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, June 4, 2015

Beyond the 710 a welcome new voice in transit conversation


By The Editorial Board, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, June 4, 2015


 The end of the 710 Freeway at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra.

 Caltrans and Metro and their predecessors have been looking at extending the 710 Freeway from Cal State L.A. to Pasadena for over half a century.

Both bureaucracies at the time had a natural prejudice in car-happy Southern California toward freeways over any alternative transit modes. In the late 1960s, Caltrans drew an old-fashioned line on the map and bought up all the properties in the way through eminent domain in the early 1970s. At first, just tiny South Pasadena formally objected, and fought a David-vs.-Goliath battle against a freeway cutting it in half, using almost all of the city’s resources for years.

Now, in a vastly different county of 10 million people in which every freeway that is built or widened achieves rush-hour gridlock as soon as it is opened, transportation mindsets have changed.

It isn’t just about saving hundreds of historic homes and rescuing the heart and soul of South Pas any longer. The giant, $5.6 billion freeway tunnel now backed by Caltrans — which insists, of course, that it backs nothing of the sort, and has its collective mind open — did seem like a win-win solution for a time even to smart area politicians such as Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank. But last week Schiff joined a rapidly growing coalition of area cities — South Pasadena, Pasadena, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and Sierra Madre — and forward-thinking national groups and individuals with a practical vision for solving transportation problems in the 710 corridor rather than a Looney-Tunes make-work hole in the ground whose billions could better be spent elsewhere.

The group Beyond the 710 proposes a $705 million package of immediate fixes that deal with the very real traffic problems that especially plague Alhambra streets along the north-south corridor between Valley Boulevard and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. These realists don’t pretend that the “gap” is any more of an anomaly than any other of the dozens of drawn-but-not-built freeways that once were on a fanciful 1950s map of possible Southern California car-and-truck routes. But they do understand that Alhambra in particular needs help in mitigating the surface-street traffic jams that hit it each morning and evening. Alhambrans need to get out of the one-solution mindset its politicians have afflicted it with for decades, to no end, and work with this new coalition to get us moving rather than rallying around a freeway that likely will never happen.

The coalition recognizes that just turning to one a la mode solution such as light rail through the corridor is not the answer, either — though light rail could play a small part. Its main and eminently practical suggestion is to build a Cal State-themed “Golden Eagle Boulevard” from the south stub at Valley just north of the 10 Freeway to Mission Road that could include bus lanes and a separated bike path. Add more bus service, the immediate sale of Caltrans-owned houses to free up funding and a “complete street” innovation in the current big ditch in west Pasadena’s 710 stub — a roadway for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders as well as shops and businesses — and suddenly we’re talking about genuinely creative solutions to a real problem. All parties, no matter their longtime allegiance to one solution or another, should welcome the ideas of Beyond the 710 to the conversation, a far broader one than the old talk of a freeway or lack thereof.