New Transit Station will Lead to Congestion Relief
The first step in the journey to congestion pricing begins with 40,000 passengers.
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For city of El Monte residents, the new $45 million transit station that broke ground on September 22 fulfills a long-standing promise to replace an aging, inadequate concrete facility.
The new state-of-the-art station, which will almost double the 22,000 passengers currently accommodated, certainly is a major improvement for the community that will house it. To the larger transportation community, however, it is much more than that—it is the first stage of ExpressLanes, a one-year demonstration project that will turn the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) El Monte Busway and the Harbor Freeway (I-110) Transitway into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.
The intent of the project is to test the effectiveness and viability of congestion pricing on Los Angeles area freeways. Solo drivers will be allowed to use the carpool lanes for a fee that will vary from $.25 to $1.40 per mile depending on the amount of traffic at the time; carpools will still travel for free. The theory is that higher prices during peak hours will encourage motorists to travel more during the off-peak while providing a faster option for those who really need to save time.
The ExpressLanes project is funded by a $210 million federal grant and is expected to open before the end of 2012. In addition to the transit station, it also provides for the purchase of 59 alternative fuel buses. Roadway improvements include widening Adams Boulevard between Figueroa and Flower streets and constructing a new pedestrian bridge; restriping the I-110 Adams Boulevard off-ramp to create a second right-hand turning lane; and creating auxiliary lanes between the I-110 ExpressLanes and the general purpose lanes.
“Caltrans has collaborated with Metro and our transportation partners to develop an integrated transportation solution uniquely for this region,” said District 7 Operations Deputy Frank Quon at the groundbreaking ceremony. “And the El Monte Transit Station project is the beginning of several transportation projects that will bring about new strategies to address our congestion problems.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe; California Assembly Member Mike Eng (D-49); Metro Board and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana; Metro Board Members and Los Angeles County Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas; El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero; Foothill Transit Board Chair Roger Chandler; Metro CEO Art Leahy; and Federal Transit Administration/Federal Highway Administration representative Ray Tellis.
Major features of the new El Monte Transit Station consist of a two-story building that will house a public bus and terminal station with limited retail space, a customer service center and surface parking. Brea-based KPRS Construction Services is the contractor on the project, expected to be completed in spring 2012.
“The future of transportation will require that all levels of government participate, cooperate and share expertise and technology,” Quon said. “We must work together and learn from each other to create a system in which mass transit riders, cyclists, pedestrians and motorists all play a part.”