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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs)

 A helpful site to understand these reports is at


I'm not exactly sure where our neighborhood is in this process, but I think we are in the NOP stage.

Posted by Peggy Drouet
On the CA.gov California Department of Transportation District 7  Website: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/

710 Tunnel Technical Study Information



The Long Beach Freeway (SR-710) serves as a major north-south link in the Los Angeles County transportation network. It is heavily traveled and congestion is increasing within the corridor. Additional congestion is created on surface streets by a 4.5 mile gap that begins where the SR-710 ends on Valley Boulevard near the Los Angeles/Alhambra border. Motorists who wish to continue traveling north must drive on local streets through the cities of Alhambra, Los Angeles, South Pasadena, and Pasadena. The SR-710 resumes at Del Mar Boulevard in the City of Pasadena and continues 0.6 miles north where it meets the Foothill Freeway (I-210).
Since the 1960s, various conceptual plans have been proposed to close the SR-710 gap; however, none were acceptable to the nearby communities and environmental interests.
In 2006, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) commissioned a Tunnel Feasibility Assessment Study, which concluded that constructing an underground tunnel to connect the SR-710 is feasible. Because a tunnel connection would relieve regional and local congestion, and improve air quality, it gained the support of Metro, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
Building upon the Metro Assessment Study, the SR-710 Tunnel Technical Study structure and resources provide Caltrans and Metro input from governmental jurisdictions and planning agencies within the study area and region. As shown in the diagram below, two committees, comprised of appointees from each jurisdiction and agency, have been established to review the technical findings of the study. The Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Committee receive input and information from the public through the Community Education and Outreach Program. A team of Tunnel Technical Advisors who are leading experts in tunneling technology serve as resources for the committees and community.

SR 710 Tunnel Study Organization Chart

Go to their website for more information.                                                                                                  
This was published May 17, 2012 in the Sierra Madre Tattler but it is still applicable:

Caltrans Knows What a 710 Tunnel Will Do to the San Gabriel Valley -- They Could Hardly Care Less

The SR-710 Study Outreach Team, which is actually made up of Metro and Caltrans public relations employees, will be holding a series of meetings next week with people just like you. And while they didn't bother to mention the "tunnel" word in their recent meeting notice press release on the matter (click here), the purpose will be to convince you that building the 710 Tunnel, which will join that freeway with our very own SR-210, is really the only logical choice for you to consider.

For this occasion they have concocted some of the rather astringent government phraseology that typifies public announcements such as this. Then packed it into a press release that carefully avoided the true purpose of this effort like it was an unwanted visitation from your least favorite dead relative. Building the godforesaken SR-710 Tunnel. George Orwell must be spinning in his grave. Here are some examples of this journey into the heart of darkness, complete with edifying commentary from us.

For the SR-710 Study, Metro and Caltrans are evaluating options to improve mobility and relieve congestion within the study area of the western San Gabriel Valley and east/northeast Los Angeles.

As someone who commutes daily to Burbank on the 210, I can personally attest that it gets pretty congested at times. How building the 710 Tunnel, which would directly funnel a whole lot of additional traffic onto the 210, is going to improve traffic congestion and "mobility" in this area is beyond me. It really doesn't make any sense. Quite honestly, I think they just made that part up, and that these people will say anything to build the damn thing.

In this meeting, people will learn about the multi-modal alternative concepts under evaluation in the SR-710 Study process, including, but not limited to, "no build" alternative, improvements to local streets, expansion of transit systems, as well as freeway options.

Basically what all that gibberish says is that Caltrans and Metro are required to air (sorry) this stuff out as part of the environmental study they have to complete in order to get this project approved. But without actually having to say that this is about building a tunnel that will dump thousand of trucks, buses and cars onto an already jammed 210. Or turn our sunny valley into a diesel truck corridor that will render the air something profoundly toxic.

The alternate concepts and other study process information will be available for viewing on large interactive boards staffed by multi-disciplinary team members.

I wonder what would happen if you brought some boards of your own? Boards that might express viewpoints that are contrary to those posted on the boards they will provide? Even the ones that they claim are "alternative concepts?" I'm also curious what it is about these boards that make them interactive. Does it mean you can write on them?

Of course, Caltrans and Metro do know exactly what this is all about, and they also know that it is going to do some serious environmental damage to the already dicey air quality of the San Gabriel Valley. They just don't want you to think about that. And obviously they don't want anyone who shows up to their little "Alternative Analysis Outreach" open houses to discuss such things. That would hardly help with "the process."

In Tuesday's Los Angeles Times there is an article about electric trucks, and how some fine day they might be plying the SR-710 (click here). However, buried in the heart of this item is the following bad news about the 710 and what this all could foretell for our slice of the San Gabriel Valley should this tunnel be built and bring all of that into our lives.

"Most people think about cars when they think of vehicle emissions, but the reality is it's freight trucks," said Daryl Dulaney, chief executive of North American infrastructure and cities sector for Siemans.

More than 40% of freight that arrives in the U.S. via shipping containers comes through the ports of Long Beach and L.A. That freight then has to be trucked to rail stations and other points of distribution.

More than 10,000 trucks serve these two ports, according to a 2011 analysis conducted by the Port of L.A. The movement of goods through Southern California's ports affects almost 17 million people and causes billions of dollars in health-related costs annually, according to a 2011 report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

"The ports have made tremendous improvements, but goods-movement-related air pollution remains our largest source of air pollution in Southern California," said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD executive officer.

And much of that is what will show up on the 210 should the 710 Tunnel be built. The thousands of trucks that will then be funneled into the San Gabriel Valley will further degrade the environment while putting the health of those who live here at risk. In addition to turning the 210 into even more of a parking lot than it already is now.

At the Caltrans and Metro open houses none of that will be brought up by the hosts. I'm certain there will be plenty of multi-modaling and alternatives analysis going on, but that is just a distraction. Don't expect much conversation on some of the topics brought up here. But should you go, do try and bring up some of the stuff we have discussed here. It will annoy them no end.

And, of course, they have a Facebook page (click here). Doesn't everybody? Except me, of course.
From Carla Riggs:
Signs and Banners

For those that would like to purchase a sign or banner, there is an order being placed.  

When a large group places an order, we are able to get a reduced price.

The cost is $20 for a sign, just like the one's you see on Avenue 64  (22" x 32")

Banners cost $25.  ( 2' x 5' )

There are several messages people are using:

STOP 710 Freeway in Pasadena,
STOP 710 Through Avenue 64,
STOP 710 Through San Rafael Area,
STOP 710 Freeway Now!

If you would like to place an order, contact Rhonda Dagher at:    rdagher1@gmail.com
 You can pay Rhonda when you pick up your order

Give her this information:  Your Name,  Address, Telephone #, sign or banner order, and the message for your sign/banner

She will contact you when the Signs & Banners will be ready for pick up.

Rhonda's address:  349 Avenue 64, Pasadena,.

Metro board chairman would oppose San Rafael routes

By Lauren Gold, SGVN

Hundreds of residents, many who are upset about some of the proposed routes for the 710 freeway extension, especially two that would cut through the San Rafael neighborhood were present at Pasadena Convention Center Monday, August 13, 2012, as the Pasadena City Council hosted a special meeting with Metro and local residents to discuss the issue and council is set to take a formal position on the freeway routes. (SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)
Hundreds of residents, many who are upset about some of the proposed routes for the 710 freeway extension, especially two that would cut through the San Rafael neighborhood were present at Pasadena Convention Center Monday, August 13, 2012, as the Pasadena City Council hosted a special meeting with Metro and local residents to discuss the issue and council is set to take a formal position on the freeway routes. (SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)

Gallery: Council hosts 710 Forum to take a formal position on proposed routes at Pasadena Convention Center
PASADENA - Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich on Tuesday night weighed in on the proposed extension of the 710 Freeway, saying he would oppose three far-fetched routes through San Rafael.
Antonovich is also chairman of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Board of Directors, which is set to give direction on a final set of possible 710 extension routes in October.
"Supervisor Antonovich has heard the complaints of the community and is pledging that Avenue 64 (in San Rafael) is a route will be dead on arrival ... should it be proposed by staff for continued analysis," said Michael Cano, his transportation deputy.
Metro is currently analyzing a set of 12 possible transit alternatives as part of its three-year environmental study to fill the 710 freeway "gap" from Alhambra to Pasadena.
On Monday in front of a crowd of more than 500 angry residents, the Pasadena City Council formally opposed three of the routes: a tunnel connecting the 10 Freeway to the 134 Freeway, a highway route that would widen Avenue 64 and a highway route along Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue and

Pasadena Avenue connecting the 10 and 210 freeways. Pasadena's special council meeting Monday threw Metro officials under a slew of harsh criticism, with many members residents and the City Council asking for more information and better communication.
Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap stressed that Metro has done "sufficient" outreach to keep people informed throughout the study, with numerous open houses and community meetings. She said at this point it is important to note that none of the potential routes are set in stone.
Cano said he sympathized with Metro staff because they don't have many options to answer questions on the 710 extension.
He said it is important for city officials and the public to be patient and let the environmental study continue to gather information about the various possible routes.
"(Metro) staff is in a difficult position," Cano said, "because the community is asking for an evaluation of these different alignments today and a judgement from (Metro) today that they cannot offer during this period of the environmental process ... (or it would) jeopardize the entire environmental document."
Pasadena City Councilman and state Assembly candidate Chris Holden urged Metro to divulge which routes are "simply dead on arrival."
"I'm asking (Metro) to cut to the chase and bring down the temperature," Holden said. "Because for all of us to have to go through this kind of anxiety unnecessarily is cruel and unusual punishment."
Holden also said Monday he was not necessarily opposed to all options for the 710 extension. One community member criticized him for supporting Measure A in 2001, in which voters supported "completing the 710 Freeway between the I-210 and I-10 Freeways."
"I don't have a clear position on (the freeway) right now, there's a process going forward that I support," Holden said.
Donna Lowe, Holden's opponent in the 41st Assembly District, said she would support a solution to the 710 Freeway problem as long as it didn't include a freeway.
She said she thinks Metro's EIR is a waste of money and is ultimately geared toward trucking needs from the ports.
"Our state is notorious for wasting taxpayer dollars and I think that's what this is," Lowe said. "I'm not in favor of the tunnel or surface routes, both are very invasive, expensive and they don't take into account the infrastructure that's already in place."
In Pasadena, some council members expressed interest in taking the freeway fight even further than Monday's resolution, by also opposing a tunnel route between the 10 and 210 freeways.
But in order to do so, Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said the council needs more clarification on Measure A's restrictions.
At the end of the meeting, the council gave direction to City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris to research options for a legal judgment or ballot measure to assess the legality of opposing the tunnel.
In the end, McAustin said, this is just the beginning of the 710 discussion in Pasadena.
"There were a number of questions we still did not get straight answers to," McAustin said. "It's not over `til it's over and we just have to keep pressing forward. We'll move up the Metro hierarchy to get those answers."
626-578-6300, ext. 4586

Ron Kaye: Monday was a moment of truth in the long-raging 710 extension war

Michelle Smith, a project manager for MTA, speaks at the podium as residents raise their signs.
Michelle Smith, a project manager for MTA, speaks at the podium as residents raise their signs. (Mike Mullen, for Times Community News / August 14, 2012)

Ninety minutes into a showdown meeting Monday night over the controversial 710 Freeway extension proposals through Pasadena, Councilman Gene Masuda popped the question on everyone’s mind.
“How much weight are you going to give to the consideration of neighborhoods?” he asked the high-priced staff and even higher-priced consultants working the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “These are people from our district in West Pasadena and they want an answer to that. How much weight will you give their input?”
Silence, total silence.
“Speak up,” someone yelled.
 “Zero,” shouted another.
“The answer says it all,” said another to the laughter of the crowd at the special City Council meeting held at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Finally, as the seconds kept ticking away, Michelle Smith, project manager for the 710 project, stammered, “No, I, I’m only pausing because I am looking for a number . . . or a clearly minimized environmental impact . . . so I would say it would be weighted with some of the traffic factors, as well as, is it fundable . . . ”
“The reason why I ask this is because it’s not just West Pasadena,” Masuda responded. “I represent East Pasadena . . . we are a city with many neighborhoods and all the districts have wonderful neighborhoods and I wouldn’t want this to happen to mine.”
It was a moment of in truth in the first battle in the renewed 50-year war over a freeway nobody along the route from Alhambra to the Foothill (210)/ Ventura (134) freeway interchange seems to want: Pasadena was united and spoke with one voice.
With a crowd some 500 exuberant, impassioned and informed people overflowing a large meeting room at the Convention Center -- people who live on the proposed 710 corridor through Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of El Sereno, Highland Park and Garavanza -- Pasadena stood tall and proud.
The City Council unanimously opposed freeway routes that would turn Avenue 64 into a highway, taking out stately trees and beautiful homes, tunneling through the Arroyo Seco until it surfaced in West Pasadena at the 134 Freeway -- taking out dozens of homes -- or an option that would cut through the heart of Old Pasadena.
Other proposals were also opposed, but a court declaration or a March referendum might be needed for the city to oppose them as well because Pasadena residents voted more than a decade ago to support the 710 expansion under certain conditions.
What happened Monday night represented a remarkable triumph for a community that until recently never knew it had been targeted for what residents believe is the destruction of the quality of their lives just so bureaucrats and planners and political leaders from other parts of L.A. County to achieve a north-south freeway linkup.
In a matter of months, San Rafael neighborhood activists have formed their own association, gone door-to-door and used Facebook and Twitter to inform thousands of people of the threat to their community.
They have worked with other activists all along the 710 corridor and formed a coalition prepared to fight a long and vigorous campaign against the extension and will surely sue if they cannot persuade the 13-member MTA board of directors, which has only Supervisor Mike Antonovich and 710 supporter John Fasana, the Duarte mayor, representing the San Gabriel Valley.
But for a night at a meeting that lasted more than four hours, the “No on 710” forces prevailed, exposing the failed outreach policy of the MTA, exposing the clumsy and costly process by which a route will be selected, exposing how the goal is to build the extension to move trucks out of the ports more than to solve the region’s traffic problems.
For the sometimes speechless, sometimes chagrined Michelle Lewis and her team from the politically-connected consultants CH2M Hill and Consensus Communications, it was a painful and sometimes brutal night in Pasadena.
Protesters came armed with slide shows of what would be destroyed and hard research on how the 210 extension to the 215 dramatically increased the cars and trucks flooding through Pasadena, adding to the air pollution and surface street congestion.
It was only the first battle in a long war, but opponents came armed with information, organization and passion to defend the quality of their lives against what they see as a wasteful expenditure of what could be $800 million or far more of taxpayer money.
More than 80 residents submitted written comments, while a similar number filled out public comment cards and most of them spoke at the meeting.
They spoke common sense from their hearts in the face of the bureaucratic language of the MTA team. They howled and cheered, snickered and booed, forcing Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard to frequently plea for order.
Every council member spoke strongly against the proposals, with Victor Gordo suggesting the MTA team couldn’t have failed “more miserably” if they had been trying and Steve Madison -- who represents the San Rafael neighborhood -- comparing the proposed routes to being “like dropping a nuclear bomb on Southwest Pasadena."
Hyperbole aside, the MTA has ignited the flames of public discontent that could well jeopardize efforts to get voters to approve Measure R-2 in November, which would extend the half-cent sales tax 60 years into the future so tens of billions of dollars can be borrowed now to speed construction of a long list of highway projects, the subway-to-the-sea and other mass transit proposals.
RON KAYE can be reached at kayeron@aol.com. Share your thoughts and stories with him.