The Boring Company has released yet another underground transit proposal for Los Angeles. Wednesday night, embattled Boring Company CEO Elon Musk announced the so-called Dugout Loop, a proposed “zero-emissions, high-speed, underground public transportation system” that could potentially ferry passengers between the Red Line subway and Dodgers Stadium. The company released a series of possible proposals, with variations on route length and station origination point. The ultimate aim of the proposal is to improve travel times between the East Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Rampart Village neighborhoods and the stadium, which is roughly 3.6-miles away. Boring Company estimates that the proposed loop would be able to complete a one-way trip in roughly four minutes and carry between 1,400 and 2,800 passengers per day, roughly the same number as are currently transported by the express Metro buses that currently operate between the stadium and Union Station using dedicated bus lanes. Here’s the hitch: Unlike conventional transportation systems that convey passengers in both directions simultaneously, Musk’s link would only be able to operate in one direction at a time. The limiting arrangement is a result of the small diameter tunnel that is being proposed for the route, similar to that of other Boring Company tunnels proposed for western Los Angeles and Chicago. The proposal comes after a week of questionable business decisions and erratic tweetstorms from Musk, and as L.A.’s Metro makes plans to embrace a proposed $125 million gondola system connecting the Union Station in Downtown L.A. with the stadium. Backers for the gondola plan include former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt; Estimates for the transit link indicate the gondolas could ferry as many as 5,000 passengers per hour, with traffic moving in both directions simultaneously. Musk recently drew criticism and accusations of project “segmenting” for bypassing environmental review as the Boring Company attempts to move forward with a portion of a proposed Hyperloop route through L.A.’s Westside neighborhoods. Neighborhood groups outraged by the effort successfully sued to block the project. The proposal also comes as the Boring Company faces legal challenges for a similarly-vague proposal issued for Chicago that would link the city with O’Hare Airport.
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Los Angeles County’s transit system is poised to become the first in the country to deploy airport-style security measures to screen its passengers. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is rolling out new portable body scanners that can be deployed in response to terrorist threats and during large crowd events like protests and sporting matches in an effort to thwart potential “mass casualty” attacks. The scanners can be used to screen passengers using radio waves from up to 30 feet away and are designed with an integrated split-screen display that produces a black square over the part of a person’s body where a gun or non-metallic explosive device might be located. Metro currently operates 93 subway and light-rail stations—with many more on the way—and has plans to utilize the mobile devices as necessary across its system. Officials at Metro explained that areas where passengers might be subject to body scanning will be clearly labeled in each station with signs that read: “Passengers proceeding past this point are subject to Metro security screening and inspection.” Plans call for making “randomized” scans of passengers traveling within these zones. Officials at a press conference announcing the plan explained, however, that passengers seeking to opt out of the possibility of being scanned will not be allowed to ride transit from that station. The scanners can process roughly 2,000 passengers per hour, according to Dave Sotero, spokesperson for Metro. The figure is an improvement over previous technologies, The Times reports, but likely to fall short of what would be required to process crowds efficiently during rush hour or large scale events. Recent protests in Downtown Los Angeles, for example, have drawn hundreds of thousands of people at a time and have snarled Metro service even without the scanners in place.
The City of Inglewood in Southern California has announced a plan to add a 1.8-mile automated people mover (APM) connecting the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium and the region’s growing transit network in the near future. A recently-unveiled scoping study called Envision Inglewood calls for establishing a “direct connection to rail” between downtown Inglewood and the city’s impressive slate of professional sports and performance venues. Facilities that could be connected by the new transit route include: The Forum, the forthcoming Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, and the recently-unveiled Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, a potential new basketball stadium for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. The new $2.66 billion Rams stadium is designed by HKS Architects and will be joined by a 3,000-unit mixed-use residential development next door known as “City of Champions.” The Forum was designed by Charles Luckman Associates in 1966 in the late modern style; The complex is slated to host the gymnastic events for the 2028 Olympic Games. The Envision Inglewood plan was crafted in conjunction with a series of other transportation and pedestrian fixes. The plan considers four different alignments and a handful of transport modes in its aim to provide a “world-class transit connection to-and-from the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line” transit route, an 8.5 mile light rail line connecting the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, and El Segundo through southern Los Angeles County slated to open in 2019. According to a presentation made at the Inglewood City Council, the report’s chosen route—dubbed the “Market-Manchester” alignment—would add the APM link starting from the forthcoming Downtown Inglewood stop on the Crenshaw Line. The elevated train would snake down Market Street and Manchester Boulevard, ultimately ending up on South Prairie street where it can conveniently stop at the three stadium and performance venue locations. Renderings for the proposed plan depict lively street scenes overlooked by elevated train tracks on concrete piers. Projections for the line envision up to 2,578,120 potential boardings across the APM route per year, with slightly less than 40% of all boardings related to “event ridership.” According to the report, the link could cost $614.4 million to build and between $18.2 million and $19.5 million to operate each year. A timeline for the project’s completion has not been announced. The new football stadium is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 NFL season.
Although the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles is home to nearly two million people, aside from two subway stops and a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor, the enclave maintains relatively few robust regional public transit connections. That situation is likely to change over the coming decade if a plan to build a 9.2-mile light rail transit line is implemented as recommended by a recent Los Angeles County Metro staff report. Staffers call for Metro to build the so-called Alternative 4 plan, a scheme that would stitch the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station in the northeast corner of the valley together with the Metro Orange Line BRT route on the valley’s southern edge. The L-shaped route would run on a 2.5-mile segment within the Metro-owned railroad right-of-way adjacent to San Fernando Road along its northern stretch with the remainder of the route running at-grade in the street median along Van Nuys Boulevard. Although perhaps best known as a 1950s-era cruising spot, Van Nuys Boulevard is now home to the second-busiest busway in the valley and also clocks in as the seventh busiest bus route system-wide. The planned light rail route would shave 30 minutes off the current travel times, with trains passing every six minutes during peak intervals. With a bit of luck, the proposed route also has the potential to definitively link the valley with the rest of Los Angeles, depending on which alignment is chosen for other forthcoming high-profile project routes. Metro is in the planning stages for the Sepulveda Pass transit project, a scheme that would bridge the mountain pass currently traversed by Interstate-405 in order to connect the valley to L.A.’s Westside neighborhoods and to Los Angeles International Airport. Metro is investigating a smattering of transit schemes for the route including heavy rail subway, light rail, and even a monorail, among other options. If the agency goes with the light rail alternative, it’s possible a one-seat ride from San Fernando to LAX might one day be a possibility. Several of the other alternatives under consideration for the line could still create the regional link, albeit with a transfer from the Van Nuys line to the Sepulveda Pass route. If a direct connection to the Sepulveda Pass is unavailable, the Van Nuys line also has the potential of becoming a spur off of the Orange Line—the existing BRT route in the valley—which Metro is considering converting to light rail sometime in the future. Metro has not explicitly stated this potential alignment as a possibility, but if the agency decides to pursue heavy rail or a monorail through the Sepulveda Pass, it would be an easy way to connect the route to the existing and planned transit system. Metro is also currently eyeing extending the Orange Line east through Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena, though only as a BRT project as of now. The agency is also considering a complimentary east-west BRT line through the valley along Nordhoff Street. The recommended proposal for the Van Nuys line has the potential to remake the valley, either way, as the areas surrounding the potential route are already densifying and lots of development is slated for adjacent neighborhoods. The Metro Board of Supervisors will take up the light rail recommendation on June 27th; The agency expects to begin construction on the route during fiscal year 2020-2021 with final completion due by 2027, just in time for the 2028 olympic games.
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX). The concepts were unveiled last week and represent the latest efforts to span over the Sepulveda Pass with public transit, an effort that is complicated by the route’s steep terrain, the presence of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the presence of Interstate-405, the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States. Plans call for building the link in two phases, with an initial segment connecting the Westwood with the southernmost edge of the valley due to be completed by 2026. A southern extension to LAX could be completed by 2057 under the current timetable. For that initial segment, the six proposed alignments are as follows: Concept 1: Planners envision a 10-mile underground subway alignment that would link the future terminus of the regional Purple Line subway with the Orange Line busway in the valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, where the line could link with a forthcoming north-south transit route planned for Van Nuys Boulevard. To the south, the new heavy rail transit line (HRT) would also link with the east-west Expo Line that connects Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Concept 2: A second potential HRT line would follow a similar tunneling route but would connect with the Orange Line station on Sepulveda Boulevard instead of Van Nuys. The potential alignment could contain as many as five miles’ worth of aerial alignments constructed to link separately with the forthcoming Van Nuys Line, as well. This route would run a total of 13 miles in length and could connect to the Expo similarly to Concept 1. Concept 3: This alignment would follow the same path as Concept 1 but would be built using light rail transit (LRT) technology, a cheaper option that would ultimately carry fewer passengers per train at slower speeds than the HRT proposal. The underground route would ultimately run about 10 miles in length. Concept 4: This route would run along the same alignment as Concept 3, but would feature a mile-long aerial spur that would link to the Orange Line. Plans are currently underway to convert the Orange Line from a bus rapid transit route (BRT) to a light rail line, meaning that, with this option, the two routes could potentially share trains in the future, creating the possibility of several different one-seat routes. Concept 5: Metro is also considering monorail and rubber tire trams for the Sepulveda Pass route, options that would blend below-ground, at-grade, and aerial alignments to cross through the mountain range. Concept 5 would follow the same route as Concept 1 but would result in a transit line that simply linked the two regions without offering the interlining capabilities of Concept 4 or the capacity and speed of Concepts 1 and 2. Concept 6: Concept 6 is proposed as an extension of the Purple Line route, an idea that would thread the primarily east-west line northward into the valley, where it could link with other forthcoming lines or even extend further in their stead. The potential alignment would be the death knell for the “Subway to the Sea” concept originally proposed for the Purple Line that would have extended the line to Santa Monica. That idea has been on the back burner for years as Metro has moved ahead with planned extensions that take the route only as far west as Westwood, where the line simple dead-ends. Metro will be gauging public opinion on the routes over coming weeks and will announce a consolidated list of route options at a later date. The route is listed as one of the 28 transit projects Metro would like to complete before L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics, so the timeline for the project will likely be sped up over the coming years.
Officials in Los Angeles broke ground late last week on the second leg of a long-planned 9.1-mile extension of the city’s Purple Line subway. The so-called Section 2 extension will bring an additional 2.59 miles of underground track and two new stations to the line in addition to the 3.92 miles currently under construction for Section 1 of the extension, The Source reports. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) began construction on the Section 1 extension in 2015 and is currently 30 percent done with work on that leg. Work on Section 1 is expected to be completed by 2023, with Section 2 wrapping up in 2025, and a planned Section 3 completed the following year. Metro is aiming to finish the entire 9.2-mile extension before the year 2028, when Los Angeles is due to host the Summer Olympics. Section 1 of the extension will thread the heavy rail line to the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and La Cienega, just west of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus. Sections 2 and 3 will bring the line to Century City and the Veterans Administration campus in Westwood, respectively. Metro recently awarded a $1.37-billion construction contract to joint venture contractor Tutor Perini O&G to build the Section 2 subway; Another joint venture contractor—Skanska-Traylor-Shea—is building Section 1. Work on the line has already begun to impact the areas around the extension, with many new high-rise projects currently in the pipeline for sites immediately surrounding Wilshire Boulevard. The expansion has also spurred new construction of luxury-oriented housing adjacent to existing stops, as well. During a public presentation earlier this month, Metro officials detailed construction activity for the extensions, providing an update on utility relocation work, detailing which street tree specimens would need to be removed—and replaced—to facilitate construction, and also debuted preliminary renderings for the above-ground elements of several new transit stations. Renderings for these new stations depict glass canopy-topped subway entrances surrounded by hardscaped plaza spaces. Next, Tutor Perini O&G and several utility companies will work on reorganizing the maze of pipes and conduit below city streets for Section 2 areas, while work on a staging site that will be used to begin drilling the subway tunnel takes place. Work on the Section 1 extension will continue as planned.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is preparing to announce a final slate of projects for his "28 by 28" initiative before the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) board of directors this week. Garcetti’s effort aims to complete 28 regional transit projects before Los Angeles hosts the summer Olympics in 2028. The proposal includes a collection of projects already planned under a recently passed transportation funding ballot initiative called Measure M, urbanize.LA reports. Measure M is slated to bring $860 million per year to regional transit projects that Metro will utilize to diversify regional transportation options. According to a plan posted to the Metro website, Garcetti’s initiative includes 16 projects planned under Measure M and a previous transit measure. These projects include light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) expansions across the region, as well as several highway improvement and widening efforts. The plan calls for expanding six light rail lines, which includes the completion of new light rail lines to Crenshaw in South Los Angeles, Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, and Santa Ana in the southeast. Also included are a slew of regional BRT projects in the northern San Fernando Valley along Vermont Avenue and through Glendale. The collected projects have the potential to reshape the region’s urban geography, as evidenced by the explosion of transit-oriented development proposed along the recently extended Expo light rail line in West Los Angeles. The areas around the first phase of the Purple Line subway extension are already booming with high-density, mixed-use developments. Further information on the 28 by 28 plan is forthcoming. See the Metro website for the official Measure M transit expansion roll-out schedule.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have begun to explore the potential opportunities public-private partnerships (P3) might afford the entity as it seeks to fast-track the construction of several key transit expansions across the Los Angeles region. Specifically, The Source reported that Metro is currently working to develop a timeframe for expediting the delivery of three projects: The construction of a new north-south transit tunnel running through the Santa Monica Mountains underneath the Sepulveda Pass; the addition of the new southeasterly West Santa Ana transit line to the city of Artesia; and the county-wide expansion of the existing Express Lanes toll lane system. The projects represent lynchpin expansions for the 26-year-old transit system that will result from the passage of 2016’s Measure M, a regional half-cent tax increase that is expected to raise $860 million in new transit-oriented revenue each year in perpetuity. Measure M is expected to rework the region’s approach to mobility by expanding Metro’s rail network by more than a factor of two, while also funding street, bicycle, and highway improvements, as well. Metro received several unsolicited proposals for the projects in question earlier this year. The proposals, aimed at improving delivery times and reducing construction costs for the projects, are the result a new effort on the part of the transit agency to draw industry knowledge and experience to its project planning operations under the tenure of Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank. In a statement, Schank said, “We are seeing innovation at its best and we look forward to delivering projects and programs—supported by P3s—to improve the quality of life in our region sooner rather than later.” Metro has utilized the unsolicited proposals to begin crafting RFPs for each of the projects. The logic behind the move is that P3s can speed construction and improve coordination between the agency, designers, and contractors, allowing for faster delivery of the projects in question and also—due to cost savings—potentially lead to expedited delivery for other projects, as well. Parsons Transportation Group and Cintra US Services submitted unsolicited bids for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, the transit portion of which will now be developed via the RFP process as a P3 project. Once completed, the 20-mile-long, $9.4 billion corridor is expected to serve over 100,000 daily transit riders. Parsons completed work on the final leg of Metro's Expo Line extension late last year. Metro received two proposals for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor from Skanska and Kiewit, which will also result in an RFP for a P3 project that will utilize elements from each firm’s unsolicited bid. The 20-mile long route would be built in two phases for between $3 billion and $4.5 billion and carry 75,000 riders daily. Lastly, Goldman Sachs submitted a proposal for the regional expansion Metro’s ExpressLanes network. Metro will pursue a procurement bond in order to underwrite the implementation of the new regional toll road network. Details, as well a timeline for the RFP process, are set to be released in the coming months.
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has released a new promotional video showcasing preliminary designs for a collection of dramatic upgrades slated for the city’s Union Station railway and transit terminal in Downtown Los Angeles. The fly-through video features conceptual designs for the improvements and demonstrates that designers for the project are thinking big as they aim to rework the historic Los Angeles Union Station building. According to the video, a new circular, airport terminal–like elevated concourse will wrap between train platforms on the far eastern end of the complex, with the station’s many public transit connections scattered throughout the station’s western extents. The scheme calls for sandwiching an ADA-accessible vertical circulation core between the new structure and the existing station functions. The above-grade concourse will also feature retail spaces, wayfinding signage, and treetop views of the city, all looping around multiple train concourse platforms that will eventually include a depot for California’s forthcoming high-speed rail network. The new concourse is part of the ongoing LINK Union Station project that aims to add through service to the regional transit hub. Currently, several regional transit lines dead end at the station, an arrangement that will change once the improvements are made, allowing for faster travel times through the area, a reduction in necessary transfers between regional commuter rail lines, and expanded access and visibility for the hub. Metro has not secured funding for the project, which according to certain estimates, could cost between $1.7 and $2.1 billion. The scheme will be in the running against a more expensive ground floor concourse concept that is still currently under development. For more information, see the Metro website.
Officials in Los Angeles are forging ahead with plans to extend the city’s Gold Line 11.5 miles east through the suburban communities of Glendora, San Dimas, and Claremont. The $1.4 billion project will extend the route’s northern branch for a second time in its 13-year history, following an 11-mile expansion that opened last year. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) voted this week to approve funding and partnership agreements necessary for construction to start in September 2018. The Claremont extension will be the first project directly funded with revenue generated from the county-wide Measure M sales tax that was approved last November. Because the route crosses into San Bernardino County, which is not covered by Measure M, funding for the last leg of the route will be contingent on San Bernardino County contributing to the project, which is expected to occur. In the meantime, the transit authority will apply for a $249 million grant from California’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program to make up for the shortfall. The fund provides transit funding to state municipalities using revenue generated from the state’s carbon "cap and trade" market. The transit authority will also dedicate $26 million in savings resulting from the construction of the previous Gold Line extension toward the project, with an additional $100 million in funding coming from Measure R, a previous L.A. County–wide sales tax aimed at boosting transit across the region. The announcement for the new extension caps off the busy period following the November election. In the eight months since, the transit agency has moved toward plotting out which potential projects will move forward and in which order; the Gold Line extension is at the top of the list. LAMTA is also studying several alignments for a southern extension of the Gold Line and is partway through work on the Regional Connector, an underground link crossing Downtown Los Angeles that would connect the northern branch of the Gold Line with the Long Beach–bound Blue Line, creating a new, continuous north-south line. The Connector would also link the southern branch of the Gold Line with the Santa Monica–bound Expo Line, establishing a true east-west connection across the region. The agency has also had to fight for transit funding promised during the Obama administration that current administration officials have been reluctant to administer. The extension is expected to open in 2026.
New renderings have come to light depicting the new Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) $600 million multi-modal 96th Street Transit Station serving Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The link would connect mass transit riders on the Green and forthcoming Crenshaw/LAX light rail lines with the airport’s forthcoming automated peoplemover system. The renderings, first published by Urbanize.la, detail the forthcoming structure at the corner of Aviation Boulevard and Arbor Vista Street in South Los Angeles. The station would span a 9.5-acre site approximately one mile east of the airport and would mark the first light rail connection to LAX in the airport’s history. The airport is currently served by a shuttle service linking the Aviation / LAX station on the Green Line with the facility. The regional Flyaway commuter buses and several traditional bus lines also connect to the airport, in addition to automobile traffic, taxi, and rideshare services. The transit station will include space for automobile drop offs, a bus bus terminal, and a bicycle hub. The new station comes as LAX undergoes a series of expansions and upgrades, including the addition of a new $1.6 billion international terminal and concourse by Gensler and Corgan meant to accommodate next generation Airbus A380 superjumbo and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jets. That expansion—dubbed the Midfield Satellite Concourse—would link to the existing Tom Bradley International Terminal via a pair of underground tunnels and would contain 50,000 square feet of gateway spaces, including a 44,000-square-foot food court and 60,000 square feet of lounges and other waiting area facilities, among other components. LAX was ranked seventh busiest airport worldwide in 2015, according to one survey, with over 70 million passengers that year. The region’s lack of direct light or heavy rail access to LAX have been a long-vexing problem for city and regional planners—not to mention airport travelers—for decades and were described by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 as "a historic mistake of our past." The new station is expected to open sometime between 2021 and 2023.
Areas around the only heavy rail transit stop in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley are poised to change dramatically as a new plan calling for the addition of over 1,500 residential units to the area coalesces. The redevelopment plan—orchestrated as a joint proposal by developers Trammell Crow Company, Greenland USA, Cesar Chavez Foundation, architects Gensler, and landscape architects Melendrez—also aims to bring roughly 450,000-square feet of offices and 150,000-square feet of ground-level commercial spaces to a collection of lots owned by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) surrounding the North Hollywood Red Line station. The plans will also consolidate a series of bus turnaround areas around the station into a single transfer complex. Urbanize LA reports that the plan, to be detailed in an upcoming presentation by the development to L.A. Metro’s San Fernando Valley Service Council (SFVSC), comes after Trammell Crow and Greenland had initially proposed two competing schemes. A rendering of the proposed project showcases a collection of mixed-use towers surrounding a series of open plaza areas and the new bus turnaround. The renderings depict the tallest tower as a podium-style structure located at the northern corner of the site, with a much shorter, perimeter block structure topped with a green roof standing beside it. The back corner of the site is populated by several courtyard apartment building complexes and a mid-rise housing tower. Another tall tower will be located on a corner opposing the main portion of the development. The complex is designed as a Transit Oriented Community (TOC), a notion that builds on transit-accessibility at the core of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects by including “holistic community development” that engages not only with mass transit but also facilitates pedestrian activities, according to the report that will be shown to the SFVSC. The plan comes out of a series of community scoping meetings conducted by L.A. Metro and the developers that uncovered historic preservation of the surrounding NoHo Arts District and balance between height, density, and pedestrianism as major community concerns. As such, the development will aim to engage and building upon existing street life in the pedestrian-heavy node while also adding generous paseos between various structures to create pedestrian paths around the station. The project will also include an unspecified number of affordable housing units. A detailed timeline for the project has not been released.