Purpose

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 18, 2015

San Gabriel Valley COG recommends tunnel option for 710

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20150618/san-gabriel-valley-cog-recommends-tunnel-option-for-710

By Steve Scauzillo, June 18, 2015




 

 The end of the 710 Freeway at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra on Friday, March 6, 2015. Caltrans and Metro released an environmental study examining a tunnel, a light-rail train, or a bus line to connect from Alhambra Pasadena.

After nearly three hours of debate, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted to support the 710 Freeway tunnel Thursday night.

The 31-member group’s governing board voted 16-7 to endorse building a tunnel to connect the gap in the freeway, running under Alhambra, South Pasadena and Pasadena and connecting to the 210/134 freeway interchange.

A recommendation will be sent to Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency for inclusion in their joint environmental impact report, ahead of the July 6 cutoff date for comments.

The SGVCOG’s governing board rejected suggestions by delegates from Pasadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre and La Canada Flintridge to take no position on this controversial project.

In one of his first appearances since leaving the position of mayor, Bill Bogaard of Pasadena suggested SGVCOG would be taking a premature action and urged the agency to wait until the final EIR is completed.

“This has been going on for decades. It blows my mind for you to say it is premature,” retorted Alhambra City Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who introduced the successful motion.

Messina said the support for a tolled tunnel is in line with the Southern California Association of Governments, which put the tunnel option into its Regional Transportation Plan in 2012.

“SCAG has the (710) tunnel in their RTP. It meets requirements of the federal government on air quality, mobility and congestion,” Messina told the board. Dissenters said the vote in support of a freeway tunnel would break the SGVCOG in half. Some urged a no position to preserve a unified voice in the region on transportation matters.

“I feel this is like the Middle East. Either we are damned if we do or do not. We are just splitting the cities,” said Sam Pedroza, Claremont City Councilman and SGVCOG member who did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek lost an argument to stay neutral on the politically hot 710 Freeway tunnel.

“An advocacy position would have a detrimental affect on this organization. This is a knock-down, drag-out fight. It is a project that composes an existential threat to communities,” Tornek said.

Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) spent four years at a cost of $40 million studying different ways to move traffic from one freeway stub — at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra — to the other near Del Mar Avenue in Pasadena, where the freeway would connect to the 210/134 interchange.

The resulting Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement 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 and few stops; 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 $40 million draft EIR/EIS. The 26,000-page report concluded building a freeway tunnel would provide the greatest amount of traffic relief and the fewest impacts of the five alternatives studied.

After years of opposition, Caltrans and Metro abandoned plans for a surface route and instead have proposed either a single-bore tunnel, with two lanes of traffic in each direction, or double-bore, twin tunnels with four lanes in each direction, as well as the other non-freeway alternatives. Neither agency has stated a preferred option.

Alhambra is a leading force in the 710 Coalition, which calls for “closing the gap” of the freeway that starts in Long Beach and is considered the missing link in the 14 Southern California freeways. Caltrans first proposed the extension in 1959. Other cities in the group include San Marino, Monterey Park, Rosemead and San Gabriel.

Opponents include the cities of South Pasadena, La CaƱada Flintridge, Glendale, Sierra Madre and Pasadena, members of the “5-Cities Alliance.”

Last month, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, for the first time came out against the tunnel project. He joined with those from the 5-Cities Alliance and national preservation groups to support a combination of street widening, bike paths and bus and rail improvements worth $705 million. These improvements can be done immediately.

Metro will wait until the comment period ends July 6, and for Caltrans to issue a final EIR before it votes on the project. That won’t happen until the middle of 2016, said Paul Gonzales, Metro spokesman.