Purpose

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, February 21, 2014

Los Angeles County Metro restructuring could endanger 710 Freeway extension, activists say

http://www.whittierdailynews.com/general-news/20140221/los-angeles-county-metro-restructuring-could-endanger-710-freeway-extension-activists-say

By Lauren Gold, February 21, 2014

LOS ANGELES>> The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the process of a significant administrative restructuring.

A number of senior staffers have been let go or retired as positions have been removed to streamline the administration of the local transportation agency. Those who have left in recent weeks include former executive director of highway programs Doug Failing, who has been a major player in the 710 Freeway north extension project.

The restructuring was sparked by a board motion by Metro board member Ara Najarian nearly two years ago. Najarian said the board hired a consultant to evaluate the agency, who provided a report about six months ago with recommendations for a new structure.

“It’s an attempt to streamline the upper management of Metro and to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible,” Najarian said. “We felt that it was getting a little too bureaucratic and at least at the top level we were losing sight of our core mission and our core direction and too much involved in the day to day management of departments and divisions of departments.”

Metro officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Those who have been following the 710 project closely said they thought Failing’s departure, as well as those of a handful of other 710 tunnel proponents that have also left Metro, could impact the project. Metro is currently studying five options to complete the long fought over 710 extension from Alhambra to Pasadena: “No build,” light rail, bus, traffic management solutions and a freeway tunnel. The draft environmental study is scheduled to be released in the next few months.

“Essentially those proponents that were keeping it alive, a project that was on life support, are gone and hopefully with $40 million spent on an EIR we will be able to come up with an alternative that would actually solve the 65 year old controversy, not inflame it even more which would be the tunnel if it was chosen,” South Pasadena resident and longtime freeway fighter Joanne Nuckols said.

“Essentially those proponents that were keeping it alive, a project that was on life support, are gone and hopefully with $40 million spent on an EIR we will be able to come up with an alternative that would actually solve the 65 year old controversy, not inflame it even more which would be the tunnel if it was chosen,” South Pasadena resident and longtime freeway fighter Joanne Nuckols said.
Najarian said the elimination of some 710 proponents was not intentional and he doesn’t think it will significantly impact the project.

“It’s like the revolutionaries, if you take out the chief there is always someone ready to take his spot,” Najarian said. “There are still those in the agency that feel committed to a 710 tunnel despite Doug (Failing) being gone. So our fight against the tunnel continues and it’s not in any way quenched by Doug’s leaving.”

Many others in the community, including the cities of Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park, have also been pushing for a freeway tunnel, arguing that traffic in their cities coming off the “stub” of the 710 freeway has a negative effect on the community. Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina published an editorial in the Pasadena Star-News this week arguing that the tunnel was the right option for the region.