By Zen Vuong, June 10, 2015
Kids ride peddled cars through inflatable tunnels on Fremont Avenue, during 710 Day at the corner of Fremont Avenue and Valley Boulevard in Alhambra on Wednesday.
ALHAMBRA >> More than 100 people rallied Wednesday evening on Fremont Avenue to say over half a century of wishy-washy inaction needs to stop and a 710 Freeway tunnel must be built posthaste.
Generations of children in Alhambra and neighboring cities grew up breathing polluted air because of the 710 Freeway gap, said Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina. She attributed an increase in youth suffering from upper respiratory problems to a transportation dispute that has divided the San Gabriel Valley for nearly six decades.
“We are closer today than we have ever been in completing the 710 Freeway,” Messina said. “We need to build the freeway tunnel that was promised. Please take time to submit your comment. We have opportunities here for you to do that to make sure that every single one of you have submitted your comment to Metro. Let’s get it done!”
The third annual 710 Day was held a month early because comments for a 710 Freeway draft environmental report won’t be accepted after July 6. Alhambra politicians, the 710 Coalition and other supporters of closing the 710 Freeway gap shut down busy Fremont Avenue between Valley Boulevard and Mission Road during rush hour to remind people massive traffic on residential streets isn’t acceptable.
The California Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority produced a 26,000-page key environmental report that offered five possible solutions for traffic congestion caused by a 710 Freeway gap between Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and Del Mar Avenue in Pasadena: no build, improved traffic management system, busway with minimal stops, 7.5-mile light rail or 6.3-mile freeway tunnel.
A final public hearing for the draft analysis was added on June 20 in East Los Angeles after residents there repeatedly complained they were being left out of a conversation that could adversely affect their neighborhood.
Smiling children queued at the event to drive through two bright blow-up tunnels. Some people chastised an opposition booth manned by Alhambrans Against the 710, No 710 Action Committee and Beyond the 710, saying those folks didn’t know what it was like to have to live with bumper-to-bumper cars every day — even on weekends.
Crowds cheered and waved their “Close the gap, build the tunnel” fans as San Gabriel Councilman Chin Ho Liao said even he could feel Alhambra’s pain. Change must happen now, he yelled.
A freeway tunnel would reduce local traffic congestion and cut-through traffic by 80,000 trips per day (61 percent), improve air quality and create some 43,000 jobs, according to the 710 Coalition.
However, Beyond the 710 claims the draft report’s estimated $5.65 billion is an expensive solution that will primarily be used for pass-through traffic from the ports. The underground speedway is not expected to have any exits or on-ramps aside from the entrance and exit.
Creating another freeway is a shortsighted solution that would improve the rush-hour commute by only 2.5 minutes, said Marina Khubesrian, a South Pasadena councilwoman. Some 85 percent of congestion around the so-called 710 Freeway gap is caused by people trying to go to neighboring cities, she said.
“The tunnel actually does nothing to address the local congestion problem,” Khubesrian said. “It’s going to make Fremont even worse north of the 10, and it doesn’t allow for direct connections to Cal State L.A., which would not help traffic in the residential neighborhoods.
“People would get off the freeway and go onto Valley Boulevard, Fremont or Atlantic to get to their destinations to avoid paying a toll. This toll diversion and induced demand will add more cars to already congested rush-hour traffic.”
Final Public Meeting for Draft 710 Freeway Report
Where: David Wark Griffith Middle School, 4765 East Fourth St., Los Angeles 90022
When: June 20, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.; map viewing; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. public hearing
Public comments will be accepted through July 6.
Make online comments at http://goo.gl/rmIfFm
Mail comments to:
Chief environmental planner
Division of Environmental Planning
Department of Transportation, District 7
100 S. Main St., MS-16A
Los Angeles, CA 90012