More than 100 residents from potentially impacted communities voice their concerns.
By Sara Cardine, May 9, 2015
The terminus of the 710 Freeway at Valley Blvd. in Alhambra on Thursday, Jauary 28, 2010.
Accommodating the traffic demands of a population that has swelled
beyond the load limit of LA’s freeway systems is proving to be a
zero-sum game — at least in the case of the 710 Freeway extension
On Wednesday, 126 residents attended a public hearing at
La Cañada High School to share their viewpoints on alternatives being
considered by the California Department of Transportation and the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority for connecting, or addressing the
problems of, a 4.5-mile gap between the 710’s two end points in Alhambra
While discussion about the
undoubtable need for a regional solution to traffic woes was hearty, no
single answer or plan rose over another, with each alternative
presenting problems to different stakeholder groups.
was the third of five planned, so far, by Metro officials, who recently
scheduled the fifth to be held sometime in June. Residents are asked to
weigh in on any of the five options being analyzed in a draft
environmental impact report — a 26,625-page document with appendices —
before the public comment period ends July 6.
report and holding hearings throughout the study area cost about $42.5
million, according to Metro spokesman Paul Gonzales.
alternatives range from a “no-build” option to variations of a 4.5-mile
double-decker tunnel estimated to cost between $3.15 billion and $5.65
In between are options for bolstering traffic signals, creating a rapid bus line and making light-rail infrastructure upgrades.
majority of the comments came from Glendale, La Crescenta and La Cañada
residents who largely oppose the tunnel plans because of the potential
environmental, health and economic burdens they would bring to the area.
camp questioned Metro’s findings that tunnels would improve air quality
and commute times without posing a significant risk to community
health, and they demanded a cost-benefit analysis for the alternatives,
which was promised but has yet to be delivered.
Ara Najarian asked why the executive director of the Southern California
Assn. of Governments, which was to provide unbiased traffic flow data
crucial to the EIR’s estimations, has spoken publicly in support of a
“How wrong is that?” he asked. “If I can’t get an
answer from Metro, I think we have to convene a civil grand jury to find
out what’s going on here.”
Some commenters envisioned a better, cleaner solution not reliant on mass automobile transit.
time that we built a project the entire region could embrace and
support,” said former La Cañada City Councilman Don Voss. “Let’s build
something that will make our grandchildren proud, not sick.”
from other affected areas, including East Los Angeles, Monterey Park
and Alhambra, discussed the pros and cons of tunnels, light-rail system
build-outs and bus-line improvements and how each would impact health,
commute times and economics in their neighborhoods.
any above-ground rail anywhere will destroy more neighborhoods and
displace businesses,” said Matt Williams of Monterey Park. “So, at this
point, it has to be a tunnel. Why are these 5 miles we’re fighting over
so exceptional? No one should be exempt from the transit burden.”
East L.A. residents warned the audience that any building projects in
their neighborhood would be detrimental to an already over-burdened
“We live in pollution and sickness, and Caltrans and
Metro have for a long time violated our human rights,” said East L.A.
resident Martha Sandoval-Hernandez, adding that she and both her
grandchildren suffer from asthma.
“Every time you talk about
putting another project in East L.A., you’re talking about lives. I’m
asking for your mercy,” she said.