L.A. Carmageddon: 2 cyclists arrested for riding on closed Freeway

LA Times

Two bicyclists who were riding shirtless on the southbound 405 Freeway near the Wilshire Boulevard exit were arrested, officials said.

The cyclists were cited — and their bikes were impounded — around 2:15 p.m., according to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson.

Earlier in the day, about six to eight cyclists were escorted off the freeway closure area.

A 70-year-old jogger was arrested at 9:25 a.m., Fajardo said. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant of public menace, and it was not clear if he was also arrested for being a pedestrian on a freeway.

Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles said a few people have tried to get onto the 405, including a jogger wearing a helmet camera and skateboarder who got onto the side of the freeway that was still open in the early hours of the morning.

The Expanded Moscow – Map

We covered this earlier in the week – here is a map.

Here is the press release translated

Expanding the boundaries of the city happens in the western, southwestern and southern areas – mainly due to the area limited by the Kiev and Warsaw highway, and great ring of the Moscow railway. The choice of this area for the expansion of Moscow due to the following reasons:

optimal location to perform functions of the capital Moscow on the totality of urban development, transportation, and environmental factors;

relatively weak urbanization of this sector of the Moscow region. At present the population 250 thousand people., And the foundation of building is only 12 million square feet. m;

historically in the west and southwest of the objects are placed to facilitate the implementation of the functions of the capital Moscow, Russian Federation (including the government’s airport).

The development potential of the new territory of capital enables us to construct objects with total area of approximately 105 million square feet. m (including 60 million square feet. m of housing and 45 million square feet. m building social and business purposes), and the density of new development will be significantly lower (  2-2.5), than within the Ring Road. This will provide housing 2 million people in Moscow and to create more than 1 million new highly skilled jobs. In the new territories of Moscow assumed location of the federal bodies of state authority and the city of Moscow, an international financial center facilities, research and education and innovation clusters, including the Innovation Centre “Skolkovo”.

Implementation of the measures needed to expand the territory of Moscow, will be the most important task of the Programme of development of transport complex of the Moscow region . The program will be implemented a smooth transition from the radial-ring structure orthogonal to transport links in the metropolitan area, providing offloading historical center of Moscow on transit traffic.

In particular, it:

1. In the field of road and bridge construction –

  • formation within the existing boundaries of the city of Moscow three chord lines and reconstruction of the Moscow ring road (Ring Road) to minimize the transit road traffic through the city;
  • reconstruction of the radial directions at the head of the Moscow Ring Road areas;
  • Reconstruction of the transverse directions in the area of 15-20 km from Moscow.

2. In the field of high-speed off-street transportation –

  • construction of a new line of metro in Skolkovo extension of subway lines to the station “South West” driving of the two – “Troparevo” and “Rumyantsevo”, the extension of subway lines from the South Butova one or two driving of the area Kommunarka;
  • priority development of rail transport in the western, southwestern and southern areas, in accordance with the general scheme of the Moscow railway junction;
  • construction of two railway stations in Kiev and the Kursk MOR directions at the intersection with the highway A-101;
  • construction of railways connecting between Smolensk and Kiev areas MOR, modernization and extension of the railway line Usovskoy;
  • construction light rail lines, mainly in the east-west direction to ensure convenient transport links.

3. Creating a system of transport hubs (TPU), which provide transfer of passengers from the commuter system, urban transport system in urban passenger transport.

Thus, the rapid development of transport and engineering infrastructure in the new territory of Moscow will create a polycentric urban development environment that meets modern standards of quality of life. Placement of the new territory government bodies, objects, an international financial center, university centers, healthcare facilities and sports, actively housing will remove excess concentration of population and jobs in the historical center of Moscow. Will be given a brand new town planning strategy for the entire metropolitan area of ​​Moscow, providing a harmonious development and creation of comfortable living conditions for nearly 20 million people in Russia.

Planning Vacuum in West Country

From This is Somerset

Residents in picturesque villages across the West are fighting developers who are leaping on uncertainty in the planning process by trying to build on green fields before new laws that might block them come into force….

It is a result of developers are “queuing up” to submit applications for hundreds of new homes on the edges of most of the West’s towns, and hope to take advantage of the planning policy vacuum that has now started, since the coalition Government scrapped housing targets which forced local councils to build homes.

While some developers are working with local authorities to get their sites incorporated into strategic plans for the next 15 years, others are fighting their battles now and claiming that the vacuum means their developments should be given the go-ahead because there isn’t a strategic plan in place.

One West MP said there was rightly pressure on the Government to hurry up with the new planning laws. “Developers would develop all round the area if they could, but we collectively have to decide how much development each area wants,” said Tory MP James Gray. “There is a lot of pressure on the Secretary of State to hurry up and change the law.”

News for you sir.  The Localism Bill is designed to create the vacuum and the NPPF is designed to fill it with development.

Because the SW RSS clearly indicated the direction of development for towns it could be claimed that LPAs without core strategies had a 5 year supply indicated in the development plan.  With revocation they wont and it will be a free for all.

WSP Application for London Bridge Station submitted

A planning application was submitted this week for WSPsproposals for redevelopment of London Bridge Station (TP Bennett did earlier masterplanning) they has also asked for listed building consent to demolish the train shed roof and conservation area consent for demolition of the former South Eastern Railway building.

A new platform level concourse and bus station will be funded by the Shard.  This application is for a second phase and much more dramatic.  London Bridge Station is not one station but two squeezed together in a ‘sprawling confusion’.

As part of the Thameslink programme the platforms will be enlarged to cope with 12 car trains, platforms will be covered, passenger cpacity would be increased by around 2/3rds. Three terminus platforms will be closed and three new through platforms created to allow additional services to continue either to Cannon Street or Charing Cross, or to Blackfriars and onwards via the Thameslink route.

Below the platforms London Bridge station would have a new concourse, the largest in the UK, with natural light from canopies above. The platforms will sit above this concourse and passengers will be able to access them all from one place, solving the very poor interchange problems with the current station.

The old train shed, above the terminating platforms, would be demolished.

Of the two roads under the Station Stainer Street would become a pedestrian-only route. It would remain open 24 hours a day, even when the station is closed.  Weston Street would be closed. It would seem that this would require changing the traffic flow on part of St Thomas’s Street.

New Street level entrances would be created on St Thomas Street, serving the Shard and Tooley Street, Serving More London.

Some arches business would be lost but this would seem outweighed by the major improvements to the Station.

The railway arches along St Thomas Street and Crucifix Lane have recently been Grade II listed, they would not be directly threatened by the proposals, indeed from the visualisations the Grimshaw proposals seem to enhance them.  The architects wanted to remove the lower arches, quite rightly the Southwark Conservation Staff wished to keep them.

The original trainshed, the earliest London Terminus, though by no means the grandest, has to go as the retaining wall  is to be demolished to make way for the new through Thamelink platforms.  It will be dismantled and stored, looking for a new use.  It would have been nice to have had a single overarching roof.

The controversy will no doubt come from the proposals to demolish the South Eastern Railway Buildings.  This is attractive, in a conservation area not listed.  The purpose would be twofold, to create an entrance and to avoid pedestrian congestion from the London Dungeon creating an open area opposite the similar one for More London.  This aspect of teh scheme has got Private Eyes back up.  The Tooley Street facade has been cuttingly described on the SE1 Forum as looking like a Waitrose.





How to Halve Tram Costs in the UK

The vast cost overuns of the Edinburgh tram system prompts question as to why the UK constantly overspends, whilst on the continent tram systems typically cost half the price and are economic even down to cities as small as 200,000 people.  Lord Adonis asked this question but never got to the bottom of it.

The answer is the cost of moving utilities and the cost of ‘on track’ working – keeping roads open whilst buiding trams rather than shutting them completely. The twin causes of the cost overruns in Edinburgh.  As Rail Professional reports.

Transport authorities in the UK get a 7.5 per cent discount when they pay utilities companies to move pipes and cables away from where tram tracks are to be laid. The Highways Agency gets an 18 per cent discount.

Light rail promoters are demanding equality with road builders over the cost of moving utilities. Some even question the need to move them at all. And they are challenging the utilities’ right to have their infrastructure improved for nothing.

Sheffield Central MP Clive Betts, a member of the All-party Light Rail Group, asks: ‘Do we actually have to dig up the utilities to put a tram track down? On the continent, the utilities carry out repairs while the trams are still running, but we wouldn’t allow that in this country. You have to stop the trams completely and that is why we dig them up so that we don’t have those particular problems.’

He adds: ‘We need to look at the utilities issue. Do we need to move them? If we do, do we need to do it free of charge – because, actually, they are using the public realm free of charge for the utilities which are there now.’

Negotiations have been going on for years between the utility companies and UK Tram, the organisation that represents tram promoters. Councillor Andrew Fender, Labour leader on Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, owner of Metrolink says: ‘It really does need to be sorted out if we are to help other towns and cities get the benefits we have in Manchester.’

In France, light rail schemes can be justified for towns as small as 200,000. Robert Whyte from French tram manufacturer Alstom said that labour costs and the price of trams are broadly similar, and it is the higher civil engineering costs that make British projects so much more expensive. Utility costs and road closures make up the bulk of the difference, he adds. ‘In France, they might shut down a road for three months – and it causes chaos – but it is better to have three months of shut, finish, done, whereas we tend to come in and do eight hours here, three hours at a weekend, a bank holiday if we are lucky… and that goes on for two or three years.

‘You only have to look at certain schemes in this country to see the disruption it causes over a much longer period.’

Betts is calling for a ‘long term vision’ at both national and local level and a ‘distinct and separate’ unit within the Department for Transport to deal with light rail, rather than applying the standards of heavy rail.

But the costs cannot all be put at the door of the utilities. The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group has conducted an inquiry into Light Rail and the City Regions. Its report says: ‘Time and again, the biggest overall risks were associated with the uncertainty of decision making in the UK which has effectively de-stabilised the market for light rail and produced “significant disincentives” to working in the UK.

If any MP wins the backbench ballot I would suggest they sponsor a rapid transit promotion bill which would:

  • Give a statutory duty to the SoS for Transport to promote regulations for transit that are at least as favourable than those in the rest of the European union, and if the right for a transport operator or contractor to use those European regulations in default
  • Split UK regulation away from heavy rail, with a dedicated unit with the duty to promote transit and remove barriers
  • Removing the requirement to move utilities, unless there was an immediate safety issue, and ensuring the discount on moving was the same as for the Highways Agency.
  • Giving transit contractors the right to issue closure notices for roads and removal notices for utilities.
  • Giving cities the ability to issue bonds for construction backed by tax incremental financing on uplift in land values on the route.
These reforms would give the major continental operators the confidence to offer fixed price construction bids – especially the French who are the quickest and cheapest.  Within 10 years we could have a dozen extra light rail systems in the UK outside of London, and many more in London, all effectively self financing.

Gondola to the Favelas


A cable  car system car system has opened serving the Complexo do Alemão Favelas in Rio’s Zona Norte.  6 Stations can serve 3,000 passengers per hour.  Steep slopes make conventional public transport impractical. The system is the first in Brazil but not the first in Latin America.  Similar systems operate in Medellín (Colombia) and Caracas (Venezuela).

The architect of the cable car line at the Complexo do Alemão is Jorge Mario Jáuregui.

 Jáuregui believes that favelas are thriving communities which can be turned into vibrant neighborhoods if provided with infrastructure and basic services such as water, electricity, paved roads, footpaths and facilities such as community centers, schools and sporting facilities in order to foster growth and opportunity.

At the Complexo do Alemão, using the Teleférico shortens travel time between its two extreme stations from 50 minutes by foot up-and-down an unpaved hillside, to a pleasant sixteen minutes. The 3.5 kilometer ride also offers a panoramic view of Rio’s landscape. The Teleférico gondola system currently has 152 cabins, fitting ten people each.

(President of Barzil] Rousseff mentioned to the press after her visit… that the area has every potential to become a tourist spot: “After the pacification of the Complexo do Alemão in November last year, the expulsion of the drug dealers and the implementation of a Peace Force, we have improved people’s lives and created a secure environment.”

All 120,000 residents of the Complexo do Alemão have the right to two free rides per day and, if needed, continue their journey on one of of the SuperVia-trains. Additional rides will cost R$1 (US$0,60). Non-residents will have to pay a small fee.


Illegally built Shopping Centre Could Crush Metro Station below

Moscow Friday, the plush  Yerevan shopping centre was raided by the Federal Security Bureau.

Yury Bulanov, former southern district prefect and ex-convict, is under the spotlight for cutting corners when the mall was built and municipal officials for giving it the nod, Izvestia reports.

“During the raid on Stepanyan’s office operatives found a list of police officers whom the [mall’s] leadership had regularly paid for protection,” a police source told Life News.

Special forces also explained that a number of officials in the Moscow government had been involved in a money laundering scam revolving around the shopping and entertainment complex.

The building itself also broke a host of building regulations. “We found that Yerovan Plaza was built with gross violations and could at any moment descend into the metro,” the source said.

“In areas where there is metro underground there are rules regarding the weight and area covered by buildings, otherwise the ground will not hold up.

“The general area of the shopping centre at Tulskaya exceeded the norm by 10,000 square meters. It also occupied part of the city which did not belong to it,” he said.

Police said that the construction enjoyed the patronage of Bulanov, with a background in City Hall and embezzlement.



The Inflation/Deflation Balence

Good analysis by John Mason at Seeking Alpha on the stock and flow issues of credit and inflation.

‘in the 2000s there was a terrific increase in the price of houses and the value of small- and medium-sized businesses, in asset values. Yet price inflation, which is measured in terms of flow price — rents and business cash flows — did not increase at the same rate. Hence, it looked as if consumer price inflation was being kept quite low.
Now we see just the opposite happening. Price inflation seems to be picking up, yet the value of assets like homes and small- and medium-sized businesses are declining, sometimes quite precipitously.
In a period of credit inflation, asset prices tend to increase more rapidly than “flow” prices and this disconnect must ultimately be corrected.
In a period of debt deflation, asset prices tend to decrease more rapidly than flow prices, and this tends to continue until they are brought back more nearly into line (or over-adjust).’

The Plan to Bypass the Suez Canal – creating explosive Tension between Kuwait and Iraq/Iran

As the worlds attention is elsewhere a diplomatic war of words has broken out between Kuwait and Iraq leading to the worst relations between the two countries since their war.

The gulf region is in a race to build megaports, each one hoping to be a regional hub for transshipment, entrepot, and freeport manufacturing/freeports. So far this has produced massive overcapacity with new ports in Bahrain, Abu Dahbi & Dubai operating at a tiny fraction of their capacity (in Bahrain as low as 10%). The only hope to fill these ports is with export goods, and the demand for serviced land for industry (mostly entrepôt and re-export shipping in bulky goods and exporting manufactured goods) is seemingly bottomless. Gulf states can offer cheap land, low energy prices, and a tax free environment. It is no surprise then that the worlds multi-national, at least before the Arab Spring, were beating a path to the Gulfs door and Gulf states could not build industrial cities, some of which are and would be the largest industrial areas in the world, fast enough. For example Saudi Arabia plans to build several new industrial cities and megaports in its eastern province.

The problem is the lack of labour in most gulf countries, and they have had to import large workforces from India and Pakistan stoking social conflicts, especially where inadequate worker housing was built. I myself have seen working housing areas with no water, electricity or public transport, and no air-conditioning in areas suffering from 50 degree heat in the summer.

Firms have been less keen to invest too far west because of the risks of transporting through the straights of Hormuz. The Arabian Rail project will link Oman through to Kuwait linking the ports and creating a terrestrial alternative (or at least it would if they could agree a route that actually serves the key ports).

If the tensions around the gulf calmed down though a tantalising potential exists. Once goods are in Iraq then planned rail links in Iraq will eventually link to the new rail routes now being built through Turkey, which will link to the European Freight network. Transhippment from a gulf port could see goods from the far east shipped by rail to Europe within 4 days, rather than having to use the Suez canal, or for larger container ships sailing around the Cape of Good Hope – saving several weeks off the journey time.

To enable this Iraq has planned the Grand Faw Port for many years, but political squabbling and poor project planning delayed it. Things move much quicker in Kuwait. The Iraq minister for transport, Hadi al-Amiri, threated to resign and it will not finally go ahead, built by an Italian firm, but not starting until 2012.

In the interim Kuwait has lept in starting work on the $1.1 billion Mubarak port on Bubiyan Island in May, now being built by Toyota, which would be located in exactly the same 10m dredged channel just north of Faw.

Some residents of Basra, from where the bulk of Iraq’s oil exports are shipped, last month staged a demonstration against the Kuwaiti port, carrying banners which read: “Don’t block our sea lanes” and “No blocking of Iraq’s ports.”

Iraq’s objections:

An Iraqi economist claimed that Iraq would lose 60% of its business if Kuwait’s port was built, and warned that plans for the Faw port could be scrapped as a result. The Minister of Transportation said that Mubarak was part of a conspiracy against Iraq, and that the issue should be sent to the United Nations because Mubarak encroached upon Iraqi territorial waters and contravened the international border between the two nations. Basra’s Governor Khalaf Abdul-Samad, claimed Kuwait’s port would devastate his province’s economy, and cost thousands of jobs. The Iraqi Overseas Captain told the press that traffic to Mubarak would push mud into Iraqi ports, affect its fishing, and cause a maritime traffic jam as vessels would have to travel up the same canal to reach both ports. The Iraqi parliament called for a special session on the issue, and there was a small demonstration in Basra on May 18 about it as well. Many other officials made similar comments, reflecting the general surprise and indignation that Iraq felt about Kuwait’s action. At the same time, they are making so many accusations that the only possible positive outcome for them is if Kuwait scraps Mubarak, which is not going to happen.

Official have now met and a diplomatic war of words has broken out. The Iraqi prime minister has claimed that Kuwait planned the port in secret and di not reveal it to his government.

Kuwaiti papers and analysts have made some inflammatory statements… The head of the Kuwait Center of Strategic Studies told Al Jazeera that Mubarak would benefit both countries. He said Iraq was incapable of building a deep water port, and that therefore Kuwait had to be the supply route for goods heading there. He went on to say that the only reason why Iraq was complaining about Mubarak was that they were pro-Iranian, and Tehran wanted to cause trouble in the region. He even said that Mubarak was safer because it was out of range of Iranian artillery while Faw would not be, as if that was going to be an issue anytime soon. A Kuwaiti paper also interviewed a local analyst who said that Iraq was controlled by Tehran, that Iran was going to annex southern Iraq, and that therefore the Persians were behind all the problems over the ports.

There have even been rumours of Iraqi officials being bribed by Kuwait to hold up work on the Faw port.

The technical concern from Iraq is that the waves-breakers/constructions in the shall represent a nucleus for mud remains, that would have a passive affect on the Iraqi coasts. This appears though to be a screen for concerns about the capture of goods. Clearly only the first port built will succeed.

Transhippment from Kuwait would, ultimately, be by rail would be via Iraq and Iraq has threatened to block this.

The costs of such a port will never pay for itself in terms of port fees. The benefits are for the wider opportunities from import and export and the industrial land it opens up. Providing Iraq has good road and rail links it should be grateful it is getting most of the benefits of a megaport with none of the costs. In effect Kuwait are building a port for them. The people whose noises are out of joint are existing port operators at Basra, who would be put out of business by any new port, and those who would benefit from the Faw port construction, construction of which now would be a white elephant now that Mubarak is going ahead. Kuwait has rightly calculated that it can call Iraq’s bluff.

If the matter escalates the issue could have an elegant solution. Bubiyan Island could be put under UN control serving as the port for both countries, a free access corridor for Iraqi workers could be created through the short section of Kuwait, both countries could have port access fees, and Iraq could instead spend its billion dollars on rail links to the port and to Turkey. Indeed it would be very much in Saudi and Kuwaiti interest to generously fund such a link as an act of peace and goodwill. Such an act would also massively outflank Iran.