A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles’ now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008′s Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!
The expansion of LA’s Metro Rail Gold Line is well underway with a stunning new piece of infrastructure: The Gold Line Bridge. Completed last week, the 584-foot dual-track bridge, stretching over the eastbound lanes of the I-210 Freeway, will provide a light rail connection between the existing Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena and Azusa’s future Arcadia Station. The rail line itself is scheduled for completion in 2014.
Made from steel reinforced concrete with added quartz, mica crystals, and mirrored glass, the monochromatic, abstract design, conceived by artist Andrew Leicester, pays homage to the region’s historic American Indian basket-weaving tradition and includes a carriageway and a post-and-lintel support beam system. The 25-foot baskets adorning each of the posts, “metaphorically represent the Native Americans of the region…and pay tribute to the iconic sculptural traditions of Route 66,” wrote Leicester.
This week, Los Angeles voters approved a local tax on downtown landowners to help pay for a downtown streetcar, which could begin running as early as 2016. The $125 million project would—yes—run on tracks, just like the streetcars that used to dominate the city.
Cars haven’t been chosen yet, but their primary route would go south on Broadway from 1st Street to 11th Street, west to Figueroa Street, north to 7th Street, east to Hill Street, and north, terminating at 1st Street. LA’s transportation agency, Metro, began work on the project in 2011 with the city’s former Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA), with the city itself, and with Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc.
After the votes were counted, 73 percent of downtown voters approved the measure. Now the project needs to get federal approval before officially moving ahead. See more images of the historic Pacific Electric streetcars, which once dominated the city, below.
Rethinking the streetscape will be the priority at the Los Angeles Planning Department, revealed newly appointed Planning Director Michael LoGrande in a conversation with LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. “We’re getting people out of their cars and thinking differently about transit,” said LoGrande, who chatted with Hawthorne on Wednesday night at Occidental College.
Confirmed August 4 after the resignation of his predecessor, Gail Goldberg, LoGrande has faced significant staff and budget cuts, which he’s responded to by re-focusing long-term planning on transit projects rather than just catering to a constant stream of ad hoc requests.
HITCHIN’ A RIDE
With its price hikes, worker strife, and bureaucratic image, LA METRO doesn’t exactly set the standard for good press. But that appears to be changing as the transit authority has hired two of our favorite writers to supply in-house news and consulting. After being laid off by the Los Angeles Times in March, transit reporter Steve Hymon was hired by Metro to put together its new transit blog, The Source. On November 20, AN contributor Sam Hall Kaplan announced that he had been hired by Metro to be a transportation planning manager, with a focus on “crafting a user-friendly interface in Downtown LA between the Metro and the proposed California High Speed Rail,” in particular for stations and streetscapes. Eavesdrop hopes there’s one more spot for a guy who would like to check out the coolest cities and their metro systems for ideas—say Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. Read More
As the LA Times and Curbed LA both reported yesterday, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) finally voted yesterday (after several postponements) to approve its Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan outlines how METRO will spend about $300 billion over the next 30 years, focusing on mass transit projects like the Westside subway extension of the Red Line to Santa Monica, for which the county will be seeking substantial federal funding (most of the projects will need support from the feds, although LA County is aided by its new sales tax increase approved last year).
Other major initiatives include the Gold Line extension east from Pasadena, a downtown regional connector, the continuation of the Expo Line to Culver City and Santa Monica, and a Green Line extension to LAX. Of course before Angelenos get too excited about all this rail-related news, it’s worth noting that more than 2/3 of the plan is dedicated to highway (widening and surface improvements) and bus-related expenditures (rail makes up about 1/6). And then there’s the timeline: is there one? We haven’t seen it yet… Please help us find it!
Sorry, this post was accidentally erased last week.
Finally, the public events for AN’s New Infrastructure competition have ended! (there’s one more at the AIA/Mobius Conference in June, but that’s not exactly public..) The final event- also one of the last at GOOD magazine’s space at 6824 Melrose Avenue, which is moving down the street in the coming months (more details to come as they emerge)- included a workshop led by Metro planner James Rojas, in which the audience was asked to build their own transit systems out of found materials like beads, legos, wooden and foam blocks, plastic figures, chess pieces, and much more. The ideas, concocted in just minutes, were stunning in their beauty and creativity, revealing a public desire to make LA’s transit systems more efficient, user-friendly, and most of all fun. Read More