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

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Donut Hole in the City of Sierra Madre's Argument Supporting Measure M


October 24, 2016

Mod: I haven't been bagging on Sierra Madre City Hall very much lately. There is just so much else going on in the world right now. But when it is something as unfortunate as what follows below, well, it has to at least be noted. Here is how this week's City Council meeting staff report on the Measure M question inadvertently reveals what this unhappiness is all about (link).

Remember, the City of Sierra Madre has already spent a lot of money in the effort to defeat the 710 Tunnel. $50,000 is the number that comes to mind, though it could be more. Which in my opinion was a very good thing to do. It was money wisely spent.

However, here is the problem as I see it. While Los Angeles County authorities such as Metro and CalTRANS, along with such regional deplorables as SCAG, have worked very hard to assure people that Measure M funds will never be used in any way to help plan - or God forbid build - the 710 Tunnel, there is nothing at all about any restrictions on the already existing funds that this new sales tax revenue will likely free up. We're talking about Prop R and other similar money pots.

By using new Prop M moneys to pay for some of the things these other funds have been covering until now, couldn't that quite possibly free up some ready cash elsewhere to help push forward the 710 TunnelOf course it could. It would merely be a matter of shifting around some of those already existing revenues. And what control would you have over that?

Unlike with Measure M, there are no such restrictions in place for already existing fund sources such as Props R. Measure M will raise an additional $121 billion dollars. Wouldn't that free up a lot of cash from any previous propositions and tax money streams, money that could then easily be used in other ways?

And there is absolutely nothing anywhere that says any freed up funds from those other propositions and tax resources will never be used to help pay for the 710 Tunnel.

Better to just Vote NO. Why take the chance?

Saturday, October 22, 2016


From Sylvia Plummer, Octoiber 22m 2016

They have also been endorsed by the Chinese American Political Action Committee.  Nisall, Toh for Alhambra City Council


From Sylvia Plummer, October 22, 2016

Before you vote be sure to check out the Voter Information page of the No 710 Action Committee website. Listed are the names of candidates for various positions who oppose the SR 710 tunnel alternative as well as those who support the tunnels. Be sure to read the quotes from these candidates by clicking the link on the left side of the page. There is much at stake. Successful supervisor candidates will take a seat on the Metro Board of Directors -- the Board that will determine whether or not ot proceed with the tunnels. It will be very important to have anti-tunnel state senators and assembly members representing us in Sacramento to insure that CEQA is upheld and that the tunnels are killed forever, These are positions where issues become more important than following party line.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Public Weighs in at Metro’s Cost/Benefit Analysis Meeting


Commentary by Bill Sherman, September 29, 2016

There was an informational meeting at the Pasadena Convention Center last Thursday, September 22, to discuss the Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) of the SR 710 North Study. The meeting was the result of a bill introduced by State Senator Carol Liu to inform the public about what the SR 710 tunnel extension will cost to build and what the supposed benefits will be to the public. The Metro Board had also passed a motion for a CBA study in June of 2010. It should be noted that this tunnel is a State Route (SR) not an interstate highway.

Now that seems a simple thing, but it is not. Metro put out for public comment the Cost/Benefit Analysis in June of 2015, a month after the Draft Environmental Impact Report, but there was never an opportunity for the public to weigh in at a public meeting to ask questions and make comments. The study included all five alternatives and several variations of the alternatives, including: Transportation Systems Management and Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM), tunnel single bore, tunnel dual bore, bus rapid transit, and light rail transit).

Even though there are five alternatives still on the table the tunnel is the only real alternative. The tunnel cost was presented as two options, a single bored tunnel with four traffic lanes and a dual bored tunnel with eight traffic lanes which has been challenged as not being accurate. Note that the dual bore tunnel will carry 180,000 vehicles per day and the single bore tunnel 90,000 vehicles per day. The dual bore tunnel was estimated to cost $5.6 billion and the single bore tunnel $3.86 Billion.

These figures are presented without an itemized listing of the components of the cost. How they came up with these figures is a real mystery. The study anticipates tolls. The amount of the tolls for this study was set at an amount that would attract 75% of the physical capacity of the tunnel and operate at a speed of 45 mph or greater. So the tolls will be set to limit the use of the tunnel by people of lower income. They plugged all their data into something called the California Benefit/Cost (Cal-B/C) model.

south pasadena review 09-29-2016 commentary bill sherman 002

This model is something that can only be understood by traffic engineers. Carol Liu had prepared a detailed analysis of the use of this model and believes it was not used correctly. Marina Khubesrian, City Councilperson for South Pasadena, in the Q & A segment of the meeting, brought up these defects and the panel listened, but made no comments were made on their validity. These are very technical points understood by few. The benefits came in many categories: travel time, capital expenditures (construction and right of way costs), vehicle operating costs, system and maintenance costs, safety effects, emissions effects, employment benefits, and residual values.

The results of the CBA were simplified to a single table:

Alternative/Variation; Present Value of Costs; Present Value of Benefits; Net Present Value
Tunnel single Bore; $1,951-1,997 Million; $ 3,429-3,587 Million; $ 1,478-1590 Million
Tunnel Dual bore; $3,227-3374 Million; $3,337-3,733 Million; -$37-506 Million
Bus Rapid Transit; $510 Million; $879 Million; $ 369 Million
Light Rail Transit; $2,163 Million; $1,293 Million; – $870 Million
TSM/TDM; $255 Million; $599 Million; $ 344 Million

So the winner is the single bore tunnel! The key to this table is the Net Present Value (NPV). The NPV is your best bang for the buck and the single bore tunnel is the best with a value of $1,478-1,590 million.

Questions and Answer period

Many questionable assumptions are made along the way and some of these were brought out in the Q & A segment. The Sepulveda Pass Tunnel was estimated at one Billion/mile. The 710 tunnels are estimated at ½ Billion/mile.

The Alaskan Way Tunnel in Seattle was also about one billion/mile. The discrepancy was not explained. The monetary benefit for tunnel users, aka drivers, was $22/ hour while for transit users it was $6/hour. It was asked, since the air pollution studies were inadequate per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (no analysis of hot spots like Old Town in Pasadena), if the CBA will be redone to reflect the health costs due to the increased pollution in Pasadena, La CaƱada, and other areas seeing increased vehicular traffic. In my mind, this was not really answered.

The next step in the process to build the tunnel is to analyze the 8,000 comments submitted regarding the EIR/EIS. This will be done some time in 2017. After this is done, a preferred alternative will be selected. Michelle Smith, Metro’s lead representative, said that when the preferred alternative is presented to the Metro Board there will be a funding plan. They plan on funding this project by creating a Public Private Partnership (PPP). This means that they will have to sell this project to someone and their numbers and assumptions cannot be as vague as presented in this CBA.

Background Provided by Metro

On June 19, 2015, Metro and Caltrans issued an Analysis of Costs and Benefits (CBA) for the State Route 710 (SR-710) North study alternatives for public review. The CBA was prepared in response to direction by the Metro Board and is a means of applying an economic value to alternatives being evaluated for the SR 710.

The CBA is one of many technical reports that will be used to evaluate the alternatives in the SR 710 North Study Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).
Editor’s Note: Metro provided the background for this commentary.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

WATCH THE FORUM: "The Pasadena Way...or Their Highway"

 From Steve Madison, City of Pasadena Councilperson, September 21, 2016

We had a great turnout for the 710 Tunnel Forum (even though thre were several other events the same evening).  The focus was information-sharing about alternatives to the 710 Tunnel project which would be catastrophic for Pasadena and the Region.
Our esteemed presenters—Paul Moore, renowned transportation and traffic expert,  public policy and transportation guru David Grannis and highly respected architect and urbanist Stefanos Polyzoides—were terrific.
If you were unable to attend the forum, please know that the program in its entirety has been uploaded to the District 6 website http://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/district6 (Scroll down to Featured Stories and click on the image.)  
Please feel free to share any thoughts you may have after viewing the Forum.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Finally, please forward this information to others.  The 710 Tunnel project is an important regional issue that is of great concern to us all.

Is Alhambra ready to elect councilmembers who oppose the 710 Freeway tunnel?


By Christopher Yee, September 23, 2016

 Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall who is against the 710 Freeway tunnel option pointing to the traffic and potential area for the underground 710 freeway tunnel on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra. Is Alhambra ready to elect city councilmembers who don’t support the completion of the 710? With the surface freeway option off the table, the only other option to complete the freeway is an underground tunnel, but two Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall and Ken Toh, oppose the tunnel, bucking tradition in Alhambra.

Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall who is against the 710 Freeway tunnel option pointing to the traffic and potential area for the underground 710 freeway tunnel on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra. Is Alhambra ready to elect city councilmembers who don’t support the completion of the 710? With the surface freeway option off the table, the only other option to complete the freeway is an underground tunnel, but two Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall and Ken Toh, oppose the tunnel, bucking tradition in Alhambra.

ALHAMBRA >> For more than half a century, the battle over whether to complete the 710 Freeway from its terminus in Alhambra north to Pasadena has been divisive for San Gabriel Valley residents.

Many people often boil down the battle to Alhambra versus South Pasadena, with the former in favor of completing the freeway and the latter opposed. All five members of Alhambra’s current City Council support Metro and Caltrans’ tunnel proposal and make that opinion known by hanging banners over Fremont Avenue that read “Close the gap” and even closing Fremont once a year on July 10 to host a street festival centered around completing the 710.

After 51 years, are Alhambra residents ready to shed the pro-710-extension mantle as they prepare to elect two new City Council members, with Vice Mayor Steven Placido and Councilman Gary Yamauchi terming out?

Both seats are being contested by candidates who oppose the 710 tunnel, but it remains unclear whether Alhambra voters are ready to move in that direction.

Council candidates Mark Nisall and Ken Toh, running for the seats in districts 3 and 4 respectively, both said they started out supporting the tunnel but changed their opinions after learning more about the project’s cost, which has been estimated at $5 billion-$10 billion, and a 10- to 15-year construction estimate.

Nisall and Toh both said the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Nisall said he supports increased light-rail options, adding rapid bus lines, improving traffic signal synchronization and the construction of an above-ground north-south boulevard that lines up with the 710 terminus. Toh said he supports increased light-rail and rapid bus lines.

Nisall also is concerned with the potential environmental impacts that boring a tunnel below people’s homes may have.

“I couldn’t support it after looking at the cost, the time it would take to construct and the environmental dangers ahead,” he said.

Nisall said his position isn’t making him any friends, but he’s hoping voters will take time to consider the alternatives to the tunnel and, ultimately, not just make their council decisions based on the 710.

“I hope people won’t decide to vote for or against me or any other candidate only on this one issue,” Nisall said. “I hope they look at our positions on other issues as well.”


For several years, a group calling itself Alhambrans Against the 710 has been trying to rally locals to fight efforts to complete the freeway, including the tunnel.

The group protests at Alhambra’s 710 Day and marches alongside the “No on 710” coalition in the South Pasadena Fourth of July parade.

The group has grown from 40 members to 90 in the past two years, which may sound low but illustrates a shift in philosophy among residents, said member and 10-year resident Melissa Michelson.

“It’s time for nonestablishment candidates to come up,” Michelson said. “People are sick of the old guard. To me, it’s historic that we finally have candidates willing to speak against the 710.”

Michelson said November’s ballot results will tell just how ready the city is for that change.


Nisall and Toh are being opposed by Jeff Maloney and David Mejia, respectively. While neither said they are specifically supporting the tunnel, both said they would support whatever option Metro and Caltrans deems most effective.

Mejia lives just off of Fremont near Valley Boulevard and said he has to deal with the traffic every day.

“The other candidates don’t see what I see every day,” said Mejia, an investigator with the Los Angeles Police Department. “We have families trying to walk around here with cars zooming through. (Traffic navigation mobile app) Waze loves my block, unfortunately.”

Maloney said he is ready to support Metro’s best solution to reducing traffic, gridlock, air pollution and damage to the streets created by the 710 emptying into Alhambra.

“It looks like they will end up recommending a tunnel,” Maloney said. “If that’s the case, I would support it.”

But Maloney also said that, ultimately, Alhambra won’t be the one deciding to dig a tunnel; Metro and Caltrans will decide the 710’s future.


Metro and Caltrans may be leading the conversation right now with the 710 alternatives under environmental review, but the positions cities take on the matter still bear weight, said Sam Pedroza, mayor of Claremont and vice chair of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments’ transportation committee.

“The environmental review process is out of the cities’ hands,” Pedroza said, “But the advocacy for or against the project is still largely in the cities’ hands.”

In 2018, Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and City Councilmen Luis Ayala and Stephen Sham will term out of their council seats, which leaves open the possibility of a new majority opinion on the council.

Viola Rippon, president of the Alhambra Democratic Club, said she isn’t sure residents care anymore.
The club held a candidates forum in August and endorsed Nisall and Toh, but not because of their views on the 710. In fact, Rippon said she wasn’t aware until recently that Toh opposed the tunnel.

Instead, Rippon said residents are more concerned with overdevelopment and accompanying traffic buildup in Alhambra.

“Right now, the 710 is an antiquated issue,” Rippon said. “It could come up again once Metro makes a final decision, but I think after 50 years most people around here have moved on.”

In Measure M, L.A. County transit plan goes the distance this time: Guest commentary


By Michael Antonovich, October 2, 2016

Measure M would extend the route for the Metro Gold Line train, shown here in 2013 at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena. (File photo)
 Measure M would extend the route for the Metro Gold Line train, shown here in 2013 at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena.

It is vital that any ballot measure addressing our county’s transportation needs provides a comprehensive, regional solution to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Previous transportation measures were created from the top down and failed to guarantee a fair share for, or consider the needs of, Los Angeles County’s 88 cities and 134 unincorporated communities. Those measures also failed to develop a truly regional, interconnected transportation system.

Measure M, the “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan” corrects these failures.

In 2013, as chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, following the defeat of Measure J, I sent letters to each of the county’s 88 cities and their regional Councils of Government asking them to identify their local and regional transportation priorities. This set into motion a first-of-its-kind, bottoms-up approach to assess the transportation needs of our county, which was supported by subsequent Metro chairs, Diane DuBois, Eric Garcetti, Mark Ridley-Thomas and John Fasana. Hundreds of public meetings were held with the cities, community organizations, business groups, experts and advocates.

In contrast to previous measures, Measure M creates a regional transportation system which is fair to our county’s local communities because it was developed from the bottom up. It is subject to tough accountability measures with an oversight committee and annual audits posted online. Further, all funds generated are for local use only on transit projects in Los Angeles County — and cannot be siphoned away by the state.

Funding from Measure M will be used in each of our county’s 88 cities and unincorporated communities to repair and build new transportation infrastructure — from filling potholes to paving roads to synchronizing signals to improving intersections. Measure M will fix bottlenecks on freeways including the 5, 14, 405 and 605. Relieving traffic congestion, it will improve freight and goods movement by supporting the development of the High Desert Multi-purpose Corridor, upgrading Metrolink, enhancing passenger and freight rail corridors, and constructing critical grade separation projects.

Enhancing regional transit, it will extend the Gold Line through the San Gabriel Valley to Claremont, connecting with existing stations in Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. Dubbed the “Brain Train,” the Gold Line is connecting educational institutions including the Pasadena Arts Center, Cal Tech, Pasadena City College, Azusa Pacific University, La Verne University and the Claremont Colleges.

Measure M will also provide a vital connection between the Gold Line and the Red Line, from Pasadena to North Hollywood via Glendale and Burbank, on a dedicated bus line, which I proposed to further connect the county’s transportation system. It connects the San Fernando Valley to the Westside and will bring multiple lines to LAX. In addition, it will fund improvements to the Orange Line, ultimately transitioning to light rail, and build a 20-mile rail line from Downtown L.A. to Artesia.

Under the leadership of CEO Phil Washington, Metro will continue to be proactive and inclusive of the needs of our communities through the region and Measure M will provide the resources to meet those needs into the future. It will keep student, senior and disabled fares affordable while funding critical earthquake retrofits of our bridges and overpasses. It will also create over 465,000 jobs and has bipartisan support from labor, business, chambers of commerce and public officials.

On Nov. 8, Los Angeles County voters will have an opportunity to develop a comprehensive and interconnected transportation system which will relieve congestion and gridlock, improve air quality and quality of life for the residents of our County’s 88 cities and unincorporated communities.
Measure M will modernize our aging transportation system and provide a 21st century transportation network which accelerates transit lines and ties them together into a comprehensive system with improved freeway and local road networks. Vote yes on Measure M.

Michael Antonovich is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District.