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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Alhambra announces support for 710 extension amid protesters

 City promises two years of events in favor of 710 freeway extension


By Lauren Gold, May 14, 2013

Alhambra Mayor Steve Placido announces Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at Alhambra City Hall the launch of its city's "Close the Gap" campaign in support of the 710 freeway extension project currently under review by Metro while a group of 710 protestors held signs.

From left, Trish Gossett, of Highland Park, Melissa Michelson, of Alhambra, and her friend Mike Alfe, of San Francisco, protest Alhambra Mayor Steve Placido's announcement Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at Alhambra City Hall of the city's "Close the Gap" campaign in support of the 710 freeway extension project currently under review by Metro.

ALHAMBRA-- The city launched a two-year "Close the Gap" campaign Tuesday in support of the Long Beach (710) Freeway extension to Pasadena, amid protests from a handful of freeway fighters. The city also declared July 7 as "710 Day" in Alhambra, aimed at raising awareness about the proposed freeway project.

The move, announced in a press conference at City Hall, comes after months of forums and protests against the 4.5 mile freeway extension by residents and politicians from cities including Pasadena, South Pasadena and La Canada Flintridge.

Mayor Steven Placido said he thinks it is important to encourage those who support the long fought-over freeway proposal.

"For 50 years the freeway has not been completed and we in the city want to raise awareness that now is the time it can actually happen," Placido said.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the midst of a three-year environmental study of five potential options to fill the freeway "gap ": "No build," traffic management solutions, bus, light rail and an underground freeway tunnel. The draft environmental impact report will be released in 2014.

Metro Spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap, who attended the meeting, said all the options are being studied equally and Metro's study team is currently considering different "refinements" to these five options, including a single-bore tunnel instead of the dual-bore tunnel that was originally proposed.

Metro will host public meetings this summer to educate the public about the new options, Ortiz-Gilstrap said, and she applauded Alhambra for encouraging public engagement as well.

"We want to make sure the community has the correct information," she said. "We certainly encourage community engagement. That's key. "

Placido said he thinks the freeway tunnel is the only viable option to solve the congestion problems that now plague Alhambra and other communities between the two freeway "stubs. "

"On Fremont Avenue there are 50,000 cars a day, and 12,000 of those are commuter traffic," he said. "All those cars could be taken off our local streets and away from our schools and parks and put where they belong - on a freeway. ... Doing nothing might be more harmful, have a greater environmental impact, than completing this freeway."

Placido said the City Council has not yet decided what will be involved in the two-year campaign and "710 Day" or how much money the city will spend on it.

About a dozen protesters from Alhambra, Pasadena, Monterey Park and other surrounding cities attended the press conference Tuesday, wearing red shirts and holding "No 710" signs.

Freddie Hannan of Pasadena said she thought the presentation was "one-sided" in favor of building the tunnel.

"The people of Alhambra don't know, they think they won't be affected at all," she said, adding that if the tunnel option is chosen Alhambra residents also would have to deal with construction.

Melissa Michelson of Alhambra said she would rather see taxpayer money spent on other modes of transportation.

"Just because there is a gap in a freeway doesn't mean you have to build it," Michelson said. "Times have changed, attitudes have changed, there are all sorts of other options. "

For more information on the 710 study, visit metro.net/sr-710-conversations. For information on the protesters, visit no710.com.