By Steve Scauzillo, May 28, 2015
U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff addresses the crowd. Thursday, May 28,
2015. The group called "Beyond the 710" held a major press conference at
8 a.m. at the Union Station front entrance to Metro Gateway Plaza. Los
Angeles, CA 90012.
No 710 Action Commitee member Tom Williams stands within the crowd at
the press conference. Thursday, May 28, 2015. The group called "Beyond
the 710" held a major press conference at 8 a.m. at the Union Station
front entrance to Metro Gateway Plaza. Los Angeles, CA 90012.
A group calling itself “Beyond the 710” on Thursday presented the
county’s transportation agency with $705 million in immediate traffic
fixes — a stark alternative to a proposed $5.6-billion
Alhambra-to-Pasadena freeway tunnel project.
The group, made up of
cities, legislators and national preservation organizations, oppose
building the 6.3-mile tunnel to connect the 710 from where it dead-ends
at Valley Boulevard to the ditch at Del Mar Avenue in west Pasadena at
the 210/134 freeways interchange, calling it unrealistic, outdated and
“The era of building freeways in this L.A. Basin and surrounding
valleys is over,” announced South Pasadena City Councilwoman Marina
Khubesrian during a press conference Thursday morning.
The group also opposes a 7.5-mile light-rail alternative, one of five options presented in an SR-710 North Study draft Environmental Impact Report released
in March. Instead, it suggests installing a surface-route light-rail or
busway from Old Pasadena to East La College, connecting with existing
Gold Line and Metrolink stations. The line — in second and third phases
— would extend south through 710 corridor cities of Maywood, Bell,
Cudahy and South Gate.
The group, which consists of the cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena,
Sierra Madre and South Pasadena, wants the Los Angeles County
Metropolitan Transportation Authority, known as Metro, to scrap a
26,000-page study that includes different options for completing the
so-called “freeway gap” and going with a more community-based plan.
The plan includes:
Building a two-lane “Golden Eagle Boulevard” from the south stub at
Valley just north of the 10 Freeway to Mission Road that could include
bus lanes and a separated bike path.
• Improving Metro’s 762 bus by adding more north-south service, longer hours and dedicated bus lanes
Quickly selling Caltrans-owned houses and properties along the old
surface route in South Pasadena and Pasadena. The sales could generate
$250 million and be used to buy each student at Cal State Los Angeles
and East Los Angeles College a free transit pass.
• Filling in the northern ditch in Pasadena by building a “complete street” roadway that connects to the 210/134 freeways.
Restoration of Arroyo Rosa de Castilla, a year-round creek that runs
under the 710; creating 30 acres of new parkland, including three new
soccer fields and a 2.5-mile bike path connecting Alhambra, El Sereno
and South Pasadena.
“Caltrans and Metro need to take a new look (at the 710 connector),”
said Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck. “We need to connect people to
their destinations and not put them in a tunnel underground.”
710 cities are the same that opposed the surface route in the 1990s and
also include the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which won an
injunction against the surface route in 1999. The group called South
Pasadena and El Sereno “one of America’s 11 most endangered historic
Rep. Adam Schiff, a new voice in the freeway-tunnel
opposition group, said he had hoped a tunnel, instead of a surface
freeway that would wipe out hundreds of homes, would bring communities
together. Instead, it only brought more animosity and division. “Our
communities want new and innovative ways to move people and improve air
quality, not more freeways above or below ground with their smokestacks
for ventilation and even more vehicles belching exhaust through their
neighborhoods,” he wrote in a letter to Metro Board Chairman Eric
Garcetti, L.A.’s mayor.
Barbara Messina, Alhambra city councilwoman, called the group’s
plan “hairbrained” and their press conference an interruption of the EIR
public comment process. “To disrupt this process is unconscionable and
disrespectful to the hundreds of residents that have participated in the
process throughout the years,” she said in a statement on the 710
Indeed, representatives of Alhambra, Monterey Park and San Marino all spoke in favor of extending the freeway via a tunnel at recent public hearings held by Caltrans and Metro.
Caltrans and Metro abandoned plans for a surface route more than
five years ago and instead have proposed either a single-bore tunnel
($3.15 billion) with two lanes of traffic in each direction, or
double-bore, twin tunnels ($5.65 billion) with four lanes in each
direction, as well as the other non-freeway alternatives. Neither agency
has stated a preferred option.
Alhambra is a leading force in the
710 Coalition, which calls for “closing the gap” of the freeway that
starts in Long Beach and is considered the missing link in the 14
Southern California freeways. Caltrans first proposed the extension in
Metro will wait until the comment period ends July 6, and for
Caltrans to issue a final EIR before it votes on the project. That won’t
happen until the middle of 2016, said Paul Gonzales, Metro spokesman.