Purpose

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Big Rig Accident: Bus Carrying Disabled Children Crashes in Pasadena. t

Several children were injured in the accident.

http://pasadena-ca.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/bus-carrying-disabled-children-crashes-in-pasadena

By Michelle Moward, July 11, 2014

Patch file photo.




A collision involving a bus carrying disabled children in Pasadena left one person seriously injured and five others with minor injuries, a Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman said.

The accident on the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway, which involved a big rig and three other vehicles, occurred near Hill Avenue about 9:40 a.m., Thursday, Lisa Derderian of the Pasadena Fire Department said.

The Hill Avenue off-ramp and the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 lanes were expected to be closed for about two hours, California Highway Patrol Officer Christian Cracraft said.

Second annual '710 Day' in Alhambra aims to 'Close the gap!'

http://www.alhambrasource.org/news/second-annual-710-day-alhambra-aims-close-gap

By Kyle Garcia, July 11, 2014



 710 Day speakers | Photo by Kyle Garcia

 710 Day speakers

Alhambra’s second annual “710 Day” — a city-sponsored “urban street jam” to promote extending the 710 Freeway — drew hundreds Thursday to Fremont Avenue between Mission Road and Valley Boulevard. Traffic was backed up along Valley and Fremont due to the street closures for the event, which featured carnival games, food trucks, a live band, and pro-710 speeches from representatives from Alhambra, Monterey Park, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

City leadership backs a proposed 4.5-mile tunnel extending the 710 Freeway in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Alhambra officials argue the tunnel would ease traffic by taking thousands of cars off of Fremont. 

Audience at 710 Day | Photo by Kyle GarciaAudience at 710 Day   "This is a neighborhood street, it shouldn't be treated like a freeway," said Alhambra Councilman Steven Placido, addressing the number of cars that exit the 710 and take Fremont to the 210. 

Councilman Steve Placido speaking at 710 Day | Photo by Kyle GarciaCouncilman Steve Placido speaking at 710 Day

Placido went on to say residents are spending an unnecessary amount of time on the streets due to this traffic. "Their family time should not be spent in the family car," he said.

Alhambra Unified School Board Member Adele Andrade-Stadler held up her inhaler on stage, saying that she, her husband, and daughter all use the breathing devices. Andrade-Stadler argued that her house’s proximity to the traffic on Valley and Fremont contributes to her family's health conditions. "We want to stay in the community and want it to be safe,” Andrade-Stadler said. “Completing the 710 Freeway will eliminate and alleviate a lot of the pollution that our students and families breathe everyday."

Former Monterey Park Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian spoke in support of the underground tunnel. "We support bridging the gap because it is the right thing to do. Costs are escalating and the air quality isn't getting any better,” Sebastian said. "Congestion and gridlock extends for miles and it affects Alhambra and it affects my city and several other cities.”

Food trucks and residents at 710 Day | Photo by Kyle GarciaFood trucks and residents at 710 Day

Monterey Park is one of five cities that form the 710 Coalition, a group of pro-tunnel cities and organizations. In addition to Alhambra and Monterey Park, the 710 Coalition includes Rosemead, San Gabriel, and San Marino.

Residents expressed differing views on the 710 extension. Matthew Santiago joined because he wanted to show his support for the tunnel. "I came here to partake in it because I agree with closing the gap. It would ease congestion and heading to Pasadena would be quicker,” Santiago said.

Johnny Dominguez and Priscilla Suarez visited the festivities to become more informed on the issue. "I came here to learn more about it. I don't know yet. I have to find out first," Dominguez said.

Traffic on Valley Blvd west of Fremont Ave | Photo by Kyle GarciaTraffic on Valley Blvd west of Fremont Ave 

Suarez was also unsure but leaned towards being in favor of the tunnel. "I came just to find out more about it,” she said. “But I think it could ease congestion in Alhambra."

The underground tunnel is one of five proposed alternatives to close the 710 freeway gap: bus rapid transit, light rail transit, transportation system management/transportation demand management, a freeway tunnel, and a no build option. Metro is conducting an environmental impact study on the options and is expected to conclude in February 2015.

The 710 Freeway gap has been a highly debated issue for decades in the San Gabriel Valley. While tunnel supporters such as the 710 Coalition claim that the underground solution will ease traffic congestion, create jobs, and improve air quality, tunnel opponents believe the project will cause health and environmental damage.

No 710 Action Committee protesting 710 Day | Photo by Kyle GarciaNo 710 Action Committee protesting 710 Day 

The No 710 Action Committee protested the event on Thursday, arguing that the project is expensive, unsafe, and does not prepare Alhambra and the San Gabriel Valley for the future.

"It's not a solution. It's a $12 billion dollar truck tunnel that's suicidal,” said Joe Potts, a No 710 Action Committee member, South Pasadena resident, and Alhambra business owner. Potts wore a t-shirt Thursday displaying a crossed-out 710 sign.

Alhambra resident and 710 protestor Elizabeth Sesztak, who is not a member of the No 710 Action Committee but opposes the tunnel, said she attended 710 Day as a "concerned citizen."

"It's a 50-year-old solution to a current problem,” Sesztak said, referring to the tunnel. “There might be some safety concerns because there are only two exits. What if there's a fire or someone gets trapped? They're goners.”

Sesztak favors alternatives such as expanding the light rails or resurrecting older means of transportation. "Look into the potential of the red car lines,” she said, referring to the Los Angeles County rail system that last ran in Long Beach in 1961. “They were highly effective in transporting people.”

While opponents brought up other alternatives, Placido said that the future of transportation in the San Gabriel Valley should utilize both freeways and public transit. "Building a tunnel does not exclude the other options. The tunnel is the best option but I support expanding the light rails, expanding bus routes region wide, and synchronizing traffic lights,” Placido said.

Helsinki plan aims to make car ownership pointless in 10 years


 Finland's capital hopes a 'mobility on demand' system that integrates all forms of shared and public transport in a single payment network could essentially render private cars obsolete

 http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/jul/10/helsinki-shared-public-transport-plan-car-ownership-pointless

By Adam Greenfield, July 10, 2014



Helsinki, Finland.















 Urban mobility, rethought ... Helsinki, Finland.


The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point "mobility on demand" system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.

Subscribers would specify an origin and a destination, and perhaps a few preferences. The app would then function as both journey planner and universal payment platform, knitting everything from driverless cars and nimble little buses to shared bikes and ferries into a single, supple mesh of mobility. Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire service and a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing run as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here.

That the city is serious about making good on these intentions is bolstered by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority's rollout last year of a strikingly innovative minibus service called Kutsuplus. Kutsuplus lets riders specify their own desired pick-up points and destinations via smartphone; these requests are aggregated, and the app calculates an optimal route that most closely satisfies all of them.

All of this seems cannily calculated to serve the mobility needs of a generation that is comprehensively networked, acutely aware of motoring's ecological footprint, and – if opinion surveys are to be trusted – not particularly interested in the joys of private car ownership to begin with. Kutsuplus comes very close to delivering the best of both worlds: the convenient point-to-point freedom that a car affords, yet without the onerous environmental and financial costs of ownership (or even a Zipcar membership).

But the fine details of service design for such schemes as Helsinki is proposing matter disproportionately, particularly regarding price. As things stand, Kutsuplus costs more than a conventional journey by bus, but less than a taxi fare over the same distance – and Goldilocks-style, that feels just about right. Providers of public transit, though, have an inherent obligation to serve the entire citizenry, not merely the segment who can afford a smartphone and are comfortable with its use. (In fairness, in Finland this really does mean just about everyone, but the point stands.) It matters, then, whether Helsinki – and the graduate engineering student the municipality has apparently commissioned to help it design its platform – is proposing a truly collective next-generation transit system for the entire public, or just a high-spec service for the highest-margin customers.

It remains to be seen, too, whether the scheme can work effectively not merely for relatively compact central Helsinki, but in the lower-density municipalities of Espoo and Vantaa as well. Nevertheless, with the capital region's arterials and ring roads as choked as they are, it feels imperative to explore anything that has a realistic prospect of reducing the number of cars, while providing something like the same level of service.

To be sure, Helsinki is not proposing to go entirely car-free. (Many people in Finland have a summer cottage in the countryside, and rely on a car to get to it.) But it's clear that urban mobility badly needs to be rethought for an age of commuters every bit as networked as the vehicles and infrastructures on which they rely, but who retain expectations of personal mobility entrained by a century of private car ownership. Helsinki's initiative suggests that at least one city understands how it might do so.

The most congested cities – in pictures

Guest Editorial: Don’t Destroy the Orange Line, Improve It

http://la.streetsblog.org/2014/07/10/dont-destroy-the-orange-line-improve-it/

By Annie Weinstock and Stephanie Lotshaw, July 10, 2014



 Line 4 of the Metrobús BRT in Mexico City. The full system with five lines moves 850,000 people a day. Photo: Adam Wiseman/ITDP

 Line 4 of the Metrobús BRT in Mexico City. The full system with five lines moves 850,000 people a day.


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a high-quality bus based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable, and cost-effective services at metro-level capacities, has enjoyed rapid growth over the past few decades in major cities internationally, and is gaining momentum in the United States. Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Seattle are set to join L.A. and the handful of U.S. cities with true BRT.

Today, L.A.’s Orange Line is one of only eight true BRT corridors in the US. It is not only an international best practice and a leader in surface mass transit; it is a cost-effective and valuable asset for the city. But since construction began on the corridor in 2002, the Orange Line has been derided by some in the community who, not understanding the potential of true BRT, would prefer light rail (LRT) transit.

On Tuesday, Governor Brown signed California Legislative Bill AB 577, removing the prohibition against surface rail-based mass transportation in the San Fernando Valley. The intent of the bill, and those advocating for it, is clearly stated: convert the Metro Orange Line BRT into a light rail.

Light rail, its proponents argue, would better meet growing transit demand in the greater San Fernando Valley. The bill states that the area has “outgrown” BRT, and would be better served by rail. A conversion would signal to other US cities that BRT’s benefits are limited when measured against LRT. This is typical of the misinformation about BRT, which, despite the massive gains that this transport mode has made internationally, is still common thinking in the U.S.

Last year the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP,) in partnership with the foremost international experts on BRT, released The BRT Standard, a definition and scoring designation for systems around the world. The Standard is a recognition scheme which scores corridors as Gold, Silver, Bronze, Basic BRT; any corridor falling below that basic is not true BRT.

By laying out the essential elements of this transit mode, it provides a framework for system designers, decision makers, and the transport community to identify and build top-quality BRT systems. The Orange Line scores bronze – a notable achievement placing it among the ranks of Pittsburgh, Cape Town, Jakarta, and Nantes – but its bronze ranking also proves that there is plenty of room to grow.

Comparing true BRT systems to light rail shows that LRT has no operational advantage: speed is comparable and the daily ridership of BRT can even surpass that of LRT. Innovations in BRT have increased the maximum daily ridership of a BRT system to nearly two million passengers (or 35,000 passengers per hour per direction), which is the current ridership of Bogotá’s gold-standard TransMilenio BRT. This far outstrips the capacity of any light rail system. Upgrading the Orange Line to silver- or gold-standard would grow the ridership and answer the criticism that BRT cannot meet the growing needs of the region. With a current daily ridership of almost 30,000, increasing capacity on the Orange Line two or three-fold is entirely workable with some minor changes.

First, simply increasing bus frequency would be an obvious improvement. While there have been concerns that increasing frequency will cause bunching at intersections, this appears to be due to a signal timing issue which favors cross street traffic over public transportation on the Orange Line corridor. Timing traffic signals to favor automobiles shows an outdated mode of thinking. It would take some political will on the part of the city to change the signal timings, but it is a simple solution, far cheaper and faster than upgrading to light rail which would still be faced with signal timing problems.


The Rea Vaya BRT in Johannesburg, South Africa opened in 2009, and is capable of carrying 30,000 passengers per hour per direction in two lines, and ridership is growing. Photo: ITDP
The Rea Vaya BRT in Johannesburg, South Africa opened in 2009, and is capable of carrying 30,000 passengers per hour per direction in two lines, and ridership is growing.

Then, by raising the boarding platforms at stations to the level of the bus floor, buses could complete the boarding process more quickly, further increasing capacity by allowing more buses to pull into the station more quickly. The system could also phase in more passing lanes at stations, allowing for a quadrupling of capacity and a mix of service types.

In addition, changing the intersection regulations, which currently require buses to slow to 10mph from 25, would increase overall speeds along the corridor. The reduction in speeds was initially implemented because of several accidents which occurred at the start of operations in 2005. But most systems experience problems in the early years, particularly where new signals have been introduced.

 Now, after almost 10 years of BRT operations as well as extensive signage and education done by Metro, these restrictions are obsolete and only make the system less convenient for passengers.
Introducing these elements not only will enable the Orange Line to handle more riders, but will provide better and faster services than it does today.

Instead of replacing a high-quality system serving over 30,000 people a day with something that is simply more expensive, the San Fernando Valley would be better served by improving the Orange Line. All of the important upgrades involved in bringing the Orange Line to gold would easily accommodate demand at a tiny fraction of the cost of its demolition and reconstruction into LRT.

Although the bill has been signed, Metro currently has no plans to convert the Orange Line. However, opponents of BRT will now more aggressively call for an expensive, lengthy, and unnecessary conversion of this high-quality BRT, even though an expansion of the current system makes much more sense. The city now has an opportunity to follow the lead of other global cities in transforming the Orange Line from a promising example of BRT into a world-class corridor that could serve as a model for cities across America.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti supports Gold Line Whittier route, Azusa-to-Claremont extension

http://www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20140710/la-mayor-eric-garcetti-supports-gold-line-whittier-route-azusa-to-claremont-extension/1

By Steve Scauzillo, July 10, 2014


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a transportation forum along with Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, at the Hughes Community Center in Claremont, Calif. July 9, 2014. (Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a transportation forum along with Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, at the Hughes Community Center in Claremont, Calif. July 9, 2014. 


Map provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the two routes for the extension of the Gold Line Eastside.

 Map provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the two routes for the extension of the Gold Line Eastside.





CLAREMONT >> Wearing his new hat as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti jumped into the Gold Line Eastside extension controversy Thursday saying he favored the Washington Boulevard route because it would serve transit-dependent residents cut off from rail service.

Garcetti, who met with southeast county and San Gabriel Valley mayors a few months ago, quickly added that he would love to see the light-rail line extended on both Washington Boulevard and the north side of the 60 Freeway.

“If we can figure out a way to fund them both, why not build both?” Garcetti said. But later, he made remarks that seemed to favor the 9.5-mile Washington Boulevard route through Montebello and Pico Rivera and ending in Whittier, as opposed to the more southerly, 6.9-mile route through Montebello, Rosemead and South El Monte that parallels the freeway and would terminate near the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.

“The ridership is stronger on the Whittier side,” he said during a transportation forum with about 20 San Bernardino County and San Gabriel Valley mayors and leaders arranged by Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden.

The MTA, known as Metro, is scheduled to release an environmental impact report on the $1.3-billion to $1.7-billion project on July 25, said Whittier City Councilman Fernando Dutra.
Though the EIR would present both routes as two separate options, the final decision on which route to build would be made by the Metro board in the coming months.

“We appreciate someone in his position sees this and appreciates the need that is out there,” said Jeff Collier, Whittier city manager, during an interview Thursday afternoon. “But I’m guarded until we see a decision has been made for this alignment.”

Dutra, a member of the Washington Boulevard Light Rail Transit Coalition for more than six years, said he wouldn’t mind if both routes were built — as long as the route entering Whittier was built first.

The Washington Boulevard route, which would carry 19,900 passengers, would be built from the terminus of the line at Atlantic Station east to Garfield, south through the city of Commerce, then east along Washington Boulevard through Montebello, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs and ending in Whittier at the PIH Health Hospital-Whittier Campus.

The 60 Freeway route would carry an average of 16,700 passengers, according to Metro, but would cost less.

Garcetti commented that the Washington Boulevard route would carry more passengers, about 3,200 more daily riders, according to Metro.

The project was originally scheduled for completion — whichever route is chosen — in 2035 but the project is listed to be accelerated in Metro’s Short Range Transportation Plan with a completion date of 2025.

“The SR-60 alignment would function more as a “park and ride” for commuters on the freeway. The Washington Boulevard Coalition feel the TOD (transit-oriented development) opportunities on the Washington Boulevard alignment “are more consistent with light rail service,” wrote Collier in an emailed response.

“I’m highly surprised at the mayor’s position,” said Joseph Gonzales, South El Monte City Councilman and chairman of the SR-60 Coalition. “He needs to do a little bit more research. Studies show the south San Gabriel Valley has transit dependent populations.”

The 60 Freeway route cities have sketched out opportunities for 1.5 million square feet of industrial development along their preferred route, he said. The Shops at Montebello is planning more retail development if the train line were to stop at the mall, Gonzales said.

Garcetti also said he would favor adding the Gold Line Foothill Extension from Azusa to Montclair to the Short Range Transportation Plan, something Gold Line proponents and foothill cities have been demanding. But even if it wasn’t added by the Metro Planning and Programming Committee on Wednesday, he said he would work to find funding for the project.

“A board report is less important than the commitment of the leaders of this board, including me as chair,” Garcetti said after the meeting. “I can’t do well for my city if I don’t have support all the way to the eastern border (of the county) and vice versa.”

Habib Balian, CEO of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, was buoyed by the mayor’s support of both Gold Line projects.

“I have never heard a mayor of Los Angeles say those things. I think he surely understands it,” Balian said.

On Alhambra's Road Closures for Their 710 Freeway Event


Barbara Messina's Justification for the Traffic Mess the 710 Event Caused in Alhambra yesterday:

From  http://www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20140710/alhambra-hosts-710-day-to-advocate-for-710-freeway-tunnel

The street fair closed down three blocks of Fremont Avenue, which is one of the major north/south routes for commuters, from 1-9 p.m., causing traffic to back up during evening rush hour. Some residents complained on social media about the inconvenience.

The event itself lasted from 4-7 p.m.

Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who has advocated for the freeway extension for decades, said the traffic was a standard occurrence on Alhambra surface streets. She said the congestion could be reduced if the freeway tunnel is finally constructed.

“We are calling attention to a nightmare that we’ve been living,” Messina said.



 Traffic Mess Caused by the 710 Freeway Event

 


 Photo by Joe Cano.


EVEN WORSE: EMERGENCY VEHICLE DELAYED

Video by Joe Cano: We see the potential public safety & matters of life & death when a street is closed. This vehicle had come up from Valley when they first arrived at a call at the Alhambra. On the way back they redirected it east on Mission.




  Sign put up by Joe Cano across the street from the 710 Freeway exit:


 



Complaints on Facebook

How can this be legal? How can they take taxpayer money and pay employees to do something that is partisan? It's very Tea Party Esque. I don't see how they can get away with this every year with disrupting traffic. It actually is a health hazard. What if a fire truck or ambulance was blocked because of this action?

 Traffic was a mess in South Pasadena.

 THIS IS MY EXCERPT TO THE ALHAMBRA POLICE DEPT'S FB PAGE: "THIS was extremely poor planned and has inconvenienced many residents. It is almost 100 degrees today....people are stuck in cars for almost 45 minutes to go 1 mile! For those on the fence about this issue--the lack of planning and TOTAL inconvenience to residents by not having closures later in the day AND closing all the side streets has left a sour taste in my mouth and many on my street.

Marlena, we couldn't agree more! Alhambra's leaders are wrongheaded by inconveniencing their residents by blocking streets and artificially creating traffic jams. Perhaps they feel that by showing how bad traffic is on Fremont that residents will get behind them and demand the tunnel get built. As you share here, we feel this will backfire on them.

  while I don't think this has anything to do with the Tea Party--this issue has people on the left and the right standing together as one--I do agree with you that we should file a complaint or suit with the city for using our dollars on an issue that is what..."special interest" driven...one that is not done yet...why would we have a celebration for something that is not decided. What exactly were they celebrating.

 Thank you Marlena for correcting me. You are correct that this is not a partisan issue. I was commenting about this because if I recall, at a previous rally, there were, "don't tread on me" signs, which is a slogan the Tea Party has adopted from the Revolutionary War. But again, thank you for the correction.

 You ask why they would have a celebration for something that is not decided? At every meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee for this project, Alhambra's paid lobbyist, Leland Dolley, makes a sanctimonious statement about how no one should be presuming that a tunnel will be built, that Metro is conducting an EIR and we all need to be patient and wait for the outcome because it might not be a tunnel. If you think the study and the manipulation of the data by Metro isn't geared toward making sure the tunnel is the preferred alternative, and always has been, check out some of this:

 highway expansion | Streetsblog Los Angeles

 In the meantime, drivers sit in traffic in 100 degree temp. Very considerate to prove what point? The press is already giving Alhambra a blackeye. Major backfire in the PR side.


Alhambra hosts ‘710 Day’ to advocate for 710 Freeway tunnel

http://www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20140710/alhambra-hosts-710-day-to-advocate-for-710-freeway-tunnel

By Lauren Gold, July 10, 2014




 "All these people are lobbyists. It's not right. It's too much money," says El Sereno resident Jesse Granados, who was part of the original lawsuit against Caltrans as Rose Agajanian, left, and Roxanne Lozano, of Alhambra, run past him during Alhambra's "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014


Kristie Sham, 16, of Alhambra, takes part in Alhambra's

Kristie Sham, 16, of Alhambra, takes part in Alhambra's "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 in support of the "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena.





Ron Miller, executive secretary of local Building and Construction Trades Council, says building the 710 tunnel will bring jobs to the area during Alhambra's

 Ron Miller, executive secretary of local Building and Construction Trades Council, says building the 710 tunnel will bring jobs to the area during Alhambra's "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 in support of the "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena.




The City of Alhambra hosts their second annual


The City of Alhambra hosts their second annual "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 to support "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena.


Description of . The City of Alhambra hosts their second annual "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 to support "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)




ALHAMBRA >> Advocates for the long debated 710 Freeway north extension project gathered on one of the city’s busiest streets Thursday to rally in support of building a freeway tunnel to Pasadena.

The event, dubbed “710 Day” featured food trucks, live music, kids games and information booths about the freeway tunnel proposal. Officials said the purpose of the event was to advocate for an underground tunnel to connect the two freeway stubs in Alhambra and Pasadena, as well as educate the public about the project.

“Our streets are flooded with traffic every single day. Cars cut through our communities to connect from one freeway to another, and it’s not just the streets of Alhambra, it’s the streets of all our communities,” Monterey Park Councilwoman Teresa Real Sebastian said to a crowd of sign waving supporters. “Congestion ... affects the entire L.A. region, and enough is enough.”

The street fair closed down three blocks of Fremont Avenue, which is one of the major north/south routes for commuters, from 1-9 p.m., causing traffic to back up during evening rush hour. Some residents complained on social media about the inconvenience.

The event itself lasted from 4-7 p.m.

Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who has advocated for the freeway extension for decades, said the traffic was a standard occurrence on Alhambra surface streets. She said the congestion could be reduced if the freeway tunnel is finally constructed.

“We are calling attention to a nightmare that we’ve been living,” Messina said.

Last year, Alhambra reported that it spent $16,641 on the inaugural 710 Day festivities. This year’s event included extra costs from a series of pro-tunnel banners that have been installed over Fremont Avenue and will remain until construction begins. The cost of this year’s event was not immediately available.

A group of protesters attended Thursday’s event, donning red “No 710” T-shirts and waving signs with messages against the proposed tunnel option. “They are spending our taxpayer money and they are not telling us what this will do to not only Alhambra but the San Gabriel Valley,” said protester Mike Rozsa of Highland Park. “They could do a lot of things to address the problem. This (the tunnel) would be a step backward.”

Rozsa, whose son lives in Alhambra, said he supports light rail or bus routes to ease congestion in the region.

Debate about what to do with the so-called freeway “gap” has spanned more than 50 years, since transportation officials initially proposed a surface freeway through South Pasadena. In the latest iteration, the surface route has been ruled out and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is studying five alternatives to replace it.

The options on the table this time are: “no build,” traffic management solutions, bus, light rail and the freeway tunnel. The draft environmental impact report is due to be released in February, delayed from its initially scheduled release date this past spring.

With the draft report’s release imminent, cities across the region have begun to amp up their efforts — and open up their wallets — to fight for their preferred project.

The cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Rosemead and San Marino have banded together to form the 710 Coalition in support of the tunnel. On the other side, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre have formed the “5-Cities Alliance” to fight against the tunnel and advocate for one of the other options.

For more information on Metro’s SR-710 study, visit metro.net/sr710study.