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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Metro briefs community on final five 710 options

By Lauren Gold, SGVN  -- http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_21431799/metro-briefs-community-final-five-710-options

Posted:   08/29/2012 09:50:42 PM PDT

Loren Bloomberg, consultant for Metro, which hosted a TAC meeting to discuss the final five alternatives it has chosen for further study for the SR-710 Freeway extension in Los Angeles. (SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)

 Gallery: Metro hosts TAC meeting to discuss 5 final alternatives for 710 Freeway extension

LOS ANGELES - A contingent of "No 710" freeway extension activists posed tough questions Wednesday to a team of technical and environmental experts from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The grilling came in a session with representatives of cities along proposed routes - a meeting where members of the public are normally asked to remain silent observers.

Metro officials spent three hours Wednesday detailing the final five options it will study to close the 4.5-mile 710 Freeway "gap" between Alhambra and Pasadena: a bus route, light rail, "no build," transportation management solutions and a tunnel connecting I-10 and I-210.

Loren Bloomberg of CH2M HILL, the agency Metro hired to complete the environmental reports, said they used a "mathematical process" to weigh the top 12 alternatives before narrowing it to five.

"We brought in the highest performing alternatives," Bloomberg said.

Overall, the study determined each route's potential to reduce traffic congestion compared with its impacts.

Bloomberg said the bus and rail alternatives performed best in having low impacts on neighborhoods, but did not
rate as well in solving the transportation issues in the area.

Of the highway and freeway option that made the cut of 12, most addressed congestion but had more adverse impacts on neighborhoods, parks and historic structures, Bloomberg said.

In contrast, the F-7 tunnel route both improved transportation and had low local impacts, he said.

"It's very clear when you look at the impacts that F-7 is superior," Bloomberg said, "That left us with one freeway alternative that merits further study."

Despite Metro's detailed explanations, there were some numbers opponents felt were missing - the cost.

Metro officials estimate a tunnel would cost about $3.3 billion and would see about 6,000 cars an hour during rush hour. Metro official Frank Quon said much of this preliminary analysis is based on a 1.7-mile underground freeway tunnel that began construction in Seattle this year. He said further study is needed to determine the actual costs and benefits of all the final five alternatives.

But Ann Wilson, of La Ca ada Flintridge, criticized Metro's preliminary environmental and cost analyses, saying it should have considered what she called the inevitable toll that would help pay for the tunnel.

"The fact is you have an alternative in there with bad information," Wilson said.

Others complained that Metro's data was difficult to understand.

"I have an engineering degree, I have an MBA and I'm still trying to figure out what you guys are doing up here," said Gretchen Knudsen of Highland Park.

Lee Dolly, former Alhambra city attorney, was a lone voice from the audience in support of completing the freeway. He commented on traffic congestion that clogs Alhambra streets because of the 710 "gap."

"We've got too many cars, we've got unbelievable congestion in Southern California ... that's shown in every damn study," Dolly said. "Measure R was voted in by the people of this county by two-thirds and the tunnel that will close the gap is included in that."

Metro officials said such issues as tolls, trucks and environmental effects will be studied more thoroughly in the next phase of the environmental impact report.

Project Manager Michelle Smith said Metro also plans to make information more accessible and post it online.

Quon said the 710 project leaders will receive input from cities and residents on the final five routes and explore possibilities - including a possible "hybrid" project - by fall.

Metro will start the two-year environmental analysis early next year, officials said.

"This is just a step in that process moving forward," Quon said.

lauren.gold@sgvn.com, 626-578-6300, ext. 4586