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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Study shows air pollution may lead to more wildfires


January 14, 2014

 Nitrogen Deposition Map

National Park Service
Nitrogen Deposition Map

Preliminary results from a study in the Santa Monica Mountains show air pollution may increase the risk of wildfires, the National Park Service reported.

Researchers found that higher levels of nitrogen led to a decline in native shrub seedlings and an increase in nonnative grasses. Other studies have demonstrated a link between nonnative grasses and larger and more frequent wildfires, Park Service officials said.

It’s not surprising the data showed increased air pollution on the eastern end of the mountains, closer to Los Angeles, said Irina Irvine, restoration ecologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“What’s more intriguing about this study is learning how high nitrogen levels affect native vegetation and what that might mean for fire risk in such a fire-prone region,” she said.

The results are from the first year of a three-year study by Irvine, and others from UC Riverside and the U.S. Forest Service. The study is funded by the Park Service’s Air Resources Division.
For more information, go to http://www.nps.gov/samo/parknews/prelim-nitrogen-deposition-results.htm.

Community: Pasadena Police Department’s Mobile Command Post Curbside Coffee & Chat is on the Move in 2014!

From Carla Riggs, January 14, 2014

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Tuesday January 14, 2014, 1:40 PM

Pasadena Police Department - CA

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Community: Pasadena Police Department’s Mobile Command Post Curbside Coffee & Chat is on the Move in 2014!
Hi Carla Riggs,
Pasadena Police Department’s Mobile Command Post Curbside Coffee & Chat is on the Move in 2014!

The Pasadena Police Department launched the Mobile Command Post Curbside Coffee & Chat in 2013. We experienced overwhelming support and gratitude from our community members and partners. This year, the Community Services Section - Neighborhood Outreach Unit will be on the move once again in a concerted effort to meet and greet community members throughout the City of Pasadena. The Mobile Command Post Curbside Coffee & Chat allows Pasadena Police Officers, Park Safety Specialist, Safe Schools Officers and support staff to meet the people we serve, make new friends and rekindle relationships.

The Mobile Command Post is being utilized as a highly visible and recognizable platform from which to host informal curbside coffee & chats with residents in neighborhoods throughout Pasadena. These informal meetings allow for neighbors and their children to step out of their homes and to be greeted at the curbside by uniformed officers operating the Mobile Command Post. It’s an excellent opportunity for neighbors to socialize and meet with officers and police volunteers while sharing information that can drive enforcement efforts and deter crime.

The Mobile Command Post has been deployed into many neighborhoods thus far and has been enthusiastically received by the community. If you would like the Mobile Command Post Curbside Coffee & Chat to visit your neighborhood, please call: Officer Ralph Ordonez at 626-744-7651 or email: ralphordonez@cityofpasadena.net

Thank you for Your Continued Support! For full details, view this message on the web.

If Bertha busts the budget, who pays?

Is it right for Seattle to foist Bertha overruns onto state taxpayers, when it was Seattle voters who insisted on a risky project with a Tiffany price tag? 


By Knute Berger, January 13, 2014

Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.

Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.

Maybe Seattle should be on the hook for Bertha overruns.

Big revelations about Bertha and the 520 Bridge costs make you wonder if Seattle and the state of Washington have bitten off more than they can chew, boondoggle-wise.

Bertha has literally ground to a halt while digging the deep-bore tunnel. And, as the new legislative session begins, the folks building the 520 Bridge have given us some new numbers about the size and scale of their cost overruns to date, with more anticipated.

If anything, the two troubled projects are giving legislators cause for pause as they contemplate a new state transportation package.

In Bertha's case, since we're at the beginning of what could be a quagmire, we don't yet have a full handle on the cost of delays, damage and other issues related to the project. The Washington State Department of Transportation has been reluctant to be pinned down, but the project has a $40 million fund for "running into stuff," according to state Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson. And running into stuff it has done.

On the other side of town, a year after we learned about the 520 pontoon design and cracking fiasco, we're finally getting the bill for the faulty pontoons that need to be repaired or rebuilt: $208 million. The project's contingency fund is essentially blown, WSDOT revealed last week. They are requesting another $170 million to cover additional expected overruns and future costs over and above what was originally planned. The $2.72 billion project will now cost $2.89 billion.

While the focus has been on the pontoons, WSDOT documents reveal that there are over $134 million in other 520-related cost overruns, changes and delays in the offing that we haven't been hearing about, a big chunk of that on the Eastside.

One hundred million here, 200 million there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
WSDOT assures us that the $170 million now needed to complete half the 520 job (the funded eastern half— there's still the connection to I-5 to figure out) can come out of other state projects and bonds sold against expected toll revenues. In other words, no tax increases. Is it real money if it's not a tax increase?

Of course it is. Taxpayers and toll payers will be paying to borrow that money, and citizens counting on other projects might find their work delayed or downsized. Just because the state can put overruns on its credit card doesn't mean the money is imaginary.

Still, you wonder if anyone really cares. We expect mega-projects to go over budget. We complain loudly and say "I told you so," but these monsters lumber along and the debt piles up. The long time-frames ensure anger will cool down, lawsuits and negotiations will determine who pays the final bills, and people will enjoy the benefits of the new projects, eventually. The pols who pushed them are long gone by the time the piper is paid. We're expected to give a big, worldly shrug.

Mike McGinn made an issue of overruns and was overruled by the political leadership and Seattle voters, who insisted Bertha go ahead. Since it's reasonable to speculate that Bertha's final bill might be higher than anticipated, the former mayor's concerns about who's on the hook have come to the surface like the bits of steel pipe in Bertha's path.

It's a state project, Seattle argues, so the state should pay the entire tab. Pro-tunnel legislators have argued that even though there's an overrun provision in the Bertha bill that says Seattle pays, it's not legally enforceable. Too vague, they say.

But surely the intent is clear. Votes to approve the tunnel bill were gathered on the guarantee that Seattle would pay.

New mayor and former state Sen. Ed Murray says not to worry about paying any overrun. But, when Seattle could have selected less expensive options, it came up with a risky plan with a Tiffany price tag ($2 billion for the tunnel and another $1 billion for taking down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and related work). Seattle insisted on a project that was more than the state wanted to spend. We could have had a surface project, a new viaduct, a retro-fitted viaduct or a cut-and-cover tunnel. All were problematic, but all were likely cheaper and less risk-prone.

Is it right for Seattle to insist on foisting any Bertha overruns onto state taxpayers? Doesn't Seattle have at least some liability for the insisting on a one-of-a-kind project? In the city referendum in 2011, the deep-bore tunnel project was approved by 60 percent of Seattle voters who said go ahead (the pro-tunnel group was Let's Move Forward). Shouldn't those voters have some accountability in the event of a fiasco?

Gov. Jay Inslee articulated the strategy of pushing off overrun concerns for now. "Let's drill Bertha, let's get this job done, let's focus as a team to get the job done and we'll worry about some of these cost issues at the appropriate moment," MyNorthwest.com quoted him as saying. It's a pragmatic approach, an engineer's approach. It encourages people to forget, to forgive, to repeat. We'll sort out the bill, alki.

If Bertha busts the budget, the answer will be largely in the hands the courts and Olympia, a nexus for the rest of the state to express its low opinion of Seattle priorities. Already Bertha is giving some legislators a reason to go slow on new transportation spending, including finishing the 520 project, which has another quagmire waiting for it at the west end in Montlake.

Sure, Seattle is the state's economic engine, but like Bertha, it's a high-maintenance, expensive machine.

Metro Board to consider beginning development of ballot measure for 2016


By Steve Hymon, January 14, 2014

One of the items to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors in this month’s round of meetings: whether to begin the development process for a new ballot measure in November 2016 to pay for transportation projects. Nov. 2016 will likely be a big election with voters deciding the successor to President Barack Obama.

Extremely important: This IS NOT the Board deciding to go to the ballot with anything. Rather, this is Metro staff asking the Board to begin the process of developing a ballot measure which would be either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax.

As the above Metro staff report says, the Metro Board eventually must decide which to pursue and whether to actually take a ballot measure to voters. Those decisions will come at a later date.

Measure R was approved by voters in 2008 and raised the sales tax by a half-cent for 30 years to pay for a plethora of transportation projects (here’s the list). The tax expires on June 30, 2039.

Existing tax versus new tax? Both have their pros and cons. Persuading voters to extend an existing tax that they are already paying is presumably easier than selling them on paying a new tax. On the other hand, a new tax may also widen the field of projects that could receive funding, attracting support from more people. As you’ll see, the staff report contains some recent polling results on that topic.

Of course, the ballot measure issue has been on everyone’s radar since Nov. 2012, when Measure J — an extension of Measure R — received 66.1 percent approval from county voters but lost because it failed to reach the 66.67 percent threshold. The Board has continued to talk about ways to accelerate Measure R projects. Any acceleration plan almost certainly would would require new tax revenues to supply the local funding that would presumably be matched with federal funding and loans.

Metro staff report looks at issues involving potential ballot measures
Mayor Garcetti says another transportation ballot measure is possible
Should the threshold for future transportation sales taxes be lowered to 55 percent?
Metro statement on final Measure J tally
Final Measure J results

Seattle's tunnel: SR's got 99 problems, but the steel pipe ain't one

Cost overruns and no one to pay them; breaches to a contract we don't want to enforce. Seattle's biggest problem child is a huge hunk of metal, just stuck in the mud. 


By Bill Lucia, January 14, 2014

Tunneling crews discuss their progress as they operate Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine, in November 2013.
 Tunneling crews discuss their progress as they operate Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine, in November 2013. 


 Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.
Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.

While it's certain that the machine digging the Highway 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle did grind to a halt last month shortly after hitting a steel pipe, plenty of mystery still surrounds the idled earthmover and the future of the multi-billion dollar megaproject.

Lingering questions about the cause and cost of the machine’s stoppage were on full display Monday, as state Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson and Washington State Department of Transportation staffers briefed the Seattle City Council.

The WSDOT representatives said it was still too early to know much about the price of the delays or whether the pipe was the only problem afflicting the machine, known as Bertha. Peterson also discussed WSDOT's decision to hold Seattle Tunnel Partners — the contractor group running the project — in breach of contract for failing to give an adequate amount of work to minority and women-owned companies.

WSDOT program administrator Todd Trepanier acknowledged that WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners were under "a lot of presssure" to estimate the cost of the stop-down and when the machine would get moving again. “It would be irresponsible at this time," he said, "for us to really speculate on all those issues."

The machine has bored about 1,000 feet of the 1.7-mile long tunnel. WSDOT representatives said the contractor and the agency expected the first 1,500 feet of digging to be a “shakedown cruise.” But on Dec. 3, the tunneling machine hit an 8-inch diameter, 119-foot long, steel well-pipe left in the ground by a WSDOT contractor in 2002. In the days that followed, the machine began to experience increased resistance moving forward. The current boring stoppage began on Dec. 7.

The well site was noted in planning documents for the project, but a Seattle Tunnel Partners project manager said recently that the pipe should have been removed when the well was decommissioned.
Matt Preedy, WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program deputy administrator, said on Monday that probing the ground in front of the machine had not helped to confirm the root of the tunneling machine’s troubles.

“All of our ground investigation out in front of the machine has been inconclusive,” he said.

Trepanier said the pipe might not be the only problem. “I think maybe that is a contributing factor," he said. "But there are other issues that are being dealt with and wanting to be understood at this point in time on why this machine stopped.

There have been difficulties, he said, with material not flowing correctly through the machine and wear to its 300 metal teeth, which weigh about 1,200 pounds each.

“I don’t necessarily agree with the word stuck,” Trepanier said later, referring to Bertha’s current status. “The cutter head turns, you can mine with this machine. It would be like driving in your car and the warning light is coming on and telling you to stop.”

Regardless of whether the machine is stuck or stopped, the delays are raising concerns in Seattle. A provision in the state bill financing the project says that any costs beyond $2.8 billion will be paid for by “property owners in the Seattle area who benefit from replacement of the [Alaskan Way Viaduct] with the deep bore tunnel.”

Mayor Ed Murray, who co-sponsored the bill during his time as a state Senator, says he’d like to convince legislators in Olympia to remove that language from the law.

At the briefing on Monday, council member Sally Bagshaw pressed the WSDOT representatives on what the current delays mean for the city's finances.

“You’re talking about cost overruns potentially. One thing I want to clarify is that the city of Seattle is not on the hook to pay those cost overruns,” said Bagshaw. “The city is not party to the contract between you and the state and the partners, is that correct?”

“You’re stepping into an area that is a little beyond my understanding,” replied Trepanier.

Peggy Drouet: Be sure to read the comments to the article.

Jamzilla is coming: Unprecedented 80-hour paving operation planned for northbound 405 Presidents’ Day weekend


By Dave Sotero, January 14, 2014


Northbound traffic on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass will be greatly curtailed President’s Day weekend. Avoid the area if you can. 

Los Angeles transportation officials are alerting I-405 and regional freeway motorists of an unprecedented 80-hour northbound I-405 freeway lane closure operation in the Sepulveda Pass this Presidents’ Day weekend, February 14 to 18, 2014.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), in conjunction with California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and a host of law enforcement and emergency response agencies throughout L.A. County are giving the public advance notice that if they do not have a critical need to travel northbound through West Los Angeles and the Sepulveda Pass during the Presidents’ Day three-day weekend, they should eliminate unnecessary auto trips, avoid the area and/or divert to other freeways to avoid major traffic delays. 

Traffic conditions on local streets and freeways within the region of Los Angeles County and beyond could become severe, with significant, hours-long delays if motorists do not cooperate with authorities and limit northbound freeway trips.

Motorists who must travel during this weekend are advised to prepare their itineraries in advance, monitor real-time traffic conditions prior to beginning their trips and follow alternate routes that are provided. Motorists will be continually informed of the closure in advance by Caltrans-operated freeway message signs.

The I-405 contractor will be paving a major segment of the future northbound I-405 High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane in the Sepulveda Pass. The work is considered key to meeting the project’s scheduled completion date of 2014.

Work over the Presidents’ Day weekend will eliminate the need for several consecutive 55-hour freeway closures from the project schedule. This closure operation will save significant time and minimize future closure impacts to the community and traveling public.

The closure operation consists of a partial day-time lane reduction and a full night-time directional freeway closure on the northbound I-405 between Getty Center Drive and Ventura Boulevard.  The closure area is approximately 5.6 miles long, or nearly two-thirds of the entire I-405 project area.
During daytime hours, two northbound lanes will remain open while the remaining three lanes will be closed.  During night-time hours, all five northbound freeway lanes in this area will be closed.

The southbound I-405 will remain fully open during the day, but some southbound lanes may be closed during night-time only paving operations.

Work is scheduled to begin Friday night, February 14 starting at 11 p.m. and will last until Tuesday, February 18 at 6 a.m.

Ramps within the project area will begin to close as early as 7 p.m. Traffic officers provided by LADOT will help guide motorists at each I-405 northbound on-ramp.
Full northbound night-time freeway closure times are as follows:
  • Friday night, February 14 – 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Saturday night, February 15 - 2 a.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Sunday night, February 16 – 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Monday night, February 17 – 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
The designated alternative route for night-time full closures will be for motorists to take the Wilshire northbound to westbound off-ramp to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, returning to northbound I-405 at the Greenleaf northbound on-ramp.

Sepulveda Boulevard also will be fully open with two lanes in each direction during the paving operation.  However, Sepulveda Boulevard will not have the capacity to accommodate all diverted northbound freeway traffic, and could become severely congested. Freeway motorists should instead divert to other freeway routes.

I-10 connectors to the northbound I-405 also will be closed. Motorists detouring from the closed I-10 connectors should use freeway detour routes rather than local streets.

The connector detour routes will be as follows:
  • For eastbound I-10 to northbound I-405 – use northbound I-110, northbound US 101, to northbound I-405.
  • For westbound I-10 to northbound I-405 – use northbound I-5, westbound SR 134, northbound US 101, to northbound I-405.
The construction schedule is subject to change, and paving work is dependent on favorable weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather during the 80-hour closure, the project will commence continuous 55-hour weekend closures of the northbound freeway starting the following weekend, February 21 for up to four weekends to complete the originally intended work.

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements project has now concluded most major freeway widening work between the I-10 and U.S. 101. The contractor is now building the future northbound HOV lane that will connect West Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley.

The project will officially complete the last remaining gap in the entire I-405 lane network.

Additional project benefits include improved freeway safety through standardized lane and shoulder widths, greater ramp capacities at key locations, new sound and retaining walls, widened overpasses, widened and seismically updated bridges.

The project is a joint effort between Metro and Caltrans, and is being constructed by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.

Funding included for Purple Line Extension and Regional Connector in federal spending bill for 2014


By Steve Hymon, January 14, 2014


Good news for the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector, the pair of Metro projects slated to receive money this fiscal year from the federal New Starts program. The projects are set to receive $65 million each in the 2014 fiscal year.

New Starts helps local transit agencies fund large projects and Congress appears set to fund New Starts for fiscal year 2014. The federal program is currently helping to fund over two dozen projects around the United States. New Starts is also an annual target for some critics, so it’s good to hear that it is being fully funded in fiscal year 2014.

Overall, the Purple Line Extension’s first phase is due to receive about $1.25 billion and the Connector $675 million in New Starts money. Both projects are also receiving money from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008, as well as a federally-backed loan program called TIFIA.

The cost of planning and construction of the first phase of the Purple Line is budgeted at $2.86 billion while planning and construction of the Regional Connector is budgeted at $1.42 billion.

The New Starts money is awarded to transit agencies on an annual basis — the money isn’t awarded all at once, thus the reason that both the Purple Line Extension and Regional Connector are set to each $65 million in this fiscal year’s spending bill.

Here is the update from Metro’s government relations staff:
House/Senate Spending Bill For Fiscal Year 2014 is Made Public –Full Funding Included for New Starts Program

Moments ago, the details of H.R. 3457, a bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014 was made public. The bill, which includes a funding level of just over $1 trillion, will likely be voted on first by the U.S. House of Representatives and then later this week by the U.S. Senate. The bill includes the following language regarding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s New Starts program:

CAPITAL INVESTMENT GRANTS – The bill appropriates $1,942,938,000 for new fixed-guideway projects. Combined with available prior year transit funds, a total of $2,132,000,000 is available for new start activities.

This level of funding is adequate to fully fund the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget request of $65 million for the Purple Line Extension and $65 million for the Regional Connector. The bill issued this evening also increases funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s popular TIGER grant program to $600 million, an increase of $100 million over last year.

And here are the New Starts project profiles for both the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

What the Interstate Highway System Should Have Looked Like


By Eric Jaffe, January 14, 2014

 What the Interstate Highway System Should Have Looked Like

This anecdote has been told at Cities before but it bears repeating: Eisenhower himself didn't realize the Interstate Highway System would cut through American cities until a few years after construction began. Ike had wanted a national road network like the one he'd seen in Germany during World War II. But he'd also wanted these roads to stop at the doorsteps of cities, not push right past.

That story comes to mind reading a recent paper from University of Southern California scholar Marlon Boarnet in this month's Transport Policy. Boarnet outlines a series of lessons that developing countries might learn from America's great road expansion experiment. By far the most compelling is his suggestion that the Interstate Highway System should have been two distinct systems: one running between cities, and another running within them.
The U.S. experience illustrates that national transportation planning is best conceived as two systems — one inter-metropolitan and one intra-metropolitan — and that the institutions, goals, methods, and financing instruments for those two systems should differ.
Boarnet argues that one branch of the Interstate Highway System should have been reserved entirely for intercity roads. These would be highways running through remote areas with cheap land and sparse populations, so it would make sense to prioritize traffic flow and vehicle capacity. Paying for this branch with a pooled fuel tax would also make sense, because the benefits of low-cost transport and trade redound on everyone.

The other branch of the system would be made up of intracity roads, those running within the city limits. Given the high cost of land and density of population in cities, creating sufficient road capacity and swift vehicle flow would become a pipe dream, so the wiser aim would be transport balance. The logical way to finance these roads, given the great demand for space on them, would be with direct user fees — ideally priced to reduce congestion.

The two systems could even be governed separately. A national authority could oversee the intercity system, deciding on route location and managing maintenance programs. Meanwhile, the intracity system could be organized by metropolitan authorities capable of designing the network to fit local needs. Some level of coordination would be needed at the city limits, of course, but that partnership should give both systems equal importance.

A key lesson from the U.S. experience, writes Boarnet, is that building a national road system should not mean overriding a local metropolitan one:
The development of the U.S. Interstate Highway System essentially took transportation planning away from the nation's cities, and during the construction of the Interstate Highways the planning for the metropolitan portion of the network was too distant from cities and too centralized at the national level.
You might wonder why the Interstate Highway System became something that Eisenhower, its great champion, never wanted it to become. For one thing, officials felt the interstates had to run through cities for urban-minded members of Congress to give the plan their vote. Then there was the money; with the feds paying 90 cents of every interstate dollar, any calls for other types of transportation structures fell on deaf ears.

And of course there was the simple fact that officials and opinion leaders generally failed to anticipate the negative impacts of running highways through cities. Few realized the system would destroy the character and cohesion of urban neighborhoods, for instance, or that it would breed an intransigent car-first engineering mindset. To be sure, the Interstate Highway System did an enormous amount of good for the United States, but in retrospect the decision to thread it through cities was a great mistake.

An Opportunity for Zev and the MTA


By Paul Hatfield, January 14, 2014


PERSPECTIVE-Once again, the MTA will put a measure on the ballot to raise the sales tax or extend the tax approved by Measure R. It could bring the overall county sales tax to 9.5%.The truth is we need major transportation improvements, especially commuter rail and alternatives to the 405 through Sepulveda Pass. 
I’m willing to pay a little more for a convenient and reliable mode of public transportation. I’ve used various combinations of the Red, Blue and Green lines whenever possible, not to mention Amtrak and Metrolink. I even dodged a bullet – literally – on the Blue line. It did not deter me from riding the rails. Nothing like an adrenaline rush while commuting. 

What I am unwilling to do is pay for both local improvements and the state’s bullet train. The former will serve more people and remove far more cars from the road than the latter. 

An attempt to extend Measure R’s tax narrowly failed to garner the two-thirds vote required for approval in 2012. I am sure the MTA and Zev Yaroslavsky feel confident they can pick up just enough votes for it to pass the next time. 

However, times have changed. The residents are feeling besieged by an onslaught of new tax proposals from all sides – the street repair bond being pushed by the City Council’s brain trust of Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino, there is always a threat of the LAUSD launching a parcel tax initiative (they pulled one in 2012 because it would have competed with Governor Brown’s tax increase), not to mention the untold billions that will be required to extend the Bullet Train beyond the San Joaquin Valley, assuming that folly is not stopped in its tracks. 

And on that last point, the MTA and Zev could do us a favor. 

They can travel to Sacramento and lobby Governor Brown and the legislature to kill the project.We need to receive the best value for our dollars. The private sector uses capital budgeting to select the most promising projects.

By contrast, state and local governments take a shotgun approach and attempt to cram big-ticket items down the taxpayers’ throats. They sacrifice utility to achieve political objectives. 

Brown’s insistence on using other sources of tax revenue to lay a few miles of useless track is running into opposition from normally sympathetic environmental allies … and for good reason. 
Environmentalists want value for the money, too. Brown’s proposal to tap cap-and-trade taxes to fund the Bullet Train is viewed as a poor alternative to other projects. 

Maybe Brown would listen to the MTA and Zev, assuming they were even willing to try to convince him. 

 If they are serious about a local transportation measure passing, they should let the voters know they will fight the state’s oncoming train wreck before it sucks our wallets dry and leaves us stuck on the 405.

It would be a nice legacy for Supervisor Zev.

CALL TO ACTION: Request to extend the 60 day review period on the SR-710 draft EIR.

From Sylvia Plummer, January 14, 2013

What is happening?  Ara Najarian is making a motion to extend the 60 day public review period on the SR-710 draft EIR to 120 days.  Based on comments at a recent Metro Board staff briefing, this motion might not pass in the Planning and Programming Committee.  Ara Najarian is requesting support for his motion.

What can you do?  If you are available, we need you to attend this meeting and support Ara Najarian's motion.

Wednesday January 15, 2014   2:30pm

Metro Planning and Programming Committee
Metro Board Room, 3rd Floor
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles

Agenda item #68

CONSIDER Najarian Motion that the CEO work with Caltrans to extend the review period for the soon-to-be released draft 710 EIR/EIS from 60 to 120 days.
Reference agenda at:

Want to carpool?  Email me with your name, telephone # and where you live.

There is parking under the Metro Headquarters Building, $6.00. (Enter on Vignes St.)
The Gold Line is a great option, since the end of the line is next door to Metro's building.
(behind Union Station)

Meet us outside the Metro Board Room at 2:15pm

Report on Pasadena City Council Meeting

From Sylvia Plummer, January 14, 2013

At Monday's meeting the Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to appropriate $50,000 to the SR-710 5-City Alliance to study the SR-710 draft EIR.  The draft EIR will be released this March/April of 2014.  During public comment Nancy van den Hout asked the City Council to send an official to the January 15th Metro Planning and Programming Committee meeting.  (more information on the meeting below under item #2)  A decision was made to send an official from Pasadena.  Councilmember Gordo volunteered to attend if Mayor Bogaard is not able to attend due to prior commitments. The City Council also agreed with many that spoke during public comment that several of the city departments should have input to the draft EIR, and that there should be a way for the public to voice their concerns to the City of Pasadena.  (Not just to Metro)  

Article by Pasadena Now:

Please note that the article mentions the Metro meeting is on January 22nd, that is incorrect, it is on January 15th. Also, that the meeting will be held at the

Metro Planning and Programming Committee
Metro Board Room, 3rd Floor
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles

and not in Paramount.

Council Backs Five-City Study of 710 Extension’s Impact


By Rachel Young, January 14, 2014


Note from Sylvia Plummer: The Metro Planning and Programming Committee is on January 15, not January 22 as stated in the article below. It also will be held at the Metro Board Room, 3rd floor, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, not in Paramount as stated in the article below.

A five-city collaboration to ensure an independent and accurate assessment of the impacts of the controversial SR-710 freeway extension picked up the financial support of Pasadena City Council Monday night.

Pasadena will join Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena to each contribute $50,000 toward completing further analysis of the specific environmental impact on the five cities regarding the proposed project.

The SR-710 freeway proposes to link the current 710 freeway with the 210 freeway. One proposed alternative includes linking the freeways with a tunnel under Pasadena that would break records for the longest freeway tunnel infrastructure.

More than twenty members of the public voiced support for the study with no opposition at Monday’s council meeting.

“In terms of this 710 extension, the construction would require the removal of 200 million cubic feet of dirt, for a total of 450,000 truckloads. That means 128 truckloads transported through our area every single day, seven days a week for ten years,” Michael Cornwell said during public comments.
Although Councilmember Steve Madison tried for a third time to take a full-council position against the SR-710 tunnel proposal, he was met by requests from fellow Councilmembers to wait for the Environmental Impact Report, which will be released in March.

“People are terrified by this. It is a terrifying prospect that would absolutely render Pasadena an entirely different city. It’s with no small amount of irony that we started tonight with talking about events that take place in West Pasadena every year that make us the epicenter, the glow on New Year’s Day, this would absolutely destroy that. This is like a dystopian nightmare,” Madison said.
When the draft environmental impact report is released in March, a sixty-day comment period will ensue. The five-cities have asked that the comment period be extended to 120 days.

“We are looking for factual predicate upon which to make the decision and I believe it may be premature to take a position at this point,” Councilmember John Kennedy said.

Wednesday, January 22, will be the day Metro votes about whether or not to extend the comment period. The meeting will be from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm at the Gateway Cities Council of Governments Offices 16401 Paramount Blvd. Paramount, CA. For more information visit http://www.metro.net/projects/i-710-corridor-project/.

Mayor Bill Bogaard or a member of the Council will represent the City of Pasadena’s request for extension at the meeting.

“Really a matter of time…” Michael Beck said. “It’s up to Metro whether they extend the timeline. If we have sixty day to do all the analysis, there isn’t going to be time to take some analysis through to the commission.

The cumulative $250,000 will be contributed to five areas of analysis: legal/CEQA consultant, transportation consultant, air quality consultant, soli geology, and safety/security consultant.

The analysis will add to the report that will city staff will conduct as for other projects.