By Isiah Reyes, July 3, 2014
The 710 Freeway extension project was the main topic covered at the Crescenta Valley Community Association meeting on June 26.
Members at the meeting voiced their concern about the completion of
the 710 Freeway in Alhambra, which could cause more congestion, more
noise and more air pollution to the foothills since it would potentially
funnel more trucks and traffic through the region.
Glendale City Council and Metro board member Ara Najarian was the guest speaker at the meeting.
“There is no greater threat to our quality of life in the Crescenta
Valley than a completion of the 710,” Najarian said. “The fight
continues. It is a fight like none of us have ever seen before.”
A five-city coalition of South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Glendale, La
Cañada and Pasadena have united within the past few years to oppose the
completion of the freeway and each city will be devoting its resources
to a particular aspect, such as health and safety.
Najraian said that the Southern California Association of
Governments, the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization,
six years ago estimated the completion of the 710 Freeway to be $11
“We know that costs are going up, we know that wages are going up, we
know that everything is going up, so that $11 billion price tag is
really in the $15 billion range,” Najarian said. “Nobody wants to talk
about that now because it’s going to hurt their position.”
There are currently available alternatives to completing the freeway,
one of which is transportation system management and transportation
demand management. This means that the existing traffic system would be
improved by introducing strategies such as coordinating traffic signal
timing and promoting carpooling and public transit.
Another alternative by Metro would be to build a 7.5-mile light rail
with trains connecting East Los Angeles to Pasadena. Najarian said that
one of the candidates for the next Pasadena mayor, Terry Tornek, has
supported a light rail line and that members who oppose the completion
of the 710 should throw their support behind Tornek because it would be a
solution to the traffic.
A third alternative would be to build a tunnel that would connect the
end of the 710 Freeway in Alhambra with the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.
Most people at the meeting were against this option, citing Seattle’s
recent attempt to create a 1.7-mile-long tunnel that would replace the
Alaskan Way Viaduct. That multi-billion project relied on a 7,000-ton
boring machine called “Bertha” that has been stuck underground when it
hit an 8-inch diameter, 3/4-inch thick steel well casing after only
about 1,000 feet of drilling. The repairs could cost taxpayers in
The proposed 6.3 mile four-lane tunnel in South Pasadena is intended
to improve mobility, regional freeway congestion and decrease travel
time. Metro’s alternative fact sheet estimates that the tunnel would
remove over 75,000 daily trips from the local street system.
Some candidates and elected officials who are in favor of the
completion of the 710 Freeway include Assemblymember 49th District Edwin
Chau, Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina and former Assemblymember
49th District Mike Eng.
In a press release on Eng’s official website in 2009, Eng stated,
“With traffic from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach expected to
double in the next 10 years and a population growth estimated at 10
million over the next 20 years, the freeway connection will greatly
improve our region’s economy and reduction of transportation gridlock.”
However, a tunnel will likely have to be funded with private funds, requiring high tolls.
“The biggest challenge for us is stopping the huge flow of money into
a transportation project that we don’t want when the money could be
used on much more useful transportation changes like extending the Gold
Line, more light rail, and reconfiguring all the different
intersections,” said Sharon Weisman of CVCA.
Another topic discussed at the CVCA meeting was the renovation of the
Rockhaven Sanitarium. Members of the CVCA want the original concept of
having a historic park to be preserved.
“We want it to be a partnership,” said CVCA member Susan Bolan.
“That’s the biggest concept. We want the community involved with the
city and outside groups all contributing.”
Formed in April 2013, the Friends of Rockhaven was created to raise
awareness of the historic sanitarium. They hope to see it become park
grounds where the community can come for classes or events. Weisman said
that she was in favor of a non-profit developer helping with
renovations of the site rather than a for-profit developer because the
profit-motive would override all decisions.
Najarian said the Glendale City Council does not want to get out
ahead of the community and stakeholders by imposing their ideas onto the
community. A Request For Proposal has been issued for a vacant part of
Rockhaven that would offer a development opportunity to build something
the community wants. Najarian said that would most likely be a museum or
something of that nature.
“We’re not tearing down Rockhaven, we’re not selling Rockhaven out,”
Najarian said. “But if there’s a proposal that comes out that makes
financial sense, that would lead to a sustainable future for Rockhaven
and keep the stakeholders happy, that’s what we’re going to do.”
CVCA meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.
in La Crescenta Library’s community room. The library is located at 2809
Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta. The next meeting will be on July 24.