Posts tagged with "LA METRO":

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Los Angeles seeks public-private partnerships to build mass transit faster

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.
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Fly through L.A.’s massively upgraded Union Station in this new video

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.
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L.A. pushes ahead with $1.4 billion light rail extension despite lack of full funding

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.
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Renderings emerge for proposed LAX transit hub

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.
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Development team releases renderings for North Hollywood’s new skyline

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.
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L.A.’s Purple Line subway extension receives in $1.6B federal funding

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Los Angeles this week to commemorate the announcement of $1.6 billion in federal funding toward the extension of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LAMTA) Purple Line subway route.

The existing Purple Line opened in 1993 and begins in Downtown Los Angeles’s Union Station, sharing track with the system’s Red Line along most of its length. The route separates from the Red Line in the MacArthur Park neighborhood and currently terminates as a two-stop spur along the city’s Wilshire Boulevard corridor. Eventually, the Purple Line is expected to reach the oceanside community of Santa Monica and is being built in a piecemeal effort to achieve that goal.

The first, 3.9-mile long extension from the current terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard is currently under construction and is expected to open for service in 2023.

The second phase of expansion will run from La Cienega Boulevard to Century City, roughly two-thirds of the way between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

The new round of funding announced by Foxx includes a $1.187 Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant, a $307 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, and a $169 million grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. The remaining $747 million in funding for the $2.41 billion expansion will come from Measure R funds, a voter-approved transportation sales tax increase passed in 2008. Construction on the phase two extension is expected to begin in 2018 and will be completed by 2026. There is a possibility that construction on the extension could be sped up so the line would be operational for the 2024 Olympic games, should the city be selected as that year’s host.

Phase three of the extension will move the end of the line 2.6-miles further west to the upscale Westwood neighborhood and the nearby Veterans Administration Hospital (VA) complex. Plans for extensions beyond the VA campus have not been announced. 

The current round of funding was bolstered by the passage of Measure M this November, which entails an additional county-wide tax increase to fund transportation infrastructure projects across the region in perpetuity. According to government officials, the guarantee of these future funds compelled the Transportation department to move forward with the latest round of grants and loans.

The new transit line has the potential to reshape the city’s Westside neighborhoods and could usher in a new era of dense, transit-oriented development along Wilshire Boulevard. Anticipation for the future line is building, as a similar transformation has already begun to occur along the system’s recently-opened Expo Line that runs several miles to the south along a parallel trajectory.

Already, several high-rise housing projects have been announced along the eastern portions of the Wilshire corridor, including a 15-story residential luxury tower designed by Steinberg Architects in the Mid-Wilshire area and a Pei Cobb Freed & Partners-designed addition to Minoru Yamasaki’s Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.

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Herzog & de Meuron unveils 58-story tower along future L.A. light rail line

  Irvine, California-based developer SunCal has released details for a Herzog & de Meuron-designed, $2 billion development plan that aims to jumpstart the creation of a new skyscraper district on a 14.5-acre site at the southern edge of Downtown Los Angeles. The project, dubbed 6AM after its location on 6th Street, between Alameda and Mill Streets, would bring roughly 2.8-million square feet of mixed-use development to rapidly growing corner of L.A.’s booming Arts District. According to The Downtown News and Urbanize LA, the proposed development would entail 1,305 apartments and 431 condominiums in an area rapidly transitioning from low-rise industrial and DIY art gallery functions to something much more akin to a traditionally-developed, contemporary urban area. The project, which would be located directly on a proposed light rail extension running along Alameda from Union Station in Downtown L.A. to the south Los Angeles County community of Artesia, would mirror the intense, high-rise growth currently ongoing in the areas surrounding Downtown L.A’s rapidly-growing transit system, like those along the Expo Line corridor and on the northern edge of South L.A. between the Expo and Blue Lines. The development of the Artesia line would be contingent on the passage of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency's Measure M ballot initiative this fall. Notable aspects of the project include a 430,000-square-foot hotel, 250,000 square feet of office space, a 29,000-square-foot school, 23,000 square feet of gallery space and 128,000 square feet of commercial space. Although the final configuration of the program and site are years away from being built, the addition of the educational and gallery components of the program mark a shift in tenor for the Downtown area, which has mostly seen an increase of luxury housing and associated commercial spaces in recent years. The addition of educational program could signal a transition toward a more holistic, neighborhood-style vision for the area separate from the consumption- and lifestyle-oriented developments that have marked Downtown L.A.’s recent development. Released information for the plan does not detail whether any of the housing units in the development will be affordable, however. The project itself is articulated as a grouping of parallel bars of mid-rise apartments, offices, and hotel blocks, much of which is lifted roughly forty feet above street level on a raised platform whose upper surface will be level with the cornice lines of nearby industrial buildings. Areas between the ground floor and this pedestal will contain commercial spaces services by exterior walking paths and leisure courts. The most daring aspect of the proposal entails a cluster of seven housing towers aligned along the length of Alameda, with the highest tower climbing to around 58-stories and a height of roughly 700 feet. Mia Lehrer & Associates will be providing landscape architecture services for the project, while AC Martin will serve as executive architect. 6AM is expected to be built in three phases starting around 2018. This story was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
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L.A. transit initiative, which could generate $860 million annually, will officially be on November ballot

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) proposed ballot initiative, Measure M, was unanimously approved yesterday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, clearing a final hurdle that allows the sale tax-raising initiative to officially be placed on the November ballot. Measure M, officially, the “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan,” seeks to permanently raise the sales tax for the county by a half percent, bringing L.A. County’s base sales tax rate to 9.5% while pushing the tax rate above 10% in several of the municipalities within its boundaries. The proposal expects to generate $860 million in funding per year, allowing the Metro to vastly expand its 25-year-old transit system by adding multiple transit lines while also expanding existing subway, light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail systems across the region. The proposed transit expansion would aim to weave the transportation system’s fledgling footprint throughout the region by adding light rail lines to the San Fernando Valley, West Hollywood, and across South and East Los Angeles. The proposal also dedicates roughly one-sixth of projected revenue to highway infrastructure projects with a matching amount of funds turned over local municipalities for discretionary use. A map created by multi-modal transportation planner and blogger at CalUrbanist Steve Boland, shown above, illustrates the range of projects to be built if Measure M were to be passed by voters. Boland’s map includes the currently-under construction California High Speed Rail route as well as several added “unrelated projects that are largely funded and likely to happen” to create a vision for what L.A.’s transit system might one day look like. Describing his vision for the map, Boland told The Architect's Newspaper, “There's a map and project descriptions on the Metro website, but there's not much detail about the projects, and there's no timeline. This is understandable, since a lot of the projects haven't been well defined yet—so my map has to make a number of assumptions about alignment, mode, etc.  But I think it is good for folks to be able to envision just what the future might look like. And I wanted to do it in a way that was simple and familiar, thus the German-style diagram.” Measure M marks the second transit-related tax increase in eight years, following 2008’s Measure R, which was also a half-cent increase. Measure R, due to expire in 2039, would become permanent with Measure M’s passage, which would itself increase by another half percentage point that year to retain Measure's share of funding. Though only eight years old, Measure R has yielded the opening of multiple transit lines, including extensions to the Gold and Expo Lines, this year, alone. Metro also became the first-in-the-nation transit agency to run its own bike share program last month when it rolled out the initial phase of what could be a 7,000 bicycle system. The initiative would need to clear a two-thirds majority on election night to become law and is expected to be joined on the ballot by a slew of tax and bond initiatives aimed at easing many of the ills across the region, including a $1.2 billion bond initiative aimed at alleviating the region’s homelessness epidemic.
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How does the design of Los Angeles’s new Expo Line stack up?

The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has finally rebuilt one of L.A’s original commuter streetcar lines: The Expo line, a 15.2-mile long appendage that will link Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. Completion of the $2.5 billion route marks an important milestone for the region’s maturing 25-year-old rapid transit system. The lead architectural and urban design was by Gruen Associates who, with planning and design firm RAW International, crafted the system’s transit stops; Parsons Brinckerhoff carried out overall planning; and Skanska spearheaded construction. The Expo line is the transit agency’s latest effort to weave light rail travel into a growing, multimodal web of mobility options available to Angelenos—it is as much a new way to see Los Angeles as it is a train.

While the system’s 1990s-era subway stations play fast and loose with decorative schemes—from massive boulders at Beverly and Vermont to highly polished kitsch at the Hollywood and Vine and Chinatown stops—Expo stations are subdued. Mostly located at-grade and topped by a half-hexagonal mop of ocean wave–inspired, perforated aluminum panels supported by a sinuous, pale-blue, crisscrossing armature, the stations try hard to be poetically mundane. A product of tight budgets, the line’s many at-grade crossings and stations result in a crude and dangerous construct: Drivers are forced to acknowledge light rail trains and passengers as a legitimate urban presence through their sheer occupation of the street. This condition could benefit from a more aggressive transformation of the intersections and sidewalks leading up to each station: Introducing simple elements like bollards, contrasting paving strategies, and other speed mitigating measures would do much to improve what should be nodes of pedestrian activity.

Stations between Downtown L.A. and the University of Southern California campus are easily approached from the street via handicap ramps and feature no-frills signage. The concourses are, again, simple in their articulation, with a smattering of concrete and aluminum benches. These stations are earnest attempts at creating planted flags in what might one day be a larger, more prototypically pedestrian urban expanse. The empty storefronts along many of the tacky, faux-Italianate perimeter block apartment complexes in the area, while highlighted by the stations’ electric bolt silhouette, have yet to benefit from the line’s booming ridership. As of now, these stops are desolate, quite a few gentrification waves away from being viable transit-oriented developments. At-grade stops between USC and Culver City are also unsuccessful as stations, with complicated tangles of pedestrians, trains, and drivers.

The elevated stations further west, however, like those at Culver City, La Cienega, and Bundy, announce themselves from a distance as a new type of elevated object in the Southern California sky. Less majestic than Chicago’s industrial-era L stations, the elevated Expo stops gently appropriate the language of freeway vernacular, subverting the typical L.A. overpass by co-locating a landscaped bicycle path and potentially, future stations for the system’s new bike share program, along the length of most of the line. These areas are straightforwardly open spaces; the overhead bridges’ weights reach the ground via four discrete and compact piers, leaving room for drop off and transfer areas. Large concrete walls designed in great relief, populated with complex, pixelated geometric motifs and lushly planted with drought-tolerant flora line the bike path itself. Instead of dank, unwelcoming troll bridges like those associated with the freeways, Expo’s overhead crossings are places for collective movement, an aspect exemplified by their minimal treatment and the location of a variety of specially-commissioned art installations at each stop. Riders ascend via elevators and stairways to reach the platforms that provide molehills from which to gaze out over the city’s flatlands. But, because one is walking—and waiting—instead of driving, the effect is potentially one of true introspection.

The western terminus at Santa Monica is also a fundamentally pedestrian urban gesture. The station is built as an elevated plaza that cascades to the north in a broad set of stairs, funneling travelers toward major pedestrian shopping areas and into the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, redesigned as a massive diagonal crossing intersection. Here, the intersection is striped with massive white bands of paint in a strangely fitting plaza and civic space for Los Angeles.

If it is indeed Metro’s goal to normalize multi-modal transit in Los Angeles, then the Expo train, with a few tweaks, is a good template for what the rest of the region’s rapid transit system might look like in the future. Expo’s design and existence is an unexpectedly powerful, if somewhat work-in-progress expression on behalf of transit-mixed streets.

       

Video> Los Angeles’ Regional Connector Subway Line Coming Into Focus

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!