Peggy Drouet: My comment to this article: The 710 tunnel will feed into the 210. The 210 East, for example, is
already heavily congested from about 2 p.m. on and also on weekends.
Adding more congestion to it is not going to solve the vehicle mobility
problem, promoted as a need by both CalTrans and Barbara Messina. What
can be easily seen to be needed in conjunction with the 710 tunnel is a
new east-west freeway route, one that uses the 710 stub in Alhambra as a
starting point and then transverses Alhambra to the 610, then to the
57, and all the way to the 15. Wouldn't this be the logical conclusion
for the next attempt to keep the car culture alive in Los Angeles? I am
sure that both CalTrans and Messina would go for this idea in the name
of mobility and relieving congestion on other freeways.
By Steve Scauzillo, June 22, 2015
This March 6, 2015 staff file photo shows the end of the 710 Freeway at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra.
By saying time is money, a new study of the 710 Freeway “gap closure”
project concludes the tunnel option creates the highest benefit by
getting people to work or home a little faster, with fewer accidents and
less money spent on fuel and car repairs.
The “Analysis of Costs
and Benefits for the State Route 710 North Study Alternatives” favors a
6.3-mile single tunnel containing two traffic lanes in each direction
located 250 feet under El Sereno/Los Angeles, South Pasadena and
By trimming 7 minutes off a commute during peak hours
and almost 14 minutes the rest of the time, the single tunnel, at a cost
of $3.15 billion to build, works out to a benefit of $1.5 billion to
$1.6 billion over 20 years for 2 million people living in the San
Gabriel Valley, parts of Los Angeles and the east San Fernando Valley,
the report concluded.
“The Freeway Tunnel Alternative has the highest benefits regardless of costs,” concluded the report released by Caltrans over the weekend.
saved is the most valued factor in the study, followed by cost savings
for car owners and savings from fewer car crashes. The report says when
commuters use the single-bore tunnel to get from the end of the 710
Freeway in El Sereno at the Alhambra border up to Pasadena at the
134/210 freeway interchange — about 90,000 cars per day — it would
divert traffic from nearby surface streets which tend to have higher
crash rates than freeways. This saves money, time and calculates into
“The major issue also is that it will open up all the other
freeways in the region. It frees up the interchange in downtown Los
Angeles,” said Alhambra City Councilwoman Barbara Messina, a freeway
However, a single-tunnel would not produce
benefits in the area of tailpipe emissions. The report said a tunnel
would be a “disbenefit” or increase costs from emissions in a focused
area, presumably at tunnel portals on Valley Boulevard and north of Del
Mar Avenue in Pasadena, and possibly where ventilators emit tunnel
The issue of emissions has been raised by cities opposed to the tunnel: South Pasadena, Pasadena,
Glendale, Sierra Madre and La Canada Flintridge. Bill Sherman, a
retired physician and a member of South Pasadena’s Transportation
Commission, said the cost-benefit analysis failed to consider
health-care costs from tunnel pollution.
“Ninety-thousand cars per
day in the single tunnel, or 180,000 cars a day in the dual-bore
(double tunnel option) will be entering and leaving the portals. Those
fumes will come out of the exhaust pipes and go into Old Pasadena,” he
said. He’s asking for a focused analysis on air emissions, known as a
hot-spot study, as well as a calculation of economic costs of hospital
visits and sick time to be included in the report.
Anthony Portantino, a former state Assemblyman from La Canada
Flintridge and tunnel opponent, had asked the California Transportation
Commission to produce the cost-benefit analysis for more than a year.
“It is a good starting point to have a conversation. But it concerns me whether it is truly adequate,” he said.
wrote a letter to the CTC, which takes up the report on Thursday,
asking that Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan
Transportation Authority known as Metro, adjust the formula for
estimating cost. Metro uses $1 billion per mile for the proposed
Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, a tunnel that would connect the San
Fernando Valley with the L.A. basin, while Caltrans, in partnership with
Metro, uses a half billion dollar figure for the 710 tunnel option.
By underestimating construction costs, the cost-benefit analysis overestimates the benefits, he said.
are not using an accurate funding model. Also, they are not
anticipating the giant boring machine breaking down. What is the
(economic) impact of that happening?” Portantino asked.
asking the CTC to send comments to Caltrans and Metro to incorporate in
the EIR a notice to homeowners their properties may be taken in order to
dig out a boring machine stuck underground.
Joann Nuckols, a
member of the No 710 Action Committee, said Caltrans and Metro are
deliberately underestimating the cost and benefits of a freeway tunnel.
“It is basically fraud. They are overvaluing and underpricing the
project,” Nuckols said, saying the tunnels would really cost $6 billion
to $14 billion.
Messina said the cost of either the single or
double tunnel would be recouped by charging tolls, which would be used
to pay back a private financier.
The $40 million draft EIR/EIS,
released in March, looks at five options: a no-build option; a traffic
management system that would upgrade streets and sync traffic signals at
local intersections to move traffic more quickly; a dedicated busway
with high-frequency service; a 7.5-mile light-rail line that would
stretch from East Los Angeles to Pasadena and a 6.3-mile freeway tunnel,
of which 4.2 miles would be completely underground.
While Caltrans has proposed “closing the 710 gap” for nearly 60
years, mostly as a surface route, the tunnel route has gained momentum
since the release of the environmental document.
extended the comment period for the EIR/EIS to Aug. 5. Send written
comments to: Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7, Division of
Environmental Planning, 100 S. Main St., MS-16, Los Angeles, CA 90012 or