Purpose

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, September 27, 2012

Group opposes South Pasadena 710 Freeway extension

Thursday, September 27, 2012
 
To see the video, go to 

 http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=8827996
 
The proposed extension of the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena would allow drivers to stay on the freeway instead of exiting and taking local streets. But not everyone wants the road built.

 It would be just 4.5 miles long. It's a small stretch of road that continues to bring big controversy.

"This is a bad project that will negatively affect the San Gabriel Valley," said state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena).

It's the proposed extension of the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. The MTA says it is the final piece of the puzzle to complete the transportation system in the region.

"It's probably the number one link that has to be dealt with. It's a 4.5-mile north-south connection of the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena, but it affects the whole region," said MTA spokesman Marc Littman.

The MTA says now cars have to exit the freeway and travel on congested local streets. It is studying several different options. One possibility is a tunnel.

 Thursday a group of mayors, politicians and community members held a news conference to say they don't want it.

"This tunnel idea is ill-conceived," said Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian. "It is impossible to fund and will do nothing to solve our traffic and mobility issues in the region."

MTA officials say Fremont Avenue is one of the congested streets. Drivers use it to go from one freeway to another.

The MTA says they are in the first year of a three-year environmental study. The first phase will be finished in November.

"It's premature at this point to say we've jumped to conclusions or we should take one of the alternatives off the table," said Littman.

MTA officials stress they have not come to any decision and all options are still on the table.

BNSF: New report shows benefits of railyard near Long Beach

 http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_21643435/eir-out-today-massive-railyard-project

By Karen Robes Meeks, Staff Writer
Updated:   09/27/2012 09:24:42 PM PDT

Artists rendering of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railyard project. An EIR on the project was released on Thursday.
Developers of a controversial $500 million railyard project on Long Beach's western border say an updated environmental study released Thursday affirms the proposed project's environmental and traffic benefits to the community.
The new study, which is based on updated data on expected port cargo demand, as well as traffic, noise and pollution impacts, says that without the railyard, truck traffic along the Long Beach (710) Freeway will drastically increase in the coming years.

"This report validates that building SCIG is the right choice for green growth in Los Angeles," Burlington Northern Santa Fe Chairman and CEO Matthew K. Rose said in a written statement. "I'm proud of the hard work we've done over the past seven years to design the greenest intermodal rail facility in the country."

BNSF has proposed building the 153-acre Southern California International Gateway railyard in Wilmington near the Terminal Island (103) Freeway, south of Sepulveda Boulevard, north of Pacific Coast Highway and east of Alameda Street.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe wants to build a railyard that it says will reduce truck traffic in the Port of Long Beach by utilizing the Alameda Corridor. (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)


Community and school groups from Long Beach and Wilmington have fought the new railyard since its inception, citing concerns about potential pollution and traffic impacts.
Railroad officials contend that the project will use green technology at the facility and help remove 1.5 million trucks per year from the 710 Freeway.
According to the environmental impact report, without building the railyard, the 710 will have an


additional 212 daily truck trips in each direction in 2023, increasing to 6,082 extra trips per day in 2035.
The study points out that because of increased cargo at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, air pollution in the area will increase regardless of whether the SCIG is constructed.
The Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners will use the report to determine whether to allow the project to be built.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe wants to build a railyard that it says will reduce truck traffic in the Port of Long Beach by utilizing the Alameda Corridor. The property sits along the Terminal Island Freeway (103). (Sean Hiller / Staff Photographer)
 
Proposed in 2005, the facility is designed to help accommodate the rising demand in cargo by allowing trucks to load containers and put them on trains closer to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, rather than having trucks drive 24 miles away to another BNSF facility in downtown Los Angeles.

John Cross, a West Long Beach resident and a vocal opponent of the railyard project, said the reissued EIR doesn't change his or other residents' position on the project.

The railyard "will still be a few hundreds yards away from five schools, a day care center and homeless housing for veterans," Cross said.

"They'll tell you they're not driving by the schools, but they'll be on the other side of the railyard, where you can see them," he said. "They'll still be affected by the pollution coming off of the facility and into the neighborhoods."

Cross also bristled at another change outlined in the report - an extension of the planned lifetime of the railyard. Originally planned to operate for 30 years, from 2016 to 2046, the report now shows SCIG operating for 50 years, from 2016 to 2066.

The public has 45 days to comment on this newest report, with comments limited to only the updated chapters of the draft EIR.

The report is available at www.portoflosangeles.org/EIR/SCIG/RDEIR/rdeir_scig.asp.

A public hearing to receive comments on the document will be from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 18 at Banning's Landing Community Center at 100 E. Water St. in Wilmington.



Politicians, community members demand end of 710 study

By Lauren Gold and Brian Charles, SGVN
Updated:   09/27/2012 09:00:42 PM PDT
 
 http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_21649062/politicians-community-members-demand-end-710-study
 
 
 
 
 
 
South Pasadena mayor Michael Cacciotti speaksin opposition of the 710 Freeway extension prior to Metro's monthly board meeting at Metro's downtown Los Angeles headquarters Sept. 27, 2012. (SGVN/Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb)
 
LOS ANGELES - Local politicians and residents continued to speak out this week asking the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority to end its environmental study for the 710 Gap Closure Project.

Metro Board member Ara Najarian held a rally on the steps of Metro headquarters Thursday featuring speeches from the mayors of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Glendale and La Canada Flintridge, as well as Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, and representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The speakers presented a resounding message to dozens of red-shirted protesters on the Metro steps: eliminate plans to build a 710 tunnel. Now.

"Large, visionary projects are things that we deal with all the time here at the MTA, ... but this tunnel idea is ill conceived. ... It is a step backward," Najarian said. "The project is flawed and it will collapse under its own weight."

The rally followed a similar outpouring of opposition at a special South Pasadena City Council meeting Wednesday night.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, and state Sen. Carol Liu, D-Glendale, have also come out against the tunnel in recent days, while Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Alhambra, Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments favor completing the three-year environmental study.

Metro staff is currently studying five options for the 4.5 mile freeway extension: "no build," traffic management strategies, bus, light rail and a dual-bore underground freeway tunnel. The EIR is set to be completed in 2014.

A handful of freeway opponents and supporters also spoke during public comment at Thursday's Metro Board meeting.

On Wednesday, Najarian said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich's voice was noticeably absent from the fray, but Antonovich's transportation deputy Michael Cano said it's too early in the process to take sides.

"To have a position on this project, you need the kind of data and information, concerns and benefits that the environmental process produces," Cano said. "The supervisor will make an informed decision instead of relying on conjecture."

At Thursday's rally, Portantino said "expert after expert" has supported his argument that a tunnel would be an economic and environmental disaster for Metro and the San Gabriel Valley. He said there is no concrete data to support building the freeway.

"If a project needs false information to breath, then the project needs to stop breathing," Portantino said.

Portantino also met with Caltrans officials in Sacramento Tuesday to share his position on the freeway and urge Caltrans to listen to the San Gabriel Valley residents who oppose it.

Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap said Metro has not provided the information Portantino and others are asking for because it doesn't have it yet. She said Metro will hold public meetings in November to educate locals about the results of the project's "Alternatives Analysis" study.

"It's like you're baking a cake in the oven and someone wants to know what it tastes like," Ortiz-Gilstrap said. "Everyone keeps talking about the tunnel, but we are studying five alternatives."

Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, said Wednesday night that the freeway completion would greatly reduce traffic and improve air quality in the San Gabriel Valley.

"This project is a critical link in the transportation system," Ikhrata said.

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said he has been fighting a surface freeway for more than 30 years. Even with that option now off the table, he said, he's not done fighting.

"No one has ever paused to celebrate after a battle of 50 years," Bogaard said. "There's a reason, and that is that the tunnel is no less detrimental."

South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti said Metro needs to turn away from the tunnel, and explore greener options.

"Let's provide our community with options," Cacciotti said. "Let's invest in a 21st century transportation system."

Ultimately, Najarian said he hopes Metro will consider the widespread objections to a tunnel alternative and halt the study.

"We are trying to draw the line right now so we don't waste any more money on this project," Najarian said.
lauren.gold@sgvn.com, 626-578-6300, ext. 4586
A Great El Sereno Video

 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=529381250411028

A Must See Video
Councilmember Steve Madison's 710 Freeway Forum Video

http://pasadena.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=152
RALLY FOR MEASURE J

The Measure J Page

 http://la.streetsblog.org/the-measure-j-page/

For a much larger version of the Measure J map, in a high resolution pdf, click here.

As part of our ongoing mission to inform the general public, L.A. Streetsblog offers “The Measure J” page. We endeavor to make this page a one stop shop for all the information about the ballot measure. Hopefully, writers, editors, opinion makers and the general public can use this information, and the links we provide, to best make their own decision on how to vote in December.

What is Measure J:
Measure J will extend for 30 additional years the existing one-half cent sales tax that was approved in 2008 and is currently set to expire in 2039.  The additional funds will be used to sell bonds, which will allow Metro to accelerate construction of transportation improvements. The average L.A. County family pays $25 a year because of the existing tax. Because it does not increase the cast, just extend it, the cost per family will rise as the cost of living increases. Source: Metro’s Measure J Page
Voters passed Measure R sales tax with 67.1% approving in 2008. Measure R needed, and Measure J needs, two-thirds of voters to approve for it to pass. Source: Streetsblog

Informative/Undecided Articles and Links Concerning Measure J?
Editorial: Can L.A.  Afford an Indefinite Tax for Transit – Los Angeles Times
Goodbye “Measure R+,” Hello for “Measure J” - Daily News
Los Angeles Votes Asks Its Voters to Extend Transit Tax Far Into the Future – Transport Politic
L.A. County Hoping to Speed Up Transportation Infrastructure Projects – Better Institutions 

Who Supports Measure J:
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Move L.A.
The Transit Coalition
Southern California Transit Advocates


Articles in Favor of Measure J:
5 Reasons to Vote Yes on Measure J – City Watch
Measure “J” as in Jumpstart - City Watch

Who Opposes Measure J:

Los Angeles County Supervisor, and Metro Board Chair, Mike Antonovich (Source: Streetsblog)
The Bus Riders Union
Republican Senate Leader Bob Huff (Monrovia) (Source: Patch)
Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks (Source: City Watch)
Articles/Editorials Opposing Measure J:
Say What? You Want Another $50 Billion? – City Watch
Beverly Hills School District Opposes Measure J – Patch


EIR out today for massive railyard project

By Karen Robes Meeks, Staff Writer
Updated:   09/27/2012 10:48:33 AM PDT
 
http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_21643435/eir-out-today-massive-railyard-project
 
 Port of Los Angeles officials today released an updated environmental study of a $500 million railyard project near the Terminal Island (103) Freeway, a project that has seen opposition from community and school groups from Long Beach and Wilmington.
The newest version of the draft report on the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) Project - a 153-acre rail proposal by Burlington Northern Santa Fe on the border of West Long Beach south of Sepulveda Boulevard, north of Pacific Coast Highway and east of Alameda Street - includes the following:

A new baseline year for CEQA (the new draft will measure by 2010 standards, not 2005);

A new period of operations for the railyard (Originally a 30-year term from 2016 to 2046, the report now shows SCIG operating for 50 years from 2016 to 2066);

Newer numbers forecasting cargo demand (The demand SCIG is expected to handle will now be based on a 2009 San Pedro Bay Ports cargo demand forecast, not 2007);

Newer data and air quality models (The new draft features 2010 data and updated air quality models, including 2010 census data, emission factors as well as "new traffic counts at study intersections, new noise measurements at selected noise sensitive receiver locations, and updated on-site operational activity within the proposed Project boundary"); and

A health risk assessment that now includes not only an existing baseline but a future or floating baseline analysis as well, accounting  for "changes in air emissions over time that would improve air quality due to adopted rules and regulations."

 

Proposed in 2005, the facility is designed to accommodate growing container traffic at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

However, several local and environmental groups have spoken out against the project, saying that the facility will generate more traffic, noise and pollution so close to schools and neighborhoods.

BNSF officials, however, contend that the project will use green technology at the facility and help remove more than a million trucks that have to travel the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

Meanwhile, the public has 45 days to comment on this newest report.

Updated Analysis for Proposed BNSF Rail Facility Affirms Air Quality, Health and Traffic Benefits for Southern California

 http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/09/27/4296904/updated-analysis-for-proposed.html

 

BNSF also commits up to $3 million for zero-emission cargo movement technology research

— The updated Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released by the Port of Los Angeles today affirms that BNSF Railway’s proposed Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) facility will result in an overall improvement in air quality, health risk and traffic in both the immediate neighborhoods around the site and throughout the region. Additionally, the project would create thousands of jobs and generate millions in state and local tax revenue. BNSF has also recently agreed to contribute up to $3 million to the joint Port of Los Angeles-Port of Long Beach Technology Advancement Program to further the development of zero-emission goods-movement technologies.

The updated report, which was reissued to reflect updated analysis, confirms that proceeding with the project results in significant air quality and health risk improvements for residents, students, teachers and workers in the area as compared to continuing the existing uses at the site. In fact, SCIG far surpasses the Port of Los Angeles’ health risk goal for new projects and will help provide the cleaner growth the region needs.

SCIG will eliminate more than 1.5 million truck trips from I-710 each year, providing local and regional air quality improvements and congestion relief.

“This report validates that building SCIG is the right choice for green growth in Los Angeles,” said Matthew K. Rose, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BNSF. “I’m proud of the hard work we’ve done over the past seven years to design the greenest intermodal rail facility in the country.”

SCIG Needed to Create New Jobs

“Now that the updated report confirms the benefits of this important project, it should move ahead without further delay,” said Sandy Cajas, President and CEO of the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, noted, “The unemployment rate in L.A. County is still 11 percent. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor voted to endorse and actively support SCIG because it’s time to bring good jobs to our region.”

BNSF has concluded a Project Labor Agreement worth $255 million with the Building and Construction Trades Council for the construction of SCIG. Added Robbie Hunter, Executive-Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, “We’re proud to provide BNSF with a skilled local union workforce to build this new environmentally friendly rail yard. This has been a long process, and the time to build it is now.”

SCIG will allow containers to be loaded onto rail just four miles from the docks, rather than traveling 24 miles on local roads and I-710 to downtown rail facilities. BNSF will clean up an existing industrial site and replace it with a state-of-the-art facility featuring wide-span all-electric cranes, ultra-low emission switching locomotives and low-emission rail yard equipment. In addition to these innovations, BNSF has committed to allow only trucks meeting the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) goal of 2010 or newer trucks to transport cargo between the marine terminals and the facility. By 2026, 90 percent of the truck fleet will be LNG or equivalent emissions vehicles. Trucks will be required to avoid residential areas by traveling on designated, industrial routes with GPS tracking to ensure compliance. BNSF has also committed to create a local jobs training program and offer priority hiring for new jobs to qualified local job applicants.

BNSF continues to engage with stakeholders at its website, BNSFConnects.com, on Facebook and on Twitter. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend a public meeting on October 18, 2012 or to submit their written comments for the official record to the Port of Los Angeles by November 9, 2012 to Christopher Cannon, Director of Environmental Management via mail or e-mail to ceqacomments@portla.org. They will be included in the Final Environmental Impact Report.

About BNSF

BNSF Railway is one of North America's leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,000 route miles of track in 28 states and two Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain, and industrial goods that help feed, clothe, supply, and power American homes and businesses every day. BNSF and its employees have developed one of the most technologically advanced, and efficient railroads in the industry. And we are working continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits we provide to our customers and the communities we serve. You can learn more about BNSF at http://www.BNSF.com.
 
Project Fact Sheet
Southern California International Gateway (SCIG)
 
Project Purpose: Create comparable near-dock capacity for all Class I railroads to accommodate anticipated port growth while reducing energy consumption, highway congestion and environmental emissions, increasing fluidity and throughput of on-dock rail facilities, increasing use of the Alameda Corridor, and providing competitive choices for shippers and port customers consistent with the Port of Los Angeles’ adopted Port Rail Policy.
 
Main Facility Location: Existing industrial sites of approximately 156 acres with the primary project area between Sepulveda Blvd, Pacific Coast Highway, the Dominguez Channel and the Terminal Island Freeway.
 
Private Investment: $500 million of private investment (including in excess of $100 million in increased cost due to investments in green technology).
 
Workforce:
  • IHS Global Insight forecasts the facility will create 22,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Southern California, including 14,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Los Angeles by 2036.
  • Approximately 1,500 jobs annually (direct and secondary) could be added to the regional economy during the construction phase.
  • BNSF has concluded a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) worth $255 million with the Building Trades Council for the construction of the facility.
  • BNSF’s operating contractor will give qualified local residents first priority for all new jobs at SCIG.
  • BNSF will fund a workforce-training program to assist area residents in obtaining these jobs.
  • The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO adopted a resolution supporting SCIG as a direct result of the jobs and economic benefit it will provide.
 
Air Quality Benefits: The Port’s analysis concludes that proceeding with the project instead of continuing existing uses of the site results in air quality improvements and reductions in associated health risks for surrounding communities.
 
Health Risk Benefits:
The Port’s analysis concludes that SCIG is far better than standards established by the Port for new projects. Specifically, the Port set a standard for not more than 10 in a million increased cancer risk and the analysis showed SCIG to be at 0.2 in a million for residents. As compared to choosing the “No Project” alternative (a continuation of existing uses at the site) choosing to proceed with SCIG will result in an overall improvement in health risk for all key receptors analyzed, particularly for residential, sensitive and student uses.
 
Traffic Benefits: The EIR found that SCIG will have a positive impact on traffic, both locally and regionally, by eliminating more than 1.5 million trucks from the 710, reducing congestion along the 710 corridor and around BNSF’s Hobart Yard in Commerce.
According to the DEIR, traffic will be improved at seven intersections near the facility.
 
BNSF Commitments:
  • BNSF will participate in zero emissions container movement system research, including:
    • Funding up to $3 million for purposes of developing a zero emission container movement system.
    • Working with both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, through the joint ports’ Technology Advancement Program, to advance zero emission technologies.
  • Only trucks exceeding the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) goal of 2010 or newer trucks will be used to transport cargo between the marine terminals and the facility.
    • By 2023, 75% of the trucks moving cargo between SCIG and the marine terminals will be LNG or equivalent emissions vehicles.
    • By 2026, 90% of the truck fleet serving SCIG will meet this requirement.
  • Trucks will be required to avoid residential areas by traveling on designated, industrial routes with GPS tracking to ensure adherence.
  • Trucks will enter and queue along the western edge of the facility using automated gates to minimize idling.
  • BNSF will build a dedicated ramp from PCH into SCIG and will have an improved ramp from the facility to PCH off of the south service road.
  • SCIG will incorporate low-glare, directional crane lighting, perimeter lighting, and roadway lighting.
  • Subject to obtaining right-of-way from the City of Long Beach, BNSF will plant extensive landscaping around the perimeter of the facility.
  • Subject to obtaining right-of-way from the City of Long Beach, BNSF will fund the construction of a wall along the eastern side of the facility.
  • BNSF has committed to significant voluntary emissions reductions related to line haul locomotives calling at SCIG while on port properties. These emissions will be equivalent to a fleet of at least 50% Tier 4 line-haul locomotives and 40% Tier 3 line-haul locomotives by 2023, based on the commercial availability of operationally proven Tier 4 locomotives in 2015. Tier 4 locomotives are a new technology that does not exist yet and are not expected to be available until 2015. This emissions reduction may also be achieved by reductions in air emissions anywhere in the South Coast Air Basin equivalent to this goal through any other alternative means.
  • BNSF will evaluate and implement new technologies as feasible periodically throughout the term of the lease.
 
Fuel Efficiency:
  • Trains are three times more fuel efficient than trucks handling equivalent loads.
  • On average, a BNSF train can move one ton of freight about 500 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel.
  • One double stack intermodal train can take 280 or more trucks off the highways.
 
Learn More:

 Another Reason to Oppose Measure J

Bus Riders Union's Photos. Posted by  Crystal McMillan on No on Measure J Facebook Page

Opponents Launch New Effort Against 710 Freeway Extension Plans

 http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/09/27/opponents-launch-new-effort-against-710-freeway-extension-plans/

 LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A coalition of transportation and public officials on Thursday voiced their opposition to a long-running plan to connect the 710 and 210 Freeways.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports the mayors of several Southland cities joined the debate over the proposed extension just north of the 10 Freeway.

Mayors William Bogaard of Pasadena, Frank Quintero of Glendale, Stephen A. Del Guercio of La Canada Flintridge and Michael A. Cacciotti of South Pasadena were among those on hand at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) building in downtown Los Angeles to denounce what they say is “a fiscally irresponsible project that has lost all credibility amongst community members.”

Among five different proposals being considered: a five-mile tunnel that would range between $1 billion and $14 billion in total costs, in addition to potentially major environmental risks to communities.

MTA Board of Directors member Ara Najarian said the proposal is unnecessarily expensive and outdated.

“It’s an attempt to shove an Eisenhower Administration transportation plan onto contemporary Los Angeles,” said Najarian.


Mayor Steve Del Guercio summed up the views of residents of Glendale, Pasadena, and South Pasadena – most of whom he said oppose any further study of the tunnel option.

“The tunnel project has too few benefits, too many detriments, and costs far, far too much,” said Del Guercio.

The Long Beach (710) Freeway – which currently ends just north of the 10 Freeway – has long been targeted for an extension proposals that have included surface roads, bridges and tunnels.

Residents in Eagle Rock, Highland Park and other cities lauded a vote by the Los Angeles City Council in August to oppose any extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

Despite public calls for the option to be removed from the study, MTA officials said they are only in the first of a three-year analysis of the options, and state law prohibits the removal of a feasible option from being considered.

Politicians, community members speak out against 710 tunnel at Metro meetings

 http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_21643441/politicians-community-members-speak-out-against-710-tunnel

By Lauren Gold and Brian Charles, SGVN
Updated:   09/27/2012 10:30:55 AM PDT

A group of mayors, local politicians and community members gathered Thursday to urge the Metro board to stop consideration of the 710 extension tunnel.
Among the speakers were Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, Metro board member and Glendale councilman Ara Najarian, South Pasadena Mayor Michael A. Cacciotti, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, among others.

"We are here today to expose an ill-conceived multibillion dollar transportation project," Najarian said. "It is a step backward."

The 4.5-mile proposed stretch of the Long Beach (710) Freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena would complete a 22,000-mile Southern California transportation system that daily serves millions of travelers.
Thursday's protest at the board meeting follows a similar rally during a special meeting of the South Pasadena City Council late Wednesday night.

Najarian then told an audience of more than 200 residents in the South Pasadena High School auditorium to question the motives of his fellow board members and specifically Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who also heads the MTA board.

"The one local representative that is conspicuously absent is Supervisor Antonovich," Najarian said. (Antonovich) has not taken a firm stand on this."
Najarian joined a chorus of other politicians who insists the MTA is trying to push through the freeway completion project despite massive resistance from the residents of South Pasadena, El Sereno, Glendale and La Canada Flintridge.
"This

 

is without a doubt the biggest public works project in our state and it doesn't solve a problem it creates a problem," State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena said on Wednesday.
A contentious issue for six decades, the 710 project and related battle has reignited in recent weeks. A proposed surface route that would carved through the upscale San Rafael neighborhood of Pasadena, coaxed the Crown City off the bench and right into the middle of the freeway fracas. Facing opposition from some of Pasadena most affluent residents, the MTA dropped the San Rafael route in August when it whittled down the project proposals from 42 to five.

The Pasadena City Council voted to oppose all surface routes in August. District 6 City Councilman Steve Madison said Wednesday that he hoped his fellow city council members in Pasadena would express their staunch opposition to the tunnel in the coming weeks.

"It's absurd that we are still talking about this," Madison said Wednesday. "I am hoping that at one of our meetings in October the City Council will oppose this."

The five options the MTA is left with include: a plan to improve bus and rapid transit; overall improvements to street traffic flow and public transit, a "no build" option and a 4.5 mile tunnel bored under South Pasadena.

Like the surface routes which would have led to the demolition of hundred of homes between El Sereno in Los Angeles and Pasadena Avenue in Pasadena, the tunnel now faces vocal opposition from residents.

Opponents of the tunnel option - numerous in South Pasadena - say the tunnel will emit toxic fumes that will hover above their homes and negatively impact the health of residents. Those same tunnel opponents say construction of the tunnel could jeopardize the structural integrity of the homes above. The anti-tunnel constituents also says the 4.5 mile tunnel will do little to improve traffic flow since new roadways only improve traffic flow for a short period of time and the proposed tunnel is a toll road.

Looking beyond the local impacts of building a tunnel, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti held up a wad of money during the Wednesday night meeting and said construction of the tunnel only continues our reliance on combustion engine cars and therefore foreign oil.

Not all assembled in the auditorium on Wednesday came to bash the proposed freeway project.

Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, said the project will greatly reduce traffic and improve air quality.

"We adopted the plan as a way to reduce traffic and improve air quality," Ikhrata said Wednesday. "I agree with the mayor we need to end our dependence on foreign oil. This project is a critical link in the transportation system."

There was no shortage of 710 freeway fighters at the South Pasadena City Council meeting on Wednesday. The freeway fight in the three-square mile city has lasted for decades and has shaped much of the city's character. City Council candidates are measured according to their level of opposition to the freeway. Long-time South Pasadena City Councilman and former Mayor Dr. Richard Schneider offered a comment that brought the audience to its feet Wednesday night and captured the essence of the South Pasadena freeway fight.

"That is and has been the city's position for the last 65 years," Schneider said. "At 65 years of age this freeway is ready for retirement."

Local, state officials urge MTA to drop 710 Freeway tunnel proposal

 http://www.glendalenewspress.com/news/tn-818-0927-local-state-officials-urge-mta-to-drop-710-freeway-tunnel-proposal,0,4580124.story

Glendale City Councilman and MTA board member Ara Najarian calls for the 710 Freeway tunnel extension to be dropped from consideration.
Glendale City Councilman and MTA board member Ara Najarian calls for the 710 Freeway tunnel extension to be dropped from consideration. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / September 27, 2012)

A coalition of local and state officials on Thursday urged the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation to ditch a controversial proposal to build an underground tunnel extending the Long Beach (710) Freeway through Pasadena.

Calling the tunnel flawed and outdated, mayors and city council members from the cities that would most directly be impacted by the project blasted the MTA for continuing to study the proposal, which would connect the 710 to the Foothill (210) Freeway. They were flanked by dozens of tunnel opponents outside the MTA’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

“It is impossible to fund and will do nothing to solve the traffic and mobility issues in the region,” said Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, a vocal opponent of the tunnel who also serves on the MTA Board of Directors.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) called the tunnel option an “Eisenhower-era” project that would do nothing to alleviate gridlock traffic on arterial surface streets in South Pasadena, Alhambra and other cities that take the brunt of traffic coming off the terminus of the 710 Freeway.

“When this process started we were told it was going to achieve consensus,” Portantino said. “This is consensus that this is a bad project.”

The MTA has narrowed the scope of possible routes for closing the so-called “710 gap” between Alhambra and Pasadena to five options — one of them the tunnel. With a surface option a non-starter, the only way to connect the two freeways would be via an underground tunnel.

South Pasadena, Glendale, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge have all opposed some of the gap closure options — especially the tunnel — on the grounds that they would add to air pollution and traffic. Alhambra and San Marino, citing spillover traffic from the 710 Freeway terminus, have supported the extension.

But opponents gained a hefty ally in August when the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to oppose the tunnel extension.
State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) have also expressed their opposition to the tunnel proposal.
“We all stand against this mistake of a project and I urge my colleagues on the MTA board to eliminate it from their consideration,” Najarian said.

MTA officials have maintained that they do not favor one option over another, but critics say the 4.5-mile tunnel is being pushed in order to accommodate truck traffic carrying cargo up from Southland ports.

An environmental impact report on the 710 Freeway extension alternatives is expected to be released in the winter of 2014.
-- Jason Wells and Mark Kellam, Times Community News

710 Forum Draws Big Crowd

The consensus of the panel at Wednesday’s South Pasadena City Council meeting was no on the 710, yes on Measure J



 http://lacanadaflintridge.patch.com/articles/south-pasadena-city-council-presents-forum-for-discussion-of-sr710-extension

With an increasing number of cities and communities opposing closing the gap in the SR710 Freeway between California Boulevard in Pasadena and Valley Boulevard in El Sereno, the crowd of about 200 in the  South Pasadena High School auditorium on Wednesday evening leaned heavily against the extension.

South Pasadena has been joined in its continuing battle to shut down the project by La Cañada Flintridge, unincorporated La Crescenta, Glendale, and Los Angeles communities El Sereno, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington and Tujunga.

Wednesday's forum was a called meeting of the South Pasadena City Council.  Moderator Philip Putnam, Mayor Pro Tempore of South Pasadena, said that though he wondered how Alhambra, San Marino, and Monterey Park can take a different position, the audience should be respectful of those who supported the extension, a suggestion that was followed for the most part.

The 2 ½ hour meeting’s main focus was the proposed tunnel, and it’s disadvantages and benefits, but other methods of transportation were presented, including two options considered by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro), and Caltrans.

The five options currently under review, according to Metro official Frank Quon, P.E., are
  1. No build
  2. Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM)
  3. Bus rapid transit with refinements
  4. Light rail rapid transit with refinements
  5. Freeway with a tunnel 
A hybrid of these is also being considered, Quon said, and studies and analyses are being done.

710 Opposition
Speakers opposed to the 710 extension cited concerns about increased pollution, especially near schools, and “induced congestion.”

They favored a “multi-modal” regional solution that would rely on public transportation with increased rail and bus lines, more frequent service, affordability, and an emphasis on using electric vehicles.

South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti expressed particular interest in safer routes for bicycles.  “Let’s get people out of cars and give them and option,” he said.

Induced congestion is the concept that a new freeway or lanes added to existing freeways will reduce congestion, but ultimately will increase the number of trips people take because traffic is less.  When congestion builds up again, the road is widened, and the cycle is repeated.  It is one of the primary reasons La Cañada Flintridge opposes the extension, because it will bring more travelers onto the portion of the 210 Freeway that cuts through that community.

The Argument for Closing the 710 Gap
SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikharata spoke in favor of closing the 710 gap.  “The board, with no objection, adopted the plan with the 710 in it,” he said.  “We make no secret that we support the 710,” as well as air quality and the environment.  “Every study we did showed the importance of this project to the regional transportation system.  This project is a critical link.”

He then chastised some of those present for misusing data from a study that was only a draft that was never completed.  Other speakers, notably Asm. Anthony Portantino, took him to task for that, saying that the study had been posted online.

An area of controversy was how maintenance and operation of the tunnel would be funded.  Several speakers accused Metro, Caltrans, and SCAG of promoting the gap closure as a way to move goods out of the Port of Los Angeles and supporting the roadway with tolls on trucks, and then later saying that there would be no goods movement on the route.

Ikharata replied that the 710 northbound was never envisioned to move goods, only the 710 southbound, but Portantino asserted that the three agencies had given opposite answers indifferent meetings.  Ara Najarian, a Glendale City Council member, said that truck tolls will have to cover tunnel operation, because foreign investors would manage the tunnel and they would collect the tolls. It would be a business deal.

The Measure J Sales Tax Extension
A member of the audience asked, “Should we support Measure J?”  (Measure J would continue the ½ cent sales tax on goods and services in Los Angeles County, and apply the funds to transportation.)  The question drew a flurry of loud “Noes” from the crowd, but panelists on both sides of the 710 issue expressed support for the measure.

Ikharata referred to earlier comments regarding deferred maintenance on roadways, and said, “We need to maintain our transportation system.  That maintenance is not going to be free.  All it does is keep up the system.”  Measure J also gives regional control rather than federal, he said.

Jeffrey Tumlin of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates Transportation Planners, who earlier gave a lengthy presentation on the dynamics and philosophy of transportation and alternative methods to improve mobility and access, agreed with Ikharata.  “Because I like to build,” he stated.  “You just have to build the right solutions.  I support Measure J.”

Najarian said to “keep an open mind on Measure J.  The funds do not have to go to the tunnel.”  He noted that Mayor John Fasana of Duarte, who supports the 710 extension, insisted on an amendment that would allow funds to be moved from highway projects to transit projects. This would mean that if the extension is not built, the money allocated would not be lost but could be put toward other means of transportation.

“Don’t kill Measure J just because you don’t like the tunnel,” he said.