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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Report on California Transportation Commission Meeting held on Wednesday Dec. 11, 2013 in Riverside, CA

From Sylvia Plummer, December 13, 2013:

There were 14 of us from the NO710 group.  Anthony Portantino, as well as other politicians from South Pasadena and La Canada were there to represent us as they spoke before the CTC.  Metro's Doug Failing stated before the Commission that essentially he had nothing new to report since the last time he appeared before them a year ago.  (Haven't they spent 40 million dollars?  Yet he has nothing new to report)  The most interesting part of this meeting was at the end of the public comment, when Metro's Doug Failing and Caltrans District 7 Director, Carrie Bowen, were called up and asked about having a Cost Benefit Analysis.  They stated that there would be a cost benefit analysis for this project and it would take place (parallel/separately) during the EIR.  (Isn't that a little late?  What if it doesn't cost out?)

As Portantino has previously stated:  "Here we are years into and millions of dollars spent and we have no fundamental understanding of the cost of the largest public works project in California's history.  Come on folks, just tell us how much it's going to cost and stop the  nonsense"

Be sure to view the video link provided below and hear what they had to say.  

Thanks to Joe Cano for this video:

Letter from the No710 Action Committee that was submitted to the California Transportation Commission

California Transportation Commission
1120 N Street, Room 2221
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re:  Comment on LA Metro Update on Route 710 North Study

Honorable Members of the Commission:
            The No 710 Action Committee offers the following comments as the Commission receives its report today on the Route 710 North study.

            The Committee first wishes to express its appreciation for the State Administration's support of Senator Liu's SB 416, which has been signed by the Governor and is now enacted as chapter 468 of the 2013 California Statutes.  We value the cooperation and support by the Transportation Agency and Department of Transportation to secure this legislation that removes a surface freeway alternative from further consideration under state law as a route 710 extension project.  We also value the commitment of Agency and Caltrans to early preparation of regulations that will lead to State disposition of properties acquired in anticipation of a surface freeway extension.
As the Commission receives a report on the Route 710 North Study, the Committee wishes to emphasize these points.
First, we agree with Caltrans that the Department, and only the Department, is lead agency for the EIR/EIS that may emerge from this process.  The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) provides, in contrast to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), that only one agency can serve as lead agency, and that because of its responsibility for state highway development, Caltrans is that single lead agency.  Moreover, in order for California to serve as an appropriate delegate of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for preparation of a NEPA environmental impact statement, the State itself must act as the NEPA lead agency, and cannot re-delegate that responsibility to a local or regional agency.
Second, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) is actually preparing the environmental assessment under contract with Caltrans as lead agency.  This arrangement creates the inherent risk, present whenever a lead agency assigns EIR preparation to a project proponent, that the emerging draft and final EIS/EIR will reflect LA Metro's judgment, but not the legally-required independent judgment of Caltrans.  As the study proceeds, therefore, the Department and ultimately this Commission will need to exercise vigilance to ensure a rigorous and disciplined analysis.

            Third, the "Measure R - $780M" secured funds listed in the staff fact sheet are not dedicated to a particular alternative, and in particular not to the "freeway tunnel" alternative.  In response to the claim of La Cañada Flintridge and South Pasadena that including a freeway tunnel 710 extension in Measure R constituted premature commitment to that project, LA Metro represented to the court of appeal that "Measure R does not, in itself, authorize implementation of specific projects," and that such funding will only apply to projects "found to be feasible and to meet other objectives, and considered and approved by the lead agency."  Thus Caltrans and not LA Metro will make the ultimate decision if Measure R funds are to be applied to a state highway.

            Fourth, the financial feasibility of the most costly alternative under study, a freeway tunnel, has never been established.  Because one of the December 2003 FHWA specifications for consideration of future federal funding in the route 710 corridor requires assured financial feasibility, LA Metro this summer wisely declined to "accelerate" consideration of a freeway tunnel alternative.  Unfortunately, LA Metro in response to tunnel proponents subsequently rescinded that action.  This history further suggests that this Commission and Caltrans will need to assert discipline over the 710 North Study.

            Finally, the Commission should take note that a freeway tunnel alternative is opposed by all cities directly in the path of that tunnel alternative, and others that would be adversely affected:  Los Angeles, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Glendale, and La Cañada Flintridge.  Such virtually universal community opposition does not lend itself to a conclusion that the freeway tunnel alternative can emerge as "feasible."

            The Committee thanks the Commission for the consideration of these views.

Respectfully submitted,                      
Odom Stamps
Former Mayor of South Pasadena
For the No 710 Action Committee