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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Environmental impact report for proposed 710 Freeway extension released


By Sara Cardine, March 6, 2015

 710 freeway

 The beginning (left) and end (right) of the southern section of the 210 Freeway as seen from Del Mar Blvd. towards California Blvd. in Pasadena on Tuesday, October 2, 2012.

[UPDATED 3/6 5:15 p.m.] The California Department of Transportation released Friday its initial environmental review for the proposed 710 Freeway extension project, causing a flurry of activity among agencies and activists who’ve waited months for the data and their chance to respond.
Now that the document has been officially submitted, the public will have 120 days to put forth their comments and concerns on the project, which floats five potential alternatives, including beefing up bus and rail lines as well as a 4.2-mile dual bore tunnel connecting the cities of Alhambra and Pasadena.

The public comment period, required by law to be at least 45 days, was initially extended to 90 days and then, on Wednesday, to 120 days to allow more time and opportunities for groups and individuals to respond.

Local 710 activist Jan Soo Hoo, who is not in favor of the tunnel option, said Friday she’d begun reviewing the 2,260-page report’s executive summary. The longer comment period will help, she said, but it would be better if Caltrans planned to hold more than the two public hearings scheduled during the comment period.

“We’re going to press for more public hearings,” Soo Hoo said. “Given the volume of the report, (two) is crazy. It’s just not OK.”

Forum to be held Monday, March 9

In one of the first local discussions scheduled to take place after the release of the EIR, Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian — a vocal opponent of the tunnel option — will speak Monday in a forum hosted by Pasadena League of Women Voters and Cal State Los Angeles’ Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs on the college campus.

Najarian said Friday he’d completed the executive summary and took objection to the fact that the document’s traffic statistics were provided Southern California Assn. of Governments, a group whose executive director has publicly spoken in favor of the tunnel.

“Any information that comes out of SCAG should be treated as highly suspect and have very little credibility and validity,” he said.

Sharing the podium with Najarian on Monday will be an advocate of the tunnel option.

Najarian encouraged citizens to do what they could to make their voices heard before Caltrans and Metro during the 120-day comment period.

“I’d like them all to try and make sense of a very complicated document and submit their comments, addressing their concerns to Caltrans, so at the end of the period no person says, ‘Gee, I wish I would have issued a concern,’” he said.

Monday’s forum on the 710 freeway extension proposal takes place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the third-floor Golden Eagle Ballroom of the Cal State L.A. campus, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles. To reserve a spot, call (323) 343-3770 or email dlafaye@calstatela.edu.


The Environmental Impact Report for the SR-710 North transportation network was released on March 6, 2015 by the California Department of Transportation.  The Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs and the League of Women Voters of Pasadena have rescheduled the #SR70NForum to allow the public to review the much anticipated EIR.  You will be the first to be notified of the new date and time.

Environmental report on 710 Freeway gap: Tunnel would ease traffic more than light rail


By Steve Scauzillo, March 6, 2015

A 710 Freeway tunnel extending 6.3 miles from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena would provide the greatest amount of traffic relief of any transportation alternative and the fewest impacts, according to environmental documents released Friday.

The 2,200-page Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement concludes that the tunnel alternative “would have the largest increase in freeway and arterial performance” but carries the highest price tag. At $5.65 billion, the tunnel would cost more than twice as much as the light-rail alternative, estimated at $2.4 billion.

Four years ago, Caltrans and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) began studying the environmental impacts of continuing the freeway underground, instead of on the surface. Besides the tunnel, the EIR examined four other options: traffic management solutions, a dedicated bus line, a light-rail train or no-build.

So far, the “single bore” double-decker tunnel, which would consist of two northbound lanes on top of two southbound lanes in a single tunnel running beneath Alhambra, El Sereno, South Pasadena and the western part of Pasadena has gained the most traction. According to the EIR/EIS, impacts to land, air, noise and aesthetics are minor compared to the impacts from building a 7.5-mile light-rail train from East Los Angeles through Alhambra and Pasadena.

“The tunnel is the only one that makes sense. And it is doable,” said Barbara Messina, Alhambra councilwoman and immediate past president of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.
 Messina called the release of the EIR/EIS “an important step in making this voter-approved project a reality” in a written statement.


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.” The group has a budget of $250,000 to fight the 710 extension. South Pasadena has hired four different consultants to analyze the EIR/EIS and submit comments by the July 6 deadline, said Margaret Lin, principal management analyst.

“This report supposedly considers all possible alternatives but the only one they want is the tunnel,” said Bill Sherman, South Pasadena’s representative on the Metro Technical Advisory Committee for the 710 project. Opponents also point out that the real benefactors will not be Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley commuters but truck drivers moving goods from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. With a 710 Freeway that connects up to the 210, truckers can avoid downtown Los Angeles and the congested 5 and 101 Freeways.

“Can you put shipping containers from the ports into a light-rail car? You can’t,” Sherman said.

The report says the light-rail train would “disrupt the social fabric of the community” of East Los Angeles. Also, elevated trestles will block views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Other impacts from the light-rail train include the displacement of 15 businesses along Mednik Avenue south of the 60 Freeway; acquisition of 58 full properties in Alhambra, East L.A., Monterey Park, Pasadena and South Pasadena; and the relocation of 73 businesses and the displacement of 645 employees.

The single-bore tunnel would require taking one full property in Alhambra and two in El Sereno and a total of one business and five employees displaced.

Construction of the freeway tunnel would increase the vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, on the 710 in both morning and afternoon rush hours by 2 percent, the report concluded. “By shifting trips to freeways, the (tunnel alternative) would divert VMT off local arterials, resulting in less cut-through traffic” in 2035, the study said.

“The only way to decrease air pollution from vehicles is by decreasing VMT,” Sherman argued. “This (tunnel) is redistributing the cars. It is like taking 10 dollars from your right pocket and putting it into your left pocket and saying you are richer.”

Construction would take five years for the tunnel, six years for the light-rail system, the report estimates.

Currently, $780 million has been put aside for the 710 Freeway gap project from Measure R, a 2008 half-cent sales tax passed by voters.

A final EIR/EIS will be written after public comments are received, said Caltrans.
Want to comment on the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel project?

Caltrans and Metro will hold public hearings on the 710 Freeway closure gap study:
April 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., East Los Angeles College, Rosco Ingalls Auditorium, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez Monterey Park.

April 14, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Pasadena Convention Center, Ballroom 300, East Green Street, Pasadena
An informal forum will be hosted by Cal State Los Angeles and the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs:

March 9, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p,m., Cal State Los Angeles. (postponed)

Send written comments on the EIR/EIS: Garrett Damrath, chief environmental planner, Division of Environmental Planning, California Department of Transportation, District 7, 100 S. Main St, MS-16A, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Send comments via email: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis/comments.php

Deadline for all comments: July 6
Source: Caltrans