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, October 22, 2013

Report on Metro's Emery Park (Alhambra) informational meeting

From Sylvia Plummer, October 16, 2013

Thanks to Sam Burgess for this report.

This meeting, an informational update on the 710 for residents of Emory Park, was arranged by Alhambra Councilmember Luis Ayala.  Councilmember Ayala represents Alhambra's 5th District.  The 5th District is a north/south district on Alhambra's West side.  It borders South Pasadena on the North, Monterey Park on the South and Los Angeles (thus the 710) on the West.  Emory Park is in its center.
Of those present, there were 8 representatives of Metro, Mayor Steven Placido & Councilmember Ayala (plus several staff) of Alhambra and 7 members of the public (Emory Park area).  Tom Williams, Joanne Nuckols and myself were also present. 
Michelle Smith of Metro was the moderator.  She began the meeting by showing the transportation film we all have seen many times.  This film shows crowded surface streets but freely moving freeways.  Thus the argument that we need the 710 extension so as to relieve surface street traffic of congestion.  (If you have the opportunity to view the film again look closely at how they show very heavy traffic on both Fremont Ave. in Alhambra and Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena.  Yet of the several freeways shown not one has any slow moving traffic).
Once the film ended Michelle then proceeded to a power point presentation.  It was a 19 slide presentation.  What stood out for me was slide #14 titled: Freeway Tunnel--Initial Design Concepts.  Under the heading of Bored Tunnel it is stated that there will be "Horizontal Vents at portals (no vertical vents/stacks").  I mention this because at the last Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting on September 11, Metro clearly stated that they were studying placing vertical ventilation stacks at each end of the tunnels.  Michelle Smith is the moderator of the TAC meetings and was there during this discussion.
(A personal view:  Michelle performed very poorly as the moderator and was quite ineffectual during her power point presentation.  If  this meeting had been attended by residents with no idea or knowledge of  the 710 issue she may have been able to bluff her way through the show.  However....).
The 7 residents present (early on) showed they were either skeptical or opposed to the extension.  While I did not take detailed notes of the public questions (maybe Tom or Joanne did) there is one question that stood out for me.  "Who is this freeway being made for?".  Michelle could only mutter that the study area was a "busy area" and there was "a lot of activity".  She then went back to slide #3 showing the Study Area. In short, her explanation fell flat. 
On a 2nd question, "At what level will the air in the tunnels be scrubbed"?.  Michelle's response?  "The latest technology will be used".  (This answer did not go over well).
The skepticism remained through-out the Q & A period.
Following the meeting the resident asking many of the questions approached the Mayor.  (I happened to be near-by waiting to speak with her).  While speaking with the Mayor the resident explained that she opposed the freeway and felt we should be looking at more innovative ideas.  His response was, "Well, good for you.  We're going to close the gap".  This was said in a very condescending manner and thus made the woman (to put it mildly) very angry--and she let the Mayor know she did not appreciate his answer.
I believe this meeting was more of a benefit to those opposed to the extension than to the powers-that-be in the City of Alhambra.  It showed that, while small, there is a growing opposition to the 710 in Alhambra.