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

Saturday, June 8, 2013

South Pasadena Review for Op Ed by Harry Knapp.  

From Sylvia Plummer, June 6, 2013

This was also sent to the Azusa City Council.

(Peggy Drouet: It was to appear on June 5 in the South Pasadena Review. I could not find it published.)

In the May 22 edition of the South Pasadena Review, an article was presented informing the
public about a 710 Freeway Day hosted by the City of Alhambra (http://south.pasadenanow.com/city-of-alhambra-plans-a-710-day-on-july-10/), who has been a long advocate
for extension of the 710 to the 210. Of all of the proponents of the extension, I believe that
Alhambra truly believes that this would be a good transportation project, simply because the
current terminus is adjacent to their community and has, more so in the past rather than the
present, caused tremendous traffic congestion there. Without being condescending, Alhambra
has done a terrific job on moving traffic on Fremont Avenue, sacrificing tax paying property to do

However, it is not a good transportation project. Please notice I am addressing the transportation
aspects, not the environmental and costs. Why other proponents favor this project (99% of
the 31 cities of the San Gabriel Council of Governments) I have no idea, as the extension will
do nothing to alleviate traffic in their communities. Monterey Park has made public claims that
their city is the most affected and that city lies completely below the 10 freeway, nowhere near
the present terminus. In fact, the reason it is not a good transportation project is that it will not
alleviate congestion hardly anywhere, if at all. Please put the map of western San Gabriel Valley
in your minds and think about where the traffic is currently going to and from the 710 at Valley
Blvd.  It is to/from the cities of Alhambra, San Gabriel, South Pasadena, San Marino, Arcadia
and Pasadena; and if I were living in Monrovia or Duarte, I would use Huntington Drive rather
than using the 210. What is going to change with a direct through toll tunnel to the 210? Nothing! 
Perhaps a few from the northern parts of Pasadena may use it, but they will have to contend with
the 134/210/710 interchange and as anyone knows in California, all freeway interchanges are
notoriously congested.

If the purpose and need is commuter congestion relief as METRO and Caltrans proclaim, it fails.
Many feel that goods movement from the ports is the true purpose and need and there are many
elected officials who have said so publicly. One reason the transportation authorities may not
want to concede to this is because if they did the southern expansion (admittedly a port traffic
project) and the 710 extension would have to be considered one project under CEQA rules and
be evaluated as a whole.

When one does add the environmental (unknown geological for one) and cost variables, it is just
common sense that this project should not go forward.

Importance of Freight is Recognized


By Cynthia Kurtz, June 9, 2013

Trains, planes and automobiles – we need all kinds of transportation to meet the challenges of moving goods and services. This is especially true in Southern California where 40 percent of the containerized goods that enter the U.S. destined for places throughout the country comes through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Last week while visiting officials in Washington D.C., I had an opportunity to learn more about what the federal government is thinking regarding goods movement. There are issues that transpose party lines. While the political parties don’t agree on much and the likelihood of a federal budget remains slim, everyone I spoke to agreed that there is a critical need for investments in infrastructure. Among the most pressing is the need for improvements in transportation systems particularly those used extensively for moving products from where they are produced or imported to the customers and users.

The first step in the federal legislative process is setting policy. When the topic is transportation that means including the item in the national transportation act. The latest transportation act, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” or “MAP-21″ for short, passed in October 2012. It represents a significant change in thinking about goods movement.

Map-21 is the first national transportation act to recognize the importance of freight. It establishes a National Freight Policy, calls for investments in transportation and operational improvements, and requires the federal Department of Transportation to define “primary” and “rural” networks of roads that are essential in freight movements.

Map-21 also encourages States to develop their own freight strategic plans and advisory committees. The committees are to be broad reaching and include representatives from ports, shipping, carriers, freight associations, state transportation departments and state and local government.

While there are great advances in planning for freight, in its current form the freight policy and essential networks are defined exclusively around the highway system. Those of us here in the SGV know freight rail, which carries 42 percent of the nations ton-miles, is also a critical part of the goods movement system. If all of the freight that crosses the SGV were in trucks, our congestion would be unmanageable. The Alameda Corridor East along with its safety improvements and 22 grade separations needs to be regarded with the same high priority as our interstate system.

That’s why this month’s introduction of the “Multimodal Opportunities Via Enhanced (MOVE) Freight Act of 2013″ is such encouraging news. The Freight Act focuses on creating a national freight plan for moving goods by road, rail, water and air. Introduced by Congressmember Sires from New Jersey, it has five co-sponsors including the San Gabriel Valley’s Congressmember Grace Napolitano and Southern California Congressmember Janice Hahn.
Freight volumes are expected to more than double by 2040. This makes an inclusive policy that expands the definition of national freight network and makes financial investments in a multimodal integrated system key to developing the most effective and efficient system for goods movement. Now everyone in the SGV should get behind this important piece of legislation and help lift it over the finish l

World Naked Bike Ride: Portland police ask nude cyclists to wear helmets, shoes at 'bare minimum'


 By Joesph Rose, June 7, 2013



 Saturday night's World Naked Bike Ride in Portland is expected to draw some 8,000 people who are ready to bare it all before God, traffic and their bicycle saddles.

In preparation, Portland police on Friday publicly urged nude riders to, at "a bare minimum," wear helmets and shoes.

Safety first. The city's code against indecent exposure second.

In the same announcement, the Police Bureau said officers would refrain from enforcing Portland City Code 14A.40.030 prohibiting people from showing off their, um, parts in public – as long as nude cyclists keep to the ride route.

Actually, we'll let the code provide the details:

"It is unlawful for any person to expose his or her genitalia while in a public place or place visible from a public place, if the public place is open or available to persons of the opposite sex."

And that, in brief, is the pedal-powered World Naked Bike Ride, a worldwide event that ostensibly "highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society's dependence on pollution-based transport." Of course, in past years, some riders reportedly haven't been focused entirely on making that statement. 

The permitted ride is set to begin at 10 p.m. in the South Park Blocks and roll through downtown and the Kerns, West Buckman, Lloyd, Sullivan's Gulch and Laurelhurst neighborhoods. Portland police said extra officers will patrol the ride and help at intersections.

From the official news release:
Although many participants may violate Portland City Code, Police Bureau will be exercising tremendous discretion as long as participants stay on the route with the rest of the riders.

The Portland Police Bureau recommends that at a bare minimum, all riders at least wear a helmet and shoes to avoid any potential injuries. Bike lights are also recommended.
Two closing thoughts: We were surprised to read the Police Bureau's interpretation of the law.

Two years ago, police officials said, "Being naked in public in Portland is legal if it falls within the guidelines of ORS 163.465," meaning you can ride naked as long you weren't performing coitus or trying to sexual arouse someone else.

Well, that's state law. "I overlooked city code when I wrote that," said Sgt. Pete Simpson, a Portland police spokesman. "There are those who say, 'You should really enforce it." Really? With 8,000 people? We want to minimize road rashes. That's what we want to do."

Lest we forget, a Multnomah County judge cleared a Northeast Portland nude bicyclist of criminal indecent exposure charges in 2008, ruling that pedaling in the buff has become a "well-established tradition" and a form of "symbolic protest" in Portland.

One last nitpick: In Oregon, front bike lights at night are the law – not a recommendation.
 WPRA (West Pasadena Residents Association) urges their 
     members to Comment on California State Review of CALTRANS

Governor Brown has ordered an independent, system-wide review of Caltrans (See articles below).  The review was ostensibly triggered by a reorganization of various transportation–related departments into one agency.  However, Caltrans has recently come under scrutiny for its management of construction of the $6.4 billion Bay Bridge following reports of broken and suspect bolts on the bridge (see articles below).


Brian Kelly, acting secretary of the Business, Transportation & Housing Agency, said in a prepared statement that experts from the State Smart Transportation Initiative, a group housed at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will "take a fresh look at Caltrans operations and help improve performance, communications and management."

We have a golden opportunity to capitalize on this scrutiny of Caltrans. Write a message to both Governor Brown and Acting Secretary Kelly and let them know that you applaud this investigation of Caltrans and that you want them to be aware of the fact that we in Los Angeles have a multitude of questions and concerns about  Caltrans’ handling of the 710 tunnel project.


Just a  few of the topics you could address:
    •    No Cost-Benefit Analysis conducted prior to initiating the EIR/EIS
    •    False and misleading statements on trucks or no trucks in the tunnel
    •    Exclusion of tolls from comparative evaluation of options
    •    The lack of clear definition of responsibilities of Caltrans vs Metro resulting from the lack of a Memorandum of Understanding for the project between the agencies
    •    The recent bait and switch to a single-bore tunnel instead of the dual-bore tunnel analyzed and specified in the Alternatives Analysis Report
    •    Ongoing and growing concerns about the reliability of information made available to the public
    •    The significantly flawed public participation process
    •    The marketing of the project as a tunnel to potential foreign investors long before the EIR/EIS is completed and a decision made on the preferred alternative

Remember – You don’t need to write a long, eloquent letter to make an impression.  What we need are many, many letters. 

SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO BOTH: The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
Governor, State of California
      Electronically: go to:http://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php
      You must use an online form to submit your comment.

      By mail:
      Governor Jerry Brown
      c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
      Sacramento, CA 95814

Brian P.Kelly

Acting Secretary, Business, Transportation & Housing Agency
      By email: contact.us@bth.ca.gov  

      By mail:
      Mr. Brian P. Kelly, Acting Secretary
      Business, Transportation and Housing Agency
      980 9th Street, Suite 2450
      Sacramento, CA  95814-2742
This article from The Sacramento Bee on May 28
State orders department-wide review of Caltrans

May 30, this additional article was published: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/30/5457372/decision-on-bay-bridge-delayed.html


Previous website's articles on LA Metro's SR-710 Study


WPRA Urges Withdrawal of Tunnel Option from SR-710 Study (Feb2013)

Click here for a presentation showing why WPRA opposes the freeway tunnel proposal for SR-710 extension.

On February 27, WPRA wrote to the Metro Chairman (Supervisor Antonovich), and the Metro Board, with copies to Pasadena, county and state officials, expressing our concern "about continued waste of valuable transportation money in studying and promoting a clearly flawed concept for supposedly improving transportation in metropolitan Los Angeles."  We provided specific examples where we believe "individuals in Metro ... are using biased assumptions to “game” the EIS/EIR process toward the result they have been advocating for decades -- a freeway extending SR 710."  The letter was written because we understood that the SR-710 study would be on the Metro board agenda February 28. The item did not appear on the Metro Board agenda, so no action was taken.
In addition, on February 21, Councilmember Steve Madson wrote to Supervisor Antonovich offering to "sponsor a panel of METRO experts whom he will select.  I [Madison] would serve as moderator at this event where I will make time for the audience to question the experts."  Councilmember Madison's letter is here.  He urges that, "If you agree with my position, please join me by writing to the Board of Supervisors in care of Supervisor Antonovich at fifthdistrict@lacbos.org and copy me in your response."

If you want to receive regular updates from the NO 710 group, please can send a request to Sylvia at unitedagainst710@gmail.com

WPRA Letter Urging Removal of Tunnel Options from Consideration (Feb2013)

Here is a copy of the letter WPRA sent February 27 in anticipation of SR-710 discussion during Metro board meeting February 28.  However, the board did not discuss SR-710 study, so no action was taken.

Here is a copy of the letter Councilman Madison sent to Metro Board Chairman Antonovich offering to host a forum with Metro representatives.

WPRA Letter Supporting Pasadena Department of Transportation Recommendations (Feb2013)

WPRA Opposes All Metro Routes for SR-710 Extension(rev Jan 2013)

In light of Metro's recently released list of five alternatives for the SR-710 extension, the input WPRA has received from our constituents, and the dubious process that Metro has followed in conducting their SR-710 study so far, the WPRA Board decided to broadly oppose all Metro routes.  The board resolved that
"WPRA is opposed to all of the proposed options for the Draft EIR for SR-710. No persuasive case has been made for these options. West Pasadena, as well as all of Pasadena, has suffered enough from freeway development over the years."
WPRA is especially concerned about the 4.5-mile freeway tunnel, actually "tunnels" because there are two. Click here for a presentation showing why the tunnels are particularly bad.
WPRA has found no persuasive case for any of the five alternatives, and there are many serious concerns.  For example,
  • A primary goal stated by Metro is “to help alleviate congestion and improve mobility,” but Metro won’t say if they are talking about moving people, freight, both; we think it matters.
  • Is the real purpose to move container traffic from the LA and Long Beach ports?  Wouldn’t rail be a better way?
  • Is it really a good idea to have a 4.5-mile tunnel with no vehicle exits under our city?  Where would all car and truck pollution go; how much of Pasadena would be affected?  Experts we consulted said that only a portion of exhaust pollutants can be removed with existing technology, and the amount removed decreases quickly if traffic is not moving smoothly.
  • Would shuttling people under Pasadena, with no exit into Pasadena, impact Pasadena businesses?
  • Could the money be better spent?  Metro estimates the cost at $5 Billion; other experts using comparisons from smaller tunnel projects (this would be the largest in the US) produce estimates of $12 to $25 Billion.
Metro plans to start a two-year environmental analysis of these options early next year, so, for opponents of any of these items, the fight continues.

The five options currently proposed by Metro to close the 4.5-mile 710 Freeway "gap" between Alhambra and Pasadena are: 

  • No Build – this alternative is the existing plus committed system – it is the existing freeway, arterial and transit system plus a series of system improvements that are already programmed in the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP).  None of the future projects included in the No Build are located in Pasadena.
  • TSM/TDM – this alternative is the existing transportation system plus enhanced operations management and demand management activities
  • BRT 6 with further refinements – this is a bus rapid transit alternative that in Pasadena would enter from the south on Fair Oaks, travel east on Colorado to Hill, south to California, west to Lake and north to Colorado and then retrace to Fair Oaks and exit at the City limit.
  • LRT 4 with further refinements – this is a light rail transit alternative that in Pasadena would enter from the south in a tunnel under Fair Oaks and end at an underground station adjacent to the Gold Line Fillmore Station near Arroyo Parkway and Fillmore Street
  • F-7 (freeway tunnel) – this is a freeway alternative in a tunnel that in Pasadena would be within the corridor already owned by the State, generally following Pasadena Avenue and the existing freeway stub.  It is unclear where in Pasadena the tunnel would emerge.
Speak up at Pasadena City and Metro meetings. 
Diagram of Freeway and Highway Alternatives through Pasadena being considered by Metro and Caltrans (Aug 2012)
Alternatives F-5 and F-6, shown below, are surface or below-grade freeways.  Alternative F-7 is a tunnel under the same route as F-6, which is the current Caltrans right-of-way.

WPRA board formally opposes current SR-710 extension alternatives (July 2012)

The WPRA board of directors, in a July 19 letter to Caltrans and Metro, expressed strong opposition to "any consideration of the SR-710 freeway alternatives routed through the San Rafael area of southwest Pasadena, whether they be surface or subsurface." The board noted that "the serious flaws in the concepts and process that resulted in these unacceptable alternatives must be corrected before any decisions are made."  Additionally, the WPRA board "pledged to use of all its political and economic resources to oppose each and every one of these alternatives." Click here to see the letter.

WPRA board and WPRA members are continuing to work with other neighborhood organizations to be sure that Caltrans, Metro, City of Pasadena, Los Angeles County, and California State officials are aware of the strong community opposition to routing SR-710 traffic through our neighborhoods.

WPRA Members and concerned citizens can help
Please review the project alternatives at the SR-710 website, http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/ and submit your comments through the "Questions and Comments Form" on the website or by email to sr710study@metro.net
Call to Action

 Today's Alhambra Source asks:
        "What Do You Think of the Idea of 710 Day?"
From Sylvia Plummer: 

This is our chance to be part of this Poll.

A Toll Tunnel is not the solution.

What do you think of the idea of 710 Day?


By Alfred Dicioco, June 7, 2013

Editorial cartoon from Pasadena Sun collumnist Bert Ring

 POLL: Alhambra city officials have pronounced July 10, 2013 as "710 Day" to celebrate its efforts to close the gap with a family festival at the arch park at Fremont and Valley.

According to the city website, the event will include "educational presentations and booths to raise awareness about air quality and reducing traffic congestion by CLOSING THE GAP via the proposed SR-710 extension from Alhambra to Pasadena."

But not everyone is a fan. The Pasadena Sun in an editorial cartoon recently ridiculed the idea, with a cartoon showing Alhambra Mayor Steven Placido standing by himself.
What do you think about the idea of 710 day? Is this a good way for the city to support efforts to close the gap?

Go to the website to vote.

All the Details on Purple Line Subway Work, Starting Next Year


By Neal Broverman, June 7, 2013




As Beverly Hills's very expensive hissy fit continues, Metro is moving forward with early construction activities on the Purple Line subway extension that will bring the current east/west line to Wilshire and La Cienega in its first phase. The community was briefed last night on the status of the project, which is in pre-construction activities that mostly involve utility relocation and testing the gassy soil in the Miracle Mile. As with DTLA's Regional Connector subway, Metro wants to work on the project during rush hour, overnight, and through the winter holiday weeks (good luck getting those permits in BH).

A contractor to build the project will be selected later this year--in its entirety to Westwood, the
subway will cost $9 billion $6.3 billion--and construction starts next year. It's unlikely we'll see tunnel-boring machines for a few years if we're reading the construction timeline correctly. Metro's slideshow also indicates the TBM will be dropped at La Brea and start munching eastward to the current subway station at Western Avenue, and west to La Cienega. What's interesting to note is that a second entrance at the Fairfax station, which LACMA will have to pay for, remains unconfirmed. Also, in an effort to establish uniformity and bring down costs, the stations will have similar-looking designs, like the Regional Connector stops.

· Here is the presentation from Thursday night's Purple Line Extension community meeting [The Source]

Metro recommends contractor (and $160 million more) for Crenshaw Line


By Laura J. Nelson, June 7, 2013


Transportation officials are seeking an additional $160 million for the Crenshaw Line light-rail construction budget, bringing the project’s estimated cost to more than $2 billion, according to a staff report issued Friday by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The report also recommends awarding the $1.27-billion Crenshaw Line contract to Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors. Of the four bids considered, it was the cheapest and had the highest technical score.

The Metro board will vote on the contract proposal later this month. If the contract is approved, as Metro staff expects, it will be a major step for a project that has been in the works—and in the news—for more than four years.

The 8.5-mile line will run through South L.A. and connect the Expo Line to the Green Line. Since the line was announced, activists urged officials to fully fund a stop in Leimert Park Village, Southern California’s hub of African American culture. Last month, the Los Angeles City Council and the Metro board approved $120 million for that purpose.

“With the Crenshaw Line, Leimert Park will become part of a larger expanding network of rail lines,” Metro CEO Art Leahy told the Times on Friday.

The Crenshaw Line is partially funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax Los Angeles County voters passed in 2008. When major construction begins along the Crenshaw Line next year, it will be one of five major rail projects simultaneously under construction in the county. It’s expected to open in 2019.

“I look forward to…the future impact this project will have in easing congestion, spurring economic development and contributing to a cleaner environment,” L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. “This county deserves and needs a solid transportation system, and it will be done right.”

The additional $160 million in the budget will act as financial padding for unexpected construction expenses, said K.N. Murthy, Metro’s executive director of transit project delivery.

Metro staff proposes moving funding from other local transportation projects, including $10.2 million from bus-related improvements along Wilshire Boulevard and $47.5 million from the proposed people-mover to Los Angeles International Airport.

The Crenshaw Line’s budget is larger than the $1.27-billion contract because there are additional costs for planning, buying land and adding train cars and a rail maintenance yard.

The contract does not include funding to convert the light-rail to a tunnel in a one-mile stretch of tracks through Park Mesa Heights.

Studies have shown light-rail is safe and fitting in that area, Metro has said, and $250 million to dig would be too expensive. Activists, using the cry "It's not over 'til it's under," have said the train would be unsafe for schoolchildren nearby.

Dallas-based Walsh Construction has worked on other transportation projects in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The company jointly holds the $2-billion modernization contract for the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.

J.F. Shea Construction helped build the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam and is currently working on the Second Avenue Subway in New York City.
Bi-Partisan Lawmakers Push Permanent Tax Equality for Transit Commuters


By Tanya Snyder, June 7, 2013

Right now, transit riders get the same commuter tax benefits as drivers: $245 a month in pre-tax income to spend to get to work. But next year, straphangers might go back to second-class status, getting just $125 for their ride.
A new bill would save transit riders as much as drivers on their commute. 

Four members of Congress, two Democrats and two Republicans, have stepped up to make sure that doesn’t happen — next year or ever. Yesterday, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Michael Grimm (R-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), and Peter King (R-NY) introduced the Transit Parity Act, which would make tax credit parity permanent for drivers and public transportation commuters.

Rather than have to fight it out every year, transit riders and advocates for sustainable transportation would know that our equality is enshrined in law.

The “Transit Parity Act” caps both the transit and parking benefits at $220, making the change deficit-neutral. 

“With rising gas prices and highly congested streets, we should be encouraging New Yorkers to use more public transportation, not push them back into their cars,” said Rep. Grimm in a statement.

“By helping protect commuters’ choices, and preserving equity between those who drive and those who take transit or vanpool,” said Rep. Blumenauer, “we can avoid a tax increase on millions of families, and continue to give workers the option to use a transportation mode that increases economic productivity, reduces congestion, and is friendlier to the environment.”

Parity between the tax benefit enjoyed by drivers and transit riders first became law when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in 2009. Parity continued through 2010 and 2011, but Congress let it expire for all of 2012. The fiscal cliff deal early this year saw a return to parity – retroactively, even, if you can figure it out. If the Transit Parity Act passes, we can stop fighting this battle every year.

Dystopian Cartoon of the Day: When Cars Ruled the World


By Henry Grabar, June 7, 2013



 Dystopian Cartoon of the Day: When Cars Ruled the World

The year was 1966, and enthusiasm for urban renewal was waning. Senator Abraham Ribicoff, of Connecticut, pleaded for a greater emphasis on the individual in municipal tear-outs. New York's great planner of the era, Robert Moses, had begun to lose battles to preservationists.

Angst for the age of the automobile was in the air, and few pieces capture that quite like What on Earth!, which was nominated for Best Short Film at the Academy Awards that year. Apparently, the Danish animator Kaj Pindal had intended to make a film showing that “in spite of appearances, man is the master in the automated world," for the National Film Board of Canada. Perhaps it was the influence of co-director Les Drew, but the end result is considerably more cynical.

Nevertheless, the film is classic Pindal: simple, charming, and whimsical animation. (You can watch a great documentary about Kaj Pindal from 1979 here.) The plot? Martians looking at earth determine that its dominant species is the car.

If nothing else, watch the Rube Goldberg sequence that begins at 5:25. Also, there's a twist at the end...