Friday, November 15, 2013
The old eastern span of the Bay Bridge stands empty, its job done. Now it’s time for it to come down. And everyone wants to know: will the California Department of Transportation blow it up?
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
In 1996, the California Department of Transportation announced the state would spend seven years and just over $1 billion to replace the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. But the bridge that opened this week costs several times that amount -- and took ten years longer than originally projected. So...what happened?
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened last night, about five hours ahead of schedule. That is, if you don't count the extra decade it took to get the bridge built.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
At 8 p.m. last night, the last car drove across the original eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. If everything goes according to schedule, the new, blinding white span will open to the public on Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. Pacific Time.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013
The Bay Bridge opening has been delayed until at least December, the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee announced Monday. The brand-new eastern span of the bridge, which connects Oakland to San Francisco, was supposed to open this Labor Day. Back in March, bolts that hold together a key seismic structure snapped, throwing the opening date into question.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
California officials say they have a plan to stabilize bolts that failed earlier this year on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
May 8th is a big day for the new span of the Bay Bridge. That’s when the San Francisco travelers will learn get answers to two big questions: what the Bay Area Toll Authority is going to do about the broken bolts fiasco, and whether the bridge is still on track for a Labor Day opening.
TN MOVING STORIES: Ray LaHood Talks Transpo on The Takeaway, Made in America's Unintended Consequences
Friday, February 17, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
Adele Has It All: 6 Grammys…And a Great Bike (link)
Study: Teen Driving Deaths Up After 8 Years of Decline (link)
House Transpo Bill Stalled In a Frenzy of Fingerpointing (link)
Houston Loop Project Moves to Next Phase (link)
Feds Pitch First-Ever Distracted Driving Guidelines For Automakers (link)
Boehner: ‘Fundamental Change’ Means This Bill Stays in GOP Territory (link)
U.S. DOT head Ray LaHood talked about the deadlocked transportation bill on The Takeaway.
Enforcer buses: by early next year San Francisco's entire fleet of 819 buses will be equipped with forward-facing cameras that take pictures of cars traveling or parked in the bus and transit-only lanes. (Atlantic Cities)
Opinion: the transpo bill is a backlash against the Obama Administration's "cluelessness about the difference between national transportation policy and urban transport policy." (Politico)
The unintended consequences of "Made in America:" Boeing -- a U.S. airplane manufacturer -- is selling its planes to foreign airlines, which are then taking over routes previously pioneered by U.S. carriers. (Washington Post)
Nevada --where Google test-drives its robotic cars -- is becoming the first state to create a licensing system for self-driving cars. (NPR)
Any consumer savings from the payroll tax cut will probably be erased by higher gas prices. (Marketplace)
A routine repair project on a California highway went awry -- and has turned into a full-fledged scandal. (Los Angeles Times)
High-speed taxiways -- designed to get jets off runways faster -- are coming to Newark airport. (Asbury Park Press)
Bike share is coming to Austin's SXSW. (Bike World News)
Want one of the wooden benches NYC is phasing out of the subway system? It can be yours for a mere $650. (New York Daily News)
Friday, January 13, 2012
It's been a difficult season for California High Speed Rail. A budget revision that put the total price tab ominously close to $100 billion. Two congressional hearings pillorying the project. Lots of noise by legislators positioning themselves against the project.
Now comes word the man in charge of California's high-speed rail project has resigned, dealing yet another set back to the nation's most ambitious rail project. Roelof van Ark took the CEO position at the California High-Speed Rail Authority in May 2010 after heading up the American division of a French manufacturer of high-speed trains. His resignation takes effect in two months, giving him a total of less than a year in the post. He said he resigned for personal reasons.
Van Ark was in charge of the agency when it revised the business plan, raising the cost estimate to just under $99.5 billion over 20 years, a move that detracted from popular support, though supporters said it gave a much more "realistic" assessment of the projects costs, which they argued was ultimately fairer to the state.
Van Ark wasn't the only leader to step down. Tom Unger will give up his seat as chairman of the Authority's board, though he will continue to serve on it. Last week the press spokesperson for the Authority quit as well.
The resignations follow what the Los Angeles Times called "a serious blow" earlier in the month when funding of the plan was put in jeopardy. A government-created review board voted to recommend the legislature not issue $2.7 billion in bonds to pay for early work on the rail plan. A study commissioned by the Authority found that ridership projections were inaccurate and overly optimistic.
Governor Jerry Brown remains supportive of the plan and said he will seek legislative approval for new state funding anyway. In fact, in some ways, he's doubling down, according to the AP. One of his two hand picked advisers on the Rail Authority board, Dan Richards, will replace Mr. Unger as chairman. Brown has a plan to shift high-speed rail planning and management to a new agency that includes CalTrans, the state department of transportation.
Calif. Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani issued a statement saying, “Today represents a turning point for the Governor to put his stamp on the project."
Standing in the way of that is finding a new bullet train boss. As the Sacramento Bee predicts, the turmoil around the plan, its string of setbacks, and declining public support will make it harder for the new agency to find a leader with credentials to match van Arks.
Voters authorized the plan, and backed it with the go ahead to issue $9 billion in bonds to get the project started. That was back in 2008 before high-speed rail became politically controversial and fears of cost overruns led two Republican govenors to cancel plans in their states.
Governor Brown's budget proposes $16 billion next year for the Rail Authority, as Bloomberg Businessweek reports in a detailed rundown of the shifting costs and budget projections for the California plan.
California's high-speed rail plan would connect San Francisco to Los Angeles, with a spur into the Central Valley, totaling 800 miles of track. Construction has already started on a 130-mile stretch in the San Joaquin Valley.
Senator Dianne Feinstein Wants To Save CA High Speed Rail -- As Republican Assemblywoman Tries to Kill It
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
By Julie Caine
UPDATED To keep California's increasingly beleaguered bullet train program alive, move it to the state DOT.
That's the recommendation of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sent a letter Monday to California Governor Jerry Brown urging him to combine the state's High-Speed Rail Authority with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
Senator Feinstein, a long-time supporter of high-speed rail, urged quick action by Governor Brown to avoid losing $3.5 billion in federal funds for the project.
Here comments came as Orange County Assemblywoman Diane Harkey introduced a bill to halt state debt funding for the high-speed rail project.
Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, today joined fellow Republican lawmakers in introducing legislation to halt state debt funding for the high-speed rail project.
"The verdict is clear, it’s time for California to move forward and de-rail this ill-conceived project," Harkey said in a statement. " Lack of future federal funding, oversight, accountability and inconsistency in route and planning, should sound a strong signal to pull the plug,” said Assemblywoman Harkey. "This one project has the potential to double our state's debt and become a huge future drain on our state's budget, while our existing rail and roadway infrastructure is in dire need of repair.”
In her letter, Senator Feinstein said she found it hard to “debunk” the conclusions of a report issued last week by a state appointed peer review committee that recommended against the release of state funds for the project.
However, Senator Feinstein said that combining the High-Speed Rail Authority with Caltrans would go a long way in addressing some of the concerns of the peer review committee. “I am concerned that our state’s future would be greatly hindered if this project either failed to get off the ground, or failed to be completed."
Interestingly, she continues: "I have spoken to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the importance of utilizing CalTrans’ expertise, and we both agree that your leadership in this area could improve prospects for success.”
The governor’s newly released 2012-2013 budget proposal calls for the creation of a new transportation agency that would consolidate a number of state departments and agencies, including Caltrans and the Rail Authority.
Friday, September 16, 2011
By Julie Caine
Traffic jams on California’s freeway and highway systems are notorious for their complexity and scale. Solving problems and keeping traffic moving is a 24/7 job, one that requires monitoring a constant flow of real-time data.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, that data gets fed into a “Mission-Control” style center dominated by a wall of 35 newly upgraded LED video screens that stream live images from regional freeway hotspots and interchanges.
The video screens, which are never turned off, were upgraded earlier this summer both to improve image resolution and to extend the lifespan of the monitors. According to John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which partially funded the upgrade, the new LED monitors should operate for about six years; older, lamp-based monitors only lasted about nine months.
The information gathered through the system is used to help pinpoint traffic and construction issues on Bay Area roadways, and is jointly monitored by the MTC, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
“Half of all traffic congestion in the Bay Area is not the result of too many vehicles and too few lanes,” said Goodwin, “But rather is due to accidents, debris spills, or a broken down car pulled over to the side of the road.” The monitoring system allows Caltrans and CHP to respond more quickly to these problems than they could through regular patrols.
Traffic sensors built into the roadway alert staff to problem areas. They then can use cameras to zoom in precisely on problem areas, and get help to accident scenes and stranded motorists, or mitigate long and frustrating waits for commuters.
The bulk of funding for the $899,000 cost of the upgrade came from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program (CMAQ). The MTC paid for 11.47 percent of the upgrade costs with funds that come in part from a surcharge on motor vehicle registration fees.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
By Casey Miner
(San Francisco – KALW) California's high-speed rail project may be struggling to find funding, but it's not because nobody wants to ride trains.
The state's transportation department, known as Caltrans, reports that ridership on Amtrak's California lines is up significantly. The Capitol Corridor route saw an increase of almost 10% over the past year, while ridership on the San Joaquin route went up nearly 13%.
Revenue on the San Joaquin route increased by 19%.
The numbers – which, according to Caltrans, are at an all-time high – are notable because the routes are similar to those eventually envisioned for the state's high-speed rail system, linking the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Bakersfield.
Caltrans rail marketing chief Debbie Mullins said a large part of the increased ridership could be attributed to high gas prices. But, she said, advertising matters. Beginning in March, Amtrak undertook a $1.3 million PR blitz, stringing billboards around major freeway corridors in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley. The billboards were black and white, with colorful icons showing all the benefits of riding a train: food, power outlets, etc. They also featured 26 different taglines emphasizing the benefits of train travel over both cars and planes ("Experience space travel," "There's no backseat driver when there's no backseat"). Mullins said Amtrak is planning a more comprehensive study to quantify the effects of billboard and online campaigns.
What does this say about the state's appetite for high-speed rail? Mullins declined to speculate, but she did note that Amtrak ridership has risen steadily despite fluctuating gas prices. "People recognize the amenities of the train: food, electricity, just the freedom to walk around," she said. "Once they're introduced to that, they look at the train with a whole new set of eyes."
Thursday, April 28, 2011
By Casey Miner
Friday, August 13, 2010
(Oakland, CA -- Casey Miner, KALW) CalTrans raised tolls on the Bay Bridge July 1 during peak hours, from $4.00 to $6.00 -- and for carpools, to $2.50, from nothing. What happened?
Five thousand fewer cars are using the Bay Bridge each day, and BART, the cross-bay commuter train, saw 4500 more riders. The full story here.
Monday, August 09, 2010
The misery of driving on LA's freeways is well known. At times, the traffic isn't even the worst part -- it's the smog, the scenery, the utter lack of anything else to look at, besides the bumper of the car in front of you. Sadly, this is about to get worse.
After fighting an onslaught of graffiti for years, California's Department of Transportation says it can no longer restore and maintain LA's famous freeway murals. Started with CalTrans' permission around the 1984 Olympics, the murals have been a point of artistic pride, Chicano identity and the cultural landscape of LA. Now, at best, some will be turned into vinyl banners. -- Collin Campbell, TN
More from Southern California Public Radio.
Friday, July 02, 2010
By Casey Miner
(Casey Miner, KALW) After months of preparation and public service announcements, on Thursday morning Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority officially debuted congestion pricing on the Bay Area’s bridges. The system, used in several cities around the world but relatively new to the US, sets prices at different levels based on the volume of traffic, rather than a flat rate across the board.
Tolls on all but one of the region’s seven bridges rose to $5; on the Bay Bridge, the toll during peak commute hours – 5am-10am and 3pm-7pm – went to $6. The extra revenue will be used to pay for seismic retrofits on the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges.
It’s a major change, and one that’s required a good deal of planning.