Friday, December 05, 2008

More Words About THAT Subject

An article appearing in City Watch titled,“Traffic!” the New Panic Word in LA can be read below or by clicking on to:

The article was written by Damien Goodmon.

Last month, New York Times economics columnist, David Leonhardt, suggested that a potential federal economic recovery package that invests in our nation’s infrastructure come with a requirement that the construction of the projects be supported by evidence. His column was a refreshing and surprisingly rare public rebuke of the “Just build baby, build” mindset, which is currently plaguing the important discussion of mass transportation in Los Angeles. Indeed, on the project I’m most familiar with, Expo Line Phase 1, a light rail line from Downtown LA to Culver City, MTA’s environmental review document should have won culinary awards for cooking the books. Yet even with distorted data, the transportation agency couldn’t show that the $862 million dollar project with it’s 46 at-grade rail crossings, would be a better solution to traffic than building nothing at all. To the surprise of no traffic engineer in the world, at-grade light rail crossings at rates as high as 24-30 crossings per hour during rush hour in the middle of urban Los Angeles, increases traffic congestion.

In Southern California, all commuters are understandably frustrated with traffic congestion, and our politicians have responded by providing the appearance of doing something about the crisis with billion dollar transportation projects. Building and investment in rail is clearly needed, but the absence of any requirement for the billion dollar projects to meet measurable transportation goals should be disturbing to all taxpayers and commuters.

For example, one would think the MTA’s stated strategic vision, the Long Range Transportation Plan, would be predicated on a goal of increasing mass transit’s share of work commutes by a certain percent, and/or improving circulation by a certain percentage. Instead the “plan” is a smorgasbord of individual pet projects devised in a process driven by politics.

When confronted with severe deficiencies in both specific projects and the plan in general, MTA’s justification is disturbingly simplistic: “TRAFFIC!”

It’s a powerful word in Southern California. The mere mention of it is enough to cause widespread panic and chest tightening.

Supported by the best public relations efforts taxpayer money can buy, and a media that at best is too overburdened to actually report the issue, our transportation agency and elected officials are allowed to make the unsubstantiated claim that anything being built, regardless of when, where or how, is a solution to TRAFFIC! Those who oppose repeating the same failed protocol are viewed as impediments to progress. Any who expect documented, verifiable traffic relief for their tax dollars are labeled obstructionist.

It takes courage to look at a problem as it is and to chart a successful solution. It also takes integrity and backbone. Continuing to allow this process of public relations spin, manipulated data, and shortsighted, politically concocted projects has the massive repercussion of lost time, misappropriated resources, and expensive externalities with 100-year price tags.

As a nation we are experiencing the ruinous results of seven years of message crafting and data manipulation. We have watched the demonization of critics that leads to a paralyzing stagnation of progress. We have seen how near-sighted projects have worsened problems they were sold as solving.

Unfortunately, that playbook has landed in the lap of MTA. “TRAFFIC!” has become the new panic trigger in LA. (Damien Goodmon is a transit activist and one of the leaders in the Fix the Expo Campaign.)
Vol 6 Issue 98
Pub: Dec 5, 2008

Traffic will increase along Western Avenue no matter whether anything is built at Ponte Vista or not.

No matter what the number of residential and/or commercial units are built at Ponte Vista, traffic to and from that site will increase.

"Traffic" has always been and always will be the number one issue surrounding whatever is built at the site and nothing could stand in the way of that.

It may, once again, be time during the interim period to actually do some real investigations and provide comments and discovery on having a new route between the site and Gaffey Street created.

Also, it should be considered that MTA line number 205 may not be anywhere sufficient to cover the transportation needs of residents living inside the boundaries of the site, no matter how many residents there could eventually be.

If senior housing could be provided at the site, MTA will need to offer more transportation options that may be specifically designed to get more folks between northwest San Pedro and the offices and facilities on 6th and 7th Streets in the unincorporated area, surrounded by San Pedro.

When we consider traffic along Western Avenue, the issues must always begin with the survey of the number of cars and drivers utilizing Western Avenue, by the Western Avenue Task Force.

The findings found that in 2005, about 37,500 vehicle trips were metered along Western Avenue, each day.

It was also found that the number of vehicles using Western Avenue would increase by about 1% each and every year between 2005 and the end of the study period in 2025.

By 2009 it is expected, even without any vehicles added to the counts because of new residential units at Ponte Vista, the number of cars along Western will be a little over 39,000 vehicles per day. In that four-year period, an added count of over 1,500 vehicles per day will have been added.

By 2025 and without an abnormally large housing project being built along Western Avenue, we should expect to find about 45,757 vehicles traveling along Western Avenue in the Task Force's study area. That 8,257 vehicle increase allowing to only normal (1%) development growth along the study area means that Western Avenue either needs to be widened to accommodate that many more vehicles or we all need to get our hands on some very small vehicles so we can all stuff ourselves into the smallest spaces possible along Western.

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