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, August 20, 2012


(This is from http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/route_710/images/scoping_report/sr710_scopingreport_v2_appendix_d-2.03.pdf.  This is a discussion of the Draft Final Report for the I-710 Missing Link Truck Study prepared by Iteris dated May 2009, in regard to the first tunnel study conducted by Parsons/Brinckerhoff. The second SR-710 Gap Tunnel Study was prepared by CH2M Hill: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/Publications/Inside7/story.php?id=497.)

Caltrans and Metro have assured the public during the Geotechnical Study outreach
meetings that modern road tunnels are safe from hazards and that all contingencies
will be planned for. Confidence is not high on this count as a recent release of the
Cost Estimate for the proposed tunnel does not even include escape exits.

Therefore, the No 710 Action Committee demands that Caltrans and Metro:

Conduct comparatÍve safety studies of a minimum of 10 similarly sized road tunnels,
constructed in the same manner as the proposed SR-710 tunnel

Compile a comprehensive emergency plan outlining roles for first responders from the
private operations/maintenance company and on-site fire station plus all other affected
jurisdictional fire, police, and public works departments. The plan must include all
actions that will be taken in emergencies due to fire, flood, earthquake, terror, or any
other tragedy. The plan must also factor in costs for handling such emergencies and
the amount that will be reimbursed back to the cities for manpower and equipment.
Additional preventative costs include screening vehicles for flammable liquids and
monitoring suspicious activity at the tunnel portals. Systems must also be in place for
clearing vehicular traffic when the tunnel is shut down for maintenance or other issues

From 1947 through the 1 990s, communities opposing the extension of the 710 freeway were focused
on preserving the character of their neighborhoods and solving their transportation issues through
other projects. Carving up the beautiful historic homes and small town businesses to send more
vehicles through the area just doesn't make sense. These communities already have more than one
freeway. Why add more?

ln 2002, after years of litigation with the City of South Pasadena and others, Caltrans and Metro
shifted their plans and began to explore the feasibility of using a bored tunnel to extend the freeway.
This concept raised new concerns for the communities: huge costs, concentrated pollution emissions,
but more importantly, safety. Los Angeles is well known for its high incidence of earthquakes and
other natural disasters. The public now had to consider the danger of being inside a S-mile long
tunnel during a substantial earthquake, rising flood waters, or a natural or man-made fire.
Modern tunnels are built with safety features incorporated into their design. Some earth movement is
expected and planned for so that the passageway is able to "flex" with a shifting environment. The
amount of "flexing" that a tunnel is able to do without damage, depends on many factors. An
earthquake will not collapse a well-built tunnel. The greatest risk comes from cars, trucks, and
busses filled with passengers and gasoline, shaking inside the tunnel.

Every large tunnel has 24 hour monitoring of events inside, typically two, stationed control rooms, one at either end of the tunnel that are responsible for systems maintenance, observation of problems,
and collection of tolls. Emergency escape exits and phones are located at intervals along the route.
Most of these require a person to be "able bodied" to use. Emergency response time can vary greatly
depending on the severity of the problem and level of communication and training of first responders.

Los Angeles does not currently have any long road tunnels. There are some short tunnels
intermittently on area freeways where the freeway meets a rise in elevation, such as the SR-110
freeway near Dodgers Stadium or through long underpasses. The closest modern road tunnel, the
Caldecott Tunnel near Oakland California, consists of three tunnels, just about 4,000 feet long. lf the
710 Extension was built underground, it would have two 60-foot diameter tunnels between 4.4 and
5.4 miles, the longest road tunnel in the United States. Even the Central Artery Tunnel in Boston,
also known as the Big Dig, is only 3.5 miles long. Ours will be an even Bigger Dig.

Locally, in2007, an accident involving five big rigs in a small 550-foot long underpass tunnel on the l-5 freeway, just north of the SR-14 connector, resulted in a fireball so hot that the vehicles burned
down to their cores and concrete exploded off the walls. The Los Angeles Times reported, that "fire,
police and Caltrans officials spent the day trying to assess damage to the concrete but were
hampered by a continuing blaze in the tunnel's center, and heavy smoke and high concentrations of
carbon dioxide, particularly on the tunnel's north, or uphill, end. They could not get very far past the
mouths of the tunnel." Sadly, 3 people lost their lives and 10 others were treated at area hospitals. lt
was estimated that 10 to 20 people were able to flee the short tunnel on foot. This accident is a very
small example of the type of emergency that can happen in a road tunnel. A longer tunnel with a
higher number of trucks carrying cargo, would increase the potential for fire and death exponentially.

The Mont Blanc Tunnel between France and ltaly became the focus of an investigation in 1999, when
a truck carrying margarine and flour caught fire midway through the 7-mile tunnel. Apparently the
driver did not notice the smoke coming from his vehicle for about a mile as opposing cars waved at
him. \Men he finally stopped to inspect, the truck ignited, sending smoke and dangerous levels of
carbon monoxide throughout the area. The drivers in the vehicles behind the truck became trapped,
unable to turn around, as the smoke was drawn uphill from the grade and overcame them. The
truck's cargo of margarine volatized and fed the fire that burned at about 1800oF for 53 hours. A total
of 38 people died within 15 minutes of the incident, although it was believed prior to that day that food

cargo posed no transport risk; it was considered combustible but not flammable under normal
conditions. However, investigators who examined this accident began to consider that even
innocuous food goods and road pavement materials could become flammable when heated by fuels
and other flammables, causing them to emit dangerous chemicals when burned in a contained space.
Road tunnels all around the world have inherent danger and a disturbing history of fatalities. A tunnel
full of vehicles contains an average of 15 gallons of gas per vehicle. Add to that, some trucks and
busses have larger 150-gallon tanks with potentially flammable cargo and plastic that becomes
flammable when heated. One accident can cause a chain reaction of explosions to all of those tanks.
ln 2001, the 10-mile St, Gotthard Tunnel in Göschenen Switzerland had a blazing inferno that killed
11 people. The accident was a collision between a truck and an empty minibus that caused gasoline
to pour onto the floor of the tunnel. The result was a blaze so hot that it melted the vehicles causing
them to be fused together. lt was determined that the fatalities were caused by smoke and gas
inhalation and that the ventilation system had not been working properly or was not adequate for such
conditions. This tunnel suffered three major accidents in three years.

The Caldecott Tunnel as previously mentioned, had a fire in 1982 that caused 7 deaths. A gasoline
tanker crashed into a stopped car and gas spilled into the gutter and ignited. Smoke travelled uphill,
choking the victims who didn't have a chance to qet out the emergency exits. The ventilation system
was not even on at the time although it would have been totally inadequate under these
circumstances. The same tunnel in 2010 had to close during an intense rainstorm due to flooding. A
drainage pipe had filled with debris from runoff and storm water backed up in the tunnel.

This type of situation is a concern for Los Angeles area residents as flooding is common throughout
the rainy season. At a public outreach meeting conducted by Caltrans during the Geotechnical
Study, a question was asked about how flood waters would be managed in heavy downpours in and
around the tunnel. Earlier in the week, television news coverage showed that the southern end of the
710 was evacuated due to rising waters. The response by Doug Failing, Executive Director of
Highway Programs at Metro, was that the 710 freeway is supposed to flood to keep water out of the
area neighborhoods. He stated that it was designed that way. However, one might argue that
building a tunnel at the end of a freeway that is designed to flood, could create an inescapable
hazard. There are no exits in a tunnel. ln addition, unlike the average freeway, when an entire tunnel
section does close down for weather, maintenance or accidents, the resulting overspill of heavy cargo
trucks into the local communities is devastating.

Sometimes the danger in a tunnel comes from an unexpected cause. The Central Artery Tunnel in
Boston, the Big Dig, was damaged when ceiling tiles cascaded to the ground below because an
inadequate glue was used to secure the 4,600-pound panels. One woman lost her life when a tile fell
directly on her while riding as a passenger in a vehicle and also injuring the driver, her husband. The
project manager, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff as well as others, were accused of cutting corners
and doing shoddy work. There was also a great deal of discussion on whether the glue manufacturer
or the glue installer were to blame for the tiles falling. The tunnel fully reopened 1 1 months later.

As we look to Los Angeles in the future, we must consider that a large tunnel could become the
ultimate soft target for terrorists, as was the case in London in 2005. ln a road tunnel, since tolls are
collected electronically and there are no stops for inspection, it would be easy to trigger an explosion
with just a flare and a can of gasoline. An act such as this would yield catastrophic loss of life and
property. Let's be sure that the supposed benefits of this project far surpass the tremendous risks.


Huizar Introduces 710 Resolution 

(From the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, appearing today on the Internet: 

http://highlandpark-ca.patch.com/articles/huizar-introduces-no-710-resolution )

Huizar's motion calls for the City Council to oppose all of Metro's currently proposed freeway and highway routes, save for one, F-7, which is a tunnel that would be built beneath the city of South Pasadena. 

At a contentious community forum held by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on Monday, August 6,  residents of Highland Park demanded to know where Councilmember José Huizar stood on the proposed extension of State Route 710 through their community.

Nate Hayward, a field deputy who spoke on Huizar's behalf at the meeting, said the Councilmember was opposed to any surface route option. However, he said Huizar was still waiting to take a public stance on the proposed tunnels.

On Friday, August 17, SR-710 opponents got a clearer picture of where Huizar stood on the issue, as the Councilmember introduced a resolution that calls on the City Council to oppose five of Metro's proposed extensions routes.

"Of Metro’s 12 remaining options, the Freeway and Highway alternatives would have detrimental impacts on the communities they would go through. Therefore, I categorically oppose the following routes: H-2, H-6, F-2, F-5, and F-6," Huizar wrote in an e-mail to constituents. 

The motion calls also on the City Council to oppose any above ground routes.

Metro and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are currently undergoing their latest attempt to attain a valid Environmental Impact Report for their plans to extend Interstate-710 beyond its northern terminus in Alhambra and connect it to the SR-210 in Pasadena.

The study has been narrowed down to 12 options, which in addition to rail and bus options, include several freeway and highway routes that would potentially be built through or below the communities of Garvanza, Mount Washington, Glassell Park, El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena.
Huizar's motion calls for the City Council to oppose all of Metro's currently proposed freeway and highway routes, save for one, F-7, which is a tunnel that would be built beneath the city of South Pasadena.

"These routes would not link communities, they would destroy them," Huizar added in the letter.
Chris Smith, the President of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and a member of the No 710 on Avenue 64 group, said he believed that Huizar's motion was a "good start," but that he hoped the resolution would eventually include language opposing all underground routes as well.

Several phone calls to Huizar's office were not returned regarding the resolution.

Huizar's e-mail to his constituents:

 I am opposed to any 710 extension route option that negatively affects our communities. In 2009, I introduced legislation calling on the City of Los Angeles to oppose several above-ground SR-710 extension options cutting through Northeast Los Angeles and I continue to oppose such routes.

As a Metro Board member, I voted against moving the current EIR forward since it lacked a clear plan of action and a designated route.

Today, without a clearly defined route for the EIR to study, this ambiguity is causing fear and confusion for many local residents. The project needs to clearly indicate one potential route and compare that with the no-build option and the available multi-modal options.

Of Metro’s 12 remaining options, the Freeway and Highway alternatives would have detrimental impacts on the communities they would go through. Therefore, I categorically OPPOSE the following routes: H-2, H-6, F-2, F-5, and F-6.

Today in Council, I introduced a resolution reminding the City of its earlier opposition and calling on the City Council to oppose these newly defined routes, and any above-ground options. These routes would destroy historic buildings and neighborhoods, increase traffic congestion and cause irreparable harm to tens of thousands of people.

In short, these routes would not link communities, they would destroy them.

As this process moves forward, Metro needs to be more forthright with all parties involved, particularly the affected communities by engaging in an open and honest dialogue.

Per my request, Metro will hold a community outreach meeting in my district on September 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Highland Park Senior Center to provide residents and stakeholders with a greater understanding of the EIR process, the studies being conducted and a timeline.

I encourage everyone to make their voices and opinions be heard. Metro can be contacted directly via email at sr710study@metr

 Huizar's Resolution