The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan was presented to the Marina Affairs Committee of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce at its meeting Wednesday, March 17th.
Alexander Kalamaros, Metro transportation planning manager, discussed the transportation system, especially light rail, and talked about planning for public transportation projects.
Metro works on the planning for rail, public transportation such as the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes across the county, working closely with the 88 cities countywide. He explained that there are particular features in the transportation artery on any local city and county streets or state routes that have been paid for by Metro.
He noted that Metro collaborates on projects with the California Department of Transporation (Caltrans) as well as local county and city agencies, such as the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
Kalamaros credits Measure R for providing transportation funding, saying that Measure R “completely transformed Metro’s outlook.”
“It is the ballot measure that has the highest rate of success, 67 percent, of any transportation ballot measure since they started doing ballot measures back in the 1960s,” he said.
Measure R was introduced as a traffic relief measure by Metro, and instituted a countywide sales tax to fund transportation projects.
Kalamaros said that the measure will help with efforts at the airport and Lincoln Boulevard corridor, as well as buses and rail projects across the county.
He mentioned that the “30/10” plan proposed by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa — not related to the Metro plan— proposes completing 30 years of transportation projects in ten years to cut down on costs.
“It would take key features of the long range plan and use Measure R money and other funds early on to get the projects done all at once while it’s cheaper,” said Kalamaros.
Making transportation arteries work well is important in considering air pollution issues as well, such as at the Port of Los Angeles, where the majority of goods for the nation come through, and clean air is important for everyone, not just people who live around San Pedro, he said.
There is a major disparity in public transportation between Los Angeles and New York and Metro has recognized this, Kalamaros said. The agency has collaborated with other county agencies to put forward two projects: the regional connector that would allow for a one-seat connection north/south and east/west; and the “Subway to the Sea,” he explained.
A new federal program, New Starts, will allow Metro to move forward with the proposed Subway to the Sea project from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and the 30/10 project proposed by the mayor, he said. New Starts is a particular program that allows rail and other similar projects to receive funding from the federal government.
“The way these programs are written by the federal government, they tend to orient them to people that have a lot of rail, so the northeast corridor, Washington, D.C., Boston, Providence, those areas have done a lot better than we have,” said Kalamaros.
“To our credit, we passed Measure R, and that is going to pay the ‘mortgage down payment’ if you will, to allow us to move forward with New Starts applications.”
Metro primarily follows a long range plan, Kalamaros said.
“That also includes a lot of interim approvals, environmental approvals, public consultations and those guiding principles that you see here are ways that we help to manage that overall process,” he told the committee.
In answer to a question about success in seeking federal assistance and how successful it’s been, Kalamaros answered that based on his diagram, it doesn’t look very good, however, federal programs are done at a federal level, and Metro has strong connections and federal staffers in Washington, D.C.
Kalamaros noted that the Westside is exceptionally dense and has an exceptionally high socio-economic status.
He told the audience that it’s possible right now to go to downtown Los Angeles by taking the Big Blue Bus at Lincoln and Jefferson boulevards to the Metro Green Line and take that to the Blue Line.
Kalamaros also spoke of the potential Metro Green Line connection to Los Angeles International Airport, a subject of interest to audience members at the meeting. Kalamaros said that plan is not just a Metro plan but an airport plan.
The Green Line currently ends at Aviation Boulevard and there is a planned station for the Green Line at Century and Aviation boulevards, said Kalamaros.
“Metro can plan for the possibility of the Green Line coming into Los Angeles International Airport, and that’s why it can get to Century and Aviation, but we still need to work with the airport authorities and the city to achieve the regional connections needed to make it possible,” Kalamaros said.
The Automated People Mover, a “green light” project for LAX, would need to be operational for passengers to access the airport from the proposed Green Line station at Century and Aviation boulevards.
Diego Alvarez, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) regional transportation coordinator, said that the people mover won’t have a project-level environmental impact report (EIR) until the completion of the Specific Plan amendment study process, which is currently underway.
The Los Angeles City Council had requested a feasibility study from LAWA of extending the Green Line directly to the Central Terminal Area at LAX — not just to Park One, the parking lot purchased by LAWA a year ago. But study completion has been delayed because of recent but significant changes in Metro’s rail plan, including the selection of a Preferred Local Alternative for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, said Alvarez.
Information about the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan, Measure R and the Crenshaw Corridor, click on “Projects and Programs” at www.metro.net/.