Friday, May 23, 2008

Streetcar Workshop

Yesterday's Streetcar Workshop received extensive coverage in BlogDowntown, as well as StreetsBlog LA.

This image sets the mood of a streetcar revival on Broadway (click to enlarge).

Here more photos of recent streetcar lines.
The Portland Streetcar blazed the trail of modern streetcars as the catalyst to new pedestrian-oriented downtowns.

Two replica Pacific Electric Red Cars run in San Pedro. Extensions south to the beach, west into downtown, and north are planned.

Replica cars circle downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, go to the Clinton Library, and cross the river to North Little Rock.

Regional Conector: 1st & Alameda

A new post on BlogDowntown (via MetroRiderLA) shows three Metro images of the Regional Connector subway Alternative 5 at 1st and Alameda with tracks rising from a portal at 2nd and Central and Alameda passing under 1st.

Be sure to read the whole item; here's the first image (click to enlarge; looking south, Little Tokyo Gold Line station on the lower right next to Alameda).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Regional Connector update

Last week blogdowntown reported the final two options for the 1.5-mile Regional Connector that will provide a one-seat ride into and across downtown between the Blue / Expo Lines and the Pasadena / Eastside Gold Line.

These images (click to enlarge) are updated from Metro's February presentation. (Turns out my suggestions last November didn't work structurally to connect with the existing Gold Line bridge at Aliso.)

In Alternative 3B the existing Flower Street tunnel would be extended up to street level at 4th for a station, cross 3rd at-grade, cut through the 2nd Street tunnel wall, then run on the south side of the tunnel and middle of 2nd (image below). A one-way couplet on Main and Los Angeles completes the route up to Temple and the Gold Line.

Alternative 5 is a subway extension up Flower and beneath 2nd Street. It would ramp up from a portal at 2nd and Central across the Office Depot lot to cross Alameda at-grade. Alameda would be depressed below 1st Street.

This rendering shows the proposed at-grade alignment on 2nd Street. It does all fit in the 60' street right-of-way (5' sidewalk, 10' station platform, 24' trackway, 11' traffic lane, and 10' sidewalk).

But detailed study and the relatively-small price difference — $650 million vs. $800 million — is likely to conclude that the subway is the best choice, for a faster ride with less traffic and train disruption.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wilshire subway planning

Here are the latest refined Westside Extension (aka Wilshire subway) maps (click images to enlarge) from Metro's public meetings this week. (Also see my 11/15/07 comments and the Subway to the Sea Coalition.)

The remaining alternatives — with the best performance — are two subway options along the Wilshire corridor, and those two with Hollywood branches added. The obligatory No Project, TSM (Transportation System Management), and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) study options also remain. These are only general route and station locations; details will come in a later study phase.

Alt. 1. This is the basic Wilshire route, with different details from Century City to Westwood. Orange rectangles highlight changes from previous versions.

Alt. 14. This jogs north to serve Farmers Market and Cedars-Sinai. I like adding these destinations, but am concerned about slowing around three sides of a box, unlike the earlier version that diagonaled to Wilshire & Beverly.

Alt. 11. Here trains would also run between Santa Monica and Hollywood, transferring to the Red Line at Highland. I suggested considering a longer north-south route from Hollywood past Wilshire to perhaps the Crenshaw line to LAX.

Alt. 16. Hollywood branch added to the Farmers Market alternative.

Other notes:

  • The Santa Monica Blvd.-only options were dropped for lower ridership and cost-effectiveness.
  • Wilshire only — 71K new boardings (2030), 53K daily travel hours saved, $5.5B capital cost, $32/hour saved (FTA target is $25-35/hour saved)
  • Santa Monica only — 55K new boardings, 41K daily travel hours saved
  • Wilshire + Hollywood — 82K new boardings, 62K daily travel hours saved, $8B capital cost, $37/hour saved

The remaining two meetings are (6-8 p.m.):

  • Thursday, May 8, Santa Monica Public Library – Multipurpose Room, 2nd Floor, 601 Santa Monica Bl, SM
  • Monday, May 12, Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Bl, West Hollywood

Wilshire Monorail—2

There were also these two great simulations of a monorail above Wilshire at Fairfax, using a Las Vegas station to show how much space it would take. The landmark former May Co. department store, now part of the LA County Museum of Art, is on the left.

Metro doesn't recommend further study of any aerial alternatives in this corridor, either HRT, LRT, or monorail. (click images to enlarge)

Stations are large, especially with pedestrian bridges for access. Straddle bents (the beams spanning the street) are used when there's not space for columns.

See my previous 6/23/07 post Wilshire Monorail? on this subject, also Flood channel monorails?

Olympic-Pico one-way

The LA Times reported yesterday, "Judge puts hold on L.A.'s Olympic-Pico traffic plan".
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's chief plan to speed traffic in Los Angeles was delayed Monday when a judge ruled that more study, which could take months, was needed before two Westside thoroughfares could be altered to work more like one-way streets. ...

In his five-page ruling, Torribio took particular umbrage to a claim by the city that the project didn't need to be studied because it wasn't a major change to how the streets were managed.

"In other words, the very purpose of the project is to expand the use of the existing streets," Torribio wrote. "To claim that the project will not expand the current use and is therefore exempt" from further study "seems inconsistent with the stated purpose." ...

Rather than creating major disruption for the questionable effectiveness of the city's plan, two simple improvements would help ease the bottleneck of getting east past the 405 freeway while we await major relief from completion of the Expo Line to Santa Monica:

  • Restripe a fourth eastbound lane to Olympic Boulevard from Barrington to Sepulveda.
  • Two lanes of Pico converge with two lanes of Gateway (Ocean Park) Blvd., narrowing to two lanes (photo above, click to enlarge) before widening to three lanes (past the big tree on the right). An obvious fix is to extend the third lane the short additional distance to the intersection. Street parking on Pico proposed to be removed farther west is much less the problem.