The biggest news in transportation in nearly a decade in Los Angeles County was the overwhelming passage of the $120 billion Measure M last November.
The second biggest? The city of Los Angeles being awarded the 2028 Olympic Games in September.
Adding the imprimatur of the Olympics to a bureaucratic list of transportation projects funded by another half-cent sales tax on 10 million county residents lifts these transit fixes into the stratosphere of golden achievements, especially those Metro is rushing to complete by 2028.
Some potential gold medal winning projects include the Westside subway (Purple Line) extension to Westwood, of which the next phase is scheduled for completion by 2024 and the final segment by 2027, as per the Los Angeles County Transportation Expenditure plan.
Also the LAX people mover from the Crenshaw Line directly into the airport terminals is supposed to be finished by the time they light the Olympic torch.
A Claremont councilman reminded me to add the Gold Line foothill extension from Glendora to Montclair, right now scheduled for completion by early 2026.
Fine. It will be interesting to see what really happens in the next 11 years. Transportation projects do not carry the ethereal nature of an athlete standing on a podium, crying as the verses of her country’s national anthem plays. No, they are more likely to be celebrated in a corny ribbon-cutting few attend after years of behind the scenes bickering and horse-trading. And after stories about infighting between transportation agencies these last few months, I give you what many readers have said in response:
On a possible plan to eliminate the Metrolink Station in Claremont when the Gold Line arrives, Karen M. Rosenthal wrote in an email: “Claremont’s Judy Wright, the ‘mother’ of the Metrolink system …. is rolling over in her grave. HORRIBLE idea.”
Wrote LJ_909 on reddit: “Claremont was never a good idea for a station because the next station, Montclair, is like 1.7 miles away. And then same can be said for Montclair. There’s no need for stops that close.”
Redditers placed 13 comments on my story on the feuding between the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) that runs buses and trains in the county, and Metrolinnk, a commuter rail with service all over Southern California, because they must share the same right of way for the latest Gold Line foothill extension.
“So much politics as usual in public transit. And people wonder why things don’t advance. Don’t blame funding or “NIMBYS.” It’s politics,” wrote dr_(expletive) wad.
Levisimons posted: “With Metrolink it would make sense to look at electrifying at least part of the system and running it more frequently as a more useful interurban rail system.”
The exchanges morphed into a raging debate on why the San Gabriel Valley keeps getting new light-rail (L.A. to Pasadena Gold Line in 2003; East L.A. to downtown in 2009; foothill extension to Azusa in 2015). Many commented that the San Fernando Valley’s objections to light rail and subways in the 1990s (that even led to a ban that wasn’t repealed until 2014) denied the L.A. suburban region rail lines.
“The same valley leaders complaining now we’re the ones who caused this problem. They missed their chance,” commented BH90008 on Reddit. The same commenter reminded the chat group that Rep. Henry Waxman (he said Harry) got a bill passed that banned federal funding for rail in the U.S. Congress.
Instead of rail, the San Fernando Valley received a bus rapid transit (BRT) Orange Line that is very popular. Says nocturnalis: “Then they shouldn’t have passed laws to prevent it. Now if they want to see the Orange Line converted to light rail, they have to go to the end of the line.
Orange Line’s conversion to light rail is scheduled to start in 2051, with completion in 2057, according to the Measure M list of projects and ground-breaking dates.
And then there’s this little bit of news I received on Friday afternoon that may make freeway drivers smile:
Caltrans is closing the westbound 10 connector to the southbound 5 and the southbound 5 connector to the eastbound 10 from 4 a.m. to noon Sunday . In those eight hours, Caltrans crews along with community service workers will “swarm” the concrete, picking up litter, filling potholes, erasing graffiti, replacing signs, clearing weeds, re-striping and re-lamping (is that a word?) the overhead lights while inspecting and if necessary, cleaning the drains and culverts.
Steve Scauzillo covers transportation and the environment for the Southern California News Group. He’s a recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing from The Wilderness Society. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @stevscaz or email him at email@example.com.
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