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Transit Recommendations for the Space 134 Project

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Draft recommendations for transit design, infrastructure and services related to the Space134 Project.

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Transit Recommendations for the Space 134 Project

  1. 1. 116 NEW MONTGOMERY STREET, SUITE 500 SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105 415-284-1544 FAX 415-284-1554 www.nelsonnygaard.com M E M O R A N D U M To: Alan Loomis and Amber Hawkes From: Steve Boland Date: November 25, 2015 Subject: Space 134 Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) This memorandum is the final transit deliverable for the second phase of the Space 134 planning process. It includes:  A brief introduction to the proposed Space 134 project and planning process, and the role of transit within the project  Contextual information relevant to the design of transit within the Space 134 project  Draft recommendations for transit infrastructure and service associated with the project  Transit-related next steps in the planning process THE PROJECT Space 134 Space 134 is a proposed at-grade cap over the below-grade State Route 134 (SR-134) freeway in downtown Glendale, between Central Avenue and Balboa Avenue, a distance of approximately 0.7 miles. The cap or deck would be configured as a linear park with cross streets in place of existing overpasses. The park would include a variety of community amenities and active programming in addition to open and recreational spaces. Planning Process The project is currently in Phase II of the planning process. The first phase, the Space 134 Vision Plan, was a visioning effort culminating in City Council approval of ongoing project development. The Phase II study includes both technical planning, community outreach efforts and a preliminary economic analysis, and upon completion at the end of 2015 will position the project for preliminary engineering, to occur in its next phase. This will be followed by environmental review, final engineering, and final approval of the project. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. The project would be implemented in phases, starting with the one-block segment between Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard. It is envisioned that funding would be obtained from both public and private sources, as has occurred on similar projects in other North American cities.
  2. 2. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 2 Role of Transit The Space 134 project site is along a proposed rapid transit corridor – the SR-134 corridor described in the following section – and indeed is the location of a likely future station within this corridor. For this reason, and because the site is about three-quarters of a mile from the existing transit hub at Brand and Broadway and surrounding retail destinations, slightly beyond the distance that most are willing to walk, facilities for transit will be integral to the project. Additionally, depending on the configuration of transit elements in the project’s final design, it might be funded in part using federal, state, regional and/or local sources earmarked for transit capital projects. These might include sources typically used for the design and construction of bus transit centers. PROJECT CONTEXT Existing Transit Space 134 is located at what is envisioned to be a major hub within the regional transit system, with east-west rapid transit service connecting to north-south local/feeder bus service. Currently, however, there is little existing transit in the east-west SR-134 corridor. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s (LADOT) Commuter Express Route 549 operates only during peak periods, and relatively infrequently, between Encino and Pasadena. In downtown Glendale, it stops on Goode Avenue (westbound) and Sanchez Drive (eastbound), one-way streets on the north and south sides of SR-134 between Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard. In Spring 2016, in association with the opening of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Metro Rail Gold Line Foothill Extension, a six-month pilot program will begin to provide express bus service every 15 minutes during peak periods and every 30 minutes off-peak between the Metro Rail Red Line North Hollywood Station and Pasadena. The route of this service is shown in Figure 1, provided by Metro. Figure 1 Pilot North Hollywood-Pasadena Express Bus Route
  3. 3. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 3 In regards to existing north-south transit connections from Space 134, there is a variety of existing bus service connecting the site to the retail and civic core of downtown Glendale, to the nearest existing major east-west bus route, Metro’s Route 780 Rapid service on Broadway and on Central Avenue south of Broadway, and to the Metrolink commuter rail Glendale Station on the city’s southern border with Los Angeles. Bus service is provided by both Metro and the City of Glendale, operating as Beeline. Services operate on both Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard, each of which is a two-way arterial street despite their relative proximity to one another (they are about 900 feet apart). Beeline Routes 1 (clockwise) and 2 (counterclockwise) effectively constitute a single route operating in a loop on Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard. Metro service in the corridor, however, is consolidated on Brand Boulevard, in the form of Route 92 continuing south to Downtown Los Angeles and north to Downtown Burbank. Metro Routes 90 and 91 operate north-south on Glendale Boulevard, at the eastern end of the site. Figure 2 shows current activity levels at existing Metro Bus stops in the vicinity of Space 134. As the figure indicates, ridership is heavily concentrated in ther etail and civic area about a 15- minute walk south of the Space 134 site. The most-heavily used stops are at the intersection of Broadway and Brand Boulevard, as well as on the Metro Rapid 780 at Broadway and Glendale Boulevard and at Central Avenue and Colorado Street. Figure 2 Metro Weekday Average Ridership by Stop
  4. 4. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 4 Proposed Transit The SR-134 corridor between the southeastern San Fernando Valley and Pasadena, through downtown Glendale, has long been envisioned by planners, activists and elected officials as a potential high-capacity rapid transit corridor. Figure 3 shows a 1968 proposal for a regional rapid transit network including the SR-134 corridor. Figure 3 1968 Proposed Regional Rapid Transit Corridors While the SR-134 corridor has long been thought of as a potential rapid transit corridor, no official plan as yet exists to provide rapid transit service in the corridor. However, planning efforts are underway. If all proceeds according to schedule, Metro’s North Hollywood to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Technical Study will issue a recommendation for one or possibly two preferred project alternatives by September 2016. If the Metro Board adopts the recommendation and formally includes the project in its Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), it will become eligible for funding. If the Metro Board proceeds to place a measure to increase the countywide sales tax for transportation on the November 2016 ballot, it could be included in the package of capital projects to be funded. “Bus rapid transit” or BRT is a transit mode designed to provide relatively high-quality transit service using buses rather than trains. While multiple alternatives remain under consideration as part of the Metro Technical Study, a previous staff assessment recommended “freeway BRT” operating in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on SR-134 and stopping at platforms in the median of the freeway, similar to existing Metro Silver Line service on Interstate 110 (the Harbor
  5. 5. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 5 Freeway). The staff assessment also recommended interim service using stops on Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive, just as Route 549 does today and the pilot service will have beginning in the spring. However, depending on the recommendation of the Technical Study, Metro may proceed directly to the final project. While multiple alignments for SR-134 BRT service remain under consideration, the route would likely terminate at a Metro Rail Gold Line station in Pasadena (the pilot express bus service will terminate at the Memorial Park Station near the Pasadena Civic Center). To the west, service could operate to Downtown Burbank and the Burbank Airport or remain on SR-134 through the Burbank Media Center, as Route 549 does today and as the pilot service will do. At North Hollywood, it could terminate or continue on as part of the Metro Orange Line BRT to Warner Center and Chatsworth in the western San Fernando Valley. Ultimately, light rail transit (LRT) service might be provided in the SR-134 corridor. It would likely operate in the freeway median, just as the Gold Line operates in the median of Interstate 210 in Pasadena, and it could continue on to the Gold Line right-of-way to the east and/or, if it were upgraded to light rail as has been proposed, the Orange Line right-of-way to the west. The Metro staff assessment considered these possibilities; however, no such service is currently planned. RECOMMENDATIONS The following recommendations for transit facilities, amenities and service to be developed as part of and in association with the Space 134 project are designed to: integrate SR-134 rapid transit service into the Space 134 site and program; be supportive of that service; and leverage the service to provide enhanced “first/last mile” connectivity from the regional transit hub to destinations in the vicinity of Space 134 but beyond walking distance. The recommendations are also designed to ensure a high-quality experience for users of Space 134-area transit stops and stations, and to ensure that transit service is attractive to a broad segment of potential users. The recommendations consist of:  Proposed locations of transit stops and stations  Proposed changes to existing local service  Proposed improvements to stop and station access  Proposed designs of stops and stations  Proposed elements of a transit-related “mobility hub” The recommendations also address possible changes to roadway and intersection configurations that are not recommended at this time but should be further studied. The recommendations for stop and station location and design, new services and access improvements are organized around the two basic configurations of SR-134 BRT service that are most likely to be recommended by Metro: service exiting SR-134 to stop between Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard on Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive, and service remaining on SR-134 with a median station between Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard. Figure 4 shows major existing and planned/proposed transit corridors in the vicinity of Space 134. It also shows the potential locations for BRT or LRT stops at and adjacent to Space 134 described in the following sections.
  6. 6. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 6 Figure 4 Existing and Proposed Transit Corridors
  7. 7. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 7 BRT On Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive Figure 5 shows proposed locations of BRT and connecting local bus stops if BRT were to operate on Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive between Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard rather than on SR-134. BRT stops would be located:  Eastbound mid-block between Central Avenue and Brand Boulevard, adjacent to a mid- block crossing to Space 134. The stop should be sited far enough from the intersection so that right-turn queues would not prevent buses from accessing the stop under typical peak conditions.  Westbound on the far side of Brand Boulevard. Siting the BRT stops on Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive near Brand Boulevard, rather than at Central Avenue or at both streets, would enable the highest level of connectivity between BRT and local bus stops. Under this proposal, local bus stops on Brand Boulevard would be sited as close as possible to both BRT stops:  Northbound near-side at Sanchez Drive and far-side at Goode Avenue  Southbound near-side at Goode Avenue and far-side at Sanchez Drive Figure 5 also shows locations where crosswalks would be need to be added or improved to provide safe and direct pedestrian connections between BRT and local bus stops. Note that the “continental,” “ladder” or “zebra” striped treatment shown here is just one possible design. Also note that the bus pathways identified assume current roadway and signal configurations. It might be possible to provide shared right-turn and transit-only “queue jump” lanes on each off-ramp pending further analysis of impacts on traffic from adding transit signal priority and a transit- only queue jump phase to each signal. This would serve to reduce transit delay and travel time and improve the reliability of BRT service.
  8. 8. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 8 Figure 5 Recommendations for BRT on Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive
  9. 9. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 9 While the recommendations do not require that Beeline service on Central Avenue be relocated to Brand Boulevard, consolidating all Beeline and Metro service at stops on Brand Boulevard would reduce effective (combined) frequencies for service between Space 134 and downtown destinations to the south. Figure 6 shows current scheduled departures between 8 and 9 a.m. in the southbound direction on Beeline Routes 1 and 2 and Metro Route 92 from the area of Space 1341 2. While Routes 1 and 92 operate southbound on Brand Boulevard, Route 2 operates southbound on Central Avenue. Figure 6 Southbound Departures Between 8 and 9 a.m. Departure Route 8:07 1 8:12 92 8:20 2 8:27 1 8:34 92 8:41 2 8:46 1 8:58 92 8:59 2 As Figure 6 indicates, between 8 and 9 a.m. there are nine scheduled departures southbound from the Space 134 site, for an average headway of 6.7 minutes. However, these departures are divided between stops on Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue, resulting in an average headway of 10 minutes at Brand Boulevard (six trips per hour) and 20 minutes on Central Avenue (three trips per hour). Riders bound for destinations to the south must choose between stops on Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue. While real-time arrival information allows them to make an informed choice, this information is not always reliable. Consolidating service on Brand Boulevard would allow riders bound for the southern part of downtown to simply walk to the nearest stop, wait an average of no more than seven minutes (assuming existing service levels) and “take the first bus that comes along.” As Figure 6 indicates, there is a relatively high level of existing transit service between the Space 134 site and the rest of downtown during peak periods. This level is only slightly reduced off- peak, although the span of Beeline service is somewhat limited (Routes 1 and 2 cease operating between 7 and 8 p.m. on weekdays, and before 6 p.m. on weekends). Additional service such as a branded circulator, then, is likely to be unnecessary. However, care should be taken to ensure that passengers are fully aware of their options for connecting service. This will require additional passenger information at stops (e.g., signage with statements such as “Board any bus for Downtown Glendale”) as well as “wayfinding” directional signage pointing users toward 1 There are currently no stops on Brand or Central Avenue at Goode Avenue or Sanchez Drive; the nearest stops are north of Monterey Road and Burchett Street to the north and near Doran Street to the south. The times shown are thus approximate times at which buses pass the Space 134 site, based on scheduled departures from nearby timepoints. 2 Beeline Route 11 also operates on Brand. However, in the morning it operates northbound only, and southbound afternoon departures do not provide service to Brand Boulevard between Wilson Avenue and Colorado Street.
  10. 10. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 10 connecting stops. Special branding on Beeline buses providing connections to and from Space 134 and SR-134 rapid transit service may also be desirable. Along with custom signage, BRT stops should include a number of special amenities for passengers. While development of BRT stops will ultimately be the responsibility of Metro, Glendale can serve as an active and vocal partner in the process. Amenities might include:  Raised platforms allowing for level or near-level boarding (and faster loading and unloading of buses)  Ticket vending machines (TVMs) and TAP Card readers allowing for off-board fare payment (and further reducing delay in the boarding process)  Designated loading areas for bicycles (if they are allowed on-board), strollers, wheelchair and other mobility devices  Large, distinctly branded shelters with ample seating  Prominent signage identifying the stop location, routes providing service to the stop, and major details of their operation  Enhanced passenger information including real-time arrival displays, route and area maps, and schedules  Garbage and recycling receptacles  Public art While local bus stops do not need to provide the same degree of amenity (or require the same level of investment, including ongoing investment in maintenance), all stops should include shelters, seating and high-quality signage. BRT on SR-134 Figure 9 shows proposed locations of BRT/LRT and connecting local bus stops if BRT or LRT were to remain on SR-134 rather than exiting onto Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive. BRT stops would be located:  East and westbound within the SR-134 right-of-way. While the location and design of these stops will ultimately be determined by Metro, again, Glendale can play a role in this process. Ideally, the stops would be located below or just west of Brand Boulevard, allowing for portal entries at surface grade within the proposed transit plaza on the west side of Brand Boulevard between Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive. If the stops were on a shared center island platform station in the median of the freeway, all vertical circulation elements (stairs, escalators and elevators) could be consolidated. Alternately, stops could be located on either side of median transit lanes or tracks, allowing passengers to face each other and face away from traffic as shown in Figures 7 and 8.
  11. 11. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 11 Figure 7 Example of Freeway Median Station Buffered from Traffic (Metro Silver Line 37th Street/USC Station) Photo by METRO96 (Wikipedia) Figure 8 Example of Freeway Median Station Buffered from Traffic (Evergreen Point Station, Medina, WA) Photo by SounderBruce (Flickr)
  12. 12. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 12 While this design could serve to improve passenger comfort, it would require a greater footprint, as a shared island configuration allows for “sharing” by stops in both directions of elements such as vertical circulation, shelters, TVMs and other furniture. Alternately, platforms could be screened from traffic noise using walls between the transit right-of-way and traffic lanes. Ideally, these walls would be transparent in order to enhance the sense of openness and safety, potentially using acrylic glass (more commonly known under the brand name Plexiglas). At a minimum, fencing should be provided in order to enhance perceived (if not actual) safety. In this scenario, the four local bus stops proposed for the previous scenario (a pair for each BRT stop) would be consolidated into a single northbound and single southbound stop:  The northbound stop would be just north of Sanchez , adjacent to the crosswalk, allowing for the quickest possible connection to the BRT station.  The southbound stop would be located mid-block between Goode Avenue and Sanchez Drive, immediately adjacent to the transit plaza.
  13. 13. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 13 Figure 9 Recommendations for BRT/LRT on SR-134
  14. 14. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 14 Just as in the previous scenario, it is recommended that high-visibility crosswalks be provided between all connecting transit stops that are across the street from one another, that all local bus connections be consolidated at the stops on Brand Boulevard, and that enhanced passenger amenities be provided at stops. Additionally, further steps should be taken to ensure passenger comfort on the BRT/LRT platform, which would not only be adjacent to freeway traffic, but would be below the Space 134 cap – effectively, it would be a subway platform surrounded by speeding cars. Figures 10 and 11 shows a Metro Rail station and a light rail station in Denver, Colorado, that are within a freeway right-of-way under an overpass. While these stations include minimal public art, and while shelter from the elements is unnecessary in this situation, the examples shown could provide additional seating and other amenities such as passenger information. Ideally, skylights would be provided above the platform allowing natural light to filter down, potentially raised above grade in order to reduce the risk of accidental falls. Figure 10 Example of Station Below Overpass (Metro Green Line Norwalk Station) Photo by GTD Aquitaine (Wikipedia) potentially raised above grade in order to reduce the risk of accidental falls.
  15. 15. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 15 Figure 11 Example of Station Below Overpass (Louisiana/Pearl Station, Denver, CO) Photo by Matt Johnson Mobility Hub Elements A “mobility hub” is a facility offering a range of “first/last mile” travel options, as well as information on options and other amenities for travelers. A mobility hub can serve to greatly improve access to a transit station by offering services and amenities such as:  A full-service bikestation with bike repair, rental, secure storage and shower facilities  A bikeshare (short-term rental) pod  A transit (TAP) card sales outlet  Pick-up and drop-off zones or “kiss-and-ride” curb space  Taxi/shared-ride stands  Electric vehicle parking and charging stations  Dedicated carpool/vanpool parking  Carsharing services  Information kiosks with trip-planning information  A café and/or market with wireless internet, restrooms In addition to increasing the usefulness of the SR-134 BRT or LRT stops at Space 134, a mobility hub within the proposed transit plaza along Brand Boulevard would also serve to greatly increase the visibility of transit service on the site, which may be of particular importance if platforms are
  16. 16. SPACE 134 | Final Transit Recommendations (Draft) City of Glendale NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates Inc. | 16 located below the cap, out of sight (although a high-visible portal structure could also serve this purpose). NEXT STEPS As the SR-134 BRT project progresses, the City of Glendale will need to actively engage with Metro staff and Board members in order to ensure that the Space 134 and SR-134 projects are aligned with one another, and that the City’s interests are fully represented. According to Metro staff, the BRT Technical Study team will:  conduct public outreach in January or February;  analyze and refine alternatives over the spring and summer; and  recommend a preferred alternative or alternatives to the Metro Board by September. Glendale staff have met with Metro BRT staff on several occasions. It is imperative that staff from both agencies, as well as the BRT consultant team, maintain open channels of communication over the next nine months as the BRT alternatives are narrowed to a final preferred design. As part of these discussions, Glendale should advocate for the BRT stop-related recommendations contained in this document, and the design of Space 134 should be adjusted as necessary to reflect and remain compatible with the BRT project design. Glendale should also support inclusion of the BRT project in the upcoming Metro sales tax measure, if that measure proceeds. Following adoption of a preferred alternative next fall, the BRT process will proceed to environmental review, a process which typically takes about two years to complete.