then continue northeast along the Harbor Subdivision and Crenshaw Blvd. to at least the Expo Line.

Wasn't the big problem with streetcars that they ran in mixed traffic toward downtown, not that they crossed streets at-grade? Modern light rail lines in Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, etc. are mostly at-grade but on private right-of-way or in dedicated lanes. The aerial Green Line is an exception, due to its original plan for automated operation.

David said...

Thanks for the informative update Darrell!

Regarding the purple line: Tony V (along with myself and anyone else I've talked to) seems to dislike the 20-year-to-Westwood estimate that Snoble gave, and has stated he'll do what he can do get federal money so that the purple line extension can make progress much sooner. If it really takes 20 years to extend a subway from Western to Westwood, I'd have little hope for the future of Subway in L.A. I am confident this section can be built within 10 years if federal funding becomes available, which I think is a real possibility given current talks about the Obama stimulus package.

I also agree with surfdaddy's well-informed post. A Crenshaw corridor light-rail (be it an extension of the green line or a different light rail line) would be more useful in connecting LAX to the rest of the city. Downtown L.A. is on track to become a huge transit hub (it is already), and will be even moreso once the downtown regional connector is completed. Getting people from LAX to downtown area should be a priority. And I also think he's right that street-running by the light-rail lines is a huge reason why the light rail lines aren't living up to potential. Just ride the full length of the Blue Line, and you will come to dread the street running portions at the north and south ends. Subways are ideal and super-expensive, and light rails are much less so. Perhaps the happy medium is elevated/grade-separated light rail. Building support pylons along the street-crossing portions of the Crenshaw corridor can't be all that much more expensive than the at-grade light-rail line, and would dramatically improve transit times.

Finally, I want to mention that the so-called "Sepulveda Project" that would provide a rapid transit option between Ventura/Sepulveda and Westwood should be a higher priority than it's current placement, which has it opening. . . well never, since the initial studies haven't even been done. The 405 over the Santa Monica Mountains is a MAJOR bottleneck. Ideally the entire stretch of Sepulveda from LAX up to the southern end of the S.F. Valley should have some type of BRT or Light Rail or Subway.

Darrell Clarke said...

I completely agree with you, David, on the "Sepulveda Project". I've been pitching that to officials - and getting agreement I wasn't the only one seeing the need - and it finally appeared in the Measure R list. But it needs to go all the way to the South Bay.

Aerial light rail is a lot more expensive than at-grade, also more visually obtrusive. Most lines limit bridges and underpasses to where they're most needed for cross traffic. Travel time in boulevard median running depends a lot on signal priority, which Long Beach has not provided.

Did you see my Light Rail Photos blog (which needs new posts)? It's to show how different modern light rail lines have been designed.