By Gloria Molina and Ed Chau, February 20, 2014
It is time to end the debate and close the gap by building the 710
Freeway tunnel. It is also time for 710 Freeway opponents to stop their
A tunnel will not cause more pollution or disrupt life for local residents. In fact, it will do the opposite.
with the 710 gap, drivers of roughly 200,000 vehicles have no choice
but to use major traffic arteries in place of a completed freeway —
along Valley Boulevard, Fremont Avenue, Fair Oaks Avenue, Arroyo Parkway
and Sierra Madre Boulevard. This is exactly why the 710 Freeway
practically grinds to a halt during rush hour well before drivers reach
the Valley Boulevard exit.
So, for any commuter using the 710 Freeway, the gap already
disrupts life in Alhambra and Southeast Los Angeles. Local roads in
these neighborhoods already suffer severe damage due to overuse.
residents were promised decades ago that this fix was a stop-gap
measure. Opponents need to quit trying to stop the gap from being
These same naysayers also erroneously claim that a tunnel
will worsen air quality. They conveniently ignore how air quality is
already horrendous in Southeast L.A. — especially for its children,
where 12 out of every 100 children develop asthma.
There is a direct connection between asthma in Southeast L.A. and
the pollution caused by cars and trucks forced to stand idle along an
incomplete 710 Freeway. It’s all the more true since commuters must use
the streets as de facto “streetways.”
The pollution that 710 tunnel opponents don’t want is already in the
air, being breathed by Southeast L.A. families — who don’t have the
extra time and resources to devote to NIMBYism.
A tunnel will
include massive air filtration systems. The air emitted from these vents
will be much cleaner — and strictly monitored — unlike current
emissions from the nearby streetways.
Closing the 710 gap will remove about 2,200 pounds of air
pollutants each day. That equals 803,000 pounds of air pollutants each
Perhaps that’s why 63 percent of San Gabriel Valley
residents support 710 Freeway completion. So do the cities of Alhambra,
Monterey Park, San Marino, Rosemead and San Gabriel, and the San Gabriel
Valley Council of Governments.
Numerous school districts, elected
officials, labor groups, and business associations from these areas all
agree that we can’t wait any more for a long overdue solution to this
problem. Even Pasadena residents voted in favor of closing the 710 gap!
Moreover, the residents of L.A. County have spoken. An
overwhelming majority of county voters approved Measure R with the
SR-710 North Tunnel as a named project.
A tunnel will reduce both
arterial and freeway congestion by 20 percent. It will remove more than
75,000 daily trips from local streets and reduce regional cut-through
traffic. Plus it will eliminate congestion at 22 percent of the
Fear mongers claim truck traffic from the
ports into the San Gabriel Valley will increase if we close the 710 gap.
They conveniently ignore that nearby corridors are currently being
improved to accommodate existing and future heavy truck port traffic.
And the tunnel approval can be conditioned to restrict trucks of certain
size and weight.
When the 405 Freeway was constructed through Beverly Hills and
Brentwood, residents voiced similar complaints. But could you imagine
the Westside without the kind of connectivity that the 405 Freeway
provides — with Sepulveda Boulevard as your only commuting option?
This is what San Gabriel Valley residents — especially in El Sereno and Alhambra — have dealt with every day, for decades.
congestion in the San Gabriel Valley is quickly rivaling the Westside.
And because of the 710 Freeway intimidation campaign, help — like
commuters in traffic — is stuck.
And if opponents have their way, this will never change. They’ve
opposed every option before them — a freeway above ground, below ground
and at street level.
The only option acceptable to the local
“Party of No” is the status quo. I’d stand with them if the proposal was
the one presented in the 1970s — homes seized and razed for yet another
But that is not the case today.
We will not fall
prey to misinformation and intimidation. The facts are clear — a tunnel
will reduce pollution and improve mobility.
Let’s stand up for what is right. Close the gap. Build the 710 Freeway tunnel.
Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina represents the First District.
Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, represents the 49th Assembly