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

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I-710 North reopens in South Gate after big rig crash


July 3, 2014

A truck hauling a load of recycled glass overturned on the northbound 710 Freeway in South Gate on Thursday, July 3, 2014.

A truck hauling a load of recycled glass overturned Thursday morning on the northbound 710 Freeway in South Gate, shutting down all lanes at one point.

The crash occurred around 9:45 a.m. near Imperial Highway. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Freeway lanes were closed for approximately three hours as crews cleaned up the scene. All lanes reopened at 12:52 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

'No 710 tunnel' activists to march on Fourth of July


By Carol Cormaci, July 3, 2014

 Activists protest 710 Freeway Extension

 Residents hold up signs and make a little noise with a sound system malfunctioned as Michelle Smith, Project Manager of the LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority, (standing at podium) was speaking. Hundreds of Pasadena-area residents showed up at the Pasadena Convention Center Monday night, August 13, 2012, the majority of them, to protest the 710 Freeway Extension through their city. Members of Metro and Caltrans came with several different proposal options.

Activists opposed to one of the options under consideration for the completion of the 710 Freeway — a multibillion-dollar, 4.9-mile tunnel — have announced plans to march Friday in the annual Independence Day Festival of Balloons parade in South Pasadena.

Organizers say that citizens and some officials from La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Sierra Madre, Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, San Marino and Monterey Park, as well as representatives from Los Angeles neighborhoods, will participate in the event. One local politician, Anthony Portantino, a former member of the state Assembly who is seeking a seat on the state Senate, has also vowed to be there.

"We still don't know the cost, the benefit and they (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) are still trying to sell the public a bill of goods that if you bring more cars and trucks into the neighborhood that somehow pollution will decrease." Portantino stated in a news release.

The city of La Cañada Flintridge is a member of the recently formed 5 Cities Alliance, which includes Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre and was designed to respond efficiently to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) underway by Metro and Caltrans related to the tunnel project. La Cañada leaders have long taken a stance against the completion of the 710 Freeway, citing environmental and traffic concerns.

Marchers will meet at the intersection of Hope Street and Meridian Avenue in South Pasadena in time for the 10 a.m. start of the parade. Locals who want to join the cause are asked to wear red shirts.

Contractor Wants Another $400 Million for 405 Widening Project


By Gene Maddaus, July 3, 2014

  This'll cost ya'... - MTA

This'll cost ya'...

Now that the 405 widening project is done, it's time to settle up on the bill. The project was initially budgeted at a cool $1 billion, which rose to $1.1 billion. But now the contractor, Kiewit, says it is owed another $400 million.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Kiewit are at odds over that. Now the issue is going to court, and the gloves are coming off. In its complaint, first reported by the Daily News, Kiewit blames the MTA for "active negligence and active interference" that affected "virtually every aspect and area of the design and construction of the Project."

Some excerpts and the full complaint are after the jump.

Kiewit blames MTA for a "virtually unprecedented" expansion of the original scope of the project:

The financial impact to Kiewit has been staggering, the effect of which has been exacerbated by LACMTA's bad faith and negligent administration of the project...
Kiewit says that MTA was supposed to arrange 23 agreements with utilities and oil companies to relocate wires and pipelines. But in almost every case, that never happened, which had a "devastating" effect on the project:
As neither LACMTA nor Kiewit has any leverage with third parties... these parties are free to disregard LACMTA and Kiewit, and have no penalty for delaying the project. ... Kiewit has essentially been reduced to begging for cooperation from third parties, such as utility owners and local governments.
Kiewit claims that the scope of utility relocation work doubled during the course of the project. Kiewit also blamed MTA for failing to disclose the existence of a 12-foot by 12-foot drainage culvert that ran the length of Sepulveda Boulevard. That culvert had to be protected, which required elaborate redesigns.

The complaint also alleges that MTA subjected the contractor to a "bureaucratic quagmire," as project designs were routinely delayed and changed, occasionally after significant work had been done. Kiewit says it was forced to double its administrative staff from 150 employees to 300 workers.

The contract set up an arbitration panel, which is supposed to weigh in on conflicts like this. However, for the last several months Kiewit and MTA have been quarreling over whether Kiewit's complaints have been properly submitted. MTA has refused to arbitrate the contractor's claims in their current form.

Dave Sotero, an MTA spokesman, said that the agency is still trying to negotiate with Kiewit to resolve the outstanding issues. He declined to respond to Kiewit's litany of allegations. "The specifics of the case will be decided by a judge," he said.

A federal inquiry into delays on the project found that the utility work was only the second most significant cause. The primary issue was the collapse of a retaining wall, which then had to be redesigned and rebuilt. That issue is subject to separate litigation.

Kiewit's spokesman, Bob Kula, said the firm was forced to sue just to bring MTA into arbitration.

"What's clear about this project is it was incredibly complex, and very challenging" Kula said. "No one expects to have significant challenges or disputes like there are in this case."

The full complaint:

Overturned big-rig carrying 24 tons of jelly causes 13-hour traffic jam


By Doug Saunders, July 3, 2014

SAN BERNARDINO >> A Sigalert on the 215 was lifted early Thursday morning after a big-rig carrying more than 24 tons of jelly jack-knifed sending four to the hospital and caused a 13-hour traffic jam Wednesday evening.

Shortly before 6:00 p.m., south of Inland Center Drive, the big-rig nearly collided with a Toyota Highlander, California Highway Patrol officer Scott Riley said.

“The driver of the Highlander swerved to the left to avoid crashing with the tractor-trailer,” Riley said. “In doing so she crashed into the center divider.”

The big-rig then crashed into the center divider too, flipping on its side sending the tractor over the center divider into northbound traffic.

The trailer landed on a Ford F-150 pickup truck crushing it, Riley added.

San Bernardino City firefighters responded and had to extricate the driver and passenger of the Ford F-150, CHP officials said.

All four people were taken to area hospitals. Their injuries ranged from moderate to major, but none were life threatening, Riley said.

Hazardous materials teams were on hand to clean up the fuel spilling from the tractor.

The northbound lanes were backed up well into Grand Terrace, officials added.

Why we need to raise the gas tax — and then get rid of it


By Emily Badger, July 2, 2014

 Fuel prices are posted at a Road Ranger gas station in Princeton, Ill., on Tuesday.

The federal Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for transportation projects all over the country — non-highways included — now looks as if it will run out of money in August. That timeline sets up another last-minute, high-stakes confrontation in Washington over how to replenish an essential program that supports construction jobs, local economies and basic repairs. Here's the money graph from the Department of Transportation that looks at the trust fund's highway account (mass transit has its own account within the fund):

We've been careening toward this moment since about 1993, when Congress last raised the gas tax that provides the fund's revenue. For a variety of reasons, though — Congress' inaction is a big one — today's 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax does a terrible job of covering our transportation needs. Now the fund needs a short-term patch, a sustainable solution for the next several years and then probably a radically different approach to funding.

Nine-term Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who sits on both the House budget and ways and means committees, has been advocating for all three. He introduced a bill in December to raise the gas tax by 15 cents (that's less than a plan currently on the table). But his long-term vision — shared by many transportation wonks — looks dramatically different: "I am working very hard for Oregon, which gave you the first gas tax, to pioneer getting rid of it," he told me.

I sat down with him recently to talk about why people hate the gas tax so much, what Congress is likely to do about it this summer and how we might fund transportation in entirely new ways in the future. Below is an edited transcription of our conversation. As you read it, be sure to picture Blumenauer in a bow tie.

Why has the gas tax been such a uniquely difficult thing to deal with? Congress has tackled any number of big problems in the last 21 years. But repeatedly, this has not been one of them. Why is that?

For the first 80 or so years of the fund, the receipts increased because the American population grew, and we were driving more and more and more and more. It started running into trouble in the last 20 years for two reasons: One is that gasoline is the only product that we price in real time. The typical American sees the price of gasoline about five to 20 times a day, if they pay attention at all.
You don’t see changes in the price of bread, or milk, in the same way. This is in your face. An
d over the course of the last 30 years, particularly over the last 10, gasoline prices have been extraordinarily volatile. Oil prices even more so. This triggered some resentment or anger. The combination of the volatility of the pricing, and the fact that it’s in your face made people resistant. It’s not a favorite tax.
And it wasn’t necessary until recently to talk about increasing it because it did have a natural growth.

Now we have seen several things come into play: The growth in vehicle miles traveled has actually declined for nine consecutive years. The increase in fuel efficiency has been pretty dramatic. And then we’ve got highway construction costs that have not been declining. As a result of the combination of inflation, fuel efficiency and changing driving patterns, we’ve got a Highway Trust Fund that is in a tailspin. According to the AAA, the average motorist is paying half per mile of what they paid in 1993 to use the roads.

That implies that the gas tax no longer functions as what it used to — as a user fee.

We have to make a transition into something that is use-based. The gas tax used to be a very good approximation for road use. And that relationship between road use and the gas tax has been shattered.

With greater fuel efficiency, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, hyper-efficient diesel, people who are putting the same amount of wear and tear on roads and occupying space and creating congestion have wildly different payments that they make through the fuel tax.

Last December, you introduced a bill modeled off a Simpson-Bowles recommendation that would increase the gas tax 15 cents, over three years, and then index it to inflation. But part of your proposal included expanding a pilot program Oregon has been running for the last decade to replace the gas tax altogether with a "vehicle miles traveled" tax that functions much more like a user fee — a tax motorists would pay based on how many miles they actually drive, not how much gas they consume. Can you explain how Oregon's pilot works?

We started in Oregon with a monitoring process. People are interested, it’s technically possible, and it changes driving behavior. When people were aware that they were being charged per mile – and they were aware of the miles that they drove – they drove less.

But one of the elements that came out of the first pilot study was that people were a little uncomfortable with monitoring where they went. It’s ironic that people are self-conscious about that, because with a smartphone, The Man knows where they are. These are people who are tweeting and posting pictures. And we are transforming automobiles into computers on wheels that are keeping track of this stuff anyway. In the second variation [of the pilot], we gave people a choice, because we really don’t care where they go. We care how far they go. So people could choose – they could do it with an app for a smartphone, they could use an on-board navigation system. They could do it the old-fashioned way when they go for an annual inspection and just have an odometer reading. Or you could pay a big fat, flat fee.

When people were given those choices, it really smoothed things out, and it let them tailor it to what they wanted. What we’ve proposed is that this pilot project be extended to every state on a voluntary basis.

According to GM and Verizon, the technology is there to make this transition. It could be done in months. They’re ready to go. The public’s not yet ready to go. So we need to have a fuel tax increase to be able to have a robust six-year reauthorization, and we need another year or two or three of experimenting, raising the comfort level, giving people choices.

The other thing that is so powerful about the VMT technology is that we’ll be able to help drivers do a lot more than just conveniently pay for their road use. The same technological platform will enable people to get real-time traffic information. The seamless payment that’s debited to an account to pay for road use could also be used to pay for a transit ticket, or an Amtrak ticket, or an application they can use to pay for parking.

Many of these apps already exist.

It’d be an integrated system. It’s very likely that this would be an on-board navigation system. The car companies are salivating at the prospect of doing this. There are people who would pay to be a part of it.

Do you think the VMT fee would be more palatable to drivers if it were integrated with all of these other applications that have nothing to do with paying taxes?

If all we did was set this up to collect the road fee, that’s actually a more expensive way to collect the fee. The gas tax is actually a very inexpensive tax to collect. But if we are able to have a platform that does all these other things, to share the costs, and give people a richer transportation experience, I think people will voluntarily make that transition.

So, some of the costs of collecting the tax through a piece of technology in your car would be born by private industry wanting to get in on that platform?

There would be a miniscule charge for Metro to be a part of this. It would be built into the financing arrangements and the architecture: They get the benefit, they help pay a little bit of the burden, so it becomes cost-effective.

And this is only near-fetched. Virtually all of this technology is available now. This is an opportunity for us to dramatically improve the transportation experience. You can use this to plan your trips, avoid wrecks, get there just in time to catch the train or get your parking spot. We’ll get a lot more efficiency out of the existing infrastructure. We don’t have to pave over the world, build a lot more parking lots, more transit lines, more lane miles if we are able to use them more efficiently.

This is all long-term. But there’s a separate issue about what’s going to happen in the next three months as the Highway Trust Fund approaches insolvency. How do you think this plays out this summer?

It’s important we avoid the summer shutdown, because they’re draining the Highway Trust Fund, and it isn’t even enough to get to the end of the year. You can’t take it down to zero and manage all these contracts around the country. They’re going to have to keep several billion in the fund. We need a short-term $7-8-9 billion to get us through the end of the year. It would be ill-advised to extend it into next year.

The short-term solution?

Yes. If it goes into next year, who knows what happens. The Senate will be very narrowly balanced. We will be in the middle, or maybe the final stages of a presidential campaign, with half the people in the Senate running for president. People will be focused on tea party primaries; they’ll be focused on the issue du jour. Infrastructure is important, but it rarely captures the headlines unless something falls apart. So it’s important to get us through the summer shutdown, and then, from my vantage point, the long-term solution needs to be robust, sustainable and dedicated.

Ideally, we will have some time after the election. I don’t think we’ll get much more air time before the election because of the way this place works. We’ll have an opportunity to play this out, for people to look at the alternatives. There are other suggestions people have made. [Rep.] Peter DeFazio wants a barrel tax [on oil].

I applaud Chris Murphy and Bob Corker on the Senate side for talking about the need to raise the gas tax, but tying it with tax extenders – how does that work exactly? There’s not consensus on all of the tax extenders, and they run the risk of making it look like, 'Okay, the majority of the public is going to pay more, so one-half of one percent gets tax relief.' That may be an optical problem. And it’s an unnecessary complication. But let it play out.

This is a conversation we need to have. We have not had a single hearing in Ways and Means since my Republicans friends took over on transportation finance. We have not had a single opportunity for the truckers and AAA and the U.S. Chamber and the ALF-CIO and the environmentalists to come in and talk about the pros and cons, what they need, what they’re willing to do, to hear from the governors, the mayors. That’s very, very important. I hope it happens.

What happens come September if there’s not at least a short-term solution?

Long before September, contracts just don’t get issued. There’s no new construction, and current obligations are dialed back.

There are some who say, 'Well, it’s time for the federal government to just get out of transportation. Abolish the gas tax, and let people do whatever they want.' Let’s see how far that goes. What has made American infrastructure so powerful in our history is that we had a national program for railroad construction, we had a national program for the interstate freeway system, we had a national program to strengthen and integrate transit.

I don’t think it’s sustainable politically that something does not happen before the election. Six weeks before the election, these contracts are canceled, and we’re making it clear there will be no new construction for at least a year? That’s a great way to spring into a general election and to guarantee that this is going to be a political issue and put people on the spot. ‘What have you been doing for eight years, people?’ It’s not going to happen.

When you mention no new contracts, existing contracts will be dialed back, what will that look like to me as a driver driving around in my community?

You’re not going to see much. But people who will see it are the folks who are dealing with highway construction, with transit operations, people who are trying to plan for the future in our metropolitan areas large and small. It pinches in the construction sector, where we are just now getting a recovery. That’s a huge source of family-wage jobs. For people who have a vision for the future, it drive them crazy. It’s not a pretty sight.


From Sylvia Plummer, July 2, 2014

Here's another opportunity for you to demonstrate opposition to the Tunnels in favor of better mobility solutions


Thursday, July 10th

4 - 7 pm at the intersection of Valley Blvd. and Fremont Ave. 

The City of Alhambra has been the most vocal proponent of the Tunnels, believing that the Tunnel Alternative is the answer to the congestion on Alhambra's surface streets.  Recently, Alhambra hired the respected PR firm of Englander, Knabe and Allen (EKA) to help them promote and gain support for the Tunnels (Yes, for those of you who are wondering, the "Knabe" component of EKA is the son of Metro Board member, Don Knabe).  The recent upgrade of the proponents' website (http://www.710coalition.com/) and the hanging of pro-tunnel street banners in Alhambra are two of the products of EKA's involvement.

From the 710 Coalition's website:
"The goal (of 710 Day) is to raise awareness about the proposed 710 freeway extension from Alhambra to Pasadena, while creating a fun and informative environment where the community can learn more about the project. Various booths will be present to share information about the many benefits of completing the 710 Freeway. Learn about the 710-Corridor project and get answers to your questions at this family-friendly event!"

The majority of those present last year were City employees wearing blue "Close the Gap" T-Shirts and who knew very little about the SR-710 North Study.  Members of the No 710 Action Committee attended, walking around and talking with those in attendance about the facts.  We discovered that most did not know that the tunnels would be tolled, and that City officials had been telling their citizens that trucks would not be allowed in the tunnels -- something that has not been determined and is unlikely to be true. 

We need more people to attend this year.  It is critical that we reinforce opposition to the Tunnels in favor of better solutions.  Please try to attend and help get the word out about the truth behind this project.  We have information cards prepared that address facts about the project, backed by references to Metro's own reports, that we use as starting points for conversations and to distribute to Alhambrans.   
Wear red or your No 710 T-shirt, and look for those of us also wearing red No 710 T-Shirts. 
You can order a NO 710 T-shirt for the event by  emailing  No710store@gmail.com or call 626-354-4340.  Let them know it's for the "710 Day" event.

Alhambra Residents write letter to their City Council

Alhambrans Against 710
P.O. Box 3071
Alhambra, CA 91803

July 2, 2014

Dear City Council of Alhambra:

It is disappointing to many voters and residents of Alhambra to know that
our city is one of the few around that still supports the 710 extension.
Glendale, South Pasadena, La Canada-Flintridge, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre
are all in support of finding other solutions.  We, too, are opposed to the
710 freeway tunnel extension because it will:

·     result in poor air quality in our area. According to Metro¹s
Alternatives Analysis:  ³Three major categories of pollutants would
increaseŠ Concentrated exhaust from miles of tunnel would be expelled into
Alhambra from the south portal.² The health effects for residents and
children will be irreversible: ³Fine particulate matter (PM) in diesel
exhaust, coming from trucks, [bypasses] the body's natural defenses
penetrating deep into the lungs where it may cause or exacerbate respiratory
and cardiovascular illnesses, and even premature death.  California has
identified diesel PM as a toxic air contaminant and estimates 70% of the
cancer risk from the air we breathe is attributable to diesel PM² (source:
Union of Concerned Scientists, California: Diesel Trucks, Air Pollution and
Public Health). Air filtering technology only partially addresses the
problem but does not address the problem of fine particulate matter in
diesel exhaust.

·     increase traffic on the 710 north by 180,000 more vehicles per day
according to CalTrans/Metro, which is a 5-fold increase. Furthermore, it
will increase truck traffic going north from the ports of Long Beach and Los
Angeles (See: Iteris¹ Innovation for Better Mobility ³I-710 Missing Link
Truck Study, May 2009²); more trucks and diesel exhaust means worse air
quality, especially around the tunnel portals.

·     increase traffic on our surface streets. CalTrans/Metro reports there
will be 60,000 additional cars per day on our surface streets due to people
avoiding toll payments ($6-15 per car one way) in the proposed 710 tunnel.
The traffic will be exacerbated by the mega-construction projects planned on
Fremont just north of Mission.

·     have no on- or off-ramps for local drivers to benefit from, according
to CalTrans/Metro.

·     lower property values in Alhambra. Who will want to buy a home subject
to continuous 24/7 of construction, trucks, dirt, noise and vibration
estimated to last 10+ years?

For the City to promote closure of  ³the gap² and endorse a freeway tunnel,
even before a final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is adopted, is
short-sighted and irresponsible. Instead of harking back to a 1950s
solution, Alhambra must consider modern-day alternatives.

As described in an article published in the supplemental section of the LA
Times on June 30, 2014, transportation trends favor public transit and
walkable communities, which instead of freeway tunnel, would enhance our own
community.  We want our city to adopt policies and embrace practices that
will improve the environment and traffic, not make it worse or simply
mitigate them.

We invite you to look at our website www.alhambransagainst710.com
<http://www.alhambransagainst710.com>  to separate the facts from fiction
and to help you consider what your constituents really want.


Responsible Alhambrans Against the 710

Pasadena City Council
South Pasadena City Council
San Marino City Council
Glendale City Council
Monrovia City Council
Sierra Madre City Council
Rosemead City Council
San Gabriel City Council
Monterey Park City Council


From Sylvia Plummer, July 3, 2014

 Here's an opportunity for you to demonstrate opposition to the Tunnels in favor of better mobility solutions.

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Time: 10:00 AM - noon

Meet us at 10:00 am at Hope Street and Meridian Ave in South Pasadena.  

Come join us to march against the 710 Tunnel.  Show Caltrans and Metro that opposition to the SR-710 Tunnels is more widespread than South Pasadena!.

The route is less than one mile and very flat.  We need people from the different cities to carry their city sign (which will be provided)
The easiest way to get to the meeting point is via the Gold Line.  Take the Gold Line to the South Pasadena Station which is on the corner of Meridian Avenue and Mission Street.  Then walk one block north on Meridian to Hope Street.
Parking is an issue.  There will be no parking next to the meeting point.  Watch out for No Parking signs.  Expect to walk a few blocks.
Wear a No 710 T-shirt or other red apparel.  All props will be provided such as balloon hats, signs, etc.  
Bring your family, kids, neighbors, & friends.

No 710 T-shirts will be available on the 4th (for $8) or email No710store@gmail.com or call 626-354-4340.

Facebook Page for the event:
After, join us for a cool Margarita. Kids get cold water. (Hope Street and Meridian Ave)

Freedom from Caltrans

Locals to march against 710 tunnel plan during South Pas Independence Day

By Andre Coleman, July 3, 2014

Freedom from Caltrans

Hundreds of people are expected to march in South Pasadena Friday against plans to build a tunnel

 under South Pasadena to connect the Long Beach (710) Freeway in Alhambra with the Foothill 

(210) Freeway in Pasadena. 

According to Joanne Nuckols, spokesperson for the No 710 Action Committee, the march will take

 place during the South Pasadena Festival of Balloons Fourth of July Parade, which begins at 11 a.m. 

Friday on Diamond Avenue and Oxley Street.

“Last year we had 150 people march during the parade and it was very successful,” Nuckols told the 

Pasadena Weekly. “And this year we expect many more. People are really upset with the amount of 

money that is being wasted on studies on this project. People feel this is a way they can speak out 

and get their point across. We want more non-highway transportation solutions, Gold Line rail and 

transit expanded rather than a highway that would cost billions of dollars that would bring more

 traffic to the area.”

According to the Southern California Association of Governments, the tunnel project could cost $12 

billion. Critics claim that the project is a West Coast version of Boston’s Big Dig, which rerouted

 Interstate 93 — the chief highway through the heart of the city — into a 3.5-mile-long tunnel. The 

project ended up costing $24 billion, nearly eight times the original projected $2.8 billion price tag.

Caltrans wants to bore under several communities starting just north of the San Bernardino (10) 

Freeway to Pasadena Avenue, near Huntington Hospital — along the path of an original overland 

freeway connector route originally proposed more than 50 years ago. The designation of that route

 led to the purchase of hundreds of homes in that area of Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los 

Angeles neighborhood of El Sereno beginning in the mid 1950s. Caltrans decided to put a halt to 

plans for the above-ground route several years ago.

Two years ago, Metro came up with a number of “alternative” routes for the proposed connector 

route, one of which included tunneling underneath parts of Avenue 64 through Highland Park and 

West Pasadena. Another plan proposed turning the residential street into a six-lane highway. Both 

options would have included the destruction of hundreds of area homes.

710 Freeway and Rockhaven Future Covered by CVCA


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 billion.

“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 Seattle millions.

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.