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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Raising the alarm about Metro’s proposed 710 Freeway twin tunnels: Guest commentary


By Tom Cordner and Sarah Gavit, January 27, 2014

The progress of the latest proposal to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway from Alhambra north into Pasadena, Los Angeles Metro’s preferred twin-tunnel alternative, has relatively low awareness among San Gabriel Valley residents. It’s understandable, since the 710 extension into the heart of Old Pasadena has been batted around for more than 60 years.

The immediate cause for concern is that by the end of March, Metro/Caltrans’ draft Environmental Impact Report will be completed. From there the ball will get rolling quickly while most of the San Gabriel Valley remains clueless to the impacts that the tunnels would have on freeway traffic, local street traffic, our businesses, our property values, our health and our way of life in this beautiful area.
Here are 10 alarming facts you should know about Metro’s twin tunnel alternative:

1. The tunnels would connect the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the freight trucks that come with them, to Old Pasadena and our neighborhoods.

2. The tunnels would bring 180,000 vehicles daily (freight trucks and cars) through Old Pasadena and onto our local freeways. Metro plans to charge a toll to use the tunnels; to avoid these tolls, vehicles would cut through on our local streets, increasing traffic.

3. The 4.9-mile tunnels would be the longest ever built in the U.S. and would cost a billion dollars per mile, or more.

4. The tunnels would cross four earthquake faults and two major aquifers.

5. The tunnels would have no intermediate entries or exits that might facilitate emergencies or serve local traffic.

6. The tunnels would take up to 12 years to build and would require removal of 5 million cubic yards of dirt (294,000 truckloads) through Pasadena.

7. Metro would vent tunnel pollution in Old Pasadena near Huntington Hospital and schools, using technology that can’t properly filter fine particles and can’t filter noxious gases.

8. Pasadena residents, especially those living near the 710, 210 and 134 freeways, would be exposed to elevated pollution levels, significantly increasing their risks for autism, lung disease, heart disease and asthma.

9. Our city hasn’t taken a stand against the tunnels; nor has the city developed an adequate plan to thoroughly review and respond to the draft EIR/EIS on behalf of Pasadena residents.

10. The draft EIR/EIS is being performed by the tunnel advocate, Metro. How can these reports be fair and unbiased?

While some consider all construction projects progressive, we’d argue that a tollway is not the best solution to address Los Angeles’ transportation concerns.

Heavy rail improvements have not been seriously considered for moving port cargo. Furthermore, port traffic may not increase as forecast, due to the widening of the Panama Canal and new ports in Mexico and along the Gulf Coast.

For passenger traffic, transportation funds would be better spent on environmentally sound projects that work for future generations, such as light rail, a 21st-century bus system and transportation system management.

Americans, especially the younger generations, are driving less and are increasingly concerned about their contribution to global warming.

We can’t think of any reason that the tunnels would be good for the San Gabriel Valley, yet some cities have yet to take a stand against the tunnels.

 If you care about protecting our region’s quality of life and business base, or if you’d like your tax dollars spent more wisely, email your mayor and city council and ask them to vigorously oppose the tunnels. Attend Metro meetings. Go to No710.com and sign the petition.

It’s time to act or accept the consequences.

Opinion: Too early for conclusions on 710 Freeway tunnels

January 30, 2014

The commentary piece “Raising alarm about Metro’s 710 tunnels” (Jan. 28) failed to mention Metro is studying five alternatives as part of the SR-710 North Study.

It is premature, misleading and irresponsible to outline “their” conclusions as fact about the impacts alternatives will have on the public before the study is final.

This does not serve the public well. Metro strives to have an informative dialog with the public. No decisions have been made. This is a regional issue and Metro encourages the public to wait for the factual technical information contained in the SR-710 North Study Draft Environmental document. That document is scheduled to be released for public review and comments this spring.

— Frank Quon, executive officer, Metro Highway Programs


While there, it was obvious the whole thing was going through the motions of the 5 options. One options was a bus route re-vamp and setting up traffic lights. Another was light rail. At the end of the meeting, I was trying to talk to the mayor about the various options and he insisted "We're going to close the gap whether you like it or not" and turned on his heels and walked away.

Why would I believe what an executive from Metro is saying?

  We really need to focus less on building freeways and more on finding ways to get cars/trucks off the road entirely. Metro / Caltrans does not seem to like heavy rail to get truck traffic off the roads. seems like they could investigate alternatives to get a better result.

For a Metro PR staffer to admonish a resident’s legitimate
concerns is in itself irresponsible, insulting & rude. It has been Metro
staff that has engaged in a campaign of disinformation from the very start of
this project. Their statistical traffic data is suspect, numbers don’t make
sense. In public they talk about 5 alternatives, but at the Technical Advisory
Meeting held by Caltrans & Metro all they discuss is tunneling & only
tunneling. The other alternatives are never mentioned because they are only window
dressing. It is illegal to push a pre-determined project on the public so to satisfy certain EIR requirements the alternatives are bandied about to look nice on paper but have never been seriously developed to a point the public can see any real benefit to the ‘public good’.

Metro PR has publicly stated ‘a robust outreach was achieved’.
The communities listed in the report all happen to be in support of a tunnel. One
community they conveniently overlooked happens to have the largest Mexican
American population, El Sereno. We live a few blocks from the proposed southern
portal. We too in El Sereno have the same concerns as our Pasadena neighbors to the north in the same predicament; we are both, though at different levels of the socio-economic reality, each at
the end of a project that can potentially destroy our quality of life, our
health & our environment. We too ask the same questions & all we get is
the run around by people like Mr. Quon.

I would like to remind all readers that a federal lawsuit against
Caltrans a few decades ago was successful in stopping the progress of the above
ground route. The courts back then found the EIR process to be faulty & aspects
of the project negatively impacted the same ethnic group & community being threatened today, El Sereno. The EIR process demands full disclosure & input by an
aware public. The manner in which our community was treated during the ‘alleged’
outreach was contrary to all rules governing ‘outreach’ to the community. Metro
PR staff refused to enter El Sereno based on stereo-typical preconceptions. The
initial outreach to El Sereno was done by hiring the ‘Walking man’ service. With
a budget in the millions they hired someone to go through the neighborhood, with
a large pouch & rubber bands to place cheaply made flyers on your fence
announcing outreach meetings. We are a much more educated & aware
population than what Metro thought they were dealing with. I strongly contend
El Sereno was ‘racially profiled by’ Metro PR consultants. I believe now more than ever we have groundsto file & prevail in another Environmental Racism lawssuit against Metro
this time, in their attempts to push a transportation project that would
negatively & disproportionately impact one ethnic group. Also, now it appears Mr. Quon is backing away from Metro’s own traffic figures. The numbers quoted by the authors of the
opinion piece are part of Metro’s published traffic data. The opposition to the
tunnel has punched so many holes in Metro claims they are now running away from
their own figures. The information on the SR710 Study Group has been quietly
altered in the past months as they get deeper & deeper in the quagmire of
this project. It would be wise for Caltrans to wake up & have a talk with
someone at Metro to let them know how bad a PR job they are doing. I don’t
believe Caltrans wants to go down the drain with Metro on this one.
Someone is going to get dumped in the relationship.

I agree with CV Gal. Regarding Metro's public outreach: Metro was a NO SHOW for the last two 710 Forums that were scheduled in Pasadena. They were a NO SHOW at the Rose Bowl 710 Forum in November 2013, canceling at the last minute. Then the Northwest Commission 710 Forum scheduled for January 25th had to be cancelled because METRO would not send a representative. What kind of outreach is that?

I would add that we had a 710 Forum in La Crescenta in February 2013. Metro DID send a representative but she could not effectively answer any questions from the audience. The participants were very disappointed. I also joined our local Community Liaison Council. We were told that the sole purpose for the existence of the Council was to tell the public about the Open Houses. We were told repeatedly, "That's a good question. You will find out all the answers when the draft EIR comes out." Really? Now we find out that we have only 90 days to respond to the document that is expected to be 1000s of pages thick. Shameful.

 Regarding the "Too early for conclusions on 710 Freeway tunnels" letter above, I would like to weigh in. I have been actively engaged in this issue for the past 5 years. I have witnessed countless statements by Metro that they are studying the 5 alternatives in the same "robust" manner but their behind the scenes actions do not support that. The study isn't even compete and they have been marketing the tunnel concept to investors for the past 2 years. They are NOT marketing light rail. They are NOT marketing busways. They are NOT marketing Transportation Systems Management/Transportation Demand Management strategies. They are ONLY marketing twin bore tunnels along the Meridian route. See this attached sales pitch, one of many we have found that confirm this. http://prezi.com/icjkufgi6rld/... Will any of us be surprised when the draft EIR/EIS comes out and names the tunnel alternative as the "preferred alternative?" No. Metro and Caltrans have been working backward to this conclusion since 2003. Sign the petition at no710.com.