Hidden freeway costs revealed: Willits Bypass 50 percent more expensiv

KGO – excerpt (includes video)

ABC7 News has learned a controversial freeway project that Caltrans claimed cost $300 million actually cost $460 million, 50 percent more than the agency told the public.

http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=2134312

Documents obtained by ABC7 News show Caltrans has been giving out the wrong total cost figures for the Willits Bypass on Highway 101 in Mendocino County for the past five years.

The new freeway opened last November. It is 6 miles long, with two major overpasses, designed to route cars and trucks around a traffic bottleneck in the tiny town of Willits.

Willits Mayor Gerry Gonzalez is glad to see it finally finished. “Getting commercial truck traffic off of Main Street and making it a safer community is important,” he said.

…(more)

No offense, but how much safety can we afford? What percentage of our taxes is going into “safety projects?”

$460 million so far, (we are told will go higher), for 8 miles of highway overpass? That is $57K dollars a mile before they finish the mitigations. We could do a lot more with that 460 million dollars than build an overpass for a small town. Someone must already be planning a new development off the freeway.

MTC Wins Transportation Planning Excellence Award for Plan Bay Area and One Bay Area Grant Program

MTC : prnewswire – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO, June 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has been awarded a 2017 Transportation Planning Excellence Award from the Federal Highway Administration for the project, “A Strategy for a Sustainable Region: Plan Bay Area and the One Bay Area Grant Program.” Plan Bay Area is the long-range transportation and land use plan for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area while the One Bay Area Grant Program channels the region’s federal transportation funding to make the vision of Plan Bay Area and its successors a reality… (more)

More deceptive back-patting by MTC.  The Bay Area sports a dropping per capita transit ridership and suffers as the second most congested metropolitan region in the country.  Despite this, according to its many boastful pronouncements MTC would have us believe that it is the most wonderfully successful planning department in the country if not the entire world.

Here’s the truth of the matter.

MTC’s “excellence” is in the forming of multitudinous overlapping and vaguely defined committees and in generating mountains of fine sounding reports that make it look to the feds and the gullible as if everything in the Bay Area is in perfect order. The truth is that MTC doesn’t come even close to practicing what it preaches in its flood of written communications.  Instead of advocating and promulgating sound regional planning MTC remains passive whenever a regional transportation problem of consequence arises.  Instead of addressing regional transportation issues MTC remains in the back rooms brokering deals with the handful of Bay Area cities with significant influence in Washington.  The result is a continuing series of high cost/low benefit parochial projects that do nothing to address the increasingly excessive traffic congestion and dropping public transit ridership that are detracting from the Bay Area’s quality of life.  So far the Region has let MTC get away with this swindle.

Do We Want to Improve LA Transportation, Or Just Spend Money On It?

Kenneth S. Alpern, City Watch LA : capoliticalreview – excerpt

TRANSIT WATCH–Do you wonder why homelessness has shot UP in our city and county after we’ve screamed and spent more to try to help our fellow Angelenos and free up our streets, and instead we’ve gotten more … Garcettivilles? Do you ever wonder whether those sudden and new homeless living in tents, in campers, or in sleeping bags under our bridges and taking over our streets are actually Angelenos, who have come here from all over the nation and who have decided to create their own “neighborhoods”… a.k.a., Garcettivilles?

Money is best spent well, and to its credit, LA Metro has overall earned the bragging rights to money well spent, and to not taking the taxpayers’ money for granted.  But we’ve seen lots of interesting data, and we’ve not always had the best partners in Sacramento and Washington…so how do we best proceed?… (more)

Shuttle zone changes are going to public hearing

Shuttle bus brigade takes how many cars off the street and moves how many people at a time? According to one neighbor, only 3 or 4 people are on some of these behemoths. How practical of a solution is this?

Friday June 16, 10 AM
Room 416 City Hall – Public Hearing on Shuttle zone changes

Letter regarding shuttle bus program with Hearing sent to Ed, who is working on the shuttle bus problem on 24th Street in Noe Valley:

Hi Ed,

Thanks for sending (list of complaints). I’ve passed along your notes from the last couple weeks to the appropriate shuttle operators. A few things I wanted to note:

  • We’ve recently communicated with a few companies that are missing a sticker or two on their vehicles as you have noted, and we have provided them with replacements for those stickers. We’re creating an official process in the new Salesforce portal that is being built for the program for shuttle operators to request replacement stickers and to indicate the reason why they need new stickers (i.e. new paint job, replaced bumper, etc)
  • We’re speaking with our engineers about policies around shuttles staging in the Valencia turn lane
  • Shuttle zone changes are going to public hearing next Friday 6/16 at 10am in City Hall Room 416. We look forward to seeing you there and I’d be happy to talk to you about the proposal before then as well.Thanks,Alex

Fast and cheap: Getting Caltrain to Transbay Terminal … this year

By Stanford M. Horn :sfexaminer – excerpt

It needn’t take a $2.5 billion tunnel construction project dragging out more than seven years to get Caltrain extended to the new Transbay Terminal. That goal could be achieved in 99 percent less time, at 99 percent less budget. In fact, the project is so simple that it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks or months to build, involving no new structures taller than a cantaloupe or excavations deeper than a watermelon. In short, there need never be an embarrassing white elephant along downtown Mission Street because trains would be running on the terminal’s first day under the interim solution proposed here. When the permanent tunnel is completed, in 2025 or so, service would be switched there… (more)

SFMTA Looks Into Extending Streetcar Line To Fort Mason

 

RELATED:
Federal funding could drive forward tunnel’s future

 

 

To satisfy critics, bridge district shrinks size of controversial Sausalito ferry terminal proposal

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Sausalito Harbor photo by Zrants

A project to revamp the ferry terminal in Sausalito and planned upgrades to San Francisco’s docks, above, along with Larkspur, are intended to smooth boarding for wheelchair users under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

An embattled $11 million project to rebuild and revamp an aging Sausalito Ferry terminal will shrink to meet concerns of Sausalito neighbors, as the project faced further critique last week.

And the project may face other obstacles as well, as The City of Sausalito sent a letter essentially barring construction crews from a long-planned staging area.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District voted to mitigate the size of the revamped terminal last Friday, after working in cooperation with The City of Sausalito… (more)

 

 

Steve Kawa, Mayor Ed Lee’s chief of staff and longtime City Hall power broker, to retire

Changes coming soon…

zRants

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

City Hall photos by Zrants

Lot’s of retiring going on at City Hall this week. Many are wondering why and what this will mean to the continuing reign on Ed Lee.

The man who has acted as City Hall’s most influential behind-the-scenes power broker for three consecutive San Francisco mayors is stepping down from his post at the end of June.

The retirement of Steve Kawa, 55, often referred to as the shadow mayor, was officially announced by Mayor Ed Lee in an email to his staffers on Thursday afternoon…

Named as Kawa’s successor is Jason Elliott, who has been serving as the mayor’s deputy chief of staff. Elliott first joined the Mayor’s Office in 2009 as Newsom’s policy advisor, after working for Newsom’s failed campaign for governor, and stayed on to work in Lee’s administration.

For the Lee administration, Kawa marks the…

View original post 172 more words

SMART riders ponder North Bay-to-San Francisco by train, bus and ferry

By Derek Moore : pressdomocrat – excerpt (includes revised schedule)

The dream of making excursions to San Francisco from the North Bay aboard a train, or venturing north from the city to Wine Country, is closer to reality with the looming start of passenger rail service, but current timetables for the train, ferry and a connecting shuttle indicate riders will have to be adaptable.

While the focus since Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit released its schedule last week has been on commuters — the rail agency’s bread and butter ridership — another key component of service is linking people to San Francisco via the Larkspur ferry.

North Bay residents and others across the Golden Gate, have been looking at SMART’s new timetable to see if it will work for them…

(Revised schedule)(more)

 

 

California’s jammed highways hold hope as power source

By Kurtis Alexander : sfchronicle – excerpt (graph included)

280 Overpass photo by zrants

California’s famously congested freeways may soon do more than create headaches.

State officials agreed last week to fund an initiative to generate electrical power from traffic, a plan that involves harnessing road vibrations with the intent of turning the automobile, like the sun and wind, into a viable source of renewable energy…

The technology is peculiar but proven. Devices that convert mechanical force into electricity are used in watches and lighters and are being tested for power generation on sidewalks and runways. A San Francisco nightclub has even leveraged the pulses of a dance floor to power its lights and music.

But it remains to be seen whether the science can be employed on a large scale — threaded beneath the state’s sprawling highway system and rigged to produce significant, cost-effective electricity…

 “There’s a lot of traffic in California and a lot of vibration that just goes into the atmosphere as heat. We can capture that,” said Mike Gravely, a senior electrical engineer and head of the research division at the California Energy Commission. “The technology has been successfully demonstrated.”

Gravely helped draft the proposal approved Wednesday by the Energy Commission’s governing board, which will direct $2.3 million to two independent road projects designed to test the viability of scaling up piezoelectricity…

Mike Gatto, the former Southern California assemblyman who wrote the 2011 piezoelectric bill, said he thinks the demonstrations will show promise. Since he proposed the legislation, he noted, the science has progressed… (more)