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, June 3, 2014

Local Alhambra Street Banners Highlight Effort To ‘Close The Gap’ On 710 Freeway


June 3, 2014

 Several newly-installed banners are going up in the city of Alhambra to support the decades-old effort to 'Close The Gap'. (Photo courtesy 710Coalition.com)

 Several newly-installed banners are going up in the city of Alhambra to support the decades-old effort to ‘Close The Gap’.

ALHAMBRA (CBSLA.com) — “How Do You Spell Relief?”

That’s just one of the slogans featured on several newly-installed banners in the city of Alhambra to support a 55-year effort to complete a proposed tunnel that will connect the 710 Freeway at Valley Boulevard to the 134 and 210 Freeways in Pasadena.

KNX 1070′s Jan Stevens reports the banners will be displayed along Fremont and Valley Boulevards and will extend north along the main corridor of Alhambra.

Alhambra Street Banners Highlight Effort To 'Close The Gap' On 710 Freeway

knx logo black Alhambra Street Banners Highlight Effort To Close The Gap On 710 Freeway
Metro and Caltrans officials announced last month an environmental impact report (EIR) for the State Route 710 North Study will be released for public comment in February 2015.

City Councilwoman Barbara Messina and other supporters of the project say once it’s completed, the 710 tunnel will slash traffic clogging local streets by 61 percent, reduce 80,000 daily cut-through trips and create an estimated 43,000 jobs.

In order to drum up public support for the controversial project, several banners with phrases including “Complete the 710 Freeway” and “Dig It…The 710 Tunnel” will go up starting Tuesday.
Messina said 40 years after the then-$6 million project was introduced – funding which ultimately was used for the Diamond Lane project – the cost has skyrocketed to $5 billion.

“There are five alternatives that are being studied, but of the five only one has financing, and that’s the tunnel,” she said.

But opponents like the No 710 Action Committee argue that vehicle exhaust produced by the increased traffic flow cannot be properly filtered and will lead to health issues not only for the drivers who use the tunnel, but also for the surrounding communities where the exhaust is vented.

Pasadena Council to discuss forming 710 Freeway task force


By Lauren Gold, June 3, 2014

 Cars getting on South710 freeway from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra Friday, October 7, 2011. A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Gil Cedilo, D-Los Angeles, was signed in to law this week, giving the South Pasadena City Council back it's authority to control a possible extension of the 710 Freeway.

PASADENA>> The City Council Monday agreed to discuss at a future meeting strategies to ensure that the 710 freeway north extension project does not negatively impact the city.

Councilman Terry Tornek asked Mayor Bill Bogaard to put the item on a future agenda, suggesting that the city create a special task force to look into the various suggested alternatives for the project. He noted the success of the citizen group the city created to do an outside study of the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project. The group, made up of local citizens and experts, studied the impacts of the proposed sediment removal in the treasured Hahamongna Watershed Park and generated a “Pasadena alternative” that would minimize impacts on the city’s natural resources and residents.

“It occurred to me that in the context of the 710 freeway discussion that we really could use that as a model,” Tornek said. “It seems to me we could potentially replicate the model for Devil’s gate to develop a Pasadena preferred alternative that would be vastly superior to alternatives under review.”
Tornek has already declared his intention to run for mayor in 2015.

The 710 north extension, which would connect the freeway stubs in Alhambra and Pasadena, has been a controversial debate among the cities in the Los Angeles region for decades. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the midst of an environmental study on five new alternatives to close the freeway gap: “no build,” transportation management options, light rail, bus and a freeway tunnel.

Councilman Victor Gordo agreed the discussion would be valuable, but suggested the city also work with the already established five-city coalition created to fight alternatives that might be detrimental. The council voted to join South Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale and Sierra Madre in the “5-Cities Alliance,” agreeing to chip in $50,000, last December.

Gordo also suggested Pasadena include the city of Los Angeles in the discussion and possible study. The Los Angeles City Council voted in August 2012 to oppose the tunnel option for the freeway extension.

“If we set up process like Hahamongna we may end up with an output that might be viewed as Pasadena-specific. I would suggest a more regional approach, working with our neighbors and the city of Los Angeles and other communities, that really looks at this issue for what it is, a regional issue,” Gordo said. “We stand a better chance of gaining credibility if we have a discussion that involves the region.”

Councilman Steve Madison has long been a strong voice against the 710 tunnel option, and brought the issue to vote at the council level without success. The council has declined to pass a motion condemning the tunnel option because many council members have argued that the city’s 2001 voter-approved Measure A, in which residents voted to support the freeway extension, prohibits them from voting against the project.

Madison did not comment during the short council discussion Monday. The council was prohibited from discussing the issue at length because the item was not on the official agenda.

Metro recently announced that the release of the draft EIR, which was scheduled to come out this spring, has been delayed until February 2015.

However, Pasadena council members agreed that the city should take action now.

“I’m interested,” Bogaard said. “It gives us an opportunity to get started with this sooner rather than later.”

City Manager Michael Beck said he plans to bring the item back for discussion in about a month.
Pasadena isn’t the only city getting ahead of the game in the 710 battle. The city of Alhambra and others who support the freeway extension have joined to form the 710 Coalition, which held a pro-710 banner dedication ceremony in Alhambra Tuesday. The city, in conjunction with the coalition, plans to host its second “710 Day” street festival and rally on July 10.

For more information on the 710 study, visit www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations.

710 Close The Gap Banner Event - Alhambra June 3, 2014

  (Relieve Congestion by Causing Congestion Event! Way to Go Alhambra!)

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, June 3, 2014


Alhambra trumpets its effort to 'relieve congestion' by staging an event that jams up the morning commute by redirecting all southbound traffic on Fremont at Mission.

The dumbest idea yet to come out of Alhambra & the collective brain of Messina & Placido.

Valley & Fremont blocked.

The brave Alhambra NO710 group showed up.

Barbara Messina (former mayor of Alhambra): Same speech from last year also.

Hasan Ikhrata [executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), previously working for the Moscow Metro Corporation, USSR] : Same scripted BS.

Steven Placido (former mayor of Alhambra) starts to steam every time he sees me. He knows I'm the one dogging him big time. The last time I saw him was at the Zocalo event. He got super pissed off when I asked him if he brought. his golden shovel. Fair questions.

(Red shirts: No 710; blue shirts: Close the Gap.)

Metrolink Ridership Update – December 2013


June 3, 2014

I’ve been trying, and struggling, to write a post about Metrolink for a while. I just couldn’t put anything together that I thought might add to the conversation. It finally dawned on me that I was putting the cart before the horse (and horses don’t run in push-pull operation). The first thing to do is just watch, listen, and learn about the existing state of affairs. So, here’s the first installment of looking at Metrolink ridership. Let’s see what’s going on.

Metrolink publishes quarterly ridership data, with the quarter ending in December 2013 being the most recently available data. The data is broken down by station, so we can see which stations generate the most ridership.


The highest ridership stations are dominated by the OC Line, Riverside Line, and San Bernardino Line. As you’d expect, Glendale and Burbank make a good showing as well, though maybe not as good as you’d think considering how well Irvine and Tustin perform. What surprised me the most? Industry! Though in hindsight, a ride from the big honkin’ park-and-ride in Industry to Downtown LA, with only one stop in between, is probably not a bad deal compared to the 60. Oceanside also surprises to the high side.

At the other end, the Ventura Line and Antelope Valley Line perform poorly – perhaps shockingly poorly in the case of the stations in the Valley. Van Nuys doesn’t even hit 200 boardings, and Sun Valley not even 100. The Ventura County stations beyond Moorpark (Camarillo, Oxnard, and East Ventura) generate very low ridership that calls the benefit of those far-flung stations into question. The distant Orange County stations (Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente) similarly disappoint. Commerce is comically low, since there’s little parking and the surrounding area is thoroughly industrial.

The data available on Metrolink’s website stretches back to July 2009, which lets us construct a rolling 12-month average for all stations starting in June 2010. Here’s the time series data, broken down by line.


There’s a disturbing downward trend on many of the lines, especially the Antelope Valley Line and San Bernardino Line. On the other hand: Tustin and Irvine!

Here’s a look at the top 10 and bottom 10 stations for ridership gained (or lost) over the period.


Other than Downtown Pomona sneaking in at number 10, the top ten is all the Orange County Line and the 91 Line. And again: Tustin and Irvine! Who says Orange County can’t generate any transit ridership? (Note: I used absolute change rather than percentage change, since percentage favors the low ridership stations. If you used percentage, Orange would drop out, and Commerce – which picked up all of 8 riders – would be in.)

Now the bad news.


No two ways about it, that’s ugly. Five stations have shed over 20% of their ridership, with three more not far behind.

The silver lining is that there’s a pattern to ridership changes. The Orange County Line and the 91 Line have been the big winners, and the San Bernardino Line and Antelope Valley Line have been the big losers. There should be an opportunity to figure out what’s going right down in OC, and what’s going wrong on the AV & SB Lines. It could be as simple as the fact that OC & Riverside are doing a little better economically than LA & SB. But it should be explored.

For one thing, there’s a bunch of new riders in Orange & Riverside Counties. Somebody ought to ask them what they were doing before and why they decided to take the train. On the flip side, there’s a bunch of people who used to ride the AV Line and SB Line, or board at Industry, but aren’t doing that anymore. Obviously, they’re a little harder to find than the folks who are on the train, but it’s worth trying to figure out why they stopped riding.

From there, we can start to think about how to capitalize on the momentum on the Orange County Line and 91 Line to keep increasing ridership. And we can try to figure out why three lines that serve the densely populated San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys aren’t serving people as well as they should, and what we might do to make those lines more useful.

What do you think? What trends do you see in the ridership, and what challenges and opportunities are there?

GOP’s Lunatic Plan for Funding Transportation Draws Nothing But Scorn


By Tanya Snyder, June 3, 2014

House Republicans announced on Friday the latest in a long line of hare-brained schemes for funding the Highway Trust Fund, which is projected to become insolvent in August. Their ingenious proposal is to pay for transportation by making cuts at the post office.

You wouldn't be seeing many of these on Saturdays if the GOP transportation funding plan went through. Photo: ##http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Small_USPS_Truck.jpg##Wikipedia##
What does postal delivery have to do with transportation funding? Nothing, unless you’re a House Republican.

This idea didn’t come from some Tea Party fringe of the GOP. It came straight from leadership: House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

In a memo to party members, they called the plan “the best way to ensure continued funding of highway projects in a fiscally responsible manner.” They say they can extend the current transportation bill by one year and offset the cost by reducing Saturday delivery. The proposal would save an estimated $10.7 billion over 10 years. Republicans have chided Democrats for offsetting MAP-21 — a two-year bill — with 10 years’ worth of savings, but now they seem prepared to do it themselves.

The other part of the GOP proposal would transfer funds from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund — also pillaged for MAP-21 — to the HTF. The LUST Trust Fund gets revenue from 0.1 cent of the 18.4-cent federal gas tax, but underground fuel storage tanks must be pretty leakproof lately because the fund is flush with money.

Altogether, the proposal would come up with between $14 and $15 billion to fill the gap between transportation spending and Highway Trust Fund receipts.

For the past few years, the idea of eliminating or reducing Saturday mail delivery has come up a number of times. But under those proposals, the savings would shore up the financially shaky U.S. Postal Service itself, which has lost $41 billion in the last six years — not transportation.

The Senate EPW Committee has unanimously passed a six-year transportation bill, though that committee has no idea how the bill would be paid for and is counting on the Finance Committee to come up with a solution. Just about everyone with a dog in the fight, including the reform coalition, is pushing hard for a long-term bill. A one-year extension, no matter how it’s funded, is a highly unpopular option.

The House GOP’s extension is especially unpopular because of the way it’s funded. Democrats have called it “strange,” “unworkable,” and a ”non-starter.” The mail carriers’ union said the proposal “would begin dismantling the Postal Service” and “wouldn’t even work if tried.” Even the Greeting Card Association has taken a stand, calling the plan “misguided.”

Looks like yet another GOP funding gimmick destined for the dustbin.

Not that Republicans have cornered the market on transportation funding gimmicks, of course.

Public transportation riders save $10,181 per year


June 3, 2014

Photo courtesy INIT

Riders in 16 of the top 20 cities for public transit ridership save more than $10,000 a year and $800 a month due to the recent spike in gas prices, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) latest Transit Savings Report.

The report shows that four straight months of gas prices increasing has pushed the average annual savings for public transit riders to $10,181 a year or more than $848 a month.

The savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle, which includes the May 28, 2014 average national gas price of $3.65 per gallon and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.

APTA releases this monthly Transit Savings Report to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

SF Muni worker 'sickout' enters second day; Commute delays


June 3, 2014

muni bus

San Francisco commuters suffered through public transit delays Tuesday as a worker ‘sickout’ by Muni union drivers entered a second day.

The agency added an additional 100 vehicles to the system, but notified commuters to expect service disruptions, Muni officials said.

"We are still at about half capacity," Muni spokesman Paul Rose told KTVU. "We are doing all we can to get our drivers back at work."

Rose said 300 of the normal 600 buses were out for the morning commute.

All express and limited buses will be stopping at every stop unless the bus reaches full capacity, according to Muni officials.

Cable cars will be supplemented with limited shuttle buses, Muni officials said.

Customers were advised to find alternative means of transportation.

BART is honoring all Muni fares between the Daly City and Embarcadero stations, Muni officials said.

On Monday Muni ran on a third of its normal capacity due to workers calling in sick, agency Rose said.

Many commuters experienced longer wait times and struggled to make their way around San Francisco on Monday.

The union representing Muni drivers has rejected a contract that would give workers a raise of more than 11 percent over two years, but also require them to cover a 7.5 percent pension payment currently paid by the transit agency.

Workers are not allowed to go on strike. Muni has warned those calling in sick that they could face discipline.

"Sick leave is available to employees when they or a family member is sick or in need of medical care," Alicia John-Baptiste, the transit agency's chief of staff, wrote in a memo to staff on Monday. "It would be dishonest to claim entitlement to sick leave when these circumstances do not pertain."

Monday's surprise slowdown led to long lines, as most trains and buses running were at capacity.

On Monday, a fare inspector at the start of cable car lines at Powell and Market streets broke the bad news to dozens of tourists who had planned to ride the historic conveyances.

"We're very disappointed," said Willfrid Strauss, 56, who was visiting San Francisco with his new wife, Corinne, from France. The two were married in Las Vegas on Friday.

"We're only here in San Francisco for three days, so this is one of the highlights of our trip," he said.