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Early Public Scoping Meeting Video

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Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Jody Litvak.  Welcome, thank you for joining us to learn about the Westside Extension Transit Corridor Study and our early public scoping process.  This study has been authorized by the Metro Board of Directors to look at possible new transit alternatives for this study area that you see here.

<Map of study area appears.>

This is a 38 square mile study area.  It extends from the east at the end of the Metro Purple Line at Wilshire and Western and the Metro Red Line at Hollywood and Highland, west to the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica, south along Pico Boulevard and north along the base of the Santa Monica Mountains.  South of this study area, outside of it, you will see a black dashed line which is Phase I of the Expo Light Rail Project which is currently under construction.  Continuing west from there in orange you’ll see possible alignments for the continuation of the Expo Line to Santa Monica.  Those are under study right now.  While there’s not passenger rail currently in this study area except for the existing Red and Purple Line, this area is marked by high levels of bus service today.

There are some things that we need to hear from you early at this stage in the study.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a new transit service to the Westside in addition to the Expo Line under construction and under study?
  2. Is there a particular mode or alignment that you want studied?
  3. Do you want a station in your community and where would that be?
  4. What criteria are important to you in evaluating the options we’re going to look at?

And for all these, please tell us why you feel the way you do, and of course let us know if you have any other thoughts.

Let me explain a little bit about what an alternatives analysis is, the process and our schedule.  An alternatives analysis is the first step in defining a project.  This is an evaluation of a wide range of alternatives and issues, including modes or methods of travel, alignments or routes where those would travel, where stations would be located, lengths of particular segments.  We will be including the public comments we receive from scoping, and we will be screening these alternatives to consider what might move into further environmental analysis.

As I mentioned, an alternatives analysis is the first phase of what needs to occur before any project would be available for the public to use.  Following the alternatives analysis, if the Board gives us direction to continue on, a particular project or potential project would be subject to further environmental review; it would need to go through engineering and of course construction before it would go into actual operation.

The schedule for this alternatives analysis study – we’re in the public scoping phase of the project, and we’ve held our first meetings in October.  Comments for this scoping phase are due by November 1st, and we’ll be talking a little bit later about how you can get us your comments.  Early in 2008 we’ll be producing a report indicating our initial review or screening of the alternatives that have come forward at this stage.  And in the summer of 2008 we will be completing the alternatives analysis study report and making of recommendation to the Board of a Locally Preferred Alternative to proceed into further environmental analysis.
At the conclusion of the alternatives analysis there are a variety of outcomes that could result.  One possibility is that the Metro Board of Directors adopts a Locally Preferred Alternative and authorizes us taking that alternative into preliminary engineering and further environmental review known as a Draft Environmental Impact Study and Draft Environmental Impact Report, or EIS/EIR.  It’s also possible that the Board would not adopt a Locally Preferred Alternative and may select 2 or more alternatives that would then have to go through further environmental review.  That would defer the preliminary engineering until the end of that environmental review process.

Another possible outcome is that the Metro Board of Directors would not adopt a Locally Preferred Alternative and would not authorize us to move forward for any further actions, and the study would conclude at that point.

I’d now like to turn things over to my colleague David Mieger, who will talk to you a little bit about why we’re conducting this study at this time and tell you more about the study.

David: Thanks, Jody.  The question is, why are we doing this study at this time?

<Photo of 1920’s era street showing cars and a public bus>
The Metro Westside Corridor has a long history of studies dating back as early as 1925.

<Film of modern subway train in tunnel.>
In the mid-1980’s, prohibitions were put in effect against subway tunneling.

<Slide of subway tunnel under construction.>
However, more recently there’s been renewed interest in considering options for the Westside that were generated about a year ago when the American Public Transit Association considered the safety of tunneling in this area and determined that subway tunneling could be conducted safely using current standards and practices.

<Slide of subway train in Eastside tunnel.>
This improved tunneling technology has been demonstrated with the Metro completion of the Eastside tunnel, done as a part of the Metro Gold Line Eastside extension, which has been recently completed with no measurable ground settlement.

One of the important factors that the city will be considering is the growing density on the Westside.
<Photo of Wilshire Boulevard.>
The towers that we see along Wilshire Boulevard…
<Photo of towers in Century City>
…and in parts of Century City and Westwood rival those of downtown Los Angeles in terms of overall density.

<Chart showing projected population growth and job growth between 2005 and 2030.>
As the chart shows, population is projected to grow by 11% between the current year and 2030, and employment is projected to grow by 17% during the same period of time.
In terms of the total county population, the Westside only has 5% of the total population, but it has 10% of the county’s jobs and 17% of the county’s total transit trips.
And in terms of transit trips per square mile, the number of trips per square mile are equivalent to the downtown area as well as many other downtowns throughout the Western United States.

<Photo of train in tunnel with passengers boarding; sign above train reads, “To North Hollywood.”>
This growing congestion has put a lot of demand on the existing bus lines that serve the area and on the rail lines that are being built near the area but are not yet completed.

<Photo of busy freeway.>
Increasing traffic congestion is affected on the 10 freeway, the 405, and on all the major arterials serving the Westside.

<Map of transit network.>
And, as the transit network is built, there is an opportunity to connect the Westside into that network, which currently carries over 250,000 daily riders on the rail and over 1.2 million people on the bus system.

<Photo of congested city street.>
And also on the Westside, the streets and highways are essentially built out.  There’s not room for new projects to be built to increase the size or the width of the current freeway and arterial system.

So what will the alternatives analysis study?  In addition to different alignments, station options, different modes of transit, we will also be looking at the evaluation criteria that will be used to measure these different alignments, stations and modes.

<Map of possible new routes.>
The Westside has considered two primary routes.  The lower line on the map here shows the Wilshire alignment that could be extended from Wilshire Western station.  The upper blue line shows possible extensions from the Hollywood and Highland station.  The southern part of the map is the Expo Project, which is a separate project.

<Bird-eye’s view photo looking west from the current Wilshire station.>
As you proceed from the current terminus of the Metro Purple line from the current Wilshire station – this is a shot looking west – this is the current terminus, the subway is below the street level here.  You can see new development that’s occurring around that new transit station.  As you proceed west from the Wilshire Western station, possible alignments for stations would exist at…

<Bird-eye’s view photo of La Brea area>
Crenshaw/La Brea…

<Bird-eye’s view photo of “Miracle Mile” area>
…and as you proceed further west into the Miracle Mile area near the County Art Museum…
<Bird-eye’s view photo of mid-Wilshire area>
This shot looks west from about Hauser Street looking out towards the County Art Museum in the distance, and the high-rise buildings you see along Wilshire Boulevard have upwards of 40 to 50 thousand jobs that could be served by transit in this area.

<Bird-eye’s view photo of Beverly Hills>
Proceeding west from the Miracle Mile, you enter Beverly Hills.  The downtown Beverley Hills Business Center is seen here in this photo looking along Santa Monica Boulevard up towards Wilshire.  The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is on the left side of the slide, and the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire is on the right, and within this triangle are another 50,000 jobs that could be served by transit.

<Bird-eye’s view photo of Century City>
As you proceed further west, the line would deviate to serve Century City, and this slide shows looking to the east along Santa Monica Boulevard and the concentration of office towers and shopping complexes within the Century City area.

<Bird-eye’s view photo of Westwood area>
As you proceed west from here, the next major development center is Westwood.  This is a shot looking east along Wilshire Boulevard from the 405 freeway.  With about 17,000 jobs along this corridor, along Wilshire…

<Photo of UCLA campus>
…but this also is adjacent to UCLA campus which has upwards of about 33,000 jobs as well, making this a center with densities equivalent to downtown Los Angeles.

<Bird-eye’s view photo of West Los Angeles area>
Proceeding west from Westwood, past the 405 freeway in the distance, you can see West Los Angeles with office towers lining Wilshire Boulevard from Federal out towards Centinela towards the Santa Monica city line.

<Bird-eye’s view photo of Wilshire Boulevard beach terminus in Santa Monica >
And then ultimately, Wilshire Boulevard terminates in Santa Monica at the beach at Ocean and Wilshire Boulevard at the Santa Monica Pier.

<Return to route alternatives map, zooming in on where Hollywood/Highland line meets route option #2>
In addition to the Wilshire alignment, however, the other alignment that’s historically been studied would extend transit west from the Hollywood and Highland station, which is shown here, out along Santa Monica Boulevard towards the Westside.

<Bird-eye’s view photo of Hollywood/Highland area>
In this photo, you can see the new development of the Hollywood and Highland shopping complex, the Renaissance Hotel, and the Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards are currently held.  That’s all grown up around the transit subway station at Hollywood and Highland.
<Bird-eye’s view photo of Santa Monica Boulevard>
The alignment along Santa Monica Boulevard would leave Hollywood and Highland and proceed west, with possible stations near Fairfax, near La Cienaga, and as you see here, the Pacific Design Center near San Vicente Boulevard.  This shot shows Santa Monica Boulevard proceeding west towards Century City and Westwood.

<Photo of the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica>
Both of these alignments, Santa Monica and Wilshire, would converge near the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica and share a common alignment west of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards.

In addition to alignments, we will be studying different modes - heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and metro rapid bus.

<Photo of heavy rail train>
Heavy rail transit is the current system operating on the Metro Purple Line and the Metro Red Line.  This is the highest-capacity system the Metro operates, with speeds up to 70 miles per hour, uses six-car trains, and can carry upwards of a thousand people per train.  Stations are generally one mile apart on those systems.

<Bird’s-eye view photo of light rail train in operation>
Metro also operates light rail transit, and that’s the technology we currently use on the Metro Blue Line, Metro Green Line and Metro Gold Line.
This technology is flexible - it is able to operate at grade as well as in grade-separated configurations - but it has slightly less capacity than in heavy rail, upwards of 500 people per train with about a one-mile station spacing.
<Text slide also contains this info: “Up to 55 mph.”>

<Photo of rapid transit bus>
And bus rapid transit is one of our newest technologies.  We’ve recently opened the Metro Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley, which operates similar to light rail but uses buses instead of light rail transit vehicles to operate.  These buses can operate at speeds upwards of 60 miles per hour depending on their location, but can carry about 100 people bus because of the smaller size of buses as opposed to trains.
<Text slide also contains this info: “Stations 1 mile apart; clean fuel (CNG) power; exclusive lane.”>

<Photo of Metro Rapid Bus>
And finally, Metro Rapid Bus is currently in operation on Wilshire Boulevard, on Santa Monica, and on several other arterial streets on the Westside.  This uses the larger articulated buses that we currently have out in service.  Generally they’re red, and they operate with signal priority to move faster through congested conditions.
<Text slide also contains this info: “Up to 84 passengers/bus; clean fuel (CNG); up to posted speed.”>

So how will the alternatives analysis decide which of these alternatives should be carried forward for environmental clearance and construction?  Generally, we follow guidelines that are prepared by the Federal Transit Administration that are used to evaluate projects throughout the country.  Major factors include cost, ridership, the cost-effectiveness of the project, the potential benefits that the project could have to economic development and land use, and how much travel time savings would result from having faster alternatives to get people around quicker.  The reliability of the service is very important, so that we can give dependable service that can get people to their destinations in a reliable manner.  We’ll also be evaluating the potential environmental effects of these alternatives, issues regarding sustainability, security, safety, and the financial capability to build and operate.

<Photo of participants at a community meeting>
And finally, the most important criteria is community acceptability.  Just what type of support is there for these lines, and is there support for it, because without community acceptability, none of these projects that we plan can go forward.

And with that, I’ll turn it back to Jody, who can give you a little more information about how you can be involved in this study.

Jody: Thank you, David.  As you’re watching this, we have recently completed five community meetings held during the second and third week of October throughout the study area.

<Photo of community meeting participants looking at a map>
Perhaps you attended one of those meetings, and we’d like to thank you if you did.
During this early public scoping time, the comment period concludes November 1st.  After November 1st, we will proceed into a technical analysis of the alternatives and the criteria.  Later this year, we will be producing a scoping report that will summarize the results of the scoping, as well as the comments we received, and it will identify the new alternatives and the criteria that will be included in the study.  Obviously, throughout the study, continuing into next summer, we do welcome your comments on the alternatives under review.

There are several ways you can provide comments and ask for more information.
If you attended one of the community meetings and you picked up a comment form (and you still have it), please send that to us via U.S. mail.  Please send your comments to:
David Mieger, Project Manager, Metro,
One Gateway Plaza, Mailstop 99-22-5,
Los Angeles, CA, 90012.

You can contact our study information phone line at 213-922-6934.

If you’d like to provide your comments in audio or video format, please send them and your contact information to westsideextension@metro.net .  That’s westsideextension – all one word – at metro dot net.  And you can go to our website, www.metro.net/westside .  Click on “contact us” and fill out the online comment form.

Again, there are things that we do need to hear from you during this period:

  1. Do you agree that there should be a new transit alternative to serve the Westside?
  2. Is there a particular mode or alignment you want us to study?
  3. Do you want a station in your community?
  4. What criteria are important to you for use to in evaluating these options?

And for all of these, please tell us why you feel the way you do, and of course let us know if you have any other thoughts.

Thank you again for joining us to hear more about this study, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

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