Email FORM

Use the form on the right to contact us, or click here to view our contact information.

Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
USA

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

background_photo_dtla_from_angeles_point_smaller_forweb.jpg

Blog

Learning from the 405 Project's Delays

David Murphy

Everyone loves to hate the 405. 

 

And everyone loves to hate the 405 Project.

 

After all, the massive 405 widening mega-project came with mega-delays, greatly exacerbating the negative impacts for Angelenos, with collectively millions of additional hours wasted that commuters and residents will never get back.

 

This section of 405 is the among the busiest freeways in the entire nation, and frankly, it is simply unacceptable how poorly executed the construction project was. We in, the second largest city and largest county in the greatest country on Earth, should be able to do better. 

 

This column isn't about pointing blame -- there are enough lawsuits and angry words about the 405 project already -- but rather, what we can learn from it, and how we can find the willpower to do better in the future. 

 

With the carpool lane already open, and with the overall project heading towards substantial completion, it’s worth stepping back and reflecting.

 

The fact is, even if the construction project had been substantially completed on time, back in May 2013, let’s not forget that scoping started for the project all the way back in 2001.

 

That’s right, when preparation for the 405 project started, George W. Bush was in the White House. Barack Obama was just a State Senator back in Illinois. Facebook didn’t exist – heck, Mark Zuckberger hadn’t event started at Harvard yet, let alone started it and dropped out. Pluto was still a planet.  It was a different era.

 

And yet, here in 2014, that same 405 Project creeps on towards final completion.

 

Given how infamous LA – and the 405 in peculiar has been for traffic – it’s all the more unacceptable that our standards for speed be so poor.

The broader political system is partially to blame – state budget problems caused the 405 project outreach to be aborted between 2003 & 2005. It took years more of outreach and planning in the EIR process before construction actually started in 2009.

 

Beyond the specific problems of the 405 construction process that caused the further delays – and there are many – there’s a real failure of our political, policy, and transportation systems to tolerate such slow processes as what’s normal and acceptable in both California and America more broadly.

 

While we here in the US should never emulate China’s labor, environmental, and safety shortcuts, surely we can learn a little from their urgency in building infrastructure more quickly. In the time that the 405 planning and construction has lumbered on, China built an enormous high-speed rail network, and built out subway systems across many cities.  California, meanwhile, is inching towards taking at least twenty years to open one high speed rail line.

 

It’s certainly not a problem unique to California, but a broader issue in America. New York Timescolumnist Thomas Friedman, in the book That Used to be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, shares an anecdote about how the Washington, DC, area Metro system took longer to renovate an escalator than a Chinese city took to build a huge new convention center.

 

When the Beijing Airport project became delayed in the lead up to the Olympics, China sent applied huge numbers of workers to the project, so teams of different workers would be working 24 hours a day. It gone done on time.

 

When the 405 Project fell into ever-increasing delays, and we called for a faster pace of work, we were assured workers were going 24//7 hours a day — but it was routine to drive along the 405 without anyone working on Sundays.

 

Where will we find the willpower to do better in LA, and America? We absolutely must uphold worker and project safety, labor conditions, and the environment. But can’t we do things any faster here?

 

Thankfully, there is some reason to have hope. Mayor Eric Garcetti is to be lauded for bringing Nick Patsaouras on board to help expedite the 405 project. Garcetti recognized the public’s extraordinary frustration with the delays, and brought Patsaouras on to work in secret to increase urgency, helping the project make up for a portion of the lost time for getting the HOV lane itself done. The HOV lane opened this spring (still around a year after the 405 Project’s original substantial completion date, but better than the significant further delays for the HOV lane that had been forecast before Garcetti and Patsaouras intervened.)

 

But will we find the willpower to say that even if the 405 project had been done “on time” in 2013, that perhaps projects shouldn’t take more than a decade?

 

Infrastructure is enormously important for both the region’s and for America’s competitiveness. Previous generations built the national highway system, which created enormous economic growth and opened up the nation to travelers.

 

Let’s hope that lessons learned from the 405 project are applied to future projects and that we also collectively find the willpower to think bigger in Los Angeles -- and across America -- on whether our best-case timelines are really the best we can do.

 

At this pace, we’re falling behind.

 

Recommendations for Making Office Buildings More Bike Commuter Friendly

David Murphy

Over the past years, we've collected recommendations for ways that office high-rise landlords can better meet the needs of bike commuters, focusing on issues like bike parking and bike amenities, focusing on Century City in particular. 

We've never posted this publicly before, but as the resource is useful beyond just Century City, we thought it might be useful to share it below:

Thanks to Everyone Who Made the Fireside Chat on Transportation a Big Success!

David Murphy

A big thank you to everyone who made Angelenos Against Gridlock's Fireside Chat on Transportation a success. Below are a few highlights from the event -- the sponsor poster, and some photos & tweets from the evening. Huge thanks to all our event sponsors, partners, volunteers, the staff of the Moss Theater and New Roads School, and especially to Councilmember Bonin and his staff for giving up their Friday evening to spend time with us.

Hope everyone enjoyed the discussion as much as we did! What a great turnout--and we couldn't have been happier with The Moss Theater at New Roads School as a venue.

 

Jerry Seinfield on Biking / Walking to Work -- and Laughing at Traffic Reports

David Murphy

Jerry Seinfeld did a Q&A ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit today, and dropped a gem reminding us just how great it is to be able to walk or bike to work, instead of sitting in traffic. (LA can learn something from the walkable/bikeable communities of NYC.)

Q: What, above all other things, is the neatest most fascinating and cool thing you get to do on a daily basis?

A: WOW. First of all, GREAT question.

That I get to do on a daily basis? Probably walk to work. I think that's about the coolest thing that there is. Or take my bike. If you can walk to work or take your bike on a daily basis, I think that's just about the coolest thing that there is. Every morning I listen to the traffic on the radio, and they talk about how they are jammed and I just laugh. I love traffic. I love traffic reports because I'm not in any of them. 

 

Scorecard for the 405 Project

David Murphy

Transient

With the year coming to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect back on the state of things. And we all know, of course, that the 405 project unfortunately has failed to meet expectations. Rather than being completed in May 2013, the 405 project is still very much a part of all of our daily lives, so we thought it might be worthwhile to highlight the ups, and downs, of the project. And so we present: Angelenos Against Gridlock's Scorecard on the 405 Project.

 

Construction Speed: F.

There's a lot of blame to go around, but the bottom line is, the project is more than a year delayed.

Every day of delay impacts hundreds of thousands of people considering that this section of the 405 is the third busiest freeway in the entire USA.

And, sorry, find it hard to agree with claims that work is proceeding 24/7  -- you can often drive the whole length of the 405 project on the freeway on a Sunday without seeing one worker. 

 

Signage:    B.    

Earlier in the year, we would have rated the signage an F, with barely visible exit closure warning signs, missing/covered up signage, inaccurate electronic messaging signs, and in general, a sad state of affairs. But Metro, Caltrans, and Kiewit have stepped up their game, and signage has drastically improved.  Our thanks go out to the project team for these noticeable improvements.

 

Responsiveness to Questions/Concerns: D.  

We think the 405 Project has some friendly, professional people working for it, the fact is that for far too many, it's too hard to get a response back from emails. Whether it's a question of understaffing, or a lack of accountability for following up to emails, we think things need to be done better. 

We do credit the 405 team for implementing our idea of electronic messaging signs--after the LA Times picked up on the idea, too, with an opinion blog piece.

 

Website/Social Media: C-

Perhaps Metro lacks the sort of website/data usability experts that a project that impacts such a vast number of people demands, but the 405 Project ramp/street closure data is presented in an exceptionally un-skimable format that makes its practical usability almost pointless.

Metro often takes many days to post slides from outreach meetings (if at all) on the web. We only wish that the exceptional kind of outreach seen with the Metro Westside Subway Extension, or the 710 Outreach meetings, was used here (livestreaming, savvy social media use, etc.)

 

Bike/Pedestrian Safety (on Wilshire, etc.):  F-

Over the course of the project thus far, frequent absolute disregard for bike and pedestrian safety, including pedestrian/bike access along Wilshire to the VA hospital for Veterans is extremely dangerous and appalling. Conditions have improved more recently as the project has progressed, but the conditions were appalling for far too long.

 

Chuck Lorre HATES the 405 Delays

David Murphy

Chuck Lorre's famous not just for his television shows, but also for his so-called "Vanity Cards" -- text that airs at the end of his shows. The topic for the latest Vanity Card, airing at the end of Thursday's episode of Big Bang Theory: the 405! The LA Times has the backstory,  and here's the full text:

 

Dear Guys Working on the 405 Freeway,
How's it going? I only ask because you started work over five years ago to add more lanes and, well... there aren't any. I've also noticed that on most days you're not actually doing anything. Is it possible you've grown bored with the project? I certainly would understand that. I've got more than a few half- finished scripts sitting in my desk. Of course, when I blow off my job millions of commuters aren't, how shall we say... fornicated. (Hey, maybe we should call it the 4-nication-05 freeway!) Regardless, I just want you to know that I'm rooting for you to complete your Herculean task and cut the ribbon on what will undoubtedly be a meaningless effort to ease traffic. I'd also like to offer up a few suggestions. From my untrained eye, you appear to be understaffed. Perhaps you might consider hiring a few thousand more guys and work in 'round the clock shifts, instead of, you know, just when you feel like it. Also, to avoid angry commuters flipping you off, how about giving them a heads up when you close an off ramp for no apparent reason? (Maybe a few miles in advance instead of a hundred yards.) And finally, I need to ask a small favor. Several times a week I crawl along the ol' 4-nication-05 with a bladder that is near to bursting. How about we work out a system where I, and other urinary-challenged drivers, get to pull over and share your port-a-potties? Maybe we can repay your hospitality by bringing you fresh magazines to read while you're in there working.
Sincerely, 
Chuck Lorre
(Source.) 

 

 

Jaime De La Vega Out at LADOT

David Murphy

Streetsblog reports the news that Mayor Garcetti won't retain LADOT General Manager Jaime De La Vega. Who's next -- and will LA someday have a transformative, and very public leader in place in the spirit of New York's Janette Sadik-Khan or Chicago's Gabe Klein? Or for that matter, imagine if Mayor Garcetti recruited one of them to transform LA and be based out of the Mayor's office, or out of LADOT!

Video: CityLab Panel on Transportation Funding

David Murphy

Earlier this week, The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute, and Bloomberg Philanthropies hosted CityLab: Urban Solutions to Global Challenges. Here's a video from their transportation panel, featuring:

  • Opening Remarks: Citi, Ed Skyler, Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs
  • Moderator: Ron Brownstein, Editorial Director, Atlantic Media
  • Gabe Klein, Commissioner of Transportation, Chicago
  • Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of Transportation, New York City
  • Pam O'Connor, Mayor, Santa Monica, CA

 

Welcome to our New Website -- Including a New 405 Complaint Crowdsourcing Tool

David Murphy

Here at Angelenos Against Gridlock, we're excited to launch our new website, rebuilt from the ground up. Thanks for checking it out -- and be sure not to miss an important new feature, our new crowdsourcing tool to let you submit and vote on the top ideas and complaints regarding the 405 Project

Don't miss our blog, and be sure to sign up for our email list , and follow us on social media. And don't be shy about sharing your ideas for how we can further improve our internet presence (or our offline work!) -- get in touch with me directly at dmurphy@endinggridlock.org. We welcome your ideas!

Together, we can transform Los Angeles, with a world-class transportation system we all deserve.

 
eSig -David's signature - blue - small - transparent - David only.gif

David Murphy

President, Angelenos Against Gridlock

 

PS: More information about our new crowdsourcing site, is in our press release, embedded below.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: David C. Murphy, President, Angelenos Against Gridlock (dmurphy@endinggridlock.org / Twitter: @EndingGridlock)

 

ANGELENOS AGAINST GRIDLOCK LAUNCHES CROWDSOURCING SITE FOR 405 FREEWAY PROJECT COMPLAINTS & IDEAS

SUBMIT AND VOTE ON THE TOP ISSUES TO LESSEN IMPACTS, SPEED UP, AND HELP DEAL WITH THE MUCH-DELAYED 405 MEGAPROJECT



LOS ANGELES, CA – Angelenos Against Gridlock has launched a new crowdsourcing site to aggregate the most important complaints and ideas regarding the much-delayed I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. The site will give the 300,000+ daily drivers on the 405 and the thousands of nearby residents a tool to unify their voices over shared concerns, so that the most pressing issues can be prioritized. The crowdsourcing site is accessible as part of a complete redesign of Angelenos Against Gridlock's website, at endinggridlock.org, launching today.

This crowdsourcing tool is built using software from UserEcho (http://userecho.com/), whose feedback submission tools let users submit, comment, and vote on ideas, so that the most important issues rise to the top. 

The site is designed to amplify the most critical ideas and issues to ease construction impacts on commuters and residents, improve mobility, and to speed completion of the much-delayed billion dollar 405 megaproject originally due to have been completed this past May.  Overall in its entirety, the 405 is ranked by the Federal Highway Administration as the busiest freeway in the nation.

"The 405 project impacts an extraordinary number of people everyday, and we wanted to empower frustrated Angelenos to make their collective voices heard, so that the most important concerns and ideas shared by the most people become clear" said David C. Murphy, President of Angelenos Against Gridlock. "Everyone loves to hate the 405, and today, Angelenos have a new tool to channel their frustrations into action." 

"Why not apply Silicon Valley-style technology to make the 405 project more bearable? Popular general interest sites like Reddit let users vote topics up or down so the most compelling posts become clear -- now, our new site applies similar voting technology to empower legions of frustrated Angelenos to join their voices to improve their daily quality of life," Murphy said. 

How to Submit and Vote on Ideas: 

1. Go to http://endinggridlock.org and click on the 405 logo (or use the menu at the top (under Faster 405 Campaign)) to go to our crowdsourcing site. It's both web and mobile friendly (but please don't visit it while driving--we want you alive!).

2. Submit ideas one at a time. (Detailed instructions: write a brief subject in the initial text submission box, prompting an automatic search for duplicates; then, click the blue Post button that appears. The next screen lets you post full details with a longer description and optionally upload photos or videos; click Post when done--that's it!)

3. To vote on ideas other people submit, click "Latest Updates," then hover over a submission's current vote count (to the left of each topic) and click the up or down arrows that appear, to vote up (agree) or down (disagree).

Other Ways to Submit Ideas: Submitting directly to our crowdsourcing site as detailed above is the best way to make sure other Angelenos can vote on your ideas (and it's mobile friendly, too!). But if you have trouble or prefer, ideas/complaints can also be submitted on our Facebook page (using the embedded UserEcho tab or by simply posting to our wall), posted to our Google+ page, tweeted to us, emailed to 405@endinggridlock.org, or submitted via voicemail to 424.262.0405.)

Note -- be sure to continue to submit ideas directly to Metro, too: don't just submit urgent issues to our site; continue to send complaints and ideas directly to Metro (see their Contact Us tab for their emails and hotline--we're not affiliated with Metro). Our site is not the way to get urgent issues fixed -- rather, by also posting ideas on our crowdsourcing tool, your ideas become public so that other people can amplify your voice with their votes and comments, so the most important topics rise to the top. We'll invite Metro's 405 Project staff to follow what the top voted priorities are, to inform their actions.)

The Power of Crowdsourcing Ideas

The power of amplifying each others' voices is illustrated by a recent example from the offline world. At a Metro 405 Community Meeting, Angelenos Against Gridlock staff called for high-visibility electronic messaging signs to be placed along the 405 warning motorists of upcoming exit closures, and the idea was repeated by numerous other residents speaking after us at the forum, and by a Los Angeles Times Opinion LA blog post the next day, leading to successful implementation of the idea by the 405 Project team. "With our 405 crowdsourcing site, we're empowering all Angelenos to amplify each others' voices, so that the best ideas to "rise to the top" and to garner the attention of 405 Project officials," Murphy said.

This crowdsourcing effort is made possible by Elon Musk's generous support of Angelenos Against Gridlock.

# # #

ABOUT ANGELENOS AGAINST GRIDLOCK

Angelenos Against Gridlock (www.endinggridlock.org) advocates for world-class transportation options for Los Angeles, with a fully-built out rail system, bike safety improvements, timely freeway and road improvements, and more. With programs ranging from pro-transit outreach supported by funders like the David Bohnett Foundation, to the Faster 405 Campaign (faster405.com) funded by Tesla & SpaceX Founder & CEO Elon Musk, , a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. Rose FoundationAngelenos Against Gridlock is fiscally sponsored by the Angelenos Against Gridlock has been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, and by the LA Times, LA Daily News, LA Business Journal, Curbed LA, LA Observed, HuffPost, and more. Join us in fighting for a LA to meet its full potential, by tackling our most infamous problems.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAIN MAILING LIST: http://eepurl.com/xEhA9

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @EndingGridlock

405 Ramp Closures Got You Down? Check Out Ken Elkinson's Music for Commuting

David Murphy

Los Angeles musician Ken Elkinson got so fed up with traffic in LA that he's released Music for Commuting. His solo piano and ambient music will help soothe your driving experience. Take that, 405 road rage!

And if traffic's really got you down, check out his 2013 release: Music for Telecommuting. Now there's a way to avoid road rage!

Ken Elkinson provided samples to us to evaluate his music, and we've embedded a few below for you to check out, too.