Metrolink, OCTA Respond to Traffic Incident in Mission Viejo

The tragic Metrolink incident in Mission Viejo serves as a somber reminder of not trespassing on the railroad tracks. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times.

Metrolink and OCTA responded to a tragic incident after a Metrolink train bound for Los Angeles from Oceanside fatally struck two people and injured another Thursday morning in Mission Viejo after the trio fell asleep on the tracks, according to police and news reports.

The incident resulted in massive delays along the rail corridor, affecting Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service for several hours.

OCTA provided “bus bridges” to shuttle 175 passengers between Irvine and Laguna Niguel / Mission Viejo Metrolink stations. Amtrak also stopped and provided service at all Metrolink stations in Orange County.

Metrolink field representatives provided passengers refreshments and information during the service delays. Electronic signs at the stations also provided rail customers with information as well as Twitter updates.

State Budget Stalemate May Put Brakes on O.C. Highway Construction

The California state budget impasse may impact several key freeway construction projects in Orange County. Caltrans officials are warning that if California’s elected officials cannot reach a budget deal by the end of September, construction work on dozens of highway projects across the state will stop.

Caltrans Director Cindy McKim said the budget delay has stopped new construction from being advertised and awarded to contractors, and may put the brakes on ongoing construction projects and preventing payments to construction contractors. The budget also may prevent 50,000 new jobs from starting across the state.

Some of the impacted highway projects in Orange County are:

  • I-405 / I-605 interchange at Los Angeles and Orange County border
  • SR-57 northbound widening between Orangethorpe Avenue to Yorba Linda Boulevard in Placentia and Fullerton
  • SR-57 northbound widening between Yorba Linda Boulevard to Lambert Road in Fullerton and Brea
  • I-5 southbound widening from Tustin Ranch Road to Jamboree Road in Tustin and Irvine
  • Soundwalls at I-5 and Avenida Vaquero in Clemente
  • Soundwalls at I-5 and El Camino in San Clemente

“Delayed and suspended construction projects and non-payment to vendors prevents the economic stimulation and job creation that result from the department’s normal activities,” McKim stated in a memo.

McKim said that approximately $2.1 billion in transportation projects that are contingent on the approval of the state budget may be delayed or deferred. Caltrans also would not be able to award more than $900 million in new contracts to construction firms and would have to temporarily suspend payments on $9.5 billion worth of current construction because of a lack of available cash.

Construction Gets the Green Light

Construction of the $328-million West County Connectors project is under way that will connect carpool lanes on the San Diego (I-405), San Gabriel River (I-605) and Garden Grove (SR-22) freeways. Crews began night-time closures Sunday that will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. all week. In October, construction workers will begin demolition of the Valley View bridge. For more transportation news, visit OCTA’s YouTube channel.
OCTA's Executive Director of Capital Programs Jim Beil addresses members of the Southern California Association of Contractors at a presentation in Anaheim.

OCTA Gives Construction Update to Local Contractors Association

Jim Beil, executive director of capital programs at OCTA, gave an update on construction projects to the Southern California Contractors Association.

At the presentation Wednesday in Anaheim, Beil focused on projects starting construction in the next five years including the seven grade separation projects occurring on the BNSF rail line in north Orange County.

Beil also discussed the current budget situation at the state level and the impact it is having on local projects as well as an impending transportation reauthorization bill making its through Congress.

O.C. League of Cities Honor OCTA Board Members at Fountain Valley Ceremony

The Orange County Division of the League of Cities hosted a ceremony in Fountain Valley last week, recognizing two OCTA board members for their outstanding service to the group.

Members of the league recognized OCTA Board Chairman and Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante, who serves as the Division’s president and OCTA Board Director Richard Dixon, who serves as the state league director. The league recognized Amante and Dixon for their service and dedication to the league.

“I am honored to be a part of the league and to help make a difference,” Amante said. “OCTA and the Orange County Division of the League are both dedicated to improving the quality of life and transportation in Orange County. I’m proud to be one of the many people that can help shape a brighter future for Orange County.”

The League of Cities serves as an exceptional partner for OCTA as it advances board policies that help increase mobility throughout the region.

OCTA Officials Discuss Environmental Mitigation
Programs with Transportation Corridor Agencies

OCTA officials met with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) officials last Tuesday to discuss the Measure M2 Environmental Mitigation Program’s acquisition process.

The M2 Environmental Oversight Committee makes recommendations on the allocation of environmental freeway mitigation funds. These funds will help in preserving open space in Orange County.

The purpose of the mitigation program is to provide for comprehensive mitigation of environmental impacts of the M2 freeway projects. A master agreement negotiated between OCTA and state and federal resource agencies will provide higher-value environmental benefits such as habitat protection, wildlife corridors and resource preservation in exchange for streamlined project approvals for the freeway program as a whole.

OCTA is currently in the process of appraising open space lands for mitigation program funding. The acquired land will be integrated into the conservation planning effort, which is under way. As part of this effort, OCTA is required to identify the interim and ultimate conservation land manager.

Officials have discussed with various potential parties to take on these roles. Since Transportation Corridor Agencies currently own and manage conservation lands in close proximity to some of the candidate acquisition properties, OCTA staff members met with them to determine if an economy of scale could be realized should OCTA and TCA reach a mutual agreement for the interim phase of conservation land management services.

OCTA staff will continue coordination with the TCA to determine if there is an alignment with the management of the potential acquisition properties and provide updates to the board.

Environmental Committee Reviews Water Quality Measures

Members of the M2 Environmental Cleanup Allocation Committee met Thursday to discuss updates about the Water Quality Program.

The committee discussed the call for projects for the Tier 1 Grant Program, which is expected to take place in December 2010. The Tier 1 Grant Program is designed to mitigate the more visible form of pollutants such as litter and debris that collects on roadways and in storm drains prior to being deposited in waterways and the ocean.

The Tier 1 program consists of funding for equipment purchases and upgrades to existing storm water catch basins and related best management practices (BMPs) such as screens, filters, inserts and other streetscale low-flow diversion projects.

The committee also reviewed a draft of the Tier 1 competitive scoring criteria, which will guide the evaluation committee when reviewing and discussing the submitted proposals for M2 funding and discussed the development of the County of Orange and OCTA storm water purchases and installation memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU will enable selected vendors to be part of a master agreement between Orange County Public Works and OCTA, which will allow awarded entities to select from a listing of vendors to provide, supply, fabricate, construct, deliver and install storm water screens. 

The committee also received an update on recent public outreach efforts, including the BMPs Technology Fair, which will demonstrate various storm water devices that may be eligible for funding and will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 22 in the OCTA parking lot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, contact Marissa Espino at (714) 560-5607 or mespino@octa.net.

OCTA Officials to Brief Aliso Viejo City Council on Go Local Presentation

Wednesday, Sept. 15 – OCTA officials will share information with members of the Aliso Viejo City Council regarding the Go Local program. The presentation to the council will take place at 7 p.m. at Aliso Viejo City Hall, 12 Journey in Aliso Viejo.

For more information, contact Andrea West at (714) 560-5611 or awest@octa.net.

City of Santa Ana Hosts Rideshare and Health Fair

Wednesday, Sept. 15 – The city of Santa Ana will host the 2010 Rideshare and Health Fair, which aims to promote healthy living and solutions for a cleaner environment. The fair will provide city employers and employees with free health screenings, pick up open enrollment information and learn about commuting options and incentives offered through the city’s Rideshare program.

The event will take place at noon at Santa Ana City Hall, 20 Civic Center Plaza in Santa Ana.

For more information, contact Kriss Young at (714) 560-5433 or KYoung@octa.net.

Sept. 5 – The Orange County Register included an article about OCTA retaining sound experts to analyze the noise level necessary to alert pedestrians to approaching trains at pedestrian-only crossings along San Clemente's beach trail.

Sept. 8 –The Orange County Register published an article about the West County Connectors project beginning construction this week.

After a groundbreaking with elected officials, construction crews are now hard at work on the West County Connectors Project.

Sept. 8 – The Orange County Register ran a story about the San Clemente City Council planning to apply in January for a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to substitute stationary "wayside horns" for oncoming trains' horn blasts at rail crossings.

Sept. 9 – The Orange County Register posted a story about two people who were killed and a third seriously injured Thursday morning after being struck by a northbound Metrolink train at 6:15 a.m. in Mission Viejo.

Sept. 9 – The Orange County Register included an article about the Mission Viejo City Council unanimously approving a plan to widen Crown Valley Parkway from Cabot Road to the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5).

Sept. 9 – The Orange County Register wrote an article about the road at Red Hill Avenue and the railroad crossing closing so OCTA can install rail safety enhancements to the railroad crossing.

For the latest media news, follow Joel Zlotnik, media relations manager, on Twitter.

None this week.

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