4 EXPO TRANSIT NEWSLETTER
November 1, 2001
* Pasadena Blue Line Alert!
PASADENA BLUE LINE ALERT!
Knowing the Pasadena line is under construction, and will open in July 2003, has been an inspiration to all of us who support Exposition light rail. But now light rail is potentially threatened by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) case on whether to allow its 17 grade crossings. (A "grade crossing" is where tracks cross a street with gates or signal control; "grade-separated" means to bridge over or tunnel under a street.)
According to the L.A. to Pasadena Metro Blue Line Construction Authority, "Demands by protesters to underground or subway the project would cost about $300 million more than the present design and effectively stop the project. The issues the protestors are addressing are: sound levels, traffic impacts, and safety -- issues which have been thoroughly addressed and studied throughout the history of the project by the three cities involved in the project as well as county transportation engineers. The Construction Authority is confident in the findings of these studies and that the light rail line will be safe, efficient and an extraordinary asset to the communities it will serve."
Why should Exposition supporters be concerned? Pasadena is the next important L.A. light rail line, and it will set a precedent for Exposition and the future of L.A.'s rail network. Light rail has been successful and economical in many western U.S. cities -- Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Portland, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Dallas -- specifically because it is built mostly at-grade. Safety issues have been effectively addressed (with new all-ways crossing gates, for example), and light rail blocks traffic less than cross-traffic already does.
Public support matters! The CPUC will hold one public hearing this MONDAY:
Monday, November 5, 2001, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
And/or you can fax a short letter supporting construction of the Pasadena Blue Line (as currently designed) to:
The Honorable Sheldon Rosenthal Administrative Law Judge
Also, copy each CPUC Commissioner (same address, fax to: 415-703-1758):
Hon. Loretta Lynch, President
Sylvia O. Beltran, Community Outreach Coordinator
OCTOBER 11 GENERAL MEETING RECAP
We were fortunate to have two very knowledgeable and informative speakers: Brian Boudreau, Director, Grant Management & Administration in the Capital Planning department of the MTA, and John Jontig, Manager, Light Rail Project, City of Pasadena Public Works Department. Mr. Boudreau explained the process of funding the line.
The good news is that the MTA has bumped us up a few notches. Expo is now THE line to the Westside, while Wilshire Blvd. will get Rapid Bus improvements (bus shelters, pre-paid boarding, and trial peak-hour dedicated curb lanes). The first segment of the Expo Line (to Venice/Robertson) is now scheduled to begin construction in 2004 and be completed in 2008 (vs. 2014 once mentioned). These changes are directly due to its enormous popular support!
The advancement of the project will depend on keeping the current federal and state funding in place, especially shifting the federal funds from the cancelled Wilshire subway to Expo. We will be also seeking additional federal funding authorization in Congress' appropriations, and at the state level (see below). The next steps for Exposition are to complete the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report and hire consultants to do its Preliminary Engineering, from around March to September 2002.
Mr. Jontig, who also spoke to us in the fall of 2000, explained some of the other sources of funding being used for the $760 millionPasadena line, including $40 million in joint development and $12 million from the City of Pasadena (Proposition C funds saved by the city). He stressed the importance of the cheaper operating cost of light rail over bus, due to its lower labor costs. He also gave us some tips on working with our elected officials and being creative in keeping the project in the public's eye.
The 40 to 50 people at the meeting had lots of questions and good discussion. Both speakers offered to come again and keep us up to date as things progress.
Watch for news of our next General Meeting!
PLANNING AND CONSERVATION LEAGUE INITIATIVE
Another new development on funding is the Planning and Conservation League's proposed November 2002 initiative, which would dedicate additional ongoing funding for transportation in California. If passed this would provide funds to build as well as to operate transit projects throughout the state, including Exposition. Petition circulation is planned for next spring. For more info, see www.pcl.org/transportation/summary.html.