Now is the time — and tunnels are the way — to connect the 710 and 210 freeways
By Lauren Holland, May 14, 2015
People for and against extending the Long Beach (710) Freeway, or “closing the gap” between the end of the 710 in Alhambra and the Foothill (210 Freeway in Pasadena, have been bickering for the last 56 years, creating a multi-generational feud that’s on a par with the Hatfields and McCoys.
If you missed a May 7 public hearing in Los Angeles on the question of whether to connect the two freeways by constructing 4.5-mile-long twin tunnels, you may still submit written comments as late as July 6 to Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 S. Main St., MS-16, Los Angeles, Calif., 90012.
If you have an opinion (well-reasoned and based on facts or otherwise) you may also submit an online comment at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis/comments.php
Now that you have the information on where and how to voice your opinions on the 710 Freeway expansion proposal allow me to opine, or more accurately share my knee-jerk reaction to the age-old question: Should the gap be closed?
If you want actual answers to your questions, the project’s 2,200-page draft environmental impact report might be helpful. That can be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis/Tunnel%20Evaluation/SR%20710%20Tunnel%20Evaluation%20Report.pdf.
The options under consideration are “no build,” or do nothing; a bus rapid transit infrastructure improvement; increase light rail public transit; and two tunnel construction proposals.
What we should be asking is who are the tunnels going to hurt or help, and what has taken so long to get to this point?
Let’s first assume that money is an imaginary construct — like Disney Dollars — and the government can and will print all it wants to. Money problems solved.
Next, we can easily dispense with the public transit options (i.e. bus and light rail) with the following reasoning: The purpose of a freeway is to move people and stuff. The 710 Freeway originates near Long Beach Harbor where a lot of our stuff comes from. The traffic congestion through the impacted areas is in the form of people in cars and stuff in trucks. People in cars and stuff in trucks are too big to fit inside buses and trains.
If that logic doesn’t work for you, consider the general failure of public transportation in areas designed vis-à-vis urban sprawl, such as the Los Angeles basin. In order for public transit to be a viable option, it must be capable of taking people from where they live to where they work or shop or otherwise want to be, and back again. In today’s 24-7 world it must also be able to provide conveyance day and night, which it currently does not do. If it did, far more people would be using it.
That leaves us with the “do nothing” or “do something” options. The “something” in this case is to build a tunnel connecting the 710 where it ended in 1959 to the 210 Freeway. Why a tunnel? Apparently because community opposition to a ground level freeway has successfully blocked progress for the last 56 years.
My opinion is my own and not necessarily that of the Pasadena Weekly. With that said, and knowing that many people in Pasadena disagree with my opinion, I am of the mind that something needs to be done. Caltrans should proceed with one of the two tunnel options, which have the added incentive of creating jobs at a time when jobs are badly needed.
In addition, of the available options, the tunnel would most closely meet the needs of commuters and commercial drivers impacted by the current situation. It would also ease congestion on nearby alternative routes. This option would improve the quality of life for many commuters — not just 710 drivers — and people who breathe smog-filled air in communities along the Santa Monica (10) Freeway, near the stub of the 710 at Valley Boulevard.
Think of it: Commuters would spend less time in traffic, less time clogging city streets, and more time living their lives. Delivery of goods and services in the impacted areas would be dramatically improved. And communities currently impacted by flow-thru traffic would be much less so, resulting in lower emissions, less congestion, better health and more time for family, friends and recreation. I don’t know about you, but to me these are some of the measurable objectives of progress.
If you agree — or not — drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to the editor at email@example.com