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Angelenos Against Gridlock is an advocate for a world-class transportation system for Los Angeles County, the most populous county in America.

Archived 405 Blog Content

405 Community Meeting Set for this Thursday (Aug. 15)

David Murphy

Mark your calendar for this Thursday for the latest Metro 405 Community Meeting

Thursday, August 15, 2013 (6 to 8pm)

Westwood Recreation Center, Room C

1350 S Sepulveda Bl, Los Angeles, CA 90025

 

…and save the date for the next one, while you’re at it: Thursday, October 17, 2013 (6 to 8pm, Location TBA).

 

Note: there is no Metro Construction Committee meeting in August, so thus no update slides to share. (Metro Board meetings are cancelled this month.)

San Fernando Valley Council of Governments Prioritizes 405 Corridor Transit

David Murphy

The  San Fernando Valley Council of Governments has assembled a list of its top transportation priorities, and the list has this to say on transit in the Sepulveda Pass corridor:

Develop the 1-405/Sepulveda Pass and East San Fernando Valley (ESFV) North-South Transit Corridors 

The ESFV Transit Corridor project is currently in the Draft Environmental phase and is considering both Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit alternatives between Ventura Blvd to the south and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station to the north. 

lnterconnectivity with stations on the Metrolink Ventura County and Antelope Valley Lines, Metro Orange Line and major east-west bus corridors, as well as with the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project, is fundamental to the success of the project. 

The purpose of the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is to improve transit connections between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. 

Both the ESFV and Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor projects are included in the Constrained Element of the LRTP. In March 2013 the Board approved an amendment to the lnfraConsult contract to also explore Public Private Partnership (P3) feasibility for these projects as well as the Airport Metro Connector. On May 1, 2013 an industry forum was held with the private sector and 17 responses to the Request for Information (RFI) were received by May 20, 2013.

David Murphy

Angelenos Against Gridlock’s president, David Murphy recently met with Congressman Henry Waxman at the Capitol to discuss the 405 delays, and to thank him for his efforts decrying the delays and to urge him to continue to step up the pressure to get things done.

Angelenos Against Gridlock’s president, David Murphy recently met with Congressman Henry Waxman at the Capitol to discuss the 405 delays, and to thank him for his efforts decrying the delays and to urge him to continue to step up the pressure to get things done.

LA Times -- "Note to Caltrans: Put up electronic signs about 405 closures:

David Murphy

The Los Angeles Times’ Opinion L.A. blog joins the chorus of people calling for electronic messaging signs alerting motorists to upcoming ramp closures along the 405. Highlights of reporter Carla Hall’s excellent post:

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Note to Caltrans: Put up electronic signs about 405 closures

By Carla Hall

1:04 PM PDT, June 21, 2013

…“It’s freeway lottery,” one resident said. “I don’t know what’s open and what’s closed.” 

One big problem that ought to be solved: signage about the freeway closures.

“There’s no reason why we can’t have electronic signs every day to guide us,” said Myles Berkowitz, a Brentwood resident.  “We need real-time communications.”

…Construction officials instead put up a small nondescript sign that says something like “Ramp closed ahead” — or, as one resident Thursday night more aptly put it — “a ratty orange sign. It’s a joke.” 

David Murphy, president of Angelenos Against Gridlock, piped up, “If you could just have a sign after the 10 — ‘Last exit open is…’”   

OK. So here is some advice for Metro and Caltrans which are, more or less, doing this project jointly :

…Put up electronic signs in more places on the 405 Freeway that spell out which exit is closed — not “Second ramp ahead — and good luck remembering if that’s the one you need.”  

Read the full opinion piece at the LA Times website here.

Liveblog: Updates from Tonight's Metro Community Update Meeting

David Murphy

Tonight, Metro is conducting a community briefing at Westwood Recreation Center on the 405 project.

The presentation will be posted on Metro’s website here, when they make it available.

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Some highlights from the meeting follow below. (As this is a liveblog, please forgive any typos.)

WILSHIRE RAMP CLOSURE

Brace yourself for the 90 day, 24hr/day closure of the Eastbound Wilshire -> Northbound 405 on ramp. It will be closed for 90 days starting in late August. (The exact start date is TBD.) 

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  • They’ll have 24 traffic control officers and detours to try to deal the traffic impacts.

SUNSET RAMP CLOSURE

Brace yourself for the 120 day, 24 hour/day closure of the Northbound Sunset Off ramp at Sunset, starting August 3.

  • Sepulveda Blvd will also experience intermittent closures.

PUBLIC COMMENT

  • Freeway Signage Regarding Closures: A vigorous series of public comments have been made requesting electronic signage along the 405 alerting of upcoming exit closures. (At least four people have chimed in throughout the public comment period in favor of electronic signs.) Currently, small, hard to spot “Ramp Closed Ahead” signs placed at pavement level are often the only advance notice, and they’re extremely easy to overlook.  Metro staff say there are 70 closures a night and it would be difficult to do signage for them all, but we’ve asked that at least the major spots be covered, e.g. Santa Monica, Wilshire, Sunset, etc.  
  • Community Claims: the Office of Inspector General determined that Kiewit has done due diligence properly on claims. OIG did not look at the validity of claims.
  • 24/7 Work: Q: Are you going to be working 24/7? A: “Yes, we are working double shifts everyday.” [We find it hard to agree that 24/7 work is being done.] Q: When will it be done? A: We anticipate substantial completion in Summer of 2014.
  • Design/Build: one speaker says, the community is frustrated about the design/build process, and one speaker feels that the community is the one suffering. (The LA Times editorial on the 405 has somethings to say about the implementation of design/build here as well.)
  • Getting to Bel Air: a question was asked about accessing Bel Air. Staff say when Sunset will be closed, Moraga or Getty will be open. 
  • Veterans Affairs Commuters & Access: questions and comments regarding commute options for Veterans Affairs employees have been discussed. A Traffic Control Officer will be placed at Constitution and Sepulveda during the upcoming ramp closure. It was noted that the Western entrance of the VA has been closed since it was “temporarily” closed for Carmageddon, but it was also noted since this was closed the cut-through traffic has been stopped.
  • Animals: a question regarding animal crossing options was made, and it appears that the Skirball bridge construction impacts existing options for the some of the Westside’s wilder residents. Here’s a Metro PDF about animal impacts caused by the 405 project, promising to preserve options “during and after” the 405 construction—whether that’s actually happening is the subject of a question asked tonight.
  • Another comment: let’s get at least one electronic sign at Santa Monica Blvd.

And that’s a wrap.

Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti Talks Sepulveda Pass Rail in Reddit Q&A

David Murphy

LA Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti recently did a Q&A on Reddit’s popular Ask Me Anything subreddit. Rail was a popular topic among questions & comments, and the following is particularly of interest regarding the Sepulveda Pass:

Question from user roomtone: Sepulveda/405 Rail line. Eventually from Orange Line to Blue Line, but at least Orange to Expo for now. Not a Bus lane, that will not fix our traffic issues since it would take so long no one will use it. I know this is already on the list, but this is really something that we can not screw up (eg. Bus lane) as the traffic situation is so bad on the west side that it will eventually bring the entire city to a standstill.

Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti’s Response: “I support rail through the Sepulveda Pass, probably with a two-tiered tunnel that will take cars (for a toll, helping to pay for the cost of building the tunnel) and transit from Sherman Oaks to Westwood in 10 minutes. We need a rail line that starts in the north Valley and hopefully gets to Westchester eventually, even LAX. I have already met with Art Leahy and with AECOM (who is doing scoping plans for the tunnel) and want to include moving this forward as part of my transportation and transit agenda.”

"Scandal" --Tom Hayden on the 405 Project

David Murphy

Peace, justice, and environmental activist Tom Hayden has weighed in on the 405 project, calling it a “scandal”:

The best example of the Iron Triangle [of political insiders] in its current dysfunction is the scandal of the 405 expansion project, which will run millions over budget and years past its deadlines, provide few benefits in comparison to its costs, and has been treated with shrugs and denials by virtually every candidate in this year’s election. It took a frustrated billionaire, Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, to stir any public media attention to complications with the expansion project, and only because of his zany willingness to personally hire crews to expedite the construction project.

Source: Tom Hayden’s column in the Huffington Post

LA Times editorial: "anything that would help speed up the project...should be done"

David Murphy

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We are grateful to the Los Angeles Times editorial board for joining the ranks of those calling for the 405 project to be sped up.

In their editorial, the Los Angeles Times says, "anything that would help speed up the project — including 24/7 construction or a mini-Carmageddon — should be done."

They blame a variety of factors for the delays, including: too little advance planning within the design-build process, the failure of the retaining (MSE) walls, the local residents who fought the Mullholland Bridge plans, Caltrans for failure to avoid encroachment on the Giro property requiring redoing of the Getty area ramps, and Caltrans for requesting southbound 405 work after the project contract was made.

The LA Times also calls out the Metro Board:  

And don’t forget that Metro has a board overseeing and signing off on the plan and every major modification. It includes all five county supervisors and the mayor, among others. Perhaps it should have raised more questions about how risky and disruptive it might be to do exploratory engineering even as construction was starting. Once it was underway, maybe the board should have been more aggressive about riding herd on the project.

The editorial acknowledges the complexity of the project and amount of work required for this “extraordinary undertaking,” but notes how much Angelenos continue to suffer as delays pile up:

there’s still 60 more weeks of slogging through construction zones for drivers who use or live near the second-most trafficked highway in the country. Residents have already suffered through years of traffic jams, detours and obstacle courses of orange cones…

Click here to read the full editorial.

405 Gridlock Due to Accident & Oil Spill a Reminder Why We Need Multimodal Transportation Options

David Murphy

The 405 project just can’t seem to catch any good luck. Less than an hour after the scheduled opening of an extra lane on the 405, a horrendous accident and the resultant oil spill and lane closures almost shut down movement through the Sepulveda Pass corridor during the morning rush hour. Traffic was absurdly horrendous in the Westside this morning, and it’s a great example of why we need multimodal options, like a subway under the Sepulveda Pass. Accidents happen, and it’s important to have different options to get around.

GOOD NEWS: Initial 1.7 mi Widening Segment Opening Tomorrow!

David Murphy

Here’s some progress that drivers will benefit from: an initial 1.7 mile widening segment of the northbound 405 will open tomorrow, Friday, at 5 a.m., from just south of the 10 to near Santa Monica Blvd. The lane will eventually be an HOV lane, but during the delays on the the rest of the project, this new lane segment will be open to all drivers.

Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky’s blog acknowledges that the project has been “buffeted by high-profile delays and escalating frustration levels among motorists”. The blog details the current plan for opening the HOV lane on the rest of the project (which should have happened in the entirety this month):

A second, 1.4 mile stretch to Wilshire Boulevard will open next month, while the northernmost segment is expected to open later this year. The middle segment, where most of the delays have occurred, is slated to open in 2014. 

Here’s more info on tomorrow’s opening, from the 405 Project team:

Congressman Henry Waxman Calls on US Secretary of Transportation to Investigate 405 Delays, Help Speed Completion

David Murphy

Today, Congressman Henry Waxman called on the US Secretary of Transportation to investigate the 405 delays. We appreciate Congressman Waxman’s “strong concern” for the delays and their impact for Angelenos. Waxman called for Secretary Ray LaHood to “do everything in his power to speed completion of the project.”

 

Some highlights from Waxman’s letter (emphasis added):

The construction has been a nightmare for the several hundred thousand commuters who pass along I-405 on a daily basis and any delays caused by mismanagement or incompetence are simply unacceptable. ...

I urge you to initiate an investigation into the problems with the project and to help ensure that it gets back on track and is completed as quickly as possible.”

Congressman Waxman’s letter in full is embedded below (and readable as a PDF here):

Congresman Waxman’s office also released the following press release:

Rep. Waxman Calls on Department of Transportation to Investigate Construction Delays on the 405

May 17, 2013    Issues: Transportation & Infrastructure, District Concerns

WASHINGTON, DC— Today Representative Waxman sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood asking that the Department of Transportation investigate delays in construction of the Interstate 405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.   Recent reports indicate that the project, which was due to be finished in spring 2013, may not be completed in full until fall 2014.  

“I’ve heard from constituents that construction has caused substantial delays and is upsetting their daily lives,” said Rep. Waxman.  “Just last weekend construction caused backups from Santa Monica Boulevard to just short of LAX.  LA Metro and the primary contractor, Kiewit, need to finish this project as quickly as possible.  I am asking Secretary LaHood to investigate the delays and do everything in his power to speed completion of the project.”

LA Metro and Kiewit have stated that construction delays are due to utility relocation, legal challenges, and problems with sound wall construction.  The federal government has contributed $317 million to the project, including $190 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Click here to read the full text of Representative Waxman’s letter.

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