Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Discussing Development Projects in the Inland Empire


By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com


The debates and discussion over two major development projects continue. On Monday, The Press Enterprise ran a front page article updating the public of the construction process of the Perris Valley Line which drew some really good reader responses. In Moreno Valley, the city council continues to hold hearings over the massive World Logistics Center project. The public debate for both has overall been robust and productive.

World Logistics Center Hearings

As we're all likely well aware, developer Iddo Benzeevi is moving forward with a massive proposed master plan to develop a 40.6 million square foot warehouse complex in east Moreno Valley. Blue collar Job expansion and economic opportunities would be the chief benefits. Traffic, air quality, and land use impacts are the primary concerns.

The supporting arguments both for and against the complex plan are very legit and fact-based. Currently, The Transit Coalition opposes the project until the issues raised by Caltrans, RCTC, and the California Air Resources Board are addressed. The concerns raised by the governing bodies need to be dealt with fairly and impartially so that common ground can be reached between the two sides. Don't get me wrong, I want Mr. Benzeevi to invest his money into the Inland Empire and big-rig trucks are getting cleaner. Moreno Valley could use a good economic stimulus from the logistics sector, but the good people living there need to breathe clean air and be able to get around.

We need a master plan that is straight and fair.

In June, I weighed in on the discussion. My thesis is don't throw out the blue collar job expansion with the pollution and traffic congestion.

Metrolink Perris Valley Line Construction News

PE Staff Writer David Downey's report of the Metrolink Perris Valley Line made its way to the front page of the newspaper Monday. One interesting point that was brought up were the predicted travel times.

Metrolink Communications Representative Leslie Mylius told the PE that a trip between Perris and Fullerton would be about an hour and 45 minutes with and end-to-end trip time of 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach Los Angeles Union Station, which can sound pretty excessive for a commute. But keep in mind that getting from LA into the Perris and Southwest regions during the afternoon rush hour on a Friday can last in excess of 3 hours on the freeway.
Proposed: Run-through tracks at LA Union Station
Graphic: LA Metro

Also, the reason for the 45 minute turn from Fullerton to LA is the lack of run-through track infrastructure at LAUS. Trains from the south have to loop around to the northern end of the station. It takes about 30 minutes to train between LAUS and Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs and about 20 minutes from Commerce to LAUS. The Transit Coalition supports the development of run-through tracks which would certainly shave off a significant portion of the travel trip time. I predict about 10 minutes. Plus, separated grades could clear the the way for the trains to travel at faster speeds along the straighter portions of the route.

At the bottom of the online version of the article, several readers engaged in some good discussion. "Public hearings" of the Perris Valley Line never close here and the stone-cold fact is transportation infrastructure improvements is an ongoing project. It's good to hear the public speak out even though construction is well underway.

The sbX passes by the soon-to-be Metrolink First Mile Extension
For example, one reader suggested that there should be some PVL trips that terminate in San Bernardino. I really don't see anything wrong with that idea. The Riverside Transit Agency found that travel demands were high between Moreno Valley and San Bernardino; so a direct rail connection could very well work. RCTC owns the PVL right of way which means minimal interference with freight trains.

I would go one step further. This conceptual segment should be paired with both Metrolink Max (30 minute all-day headways) and corridor-based routes by having every other trip of the San Bernardnio Line continue to Perris with a turnaround and short layover at the San Bernardino Transit Center. The other trips can continue via the Redlands branch if the proposed rail project uses Metrolink regional rail infrastructure in lieu of DMU. If the San Bernardino Line operated every 30 minutes, that would allow for hourly train departures for both branches and the increased station pairs would generate the necessary ridership for passengers passing through San Bernardino. 

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