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 23, 2012

 The Fight Is Not Over Yet

From Carla Riggs:

Dear Neighbors ~
I'm thrilled that our beautiful area has been recommended to be taken off the list of potential 710 connector routes.
However, the F-7 connector through Pasadena Avenue is still an option.  Please take a deep breath, and continue to fight *any* route through Pasadena.
While the 710 now carries approximately 34,000 trucks per day, Metro has estimated that by 2035 there will be 90,000 trucks per day.  We need to stop any connector route coming through Pasadena.
For more information concerning what's still on the table, read here.


Comment (Peggy Drouet): Add the defeat of  Measure R2 as well.

Metro chooses final 710 routes for environmental study

By Lauren Gold, SGVN

during a town hall meeting sponsored by San Rafael Neighborhoods Association discussing the Metro proposals for the 710 extension and the future of San Rafael Elementary School at the Church of the Angels on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 in Pasadena, Calif. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)
  PASADENA - The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Thursday it has determined the final five alternatives it will study for the 710 Freeway extension.

The new list that does not include two proposed routes through Pasadena's wealthy San Rafael neighborhood.

The announcement came the day after a San Rafael Neighborhood Association meeting at which about 300 local residents and politicians had one resounding message for Metro: no 710 Freeway extension, anywhere.

The meeting was one of many protests in recent weeks against Metro's proposed 710 extension to close a 4.5-mile freeway gap between Alhambra and Pasadena.

San Rafael Neighborhood Association President Ron Paler said he was "excited" to hear the San Rafael routes had been dropped, and credited the local community's activism for influencing Metro's decision.

"I think there's no doubt that the activism of numerous individuals and numerous groups ... was one of the driving forces ultimately responsible for Metro's decisions," Paler said.

The final list eliminates the F2 and F5 tunnel routes that connect to the 134 and 2 Freeways, the F6 surface/depressed route connecting the 10 and 210
Freeways, the H2 highway route up Avenue 64 and the H5 highway along Fremont and Fair Oaks Avenues.

"The low-performing and senseless options - particularly the routes along Avenue 64 and through the San Rafael community - ought never have been included in the first place," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who chairs the MTA.

Antonovich blamed Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, for legislation that mandated "route neutrality" and forced Metro to examine building through the pricey and politically connected neighborhoods of southwest Pasadena.

Metro staff is set to present a more in-depth explanation of how the study team chose the final five routes out of the 12 it has been studying for months. That presentation will take place at the Technical Advisory Meeting on Wednesday, Metro official Frank Quon said.

Still on the table are:

A no-build option, which includes 50 small improvement projects throughout the study area;

A solution that would incorporate Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) into the study area. The option will also encourage ride-sharing and off-peak travel;

Light rail that would follow a route from the East Los Angeles Civic Center Station through Monterey Park and connect to the Gold Line at the Fillmore Station;

A bus line that would connect from the Atlantic Station on the Gold Line to Pasadena via Atlantic and Fair Oaks avenues;

A freeway tunnel connecting the 10 and 210 Freeways between Alhambra and Pasadena.

A multi-lane interstate above ground freeway connection is no longer under consideration, officials said.

The options will be studied more in-depth during the remaining two years of Metro's EIR process.

Quon said Metro heard the voices of community activists, but made a decision on the final alternatives based on a set of criteria that determined each route's feasibility and ability to ease traffic congestion.

"We're aware of and we understand and respect the activism and the voices from the community but we had focused on our many aspects of evaluating it and we had developed performance measures to evaluate all of the alternatives," Quon said.

But Paler said Metro's decision to remove the San Rafael routes will not stop the SRNA from fighting all forms of the 710 Freeway extension.

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, praised the decision, but said it didn't go far enough to protect residents.

"I'm pleased for any neighborhood that gets spared from the nightmare but disappointed that Metro continues to think that the tunnel makes sense when the overwhelming facts available say it doesn't," Portantino said. "They should immediately stop all work on any misguided notion of furthering a tunnel."

Even before Thursday's decision, SRNA member John Shaffer encouraged residents Wednesday to remember their own dismay about the San Rafael routes to motivate them to continue fighting a freeway extension.

"I want everyone here to remember that feeling you felt the day you learned that our neighborhood was in the path of this highway or freeway and don't ever forget that feeling," Shaffer said. "Because even if we manage to defeat the routes through our neighborhood, there are other families that are going to be feeling that same feeling and we have to be there for them the same way they are for us."

Politicians at Wednesday's SRNA meeting also took a stand against all freeway routes. Among them were state Sen. Candidate Gil Gonzales, state Assembly candidate Donna Lowe and Portantino representative Julianne Hines.

Portantino sent a letter Wednesday to Caltrans representatives urging a complete halt to the 710 extension study completely.

Executive Director of Pasadena Heritage Claire Bogaard, wife of Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, commented on the various environmental and logistical problems that could come from a tunnel route, which she said she thinks will be high on Metro's list. She also encouraged residents to vote against the extension of Measure R in November if it includes 710 funding.

The Los Angeles City Council is also set today to take a vote on opposing five of the routes that have now been eliminated. Residents from San Rafael, Highland Park, Garvanza and other affected neighborhoods said they planned to attend the meeting and encourage the council to take an even more aggressive approach and also oppose the tunnel option.

"We hope there can be more exposure to the city council members as to this flawed process," said Highland Park resident Gretchen Knudsen. "We're just getting started."



Gallery: San Rafael Neighborhoods Association Town Hall Meeting

Comment (Peggy Drouet): In various articles, including the one above, our neighborhood has gone from "tony" to "upscale" to "wealthy." I wonder what the next description will be.



710 Freeway extension routes thinned (Pasadena Sun)

Connector to the 2 Freeway is among seven eliminated, but a tunnel remains under consideration.

710 Freeway
Officials are cutting seven proposals to connect the Long Beach (710) Freeway to other highways. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Handing a partial victory to Pasadena and nearby cities, regional transportation officials are eliminating seven routes from a study of the Long Beach (710) Freeway extension, including the long-contested surface freeway connecting the 710 and the Foothill (210) Freeway and two separate plans for a highway along Avenue 64.
A 4.5-mile tunnel connecting the 710 to the 210 is still under consideration.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority staffers said they dumped the alternatives because the routes would cause significant and unavoidable environmental impacts.
Other routes no longer being considered include a highway that would start at the 710, then run through Huntington Drive and Fair Oaks Avenue to connect to the 210 in Pasadena; a rapid bus route from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena; a light rail route from Atlantic Boulevard in Alhambra to Pasadena; and a highway from the 710 in Alhambra to the Glendale (2) Freeway.
The 710-210 surface route would be the least expensive of all the alternatives, according to an MTA staff report, but would create the most noise and impacts to historical properties, in addition to “high visual intrusion to communities along alignment.”
South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and other nearby cities have long opposed the 710 extension, while transportation planners, advocates for the Port of Los Angeles and the city of Alhambra favor it.
Last week, the Pasadena City Council voted to oppose the Avenue 64 and Huntington Drive routes at a raucous meeting that drew hundreds of residents protesting the new highway plans.
On Thursday, Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison – who represents the San Rafael neighborhood that would be most affected by the Avenue 64 proposals – called the MTA decision a” major victory” for residents.
“I wouldn’t call it public pressure because that’s how public agencies are supposed to work – they’re supposed to be influenced by the community,” he said.
Transportation officials will continue to study freeway tunnel from Alhambra to Pasadena; a light-rail line from the East Los Angeles Civic Center to the Gold Line’s Fillmore Station; a rapid bus route from Alhambra to Pasadena; various improvements such as ridesharing, traffic signal coordination and increasing transit services; and a “no-build” alternative. The study is expected to be completed in 2014 with a draft report released next year.
The decision to drop the alternatives does not require a vote of the MTA board, according to Frank Quon, the agency’s executive officer for highway programs. But the board and members of the 710 project Technical Advisory Committee will review the report, he said.
South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez said he welcomed Thursday’s decision as a step in the right direction. He hopes MTA’s next decision will be to study multi-modal and low-build alternatives.
“We firmly believe that’s the best way to deal with traffic issues in the region,” Gonzalez said. “Expanding the light rail system to move people, moving goods through heavy rail and expanding bike facilities throughout the region will all help us become less-dependent on the auto and move goods more efficiently.”


Connecting with trouble

Lawmaker calls for an end to 710 extension and a probe of Caltrans following scathing state audit

By Kevin Uhrich 08/23/2012 (Pasadena Weekly)

Connecting with trouble

It has not been a good month for the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans. 
On Aug. 13, representatives of the state transit agency and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metro, had their proverbial heads handed to them by hundreds of people attending a public hearing at the Pasadena Convention Center. 
Dozens of angry residents formally spoke out against plans to turn Avenue 64 through Highland Park and the San Rafael neighborhood of Pasadena into a six-lane freeway or build a tunnel underne
ath the densely residential, two-lane thoroughfare to connect the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways. 
Various alternative connector plans being drawn up by the two giant transit agencies as part of an environmental review of the proposed 4.5-mile-long connector route were unanimously opposed that night by the Pasadena City Council. 
Then, on Aug. 16, the California State Auditor released a scathing report that read more like an indictment of Caltrans’ management — or potential criminal mismanagement, as one local lawmaker apparently suspects — of most of the nearly 500 homes it owns in Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhood of El Sereno, which sit in the footprint of the original but now-tabled above-ground connector route for the two freeways. 
Among other findings, the report states that between July 2007 and December 2011, Caltrans, which did not verify the eligibility of tenants to be charged below-market rate rents, collected $12.8 million in rent but lost $22 million due to underpayment by ineligible tenants. During most of that period, Caltrans reportedly paid out another $22.5 million for questionable repairs, according to the audit.
“Caltrans understands that its management of the ‘710 properties’ has been poor and unacceptable,” Caltrans spokesperson Matt Rocco said in a prepared statement. “To improve our stewardship of these properties, Caltrans is taking immediate corrective actions in line with the State Auditor’s report. Caltrans will also explore alternatives to state management of these properties to ensure it remains focused on its core mission: improving the safety and mobility of California’s driving public.” 
That’s not good enough for longtime Caltrans critic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who first asked for the audit and is now calling for an end to the 710 connector project altogether, as well as an investigation of the agency’s handling of those homes seized through eminent domain beginning in the 1950s. The audit recommends the homes be turned over to a private firm or a joint powers authority made up of representatives from Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles.
“There definitely needs to be an investigation,” Portantino told the Weekly. “Somebody’s making those decisions, and based on those decisions they are spending millions and millions of dollars on a project that should not be built.”
On Wednesday morning, shortly after the Weekly’s print deadline had passed, Portantino formally called for an end to the 710 connector project. 
“A 710 tunnel option would be a project of historic magnitude and tremendous cost to the taxpayers of California. There cannot be even a hint of impropriety or manipulation involved in such a project,” Portantino wrote in a letter to Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission. “Because local planners have ignored the direction of the federal government, their own state traffic protocols, and basic common sense, it is time for leaders to step in and make the bold decision to put an end to this project.”
State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced legislation that would have Caltrans identify the properties it will not need to tear down and put them up for sale, with proceeds going to fund local transit projects.
The audit is vindication for Don Jones, a former tenant of one of those properties in Pasadena who was evicted after more than 17 years for complaining about shoddy repairs being done on his home by Caltrans contractors. Jones, whose epic eviction battle lasted nearly three years, first brought attention to the agency’s questionable repair and rental practices through a number of stories that appeared in the Pasadena Weekly. 
His story was then picked up by the Los Angeles Times, which reported Caltrans did roof repairs on 33 homes at an average cost of $71,000, some for well over $100,000. The costs were found to be four to five times what would normally be charged by private contractors for similar repairs.
Between eviction proceedings, Jones compiled Weekly stories about his case and other information on the agency’s repair practices and hand-delivered copies of his files to state officials in Sacramento, including Gov. Jerry Brown. Jones even offered his “briefing book” to elected and appointed officials with Metro and spoke before that agency’s board of directors and the South Pasadena City Council.
One excuse used to sidestep meeting with Jones was the fact that he was the subject of litigation as a result of his eviction, thus legally prohibiting officials from discussing the case with him. But, Jones said, “It’s not like Jerry [Brown] and everyone else didn’t know.”

‘No on Measure J’
Jones and his wife, Gloria Lucio, were among more than 300 people attending a community gathering of a few hundred people Wednesday evening on the front lawn of the historic Church of the Angels on Avenue 64. The event, sponsored by the San Rafael Neighborhood Association, proved to be a magnet for not only concerned citizens, but also elected officials, candidates in the upcoming November election and other neighborhood empowerment groups that are now coalescing in opposition to the 710 extension plans.
“This is a grassroots effort that shows whatever happens, this is what you’ll get,” said Robin Salzer, looking out over the throng of people assembled on the church’s sprawling front lawn. Salzer, owner of Robin’s BBQ & Woodfire Grill, and his wife, former Pasadena Councilwoman Ann-Marie Villicana, own a historic home in the path of the connector alternatives. 
“This is real democracy,” Salzer said. “It shows you that people give a damn, and they’re pissed off.”
One of the staunchest critics of Metro and Caltrans over the years has been longtime Pasadena civic activist Claire Bogaard, co-chair of the No 710 Action Committee. When it was her time to address the gathering, Bogaard gave a brief history of freeways in Los Angeles and the nearly 30-year, cross-community “David and Goliath” struggle to stop the 710 and 210 connector.
Although one might never know it after reviewing the State Auditor’s report, Bogaard, wife of Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, pointed out that Caltrans, like other state agencies, doesn’t have money to waste. But Metro, she said, could soon be flush with funding if voters approve an extension of a countywide half-cent sales tax dedicated to transit projects.
Bogaard was referring to Measure R, which passed with more than 67 percent of the vote in 2008. The 30-year tax is expected to raise $40 billion for mostly bus and light rail improvements. Earlier this month, the Board of Supervisors, with only Supervisor Mike Antonovich dissenting, voted to approve a recommendation from the Metro Board of Directors to place a measure on the November ballot that would extend the tax another 30 years.
Measure R’s brother will appear on the ballot as Measure J.
“Measure R/J has money allocated for the 710 Freeway. The earlier Measure R is funding all these studies and the Metro meetings [regarding alternative routes] that are occurring,” said Bogaard.
“As long as there is money included in Measure J for the 710 freeway extension, I am voting No on Measure J. We need to get that message to our friends and colleagues and to Caltrans and Metro now,” she added.

Starting over
The eviction has taken its toll on Jones and his wife, who lived in motels for nearly six months before finding a new place in Eagle Rock. After throwing Jones and his family out, state workers tossed in the trash many of the family’s personal belongings that were still in the garage. They also cut down fruit trees Jones had grown in the backyard and a thriving cactus plant in the front yard.
“They dumped the stuff in a dumpster,” Jones said of action taken by Caltrans after their May 31, 2011 departure.
“They didn’t have to do this,” Jones said of the eviction, which was prompted by his using a profanity in the course of telling a Caltrans contractor doing shoddy work on his roof and kitchen floor to get out of the house. 
“All they would have to do was not evict me and no one would have ever known,” he said.
According to the audit, Caltrans passed up roughly $22 million in rental income for most of these properties over 3½ years “because of poor management.” Caltrans’ failing to charge market rates for its rental properties constituted “a gift of public funds” to those renters, according to the audit.
The audit also found that 15 state workers — four of whom work for Caltrans — were living in those homes as of February and paying lower than market rate rents.
Although Caltrans collected net rental income of $12.8 million, from July 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011, the agency also:
* Spent an average of $6.4 million per year on property repairs but could not demonstrate that repairs for 18 of the 30 projects reviewed by auditors were reasonable or even necessary. 
* Authorized repairs that far exceeded the potential rental income of the property. For 20 of the 30 properties reviewed, Caltrans authorized repairs for which it will take more than three years worth of rental income to recover the costs, according to the report.
* Transferred an average of $4.7 million annually since fiscal year 2005-06 to the state Department of General Services for property maintenance, despite the fact that the two departments have been operating without an interagency agreement. In some instances, Caltrans was unable to provide records to substantiate its approval of General Services’ work either before or after the work was performed.
* Possibly inappropriately charged through 330 hours of labor to projects related to the properties.
* Estimated that the market value of all the parcels was $279 million, when the actual sale price for many or potentially all of the residential parcels could be roughly 80 percent less than the estimated market value, in part because of restrictions in the Roberti Bill, so-named for former state Sen. David Roberti, which requires the state to sell the homes to low- to moderate-income tenants living in them at reduced rates after they are declared surplus. That can only happen after Caltrans finally abandons the overland 710 connector, which it has not yet done.
Jones, who would have been eligible to buy his home at a low cost under provisions of the Roberti Bill, said that while most lawmakers tried to avoid him, he found a receptive ear in state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who invited him into her office and listened to everything he said. 
“The only person whoever sat down and really talked with me about this was Kamala Harris,” Jones said. In the end, “This audit validates everything I’ve been saying.”
In the letter sent Wednesday, Portantino wrote that, “The recent state audit highlighted the complete lack of trust that I have for the folks shepherding the 710 corridor and this historically massive project. If these folks can’t be trusted to fix a roof, how can we trust them to build a $15-billion tunnel?”
The State Auditor’s report is available at HYPERLINK http://www.bsa.ca.gov bsa.ca.gov.
To read more about Jones, visit pasadenaweekly.com.


 Metro chooses final five options to study for 710 freeway extension

PASADENA – The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Thursday that it has determined the final five alternatives it will study for the 710 Freeway extension.

The list eliminates the F2 and F5 tunnel routes that connect to the 134 and 2 Freeways, the F6 surface/depressed route connecting the 10 and 210 Freeways, the H2 highway route up Avenue 64 and the H5 highway along Fremont and Fair Oaks Avenues.

Metro staff is set to present a more in-depth explanation of how the study team chose the final five routes at the Technical Advisory Meeting on Aug. 29, said Metro's Executive Officer for the Highway Program Frank Quon. Quon said the final five alternative will be the no build option, the Transportation System Management/Travel Demand Management solutions, a light rail option and the F7 tunnel route connecting the 10 and 210 Freeways.

Quon said Metro heard the voices of community activists in recent weeks, but made a decision on the final alternatives based on a set of criteria that determined each route's feasibility and ability to ease traffic congestion.

“We're aware of and we understand and respect the activism and the voices from the community but we had focused on our many aspects of evaluating it and we had developed performance measures to evaluate all of the alternatives,” Quon said.
Comment (Peggy Drouet).  F7 was not eliminated. This, I believe, is the tunnel route through Pasadena Avenue.

To: undisclosed-recipients@null, null@null
Subject: We've Won!!!
Date: Aug 23, 2012 6:30 PM
We've won! :)
We are not in the final routes for the DEIR.


El Sereno Group Seeks to Renovate Caltrans Bungalows (from EGPNEWS.COM)

Group recently launched online fundraising campaign.
By Ileana Najarro, EGP Staff Writer
For more than 40 years, eight bungalows located behind a community arts space in El Sereno have stood abandoned by Caltrans, the owner of the property.
Over time, neglect of the bungalows has fostered illegal activities, including drug use and gang violence, endangering the neighborhood, says El Sereno native Iris De Anda.
Now, the El Sereno Bungalow Collective, an offshoot of the adjacent Eastside Café, a volunteer organization hoping to become a co-op, plans to remedy the situation by raising funds to convert the empty buildings into a larger arts space for local residents.
“We have to reclaim them as if they were ours already,” Angela Flores, a spokesperson for the collective told EGP.
The collective has spent the last six years organizing volunteers and trying to raise the funds needed to renovate the bungalows. But before the group could apply for grant funding, they had to first get permission from Caltrans, said Hector Flores, a collective member. To prepare for those conversations, the group, assisted by students from California State University, Los Angeles, spent three years gathering feedback from the local community. According to Flores, they presented over 500 surveys to Caltrans, which he said show that residents overwhelmingly want a safe after-school space for their children.
Eastside Café hopes to renovate the 8 abandoned bungalows behind it, owned by Caltrans, into a community arts space. EGP photo by Ileana Najarro
Flores told EGP that Caltrans ultimately supported the group’s efforts on two conditions: “it’s not used as a residential space and [Caltrans] could not provide any money.”
However, on the heels of a report published Monday by the California Bureau of State Audits on the status of the Caltrans properties running along the proposed extension routes, the agency was unwilling to confirm their support for the bungalow project.
According to the report, Caltrans “passed up roughly $22 million in rental income for these properties between July 1, 2007, and December 31, 2011, because of poor management.”
“Caltrans understands that its management of the ‘710 properties’ has been poor and unacceptable,” Matt Rocco, a Caltrans spokesperson wrote to EGP in an email. “To improve our stewardship of these properties, Caltrans is taking immediate corrective actions in line with the State Auditor’s report.”
The collective has received an $8,500 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation last year. They are required to raise a matching amount. If raised, the money will be used for historic reports on the bungalows, architectural blueprints, and future community planning sessions, the group said.
The matching portion of the grant is the incentive behind a fundraising campaign launched Monday on Indiegogo, an online fundraising site, collective member Joe Parker told EGP.
“One of the strengths of the Zapatista movement, which we’re known by, is to use the Internet to grow support, large networks of support,” Parker said.
The group hopes to raise $10,000 by Sept. 20 through local, national and international donations made online — making the bungalow project one of the largest endeavors undertaken by the Eastside Café, Angela said, which currently does not have nonprofit status.
This boarded up house on Alomita St. is currently in discussion between Caltrans and Eastside Café for community use. EGP photo by Ileana Najarro
To increase their chances of meeting the goal, Angela coordinated a short film for the group’s campaign page in which the collective explains its mission and provides background on the Eastside Café. As explained in the film, the group hopes to convert each bungalow into community art spaces, which could include a film production room, a multi-purpose performing arts room and a kitchen to teach sustainable cooking classes.
The group’s main concern, however, continues to be with the proposed 710 freeway extension project.
According to Hector and Parker, a Caltrans representative a few months ago told them that the transportation agency hopes to complete the environmental impact report on the underground alternative route in a year or so: the results of the EIR could impact any future development of the bungalows, they said. Hector, however, added that “Caltrans must adhere to the Roberti Bill” which states that if the property isn’t used as initially intended, then it must be sold at a reduced price. The bill may not apply, however, should the freeway project see completion, and Caltrans uses the bungalows for something else.
Caltrans tried to demolish the bungalows in the 1990s with support from some local residents, according to Parker. However, a greater majority of locals filed for a court injunction to keep the bungalows standing, he said.
De Anda, also a collective member, said that the community in El Sereno, including around the Eastside Café, does not approve of any extension project that threatens the bungalows’ future.
“Since it’s a low-income community, I think they think it’s easy to try and squeeze it by us, but there are a lot of residents that are very vigilant and have a lot of love for this place, and they’re the ones that stand up in making sure that the 710 doesn’t proceed,” De Anda said.
Angela says Caltrans’ has a responsibility to support the collective’s efforts: “They have to consider [a renovation] because they’ve left it abandoned for so many years and they need to listen to the community.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Build Anywhere

Hey kids! Let's put on our poodle skirts and saddle shoes! It's the 1950's again and Caltrans wants to build a freeway!

Let's go Retro!

"Stop 710 through San Rafael area."
"Stop 710 Through Avenue 64."

I'm pretty sure you'll find similar wording on signs in El Sereno, South Pasadena, and Highland Park. Perhaps Caltrans thought they could divide and conquer, but folks are wising up. The sign I saw today at the 134 San Rafael Avenue off-ramp said, "710 NO BUILD ANYWHERE.

I took the above photo facing north on Avenue 64 at 5:09:46 pm on August 15th. That's rush hour on a Wednesday. Obviously we're getting along fine without a 710 freeway extension and the Pasadena City Council seems to agree. That's because this freeway extension, so close to the Arroyo Seco (where the Rose Bowl stadium sits), would ruin much more than Avenue 64. Pasadena property values? Not!

Even our State Assemblyman doesn't want this thing. Nobody wants a 710 freeway extension except shipping companies, and they don't live here.

But seriously, folks, is Caltrans really considering a freeway? Are they really not talking about a faster, less-polluting, light rail system for transporting goods from the port of Los Angeles? Is everybody who works at Caltrans still rolling their non-filter cigarette packs up in their t-shirt sleeves? Wearing coonskin hats? Combing their hair into a ducktail while they shake their hula-hoops?

What century is this?

If you'd like to add your voice, you can join the No 710 Freeway Extension Facebook Page. Please feel free to leave other links and suggestions in the comments.

And speaking of outdated schemes: tomorrow is the last day for public comment (until 5pm) regarding Pasadena's "Multi-Benefit/Multi-Use" Project Initial Study (aka, "building a soccer field in Hahamongna watershed"). Here's a toolkit to help you register your comments. It takes only a few minutes and your words matter.
Bookmark and Share

John Crawford: Metrotrans conspires on the 710

By John Crawford (Pasadena Star News)

I want you to know just how fond I am of conspiracy theories. And not just because they are invariably more interesting than the more staid forms of information available to the common man - often they turn out to be correct as well. I know it is the wont of local government types to proclaim that their detractors among the blogging and open-government advocacy set are concocting conspiracy theories when they attempt to uncover what exactly is being done with such inconsequential things as the taxpayers' hard-earned cash and civil rights. But isn't that just a symptom of the problem? When local government agencies are more concerned with how they are going to appear to Sacramento bureaucrats, government employee unions and large special-interest lobbyists, the public that funds them becomes less the folks they answer to and more a marketing problem.
A fine example of a conspiracy theory that could be far more reality-based than anything put out lately by Caltrans or Metro (or, as we choose to call them here, Metrotrans), is the suspected tactic being used to coerce the building of the 710 so-called connector tunnel.
Something that has been about as locally popular as the various respiratory illnesses it would enable among those residing within the Pasadena Archipelago.
You may recall that a few months back Metrotrans began to hold various dog and pony shows throughout the area touting their openness to all sorts of possibilities for 710

routes. The happy notion they hoped to convey was that they weren't married to the 710 tunnel, but were wide open to all sorts of alternative route ideas as well. And they wanted to hear all about your thoughts on the matter. Of course, once the alternative routes were put down on paper and circulated throughout the Pasadena Archipelago, people freaked out. How could anyone even dream of putting an eight- (or is that 10-) lane freeway through my neighborhood? And how could you even think of bulldozing my house to build so horrible a thing? That is what people said.
History was made. Community organizations were formed, meetings held and, once the opportunity was presented to the people, the appropriate City Council meeting was flooded with hundreds upon hundreds of angry citizens. The result being that hero city councilpersons unanimously proclaimed their opposition to the 710 extension going through whatever neighborhoods were represented at the meeting.
But was this really an unintended consequence for Metrotrans? I have a few doubts. By allowing each of these neighborhoods to individually fear the 710 reaper, their original intent, putting the tunnel through Alhambra and South Pas up to the 210, can now potentially be seen as a more acceptable possibility. As Assemblyman Anthony Portantino told the Star-News, "I don't like pitting neighborhood against neighborhood."
Which is exactly what was done here. And for quite a specific marketing purpose.
Look, I don't want the ecologically vile 710 Cancer Corridor connected to the 210. I don't want the air quality here in Sierra Madre reduced to that of Bell or Cudahy. And I certainly don't want this done so that cheaply made imported goods trucked out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles can get to the shelves of big box discount retailers just a little more efficiently.
Which is actually my favorite conspiracy theory. You really have to wonder who is calling the shots here. Is it our government, or the faraway folks who are lending them all of that money?
John Crawford runs the Sierra Madre Tattler blog in exchange for reader comments.
From the Panama Canal to the 134/210 Time Line

(Peggy Drouet)

About two months ago, after reading an e-mail from Carla Riggs, I felt like I had entered into the middle of a horror movie, not knowing what had happened in the first part of the movie. I have tried to find out, becoming a BFF with the Google search engine. Below is what I found, put into a date order.

Years in blue from the Complete the Freeway 710 Group, an organization in support of the 710 Gap Extension)

1933    Route 710 (formerly Route 7) became part of the State Highway System.
1947    Original route design following Atlantic Blvd. was deleted.
1951    Legislature described the route as being from Long Beach to Huntington Drive.
Sept., 1959    Master Plan of Freeways and Expressways extended the route to the Foothill Freeway.
April 20, 1960    Pasadena, South Pasadena, Los Angeles and Alhambra were formally notified by the state of alternatives studies.
May 7, 1964    Seven alternatives were presented by the Division of Highways in a Pasadena public forum.
Sept. 10, 1964    California Highway Commission (CHC) obtained public views in a Pasadena public meeting.
Nov. 18, 1964    The CHC adopted the "Meridian Route."
Dec. 16, 1964    South Pasadena requested reconsideration of route adoption. The request was rejected. (See August, 1966, and October, 1967).
Feb. 15, 1965    The Long Beach Freeway opened between Route 10 and Valley Blvd.
April 16, 1965    City of Los Angeles signed Freeway Agreement.
May 3, 1966    Alhambra signed Freeway Agreement.
Aug. 17/18, 1966    South Pasadena requested reconsideration of route adoption. The request was rejected.
March 30, 1967    Pasadena signed Freeway Agreement.
Oct. 27, 1967    South Pasadena requested reconsideration of route adoption. The request was rejected.
Nov. 21, 1969    CHC directed the Division of Highways to study a "Westerly Route" proposed by South Pasadena.
April 18, 1972    CHC reaffirmed adopted alignment after feasibility study.
Nov. 7, 1972    South Pasadena voters passed Proposition CC to prevent street closures along the Meridian Route.
Nov. 15, 1972    CHC found that the Westerly Route was not feasible.
Jan. 15, 1973    Lawsuit filed by South Pasadena and other organizations in U.S. District Court to stop construction.
March 7, 1973    Litigation resolved by Judge E. Avery Crary. Stipulation required an Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The 210/134/710 Interchange in Pasadena was allowed to be completed.
March 21, 1973    South Pasadena amended its General Plan to show parks across the adopted route.
May 16, 1973    State filed a Superior Court action to prohibit parks on adopted route and to have the adopted route included in the South Pasadena General Plan.
July 16, 1973    Judge David A. Thomas ruled in favor of the state on the parks issue.
March 17, 1975    Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) released for comment.
August, 1975    Legislature passed AB 1716, the Arroyo Seco Park Preservation Act, to rule out any westerly route alternatives which might encroach on the park.
March 24, 1976    Northern portion of the freeway and certain street connections (the "wishbone") opened as a result of favorable District Court action filed by Caltrans and Pasadena.
Sept. 3, 1976    Pasadena filed a District Court action to establish a formal schedule for completing the environmental process.
Sept. 15, 1976    DEIS supplement released for review and comment.
Sept. 21, 1976    District Court established schedule for completion of the environmental process.
October, 1976    Community workshops held to discuss the DEIS.
Dec. 2, 1976    Public hearing in Pasadena
June, 1977    Caltrans submitted a Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommending a four-lane freeway between Routes 10 and 210.
Aug. 4, 1977    FHWA rejected the FEIS due to route segmentation and lack of local support. All work on the project essentially ended.
March 16, 1982    AB1623 was signed into law by Governor Brown, authorizing the construction of a freeway without a freeway agreement provided certain conditions were met. Environmental schedule established.
October, 1982    Route 710 Advisory Committee established.
March 30, 1983    Second EIS supplement circulated for review and comment.
June 9, 1983    California Transportation Commission (CTC) and Caltrans held a joint public hearing at the Pasadena Civic Center.
Aug. 15, 1983    The Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) held a five-member meeting in Pasadena. Panel recommended five additional alternatives for study to avoid historic properties impact.
Sept. 1, 1984    Caltrans distributed the conceptual Study of ACHP Recommended Alternatives for Route 710 Freeway completion. All were rejected due to adverse impacts outweighing historic benefits.
Sept. 14, 1984    Caltrans distributed the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) to meet the AB1623 mandate. The Meridian Corridor Alternative was recommended.
Nov. 14/15, 1984    CTC held public meetings in Pasadena to solicit public opinion prior to making a route selection.
Nov. 26, 1984    The ACHP held a full council meeting in the South Pasadena library. The "Orange Grove Variation" and two double decking alternatives were recommended for modification and further study.

Dec. 17, 1984    CTC accepted the EIR and selected the Meridian Corridor Alternative to complete the freeway between Route 10 and 210.
Oct. 20, 1986    State Senator Art Torres held a Senate Transportation Committee hearing at the South Pasadena Junior High School Auditorium.
Dec. 30, 1986    Third DEIS Supplement was circulated for review and comment. The focus of the document was the Meridian Variation which was developed as a historic properties avoidance alternative.
Feb. 19, 1987    Caltrans held a public hearing in the South Pasadena High School Auditorium.
May 1, 1988    A supplemental Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation was circulated for review and comment.
Oct. 20, 1988    FHWA requested comments from the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) regarding impact of the Meridian Variation on historic properties.
Oct. 31, 1988    Caltrans submitted the draft FEIS to the FHWA for review and comment.
Nov. 22, 1988    The SHPO responded to FHWA’s request and stated, that the Meridian Variation would have an adverse impact on historic properties. The SHPO declined to participate in an effort to develop details of the proposed plan.
Dec. 16, 1988    The FHWA requested comments from the ACHP concerning the Meridian Variation.
Jan. 11, 1989    Caltrans met with South Pasadena to look at their Westerly Plan B.
Feb. 1, 1989    The SHPO wrote the FHWA and reaffirmed that she had additional information from Caltrans on the Meridian Variation. She also reaffirmed that she could not support the Meridian Variation Alternative.
Feb. 8, 1989    Caltrans, South Pasadena and members of State Senator Torres’ staff met to discuss the Plan B Variation.
Feb. 21, 1989    The ACHP responded to FHWA’s December, 1988, request with the comment that the Meridian Variation still had adverse historic site impact.
March 10, 1989    Senator Torres withdrew his bill to amend the Arroyo Seco Preservation Act of 1975.
March 24, 1989    The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) met with political leaders in the Northeast Los Angeles/West San Gabriel Valley area regarding the Route 710 Gap closure. SCAG passed a resolution (10-1) in support of the completion using the Meridian Variation alignment.
Dec. 26, 1990    The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was completed and sent to FHWA for approval.
Jan. 17, 1992    The State of California requested the FHWA to approve the FEIS and endorsed the Meridian Variation. Carl Covitz, Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing directed Caltrans to establish an advisory panel to mitigate historical, environmental and economic matters.
Feb. 28, 1992    A news conference including Congressman Matthew Martinez, Assemblyman Xavier Becerra, Alhambra Mayor Talmage Burke and a representative of Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre voiced broad support for the 710 Gap Closure project.
March 2, 1992    The FEIS was approved by FHWA.
April 1, 1992    The FEIS was released.
Sept. 10, 1992    The Route 710 Mitigation and Enhancement Advisory Committee (Mitigation Committee) was formed.
Jan. 15, 1993    ACHP referred the 710 Project to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for review.
March, 1993    The regional, grassroots advocacy group, 710 Freeway Coalition was formed.
March 31, 1993    South Pasadena resigned from the Mitigation Committee.
April 6, 1993    The CEQ directed the ACHP to develop the "Low Build Plan," which was proposed by the City of South Pasadena.
April 29, 1993    Final meeting of the Mitigation Committee.
July 1, 1993    Final report, including numerous concessions to South Pasadena, of the Mitigation Committee released.
July, 1993    Caltrans adopted virtually all of the Mitigation Committee recommendations.
Sept. 16, 1993    State Superior Court Judge Joe Gray ruled that AB1623 (Martinez, April, 1982), was no longer valid.
Sept. 23, 1993    City of Alhambra completed its analysis of the "Low Build Option" and found it to be impractical, ineffective and burdensome.
Oct. 25, 1993    City of Los Angeles completed its analysis of the "Low Build Option" and found it to be impractical and ineffective.
Dec. 27, 1993    City of Long Beach completed its analysis of the "Low Build Option" and found it to be impractical.
Jan. 20, 1994    City of Commerce completed its analysis of the "Low Build Option" and found it to be ineffective and impractical.
March 1, 1994    Caltrans completed a re-survey of all historic and potentially historic properties as a result of a FHWA and CEQ request.
March 7, 1994    DKS, an independent traffic consultant hired by Caltrans, completed an analysis of the Low Build Option and found it to be "worse than doing nothing."
March 8, 1994    The Congressional Surface Transportation Subcommittee voted to keep the 710 Project in the plan for the Federal Highway System.
Sept. 14, 1994    The CTC adopted the Meridian Alternative, approved the FEIS and authorized the issuance of the Notice of Decision.
Sept. 30, 1994    AB2556, (Diane Martinez) allowing completion of freeways without "freeway agreements" from cities, was signed into law by Governor Pete Wilson. The law overcame a judge’s ruling that AB1623 (Matthew Martinez, March 1982) had "expired."
Dec. 8, 1994    SCAG recommended that the 710 be completed without further study and commented that the regional project had been delayed "far too long."
March 14, 1995    An Environmental Justice Complaint was filed by the NAACP Legal and Defense Fund and the Mothers of East Los Angeles alleging that the El Sereno residents were not represented during the freeway mitigation process and therefore were being discriminated against. (The NAACP Legal and Defense Fund is a separate organization from the NAACP which supports completion of the 710.)
March 24, 1995     The Mothers of East Los Angeles asked to be removed from the complaint.
November, 1995     Federal Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places reviewed the results of a re-survey of historic properties conducted by Caltrans and found the Short Villa Tract was historical and should be preserved.
Dec. 28, 1995     Caltrans shifted the Meridian Variation Route 300 feet (the "Berkshire Shift") to save the Short Villa Tract. Caltrans hosted an outreach office in El Sereno to discuss with residents the impact of the Berkshire Shift.
April, 1996     Caltrans and FHWA released a final analysis of the "Low Build Option" proposed by the City of South Pasadena. The analysis found that the option would actually increase pollution and congestion.
July 2, 1996     AB2840, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Bill Hoge was pulled by the author. The bill, which had passed the Assembly, but not the Senate, would have repealed the 1994 AB2556, that allowed the 710’s completion without a freeway agreement from South Pasadena.
Oct. 1, 1996     The City of Alhambra filed a federal complaint for unreasonable delay against the US Department of Transportation, its Secretary, Federico Peña, and the FHWA Administrator, Rodney Slater.
Feb. 24, 1997     The National Register of Historic Places ("Keeper") finds that Gillette Crescent and Valley View Heights subdivisions are not elegible for register status.
March, 1998     Poll of South Pasadena voters shows 80% oppose completion of the 710 versus 18% in favor.
April 13, 1998     Record of Decision on the Final Environmental Impact Statement signed by Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, committing the federal government to fund the project.
June 10, 1998     South Pasadena filed suit against the state and federal government in Federal Court seeking to block further work on the 710.
Aug. 24, 1998    Federal Judge William J. Rea lifted the 1973 injunction which had blocked right of way and construction work on the 710.
Aug. 28, 1998    South Pasadena filed in Federal Court seeking an injunction to prohibit Caltrans from buying property or doing other work on the 710.
Dec. 3, 1998    Federal Judge Dean D. Pregerson toured the freeway route and asked both sides to try and reach a compromise.
Dec. 22, 1998    Attorneys for both sides reported to Federal Judge Pregerson that they had not been able to find middle ground. This cleared the way for South Pasadena’s suit to proceed.
July 1, 1998    AB2434, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Jack Scott to block the 710 was put into suspense, effectively killing the measure. The bill would have blocked the 710 unless full funding for all environmental work were first appropriated.
April 19, 1999    Judge Pregerson allowed South Pasadena’s suit to Proceed.
April 28, 1999    State Superior Judge David Yaffe dismissed a suit by Alhambra claiming that South Pasadena’s General Plan did not adequately address the 710.
June 2, 1999    Judge Pregerson granted South Pasadena’s request for a tentative injunction against buying additional property and against further 710 Freeway construction, but denied South Pasadena’s request to halt planning work on the 710.
July 19, 1999    Judge Pregerson made his June 2 injunction final.
July, 1999    The City Council of La Cañada Flintridge voted to put that city on record as opposing the 710 Freeway completion.
July 19, 1999    City of Alhambra restricted traffic through its city to protect its citizens from the freeway-diverted traffic until the 710 could be completed.
September, 1999    Poll released showing that Alhambra voters favored completion of 710 by 81% to 11%.
March, 2000    Poll released showing that Pasadena voters support 710 completion by 59% to 18% opposed. The poll showed overwhelming support in all 7 Pasadena City Council districts and the local Assembly, State Senate and Congressional districts. March, 2000 City Council of Pasadena voted to oppose completion of 710.
June 1, 2000    The second of two bills which would have killed the 710 Freeway died in the State Assembly. AB 1930 by Assemblyman Jack Scott and SB1497 by Senator Adam Schiff were both intended to rescind the 1994 AB2556 bill which allowed the state to complete the 710 without a freeway agreement from South Pasadena.
July, 2000     The Rose Institute’s survey of residents in the San Gabriel Valley showed support for completion of the 710 of 63% versus 11% opposed.
November, 2000    Poll of El Sereno voters showed support for completion of 60% versus 28% opposed.
Nov. 13, 2000    The Pasadena City Council placed a citizen’s initiative On the March, 2001, ballot which would lock in the city’s affirmative position on the 710, after the "710 Freeway Now" group collected 8,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure.
Dec. 11, 2000     The Pasadena City Council placed its own anti-710 measure on the March, 2001, ballot.
March 6, 2001    Pasadena voters oby a margin of 58% to 42% approve the initiative making completion of the 710 Freeway mandatory city policy binding on the Mayor and the City Council.
April 24, 2001     Los Angeles County Metropolitian Transportation Authority adopts Long Range Transportation Plan showing the 710 Project as the highest performing transportation project in the entire County of Los Angeles, and listing the 710 completion as the #1 "strategic" project.
June, 2001    The Southern California Association of Governments reaffirms the 710 in its Regional Transportation Plan as a committed, fundable project.
September, 2001    Eleven state legislators form the "710 Freeway Legislative Action Group" to dramatize regional support and to work collectively for the earliest possible groundbreaking. In the fall of 2001, and led by State Assemblymember Judy Chu of Monterey Park

 [now a U.S. representative and wife of State Assemblymember Mike Eng: "We have spent 40 years coming to this point of relative agreement that the tunnel is the best option," state Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, said Wednesday. "To end the football game when you are this close to the goal line makes no sense."http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_21378446/portantino-launches-salvo-at-710-freeway-plans]

the 710 Freeway Coalition helped form the 710 Freeway Legislative Action Group (710 FLAG) at the state level.

The 710 FLAG is a determined group of about a dozen state senators and assemblymembers who are committed to pushing the 710 Freeway through to completion. At the federal level, Congressmember Hilda Solis of El Monte

[now Secretary of Labor and with ties to Gloria Molina, LA County Supervisor,  and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both members of the Board of Directors of Metro.

 Solis was first elected to public office in 1985 as a member of the Rio Hondo Community College Board of Trustees. By 1991 she had become a protégé of LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who appointed Solis to the Los Angeles County Commission on Insurance. With Molina’s powerful backing, Solis successfully ran for the Democratic nomination to represent the California State Assembly’s 57th district in 1992. Two years later, State Senator Art Torres gave up his seat to run for state Insurance Commissioner, opening the way for Solis to become the first Latina elected to the California Senate. She easily won re-election in 1998, but thanks to the state’s term limits law, could not run again for the Legislature’s upper house. http://www.allgov.com/officials/solis-hilda?officialid .

 Antonio Villaraigosa....He was a union organizer. He was the head of the ACLU. He came out the barrio and grew up very poor. His father was an alcoholic, beat his mother—he overcame incredible obstacles. He dropped out of high school, and went back and then graduated from UCLA. He worked his way up through the labor movement and then was elected to the state legislature, becoming Speaker of the Assembly.

When he was term-limited out of the legislature he ran for the LA City Council and was elected. When he ran for Mayor the first time in 2001 he lost, but he ran again and won in 2005. Now we have a progressive mayor, thanks in large part to this impressive network of grassroots organizations, labor unions and community and environmental organizations. Many of them have lifted up some of their leaders into positions of electoral power. It’s a network of activists that work closely with elected officials, like Congresswoman Hilda Solis, and it’s just remarkable what L.A. has become. http://keywiki.org/index.php/Hilda_Solis

 Hilda Solis was born in Los Angeles, California as the daughter of immigrant parents who had met in citizenship class and married in 1953: Juana Sequeira (b. 1926, from Nicaragua) and Raul Solis (from Mexico). Her father was a Teamsters shop steward in Mexico and after coming to the U.S. worked at the Quemetco battery recycling plant in the City of Industry in the San Gabriel Valley. There he again organized for the Teamsters, to gain better health care benefits for workers, but also contracted lead poisoning. Her mother worked for over 20 years on the assembly line of Mattel once her children were all of school age, belonged to the United Rubber Workers, and was outspoken about working conditions .http://www.obamatwits.com/politician/hilda-solis/bio.php]

has been a tireless supporter of the 710 Freeway. She has worked to assemble a similar group of federal legislators to prevent any further attempts of South Pasadena and other opponents to insert anti-710 provisions in federal legislation.

The only known elected officials who do not yet support completion of the 710 Freeway are State Assemblymember Carol Liu, State Senator Jack Scott, and Congressmember Adam Schiff, the very legislators who have the City of South Pasadena in their districts. Re-districting of these districts will provide strong disincentives for these representatives to take any pro-active action against the 710 Freeway Project.

2001 The I-710 Major Corridor Study was initiated in January 2001 to analyze the traffic congestion, safety, and mobility problems along the I-710 travel corridor and to develop transportation solutions to address these problems as well as some of the quality of life concerns
experienced in the I-710 Corridor.

 2002 Caltrans first looks into the possibility of a tunnel connector route below South Pasadena.
June 2003 The South Pasadena City Council gives its qualified support for Caltrans to research the tunnel

2005 Since the I-710 Major Corridor Study was completed in 2005, various local and state agencies have made progress in developing a unified, action-oriented approach to port growth and freight-related mobility, air quality and health improvement.

April 2005 The LA Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) commissions a study to determine the possibility of a tunnel connector between the 210 and 710 Freeways. The engineering firm
Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) leads the study.
June 2006 The results of the study are released. While engineers find that a tunnel is technically possible, they are unable to determine its environmental or financial impact.

August 2007 The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has awarded CH2M HILL a programme management contract for the US$5.25 billion Panama Canal Expansion programme. Sub-contractors on the team include DHV Group, Grupo TYPSA, CSA Group, and Earth Consultants International.

Nov. 2007
The South Pasadena city council passes Resolution 6960, opposing a 710 Freeway extension.
2008 A “route neutral” study undertaken by the same engineering firm studies the possibility of
several routes through the San Gabriel Valley, including South Pasadena.

March 2008
I-710 Corridor Project EIR/EIS begins

Aug.Sept. 2008
South Pasadena City Council once again sues the MTA over the construction of the tunnel, citing possible violations to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The city
attempts to stop funds from Los Angeles County’s proposed half‐cent sales tax increase (on
the ballot as Measure R) from paying for the tunnel extension.

Nov. 2008 Measure R passes. With its passage comes an influx of funds, some of which could be used for the tunnel.

Caltrans retained a team led by CH2M HILL to evaluate the geologic conditions on all practical tunnel routes within the project area shown in Figure 1-1. Caltrans Geotechnical Services and the CH2M HILL team jointly conducted the study, including planning of the exploration program, conducting field exploration, and evaluation of geotechnical data. CH2M HILL, Earth Mechanics, Inc. (EMI), Jacobs Associates (JA), and ILF comprise the CH2M HILL team.

[A new investigative report released by Accuracy in Media Wednesday, reveals that CH2M HILL, a Colorado-based consulting, engineering and construction firm, received nearly $2 Billion in stimulus funding despite a history of kickbacks, poor conduct and contaminating their own workers. While they are not in danger of suffering the same bankruptcy plight as Solyndra, CH2M has laid-off thousands of workers since receiving taxpayer stimulus. And like Solyndra, CH2M has donated thousands in campaigns finances to Democrats.
The report’s author, Rusty Weiss, notes that CH2M has received $1.961 billion in contracts from the Recovery Act despite a history of violations and fraud, to name a few:
  • In 2004, the Energy Department withheld $300,000 from the firm for poor conduct.
  • Between 2005 and 2006, the company was fined nearly $400,000 total for the radiological contamination of workers.
  • A “major spill” occurred in 2007 that resulted in over $683,000 in both fines and settlements to local agencies.
  • Timecard fraud at the CH2M HILL Hanford Group  between January of 2002 and October of 2008, that was “widespread” and “routine.”
  • False claims and paid kickbacks at the Hanford nuclear site between 2003 and 2005 led to a recent settlement in which CH2M HILL agreed to pay the federal government $1.5 million
How did a company with a track record like that become the recipient of billions of dollars from the federal government? Giving over $380,000 to Democrats during the 2009-2010 cycle and over $512,000 during 2007-2008, including $45,337 to Barack Obama, may have had something to do with it. In addition to political contributions to individual politicians, the AIM study cites the Center for Responsive Politics that reports that CH2M was lobbying their special interests via $455,000 worth of itemized expenditures in 2010.

In 2008, the Energy Department earmarked $6 billion for the cleanup of nuclear waste from Cold War era sites throughout the United States. They utilized the services of the CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company in one of the world’s largest environmental cleanup projects—the Central Plateau on the Hanford Nuclear Site in eastern Washington.

To aide in the Hanford cleanup efforts, CH2M was a major beneficiary of the stimulus, having been awarded four of the top ten contracts. The company currently boasts of $1.961 billion in contracts from the Recovery Act, at least $1.36 billion of which was allocated for the Hanford cleanup project. http://www.aim.org/special-report/the-case-of-ch2m-hill-2-billion-in-crony-stimulation/

The Department of Labor has awarded a $1.3 million National Emergency Grant to help laid-off Hanford workers find jobs. The largest portion of the money will be used for retraining former Hanford workers who lost their jobs as federal economic stimulus spending at the nuclear reservation came to an end.

 The grant is intended to provide money for workers laid off from DOE Hanford prime contractors CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. and Mission Support Alliance and more than 10 subcontractors, including Babcock Services, Fluor Federal Services, Materials and Energy Corp., Areva Federal Services, Gem Technology International, Enrep, Ascendent Engineering and Safety Solutions, Cavanagh Services Group and Project Services Group. http://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/news-about-maria?ID=972a9856-bde2-4cb7-a448-6dba8441969d]

2009 Metro selects an advisory team and management support for the 710 Gap PPP program: http://www.metro.net/board/Items/2012/04_April/20120418P&PItem15.pdf
Following a rigorous procurement process, a PPP consulting team led by
InfraConsult LLC of Los Angeles, and including as subcontractors KPMG LLP,
Nossaman LLP, Halcrow Inc., Sharon Greene + Associates and Englander and
Associates was selected in 2009 to serve as an advisory team and program
management support for the PPP Program. 

Sept. 2009
The California State Assembly passes SB 545, a bill that would curtail any above‐ground highway connector through South Pasadena. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill. 

January 2010  With new clean-air initiatives quieting environmental concerns, the Port of Long Beach is embarking on a $3 billion capital construction program aimed at protecting the port’s share of shipping business in the face of competition from other ports

The efforts include plans to enlarge marine terminals, build a taller, wider bridge and expand on-dock rail capacity, Richard Steinke, the port’s executive director, told the International Business Association of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce this week.

 April 2010
Final Geotechnical Summary Report SR-710 Tunnel Technical Study prepared by CH2M Hill

Oct. 20ll At the October, 2011 meeting, the Metro Board of Directors awarded the SR- 710
environmental contract in the amount of $37,300,000 to CH2M Hill, Inc.


Sept. 26, 2011
CH2M HILL, a global full-service consulting, design, construction, and operations firm, is pleased to announce that it has today completed acquisition of Halcrow, the UK-based engineering, planning, design and management services firm. 

[Halcrow is one of the firms in the PP3 consulting firm selected by Metro--see 2000 above]

 January 2012 The Port of Long Beach has reached a tentative agreement with one of the world's biggest cargo shipping companies on a 40-year, $4.6-billion lease. The deal involves the port's largest-ever terminal upgrade and expansion, known as the Middle Harbor project.

Port officials are finalizing the deal with Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line, more commonly known in industry circles as OOCL. With a fleet of 84 owned and chartered ships, OOCL ranks as the world's 12th largest ocean shipping line. Long Beach officials described the deal as a record for the port and a vote of confidence in the port's future.

Jan. 2012 At the January 2012 meeting Metro awarded the SR-710 public outreach and facilitation of community participation contract of $3,896,728 to Consensus, Inc. to support the environmental contract.

June 2012
Caltrans and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority Friday released a draft of the EIR/EIS for the I-710 Corridor Project.
May 2012 SR-710 Study Group  Open House Meetings Begin (about where we came in)