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, May 21, 2015

Community Turns Out to Hear About Potential of 710 Tunnel

Protecting Home Court


By Bill Glazier, May 21, 2015

 Using an old basketball analogy, a panel of transportation and legal officials protected their home court during the SR-710 Community Workshop last week at South Pasadena Middle School, addressing the potential of a tunnel running below the surface of town.
The message left by one panelist, Delaine Shane, an environmental planning professional, was to get involved, urging residents to protect South Pasadena from the threat of the proposed 710 Freeway Tunnel. Following the March 6 release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIR/EIS), which proposes five alternatives regarding a 4.5-mile gap in the 710 from its terminus just outside the Alhambra city limits to the 134/210 freeway interchange in Pasadena, Shane stressed the importance of 710 opponents to weigh in by attending public hearings for the Draft EIR/EIS and write letters opposing the underground project. A fifth and final public hearing is scheduled for Saturday, June 20, at David Wark Griffith Middle School, 4765 East Fourth Street, East Los Angeles. A map viewing of the project is slated from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., followed by a formal public hearing from 11a.m. to 4 p.m.
Not only was the tunnel concept addressed during the May 13 meeting inside the auditorium at South Pasadena Middle School, but four other alternatives considered in the Draft EIR/EIS were part of the conversation, including:
•No Build option that would leave conditions as they are today.
•A traffic management system to upgrade and synchronize signals and improvements to local street intersections to more quickly move traffic that exits the dead end freeway.
• A rapid bus line featuring high frequency service with minimal stops and potentially a dedicated bus lane.
• Light rail to carry passengers between East Los Angeles and Pasadena.

Nearly 200 people were in attendance as community members heard from Robert Joe, South Pasadena’s mayor; Antonio Rossmann, special counsel to the City of South Pasadena, who talked about the 710 Freeway’s long history; Margaret Lin, the city’s principal management analyst, who provided an update on the EIR//EIS; Avram D. Gold of the West Pasadena Residents’ Association, who spoke on the potential tunnel boring risks; Jeffrey Tumlin of Nelson Nygaard, who addressed EIR/EIR and the need for a multimodal vision of public transportation; and Shane, who asked audience members to submit comments about the five alternatives either online or through the mail.

“The goal of the meeting was to update our residents on the city’s position on the 710, about all the activity surrounding the issue regarding the EIR/EIS, the impacts involving all the alternatives and to let people know we’re not not only in a fight against a tunnel alone,” said South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. “We are building a coalition of other communities to talk about the big picture in transportation and regional mobility. It’s not about connecting two points with an underground tunnel that would cost billions of dollars and not solve the traffic issues we are facing.”

A dual-bore 8-lane tunnel in today’s dollars would cost approximately $5.6 million, according to Lin, while a single-bore is estimated at about $3.1 million.

City officials, questioning the benefits of an underground system, stress a greater need for the multimodal approach, leaning toward light rail, bus use, walking, cycling, and creating a regional bike network, all in an effort to get people to make good use of public transportation, as well as their cars.

Gonzalez stressed that the city wants to make sure its on record with its concern by the July 6 deadline, pointing out “deficiencies” he says are found in the 26,000-page EIR/EIS document. The city manager noted, “Our expert consultants have already identified a very flawed purpose and needs statement” in the report, which he believes “predetermines” the freeway tunnel as the preferred alternative.

“Caltrans thinks the only way you can solve the problem is by connecting two points with a freeway,” he said. “Since a surface route is no longer on the table, the only way they can connect these two dots is by a tunnel. That in itself is a huge problem. They basically stacked it up where there’s only one answer.

“The other issue,” he continued, “is the financing for the (tunnel) project, or any of the alternatives. Funding hasn’t been identified. They (Metro/Caltrans) continue to throw money at a project where there’s no money to actually do the project. On many levels, from air quality, to transportation solutions, to environmental justice issues, this study is very deficient.”

Joining forces to affectively address the report is a 5-city alliance between South Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre, formed to study major areas in the EIR/EIS “that we feel need to be scrutinized,” explained Gonzalez, “including transportation, air quality, noise, hydrology, geology, and CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act).”

South Pasadena City Councilmember Dr. Marina Khubesrian talked about a collective approach to transportation needs and said prior to the meeting that soon “a new initiative for community mobility” will be released in collaboration with many cities, including the 5 City Alliance and several other communities to help ease traffic, improve transportation networks and ultimately lead to better health throughout the corridor.

The public comment period for the SR-710 Draft EIR/EIS ends July 6. Comments can be made to: Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 South Main Street, MS-16, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

To view the Draft EIR/EIS visit: www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis/

A Metro report contributed to this story.