On December 11, 2013 at the California Transportation Committee meeting in Riverside, Doug Failing (then Head of Highway Projects for Metro) and Carrie Bowen (Caltrans District 7 Director) stated during public testimony that a Cost Benefit Analysis would be conducted concurrently with the SR-710 Draft EIR and would be released at the same time as the SR-710 Draft EIR.
Anthony Portantino is asking the tough questions.
As a Council member, Mayor and Assembly member Anthony Portantino has been working with South Pasadena and the No 710 movement for two decades. His many strongly worded letters, public statements and public testimony opposing the 710 tunnel have been instrumental in keeping the issue before the public and gaining the attention of elected officials.
Here is his latest effort on behalf of the public.
See letter below to the Big Four.
Thank you Anthony Portantino!!
Hon. Anthony J. Portantino
Ret. State Assemblymember, 44th AD
March 19, 2015
California Transportation Commission Metropolitan Transportation Authority
RE: SR-710 Cost Benefit Analysis & Funding/Construction Cost Model
Dear Honorable Chairs,
On March 6th Caltrans and MTA released the 26,625-page, long-delayed draft EIR/EIS for the SR-710 corridor. Many government officials and activists who have been part of this process for decades were opposed to proceeding with an Environmental Impact Study because to do so violated the spirit of the original agreement between MTA/Caltrans/SCAG and the communities in the SR-710 corridor. When discussion about a tunnel proposal for the SR-710 corridor were initiated, stakeholders were expressly told that no Environmental Impact Study would be conducted until such time as a SR-710 tunnel was deemed to be a feasible project.
I am asking for your help in securing the Cost Benefit Analysis for the proposed SR-710 tunnel for public review. Although many efforts were made and proposals suggested to require MTA and Caltrans to conduct a Cost Benefit Analysis and/or comprehensive feasibility study before moving forward, no such study was conducted and all such efforts failed. It didn’t seem to matter to MTA or to Caltrans that moving forward with a $37 million Environmental Impact Study put significant and limited tax payer dollars at risk of being wasted on a project that potentially did not pencil out.
At the Dec. 11, 2013 meeting of the California Transportation Commission in Riverside, MTA’s (then) Head of Highway Programs, Doug Failing, and Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen stated during public testimony and for the record that a Cost Benefit Analysis would be conducted concurrently with the Environmental Impact Study and would be released concurrently with the DEIR/EIS. Both indicated that the Draft Project Report would contain the Cost Benefit Analysis. Fourteen months later, the DEIR has been released and the Draft Project Report is now available, but sadly, neither contains the Cost Benefit Analysis promised to the CTC and to the region. Many of us who were in attendance at the CTC meeting are now stunned and angry that Ms. Bowen and Mr. Failing stated for the record that The Cost Benefit Analysis would be forthcoming and yet it is not available for public review. I realize that there are new leaders of the MTA since this project began, but Caltrans, as the lead agency for the study, is ultimately responsible for producing this analysis. I join with many others to be hopeful that changes in process and execution are on the horizon, but it is causing alarm that the Cost Benefit Analysis continues to be a difficult document to produce.
I am respectfully requesting your help in determining what remedies are at your disposal to facilitate the release of the Cost Benefit Analysis. At the very least, the DEIR comment period should be stayed/extended until such time as this document is produced.
From day one, many of us have been asking some very simple -- yet important -- questions:
- How much is this project going to cost?
- How many cars and trucks are going to use it?
- Does this project make economic and planning sense?
Unfortunately, MTA and Caltrans have not fully answered these basic questions as promised.
In regard to the cost estimates used in the DEIR, It is extremely important to note and highlight that Caltrans/Metro is currently studying a bored tunnel project of the same diameter and length as the SR-710 tunnel (59’ and 9 miles) in the Sepulveda Pass. Although Caltrans/Metro claims to have used the cost of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel in Seattle (currently under construction) of approximately $1 billion per bored mile to estimate the costs for both the proposed Sepulveda Pass and SR-710 tunnels, the Sepulveda Pass tunnel is estimated at $10 billion while SR-710 tunnel’s cost has been reported at $5.65 billion. No explanation for this discrepancy has been provided. Experience and common sense tell us that the cost of most infrastructure projects increases over time, and that infrastructure megaprojects are rarely completed on budget and on schedule. Given the length of time this project will take to complete, lessons learned from Seattle and the cost modeling used by Caltrans/Metro for a second, similar project, it borders on preposterous that Caltrans/Metro would cut in half the estimated cost for the SR-710 tunnel when their own reasoning demonstrates that it is at least twice that amount.
In conclusion, we are now a decade into the project and we do not have an accurate financial picture of the complete cost or benefit of this project. This omission or oversight needs to be corrected. If MTA/Caltrans need more time to deliver the items promised to the CTC and those in attendance in Riverside, the DEIR comment period should be suspended until such time as a Cost Benefit Analysis is completed and released for public review. To do anything else sanctions publically misleading the CTC and local taxpayer to be irreparably harmed and disrespected.
Hon. Anthony J. Portantino
Ret. State Assemblymember
Cc: Brian Kelly