To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rosemead sues Metro to force 710 Freeway extension back into courts


By Steve Scauzillo, July 24, 2017

 The 710 Freeway looking north from Hellman Ave. towards Valley Blvd, where the freeway ends.  (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
 The 710 Freeway looking north from Hellman Ave. towards Valley Blvd, where the freeway ends.

The 710 Freeway extension is heading back to court.

Two months after the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted against building a tunnel from the freeway’s terminus near Alhambra to the 210 and 134 freeways interchange in Pasadena, the city of Rosemead filed a lawsuit asking the court to throw out that decision.

Rosemead is suing Metro in Los Angeles Superior Court, saying the board’s vote was premature and violated state environmental laws.

“We want the MTA’s May 25 decision to be vacated, to have that undone,” said Dennis Ehling, attorney with Blank Rome LLP , a Los Angeles-based firm hired by the city.

The complaint alleges that Metro’s board should have waited until the final environmental study was certified by its partner, Caltrans, which isn’t expected until early next year. The lawsuit calls the action “a clear breach” of the environmental review process begun by Caltrans and Metro in March 2015.

Metro spokeswoman Kim Upton said the transportation agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The legal challenge comes as somewhat of a surprise, since the Metro board vote portended the end of any freeway extension after nearly 60 years of debate from city halls, which included a 1999 federal court decision won by South Pasadena scuttling a surface route.

Metro’s board rejected the 6.3 mile tunnel option, which would cost between $3 billion and $5.3 billion, saying the agency does not have the funds.

Instead, it chose as a “preferred local alternative” — a range of roadway improvements and other traffic management fixes along the 4.1-mile gap.

For those projects, the board allocated $105 million, taken from then $780 million pot intended for an “I-710 North Gap Closure (Tunnel) project” through Measure R, the half-cent transportation sales tax passed by voters in 2016.

Other projects also would be considered by Metro, including a new north-south roadway and improved freeway off-ramps at the 110. Metro could also include a new busway system. Cities were rushing to present projects to the Metro board as early as next month.

In a statement, Rosemead said it obtained an agreement with Metro not to move ahead on any projects nor spend any Measure R money for at least 55 days from July 20, so the court can consider its claim. Upton would not comment and did not confirm the existence of such an agreement.

“I am somewhat puzzled by the stance Rosemead is taking, given that they are not all that impacted,” said South Pasadena City Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian on Monday.

Rosemead’s complaint says even though the city is located several miles east of the 710 corridor, its streets are affected when cars are forced off the freeway at Valley Boulevard, creating a traffic glut.
Rosemead Boulevard, the nearest north-south thoroughfare, takes on a lot of this added traffic, according to the complaint.

The move comes a week after anti-710 representatives Khubesrian and Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, along with representatives from pro-tunnel cities such as Alhambra and Monterey Park, sat down with Los Angeles County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis.

The meeting was described as a first step in a collaborative effort to spend Measure R money to fix traffic snarls in affected cities.

Ehling said the city is not asking the court to choose the tunnel but to choose an option that closes the 710 Freeway gap. He said the Metro board ignored two staff reports saying the tunnel was the best option for improving traffic flow.

The city hopes the court will force L.A. Metro to review other alternatives, especially the tunnel option.

“Rosemead and other cities in the neighborhood believe the tunnel is the preferred alternative,” Ehling said. “We believe the clear intent of voters was to close the gap and relieve the traffic problems.”

Khubesrian said she’s not sure what a court can do in this instance.

“The court can’t force Metro to fund a project when there is not funding,” she said.

The complaint has not yet been assigned to a courtroom, but Ehling believes a hearing is forthcoming.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board Meeting Pt. 2

Joe Cano: Metro Board members comments & vote to kill 710 tunnel project.

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board Meeting Pt. 1

Joe Cano: "Please note due to the overwhelming amount of participants at this meeting it was unavoidable the side camera used for the comments section kept getting bumped by people from time to time. Also, some folks kept leaning on the intercom phone behind me. It was a war zone alright."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Metro Board supports local road improvements to help remedy 710 gap traffic


By Steve Hymon, May 25, 2017

The Metro Board of Directors approved a motion today by a 12 to 0 vote that calls for Metro to fund local road improvements to address traffic congestion caused by the 4.5-mile gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. Many Board Members said they hoped to do something immediate rather than wait years for a freeway tunnel that may never have enough funding and/or political support to be built.

Among those improvements that can now be funded: traffic signal upgrades and synchronization, local street and intersection improvements, improved connections to existing bus service and the promotion of rideshare in the area.

The motion approved by the Board today is the latest development in the decades-long saga involving the freeway gap. The 710 opened to Valley Boulevard in Alhambra in 1965 but a planned extension north to a junction with the 134 and 210 freeways in Pasadena has since met near constant funding and legal challenges. Over the years, there has been widespread agreement the gap increases traffic on local roads but considerable disagreement over what should be done about it.

“I’ve thought the tunnel was the best approach, but I’ve also come to the realization that it’s un-fundable and if it happened it was many, many years away,” said Board Chair and Duarte Mayor Pro Tem John Fasana, adding that the tunnel would not confer immediate benefits to residents and businesses impacted by the gap.

In 2011, and with $780 million in new funding from the Measure R sales tax (approved by L.A. County voters in 2008), Caltrans and Metro essentially started from scratch with a new environmental study to identify a project to tackle and help relieve traffic caused by the gap. The project’s environmental study looked at five alternatives: the legally-required no build option, a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit and the “Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM)” alternative — which is now the Metro Board’s official ‘locally preferred alternative’ for the project.

The new study found a freeway tunnel would meet the project purpose and need, and offer the most mobility improvements (see this project status update and the project’s performance evaluation matrix below). But the Metro Board was faced with this dilemma: there was only $780 million in funding available for a tunnel expected to cost much more. And with more legal challenges to a tunnel likely on the horizon, prospects were very dim for finding other funding sources.

Under the motion approved by the Board, $105 million from Measure R would be used for local road projects described above. The remaining funds from Measure R could be used for new mobility improvement projects.  

Under the motion approved by the Board, $105 million from Measure R would be used for local road projects described above. The remaining funds from Measure R could be used for projects including — but not limited to — sound walls, transit and rail capital improvements, bikeways, pedestrian improvements, signal synchronization, left turn signals, major street resurfacing and reconstruction. Those projects would be located in Alhambra, La Canada-Flintridge, Pasadena, South Pasadena and the 90032 zip code, which includes parts of the city of L.A.

Other funds would also be available to Metro’s Central Subregion — i.e. unincorporated East Los Angeles, El Sereno and the city of L.A. — would be prioritized for ‘multi-modal and safety enhancements’ that are within the project’s study area.

Public testimony continued for well over an hour. There was considerable support for the Board’s action with many speakers heaping scorn on a prospective tunnel while saying it was time to move on to other options.

The project’s final environmental study is scheduled to be completed later this year. Even if Caltrans selects the freeway tunnel as the preferred alternative, the motion approved by the Metro Board would prevent funding a tunnel with Measure R funds — the only money currently available for a tunnel.

Metro Board Sets New Path for SR-710

 By Connected Cities and Communities, May 25, 2017

Metro Board Sets New Path for SR-710

Board votes unanimously to end the tunnel project and distribute allocated funds to the affected communities

LOS ANGELES—In a historic vote today, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board ended the 50-year debate over the SR-710 “connector” in the San Gabriel Valley. The unanimous vote is a major step forward that will finally allow the communities in the western San Gabriel Valley to pursue strategic, sustainable, multi-modal projects that will enhance mobility for the region, while removing the potential of exorbitant costs and destructive effects of a 5.4-mile, 60-foot wide tunnel proposal.

The leaders of the Connected Cities and Communities (C3) coalition praised the vote as a forward-thinking and cost-effective solution for the region’s transportation needs. The C3 coalition brought
together the cities of Glendale, Pasadena, La Cañada-Flintridge, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the No 710 Action Committee as partners who share a vision of better transportation solutions.

“Today’s Metro Board decision is a vote for healthy communities, fiscal responsibility and a 21st
century approach to transportation in Los Angeles County. The time has come for us to move beyond this outdated project," said Ara Najarian, the chair of the C3, and a member of the Metro Board of Directors and a Glendale City Councilman. “I applaud the leadership of Metro Board chair John Fasana, who recognized that the tunnel was not viable, and the millions of dollars designated for the project should be put to better use.”

The tunnel project has been under environmental review since 2011. While the Metro Board
received a staff report recommending the tunnel, the Board acknowledged that the contentious multibillion dollar project lacked a viable financing plan and they wisely chose to redirect the funds toward a package of new local transportation fixes.

“After years of requesting bettermobility for the region, the residents of South Pasadena and our
C3 coalition partners are relieved to know that the SR-710 tunnel is now highly unlikely,” said Marina Khubesrian,M.D., vice chair of the C3 and amember of the South Pasadena City Council. “We look forward to working with all of the corridor cities to develop projects that will be better for their communities, relieve traffic and provide more options for people to travel to their homes, jobs, schools, and doctors’ appointments.”

“Cities are only effective when they work for everyone,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and
CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Since naming the historic neighborhoods along the 710 to our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, we have advocated for a solution that addresses the growing region’s need for equitable transportation while preserving its unique history. As such, we are pleased that today’s Metro Board decision will enhance the character and identity thatmakes these diverse communities thrive.”

According toMetro staff, approximately $730 million remains in the SR-710 fund appropriated in
Measure R. Today’s vote devoted $105 million of that fund to implement the Transportation System
Management and Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) list of projects already identified in the Environmental Impact Report. The remainder of the money will be made available for new projects in the corridor communities, which will be developed collaboratively with Metro.

“Taking the divisive tunnel project off the table heralds a new era of cooperation among San
Gabriel Valley cities, to the benefit of everyone,” said Terry Tornek, the mayor of the city of Pasadena. “The vision of leaders such as Supervisor Katherine Barger and John Fasana will allow our cities to work together in pursuit of smartermobility improvements, such as those outlined in the Beyond the 710 Plan."

# # #

About the Connected Cities and Communities (C3) Cities, organizations and individuals that make up C3 have come together to find the best way to relieve traffic, connect communities, promote smart growth, and help people get to their jobs, schools, shopping, and recreation. C3 is about connecting communities, increasing everyone’s quality of life, and putting scarce transportation dollars to their best use. This ever-growing coalition is comprised of the Cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, plus the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and No 710 Action Committee.


The 710 tunnel appears to be dead at last!  This morning the LA Metro Board voted unanimously to drop its support for the 710 Freeway tunnel, and to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars that had been earmarked for the tunnel to local transportation alternatives instead.  

So many persons in my Council District, Pasadena, South Pasadena, La Canada,  Glendale and beyond, including my office, have worked together tirelessly for literally decades to put an end to the 710 extension.  The surface route was eliminated a few years ago, and the tunnel was the last gasp for the 710; and now that's been eliminated too!

I could not possibly name everyone to whom gratitude is owed, but many thanks to everyone who supported my motions in 2000 and 2012 (making the official position of the City of Pasadena to oppose the 710), to those who participated in and attended the several 710 forums we held over the years, to the dedicated freeway fighters in Pasadena and our region, and very special thanks to the Metro Boardmembers for making this historic decision, especially LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.  It has been a long but important and worthwhile fight and in the end we have prevailed.   I'm sure we will organize a celebration in the near future, as we look forward to reclaim the freeway "stub" and reintegrate it and the CalTrans homes back into our West Pasadena neighborhoods.

Steve Madison
Pasadena Councilmember

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board Vote to Kill the SR710

Alhambra Babs sitting in the 2nd row and Terese Real Sebastian across the isle. Mad as hell for sure.