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Southstar Engineering Synopsis of Findings Park Mesa Heights

Southstar Engineering Synopsis of Findings Park Mesa Heights

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A review conducted by Southstar Engineering & Consulting Firm of Metro documents related to the Crenshaw Blvd underground segment, particularly in Park Mesa Heights, of the Crenshaw-LAX Line project.
A review conducted by Southstar Engineering & Consulting Firm of Metro documents related to the Crenshaw Blvd underground segment, particularly in Park Mesa Heights, of the Crenshaw-LAX Line project.

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05/26/2011

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1650 Iowa Ave, Suite 160Riverside, CA 92507(951) 342-3120
 
www.SouthStarEng.com
 
SOUTH
STAR
Engineering and Consulting Inc. 
May 25, 2011Elbert Preston, Jr., PresidentWest Adams Neighborhood Council334-B E. 2
nd
StreetLos Angeles, CA 90012David Winston, Chair Empowerment Congress West Area NDC3761 Stocker Street, Suite 108Los Angeles, CA 90008Damien Goodmon, Chair South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Joint Committee on Rail Transit3761 Stocker Street, Suite 108Los Angeles, CA 90008
Synopsis of Findings for the Review of Documents Related to the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, ParkMesa Heights AreaIntroduction:
As requested by South Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils Joint Committee on Rail Transit Southstar Engineering has reviewed documentation related to the planning and study for the Park Mesa Heights segment of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor to be constructed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). ThePark Mesa Heights segment is defined as a portion of Crenshaw Boulevard between 48
th
and 60
th
Streets. Thefollowing are our findings from the document review.The documents reviewed are:
 
Crenshaw Transit Corridor Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Draft Environmental ImpactReport (DEIS/DEIR), September 2009.
 
Measure R Project Delivery Committee, July 15, 2010, staff memorandum, subject: Crenshaw/LAXTransit Corridor Project Park Mesa Heights Grade Separation Analysis.
 
Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, Park Mesa Heights Grade Separation (PMHGS) Analysis, June 2010.
 
Correspondence to MTA from various agencies providing comment on the DEIS/DEIR.
Findings:
According to the PMHGS Analysis report, the Local Preferred Alternative (LPA) currently being considered utilizesLight Rail Transit (LRT) along Alignment Alternative 5, described in the DEIS/DEIR as:
 Alignment Alternative 5
 – Starts at Exposition Boulevard, runs south on Crenshaw Boulevard, and alongthe Harbor Subdivision to the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX Station at Aviation Boulevard/Imperial Highway(Options A3, B, and C1). (8.5 miles)”
 
 
Page
2
of 
8
 
A variation of Design Option 4 is also being considered as part of the LPA, described in the DEIS/DEIR as:
“Design Option 4
. LRT Alternative Design Option 4 involves a cut-and-cover alignment instead of an aerialalignment between Victoria Avenue and 60th Street. A below-grade alignment between South VictoriaAvenue and 60th Street would replace the aerial alignment proposed under the Base LRT Alternative, startingon Crenshaw Boulevard and extending into the Harbor Subdivision. The below-grade alignment would bebuilt as a cut-and-cover tunnel.Although the DEIS/DEIR describes the construction method to be used for Design Option 4 as cut-and-cover construction the PMHGS Analysis report describes this segment of the LPA to be constructed by a Tunnel BoringMachine (TBM).In addition, Design Option 6 may be included as part of the LPA, the DEIS/DEIR describes this option as:
Design Option 6
. LRT Alternative Design Option 6 involves a below-grade alignment between 39th Streetand Exposition with a below-grade station at Crenshaw Boulevard and Exposition Boulevard. A below-gradealignment between 39th Street and Exposition Boulevard would replace the at-grade Base LRT Alternativealignment and would extend the tunnel north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Exposition Boulevard witha below-grade station. The below-grade station would provide street level access for transferring to theExposition LRT. The below-grade alignment could be built as a bored tunnel. A final decision on a below-grade alignment would be dependent on further analysis of environmental impacts and cost evaluation.” 
Findings Analysis:
Project Schedule Impacts:The PMHGS Analysis report recommends the construction method to be used for Design Option 4, a gradeseparation along Crenshaw Boulevard between 60
th
Street and South Victoria Avenue, would be changed fromcut-and-cover to using a tunnel boring machine (TBM). This change requires additional environmental studieshowever the PMHGS Analysis report does not mention this requirement nor the time needed to complete thestudies.The PMHGS Analysis report states if the grade separation option is selected for the LRT segment alongCrenshaw Boulevard between 48
th
and 60
th
Streets start of construction may be delayed 6 to 18 months. Thereport states this is due to additional environmental studies needed for the change in project scope to place theproposed LRT line below grade.It would seem preparation of the environmental studies needed for constructing the grade separation for the ParkMesa Heights segment along Crenshaw Boulevard between 48
th
and 60
th
Streets may proceed at the same timethe environmental studies are prepared for the change in the construction methods for Design Option 4.Therefore the project would not be delayed.Another possible delay in the project schedule may be created during the application process to obtain CaliforniaPublic Utility Commission (CPUC) approval for the construction of seven new at-grade crossings along CrenshawBoulevard between 48
th
and 60
th
Streets. The Commission’s policy is to reduce the number of new at-gradecrossings on rail corridors. In fact, in the CPUC October 28, 2009 letter states, “We encourage LACMTA toevaluate grade separation of any proposed at-grade crossings.”
 
 
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3
of 
8
 
Safety:The DEIS/DEIR and the PMHGS Analysis report have not considered safety impacts caused by the at-gradesection of the LPA to vehicles, pedestrians, and train riders. By not recognizing safety impacts the costs of mitigation measures have not been included in the cost to construct the LPA at-grade section.The CPUC October 28, 2009 letter addresses safety concerns related to street-running configurations, stating,“…proposed street-running configuration and the proposed at-grade crossings will present problematic interactionbetween vehicles and Light Rail Trains. Experience has shown that this configuration leads to driver confusionand vehicle-train collisions, especially from vehicles making left turns across LRT tracks at roadway intersections.”In light of CPUC assessment of street-running configurations the statement made in the PMHGS Analysis reportSummary is not appropriate. On page 49 of the report under the heading of “Safety” it states, “The at-graderecommendations for the LPA Option resulted in no significant safety impacts. The determination of safetyimpact[s] for both options is the same.” Based on this assertion the credibility of the report’s safety impactanalysis must be questioned.Lessons provided by the 20-year operation of the MTA Blue Line have not been used in the evaluation of the LPAat-grade section. The 22-mile Blue Line has 103 at-grade street crossings and is considered one of the mostaccident prone light rail lines in the country. MTA has had to make numerous after construction safetyimprovements to the line, such as: Crossing gates; red light cameras; and video cameras on train engineers.However none of the measures have been considered for inclusion with the LPA at-grade section. MTA must alsoconsider installation of fencing along both sides of the at-grade tracks to discourage pedestrians from crossingmid-block and therefore limiting train/pedestrian encounters to controlled intersections.Another LPA safety impact, not discussed in the DEIS/DEIR, is to vehicle passengers exiting to the traffic(driver’s) side of the vehicle. Currently passengers in vehicles parked along the frontage roads between 48
th
 Street and Slauson Avenue may exit to the traffic (driver’s) side of the vehicle encountering low volume and slowmoving vehicles. The LPA will require these passengers to exit their vehicles into high volume and high speedtraffic of Crenshaw Boulevard.Traffic Impacts:The base LRT LPA proposes to locate a double set of tracks within the existing median area along CrenshawBoulevard between 48
th
and 60
th
Streets. The existing frontage roads along Crenshaw Boulevard between 48
th
 Street and Slauson Avenue will need to be eliminated using their area in the overall street cross section to providefor the tracks, three through lanes, left-turn lanes, and parking lanes.Neither the DEIS/DEIR or the PMHGS Analysis report discuss the traffic related impacts caused by the eliminationof these frontage roads. The residents along the east side of Crenshaw Boulevard between 48
th
and 50
th
Streetswill be impacted. Currently, when residents exit their driveway they can simply back into the frontage road thathas a low volume and slower traffic due to only serving adjacent properties. Entry into Crenshaw Boulevard isrestricted to median openings near intersections. If the LPA is implemented these residents will be forced to backtheir vehicles into high volume and faster moving through traffic along Crenshaw Boulevard. This will both impactthe capacity of northbound Crenshaw Boulevard and resident safety.Along the west side of Crenshaw Boulevard between 50
th
and 52
nd
Streets there is a secondary frontage roadparallel to Crenshaw’s primary frontage road. Between these frontage roads is a wall which acts as a visualand/or noise barrier for the adjacent properties. This wall restricts the sight distance for vehicles exiting thesecondary frontage road. However, currently vehicles exiting the secondary frontage road enter the primary

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