Save the Date!
Mobility 21 to Host 8th Annual
Sacramento Legislative Reception
Please save the date for Mobility 21’s 8th annual Sacramento Legislative Reception honoring California’s transportation leaders.
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
The Citizen Hotel
926 J Street, Sacramento
Sponsorships and registration opening soon!
Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight: Brandon Davis
Brandon Davis is an infrastructure attorney who guides public agency clients through all elements of the procurement, construction contract drafting and contract implementation processes for complex infrastructure projects. Though based in Los Angeles, his projects are located throughout the United States. His experience ranges from first-of-a-kind highway, bridge and tunnel projects to high-speed trains, commuter rail and people movers. This experience includes complex transportation-related structures, such as major rental-car facilities, toll service centers, administrative office structures and airport terminals.
Brandon’s work includes advising his clients on the use of cutting-edge delivery methods, including design-build, progressive design-build, CM-at-risk, DBFOM and other forms of P3s. He offers his clients a unique perspective on successfully applying these alternative delivery methods because he has helped create state-level alternative delivery programs – including passage of design-build, CM-at-Risk and P3 enabling legislation – in California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Nevada and Utah. This experience includes representing the Florida Department of Transportation on the procurement and successful implementation of the first two availability payment P3 transactions in the U.S., and both the California Department of Transportation and the City of Los Angeles on their first P3 transactions. Brandon’s expertise includes advising many of the Firm’s clients on federal aid compliance issues for major transportation projects.
A selection of recent projects he has advised on in Southern California include the San Diego Association of Governments’ Otay Mesa East Port of Entry; the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports’ Automated People Mover and Consolidated Rent-A-Car Facility availability payment DBFOM projects; and the Port of Long Beach’s Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.
Nossaman LLP has the largest infrastructure practice of any law firm in the nation, having represented Departments of Transportation and regional transportation agencies in over 35 states. In addition, the firm’s complementary environmental, eminent domain, land use and governmental relations practices enable Nossaman to provide its clients with full-service for its most complicated projects.
Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Eugene D. Seroka
Port of Los Angeles and Advisory
Gene Seroka is the Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest container port in North America. Confirmed by Los Angeles City Council in June 2014, the Port has experienced a series of historic, record-breaking performances since his appointment.
As Executive Director, Gene interacts with a wide range of stakeholders, including Port customers around the globe, industry partners, elected and appointed officials at all levels, business leaders and local residents. A respected global trade expert, Gene has advocated for rules-based trade agreements that benefit American exporters and manufacturers.
Since the pandemic-induced buying surge generated by American consumers in the second half of 2020, the Port of Los Angeles has eclipsed multiple monthly cargo records and recorded eight out of 10 highest-performing quarters in its 115-year history. The Port set two new milestones for the Western Hemisphere in June 2021 as the first port to process 10 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in a 12-month period and in May 2021 the first port to process 1 million TEUs in a single month.
Gene has distinguished himself as a leader throughout his illustrious career in shipping, global logistics and executive management. He received the esteemed Stanley T. Olafson Award from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce in 2023, recognizing his work in the world trade industry and leadership of the nation’s busiest container port. The Containerization & Intermodal Institute named Gene the 2021 recipient of the Connie Award, one the most coveted honors in the maritime industry. Lloyd’s List has recognized Gene as the preeminent source on the supply chain, which earned him a spot in the 2021 Top 100 most influential people in shipping. Also in 2021, the Inland Empire Economic Partnership honored Gene with its Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing decades of leadership and accomplishments in the supply chain, logistics and maritime industry. Gene has been named one of the most influential people in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal and featured on the LA500 list each year since 2016.
In 2020, Supply Chain Dive named Gene Executive of the Year for his leadership throughout the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, Gene—who lived in China during the 2002-2004 SARS epidemic—led the Port’s response to the global health crisis, keeping cargo flowing as an essential service to the nation. In March 2020, former Mayor Eric Garcetti named Gene the Chief Logistics Officer for the City of Los Angeles, while concurrently serving as the Port’s Executive Director.
As chief of America’s top port, he is responsible for managing a $2 billion budget, advancing major capital projects, growing trade volume and promoting innovative, sustainable practices that strengthen the region’s economy. Under his direction, the Port has taken a leadership role in adopting cutting-edge technologies to improve the reliability, predictability and efficiency of the flow of cargo across global seaborne trade. In 2017, Gene oversaw the Port’s launch of the first-of-its-kind digital information portal, Port Optimizer™, and has championed for ports around the world to share critical supply chain data and analytics.
While serving as Executive Director, Gene has been appointed to serve on four federal committees to enhance the speed and efficiency of cargo movement and supply chain optimization, including the U.S. Department of Commerce Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness, U.S. Maritime Administration Marine Transportation System National Advisory Committee, Federal Maritime Commission Supply Chain Innovation Team and U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation’s former Port Performance Freight Statistics Working Group. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the California Association of Port Authorities, American Association of Port Authorities and Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority.
Gene’s footing in the maritime industry was established as a sales support representative at American President Lines (APL) Limited’s Cincinnati office in 1988. After several key overseas positions in China, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, he returned to the U.S. in 2010 to become President – Americas for the shipping line in Phoenix where he managed APL’s Liner Shipping business, including 1,000 employees, and was responsible for all commercial, port terminal, intermodal, land transportation and labor activities throughout the region.
Gene holds an MBA and Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of New Orleans.
Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project Updates
Metro recently shared some updates on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, a project that will build a rail line across the Santa Monica Mountains, providing a much-needed transit connection between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside.
A little background: The dream of building a modern rail line across the Sepulveda Pass has been around a long time. The Southern California Rapid Transit District’s (SCRTD’s) failed 1974 ballot measure included a ‘Canoga Park to LAX’ route. Similar proposals came up again in 1976 and 1980 … but funding was never secured.
Measure R — approved by LA County voters in 2008 — provided seed money for the project. Then Measure M, in 2016, added more funding that kicked the project into gear.
A 2017 feasibility study explored different transit options between the Valley and LAX. We put everything on the table –– light rail, heavy rail, monorail, maglev (magnetic levitation technology, popular in Asia) –– and even a gondola!
We started with 48 (not a typo!) build alternatives. By 2021, we winnowed them down to six and began our formal environmental review. All the remaining build alternatives would run between the Van Nuys Metrolink station and an E Line station (either Sepulveda/Expo or Bundy/Expo) All six would connect with the G and D Lines. We’re also studying a ‘no build’ alternative; that is, a version of the future in which this project does not exist.
But there are key distinctions, too. The routes are different, ranging from 12 to 16+ miles in length. The technologies are different. Three of the alternatives use monorail –– an elevated straddle-type system –– and the other three are heavy rail, like our B and D Line subway.
We recently shared two key estimates that are part of our studies –– the estimated travel times and number of estimated boardings for each alternative. Keep reading for a brief rundown. You can check out the complete presentation here.
As the chart above shows, end-to-end travel times among the six alternatives range between 18 and 32 minutes. All alternatives are faster than driving at peak hours.
Also notable: the range of travel times is wider when you’re driving — from 40 to 100 minutes. A big goal of this project is to make travel times more predictable.
These maps demonstrate how much of LA is reachable by transit within 60 minutes from the Van Nuys Metrolink Station or the station at the E Line – the two stations at both ends of the Sepulveda project. As you can see, all the proposed alternatives make Los Angeles feel both bigger (with more destinations via transit) and smaller (with shorter travel times) at the same time.
This chart illustrates the number of estimated boardings by station. Stations at the end of the line and those that connect with existing and future transit lines are predicted to have the highest numbers. This data is important –– it gives us an idea of which stations might be most important to riders, how people will access our system, and why people are making trips. Comment please: Which station are you most excited about?
Last month, I had the chance to attend two (totally packed!) events in Westwood and Van Nuys to learn what community members had to say about these updates. Here are some of the topics I heard discussed:
Monorail or heavy rail? This is a question of high interest to the public. Here is what we know:
- The monorail alternatives would travel in the middle of the 405 with stations to the side of the freeway. Alternative 3 includes an underground section between the Getty Center and Wilshire Boulevard.
- While there aren’t many monorail projects in the United States, monorail is generally assumed to be quieter than above-ground steel-wheel rail.
- Building above ground is usually cheaper than tunneling. However, we don’t have cost estimates finalized yet for this project.
- Alternatives 4-6 are proposing heavy rail either fully below ground or a mix of above and below. These alternatives are faster and estimate more boardings than the monorail options.
We know that many people want us to decide what we’re going to build. We also know that there are many people interested in the various options. (Most of those who came out to the meetings were vocal supporters of heavy rail, but I met some monorail supporters too.) Our view is that even though it takes time, we owe it to everyone to vigorously study all the options. Our Board of Directors will ultimately choose an alternative and we want them to have all the data needed to make that choice.
A UCLA station? UCLA is one of the biggest employers in LA County, and over 70,000 people travel to campus each day, so one of the biggest groups of future riders this project stands to benefit are the people who live, work, go to school, or use the medical facilities at UCLA. Many students came to the Westwood meeting and told me it would be huge to have a station on campus. (Yes, the D/Purple Line Extension will have a Westwood stop at Wilshire, but it’s still a .5 to 1.5 mile walk to many campus locations). Four of the six alternatives (Alternatives 3, 4, 5 and 6) we’re studying include a station directly on the UCLA campus at Gateway Plaza. Alternative 1 would use an electric-powered bus to connect to campus from the monorail’s Wilshire station while Alternative 2 would use a people mover.
What about the Getty Center? The estimated boardings here aren’t projected to be very high, but the Getty is one of our region’s big attractions. Right now, the three monorail alternatives include a stop there, but none of the heavy rail options do. Should we have one? Let us know!
How are we going to pay for this huge project? At present, there is $5.7 billion in funding between Measure M and other sources — that amount will escalate with inflation when construction begins. While the cost estimates aren’t yet complete, we do plan to pursue federal funding –– something we’ve been successful with for most major projects (and the project’s high ridership estimates and travel time savings will help). Important to know: we typically apply for federal funding after the environmental review phase — when we know the alignment and mode we’d like to build.
When will construction begin? More importantly, when will this project be finished? The Measure M expenditure plan states that the project will be completed between 2033 and 2035. But we won’t have a groundbreaking date until we know what we’re building and the funding is secure. Stay tuned.
What about eminent domain? Will any alternative need to use it? This is a question that community members often ask — and for good reason. At this stage of the project, it’s too soon to tell what land we would need to acquire -– we usually need land for stations and as construction staging yards. We’ll be sharing this information when the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is released. Learn more about the way we handle property acquisitions here.
What else is going on with the I-405 Corridor? The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project will be a game-changer when it comes to moving between the Westside and the Valley, but it’s not the only solution we’re exploring. We encourage you to check out the I-405 Sepulveda Pass ExpressLanes Project, where we’re partnering with Caltrans to consider adding dynamically priced High Occupancy Toll lanes (ExpressLanes) on the 405, and the Traffic Reduction Study (TRS), a potential pilot program that will explore how congestion pricing could reduce traffic. Check back for updates!
As we continue our environmental review, we’ll have more news to share in the coming months. That includes info on potential disruptions that the project may cause, such as changes to traffic and noise levels or impacts to paleontological, archeological, or historical resources. Our ongoing study is also looking at the benefits of the project, such as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality. When complete, we’ll release the DEIR, which will be followed by a public comment period.
We know that you have many questions about this project –– more than can be answered in this article –– and we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked ones here. But this is a living document. And your feedback is critical. So if you don’t see your question or have comments to share, we’d love it if you dropped us a line at email@example.com before December 8 so we can incorporate them into our continuing evaluation.
SBCTA, Metrolink Eye 2024 Launch of
New Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Trains
The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) and Metrolink are eagerly anticipating the launch of the first hydrogen-powered passenger rail service in the United States.
Last month, SBCTA joined Stadler in unveiling the first FLIRT H2, a Zero-Emission Multiple Unit (ZEMU) that will become part of Metrolink’s service from Redlands to San Bernardino in late 2024. The new train, which represents the next-generation of passenger rail service, was on display at the APTA EXPO in Orlando.
The ZEMUs will become part of the Arrow fleet that operates on the eastern 9-mile portion of the Metrolink Line. They will replace the low-emission Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) that have run on the Line since its opening in 2022.
They also represent a pivotal moment for mass transit across Southern California and the U.S., culminating more than 10 years of planning and development by SBCTA, which saw the need for efficient, sustainable passenger rail as part of the regional transportation ecosystem. The agency serves one of the fastest-growing economic and population centers in the country, as well as one of the more challenged air quality basins in North America.
Eventually, SBCTA partnered with Stadler, the Switzerland-based train builder with a global reputation for social responsibility, sustainability and innovation. In 2019, SBCTA and Stadler signed the first-ever contract to develop a fully compliant hydrogen-powered train in the U.S.
“SBCTA saw the need for a greener transit alternative more than a decade ago. These new trains fulfill that vision and will be a game changer when it comes to passenger rail not only here in Southern California but across the country,” said Dawn Rowe, President of the SBCTA Board of Directors.
Ray Marquez, SBCTA Board Vice President and Chino Hills City Councilmember, described the FLIRT H2 ZEMU as “a game changer when it comes to sustainable, alternative-energy passenger rail in the U.S.”
“The FLIRT H2 is a 21st century marvel and something that we’ll be admiring for decades to come,” Marquez said.
Draft Connect SoCal 2024 Plan
Now Available for Public Review
The SCAG Regional Council voted on Nov. 2 to release the draft Connect SoCal 2024 plan, the region’s 2024-2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, for public review and comment through Jan. 12, 2024.
Updated every four years, Connect SoCal 2024 outlines a vision for the region, with integrated strategies across the areas of mobility, community, environment and economy to help get there. The Plan meets federal transportation conformity requirements and state requirements for greenhouse gas emission reduction, enabling the region to continue receiving funding for much-needed transportation projects.
During the draft Connect SoCal 2024 public comment period, SCAG staff will host three public hearings—on Dec. 4, 5 and 8—in addition to briefings for elected officials in each county in the SCAG region.