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 11, 2015

As state leaders race to fight climate change, Caltrans gets stuck


By Channell Fletcher, June 9, 2015

It’s been exciting in Sacramento recently, as California, already a leader, keeps pushing ahead to fight climate change:

– Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order requiring the state to cut climate pollutants by 40% below 1990 levels by the year 2030. This makes sure that the state is on track to make the larger cuts required by AB 32, of 80% by 2050.

– Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León is leading a package of climate legislation to cut petroleum use in half and codify the state’s greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

Can Caltrans keep up?

As the executive and legislative branches race ahead, the state’s agencies need to keep up. To actually deliver on these policies, the state has to change how it chooses to invest in transportation, moving toward climate-friendly public transit, biking, and walking.

But is the state’s spending actually supporting its goals? At Caltrans, at least on one plan, the answer may be “nope.”

The Interregional Plan goes the wrong way

ClimatePlan partners have been working on several state transportation funding plans and policies. One, we are dismayed to report, seems totally stuck.

Caltrans recently released its latest draft Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan (ITSP). The ITSP is important because it guides large transportation investments and addresses how people are traveling between the state’s regions.

In December, we called for change: asking for ITSP vision, objectives, and goals to be better aligned with the state’s climate goals. Here, very briefly summarized, were our recommendations:

– Support the state’s climate goals.
– Prioritize interregional rail over highway expansion.
– Help people connect to local public transit, walking, and biking.
– Consider sustainability, equity, stewardship, and health in transportation planning and funding.
– Be transparent.

Unfortunately, Caltrans’ new draft does not acknowledge or incorporate any of our recommendations. Instead, the plan prioritizes highway expansion—which increases driving and pollution.  It does not address multimodal local connections to interregional travel.

Worst of all, the plan does not even address reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving forward

With California Walks and a number of other partners, we are calling for the ITSP to:

– Integrate GHG emission reductions, public health, and equity into project evaluation criteria
– Align highway capacity priorities with state climate goals
– Prioritize investment for non-automobile interregional options
– Address multimodal local connections to the interregional system

The ITSP must align with the state’s climate goals.

We submitted our new comment letter yesterday and are planning to meet with state agency officials to further these goals.

You can help: To join these conversations, please contact Tony Dang at tony [AT] californiawalks.org.

Rock and a Hard Place

Local politicians join new Beyond the 710 coalition, except Congresswoman Judy Chu 


By Andre Coleman, June 11, 2015

Rock and a Hard Place

If you are from cities north of the Long Beach (710) Freeway, you would be hard-pressed to find a politician who supports plans to build tunnels from Alhambra to Pasadena to connect that freeway with the Foothill (210) Freeway. 

In fact, many of those local leaders showed up last week to show their support for Beyond the 710, a coalition spearheaded by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff to advocate alternatives to the region’s traffic needs without construction of the tunnels.

But just as Pasadena and its neighbors South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale are against tunneling, leaders in communities south of there, which for many years have been seeking to a solution to polluted air and chronic traffic congestion caused by the 710 ending at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, say those tunnels cannot be built fast enough.

This is an issue that cuts across political lines. And in the middle stands US Rep. Judy Chu, a Democrat and former mayor of Monterey Park who gained a portion of Pasadena three years after she was first elected to Congress following reapportionment in 2012. Chu also represents South Pasadena.

Although Chu would normally stand shoulder to shoulder on most issues with Schiff, formerly of Pasadena who is now based in Burbank but retained portions of West Pasadena following reapportionment, she was nowhere to be seen when the senior legislator and a host of other dignitaries marked the formation of the Beyond the 710 group.

That’s probably because just as there is a No 710 Action Committee, there is also a 710 Coalition, which supports the tunnels and consists of the cities of San Gabriel, Rosemead, San Marino and Monterey Park, Chu’s hometown. And, through her congressional duties, Chu also represents those cities and Alhambra, which is foursquare behind the tunnel plans, led by its outspoken Vice Mayor Barbara Messina.

Chu was unavailable to speak with the Pasadena Weekly earlier this week. However, in 2014 Chu told the Alhambra Source online news site that she had not taken a position on the tunnels and had a responsibility to listen to both Alhambra and South Pasadena.  

At that time, Chu said she was waiting to see the environmental impact report on the tunnels so she could take a serious look at the impacts of the project. 

Instead of taking sides, Chu now says only that she supports a “solution” to the 710 freeway issue.
According to Chu spokesman Coby King, the Beyond the 710 coalition is encouraging Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority (Metro) to formally study its proposals and a number of its alternatives to the tunnels.

“The purpose is to seek an alternative to the proposed 710 tunnel that will avoid the main problems associated with the extension and effectively deal with the congestion in Alhambra and the surrounding communities that is caused by the current 710 configuration,” said King.

Recorded by Joe Cano: Barbara Messina at SGVCOG (audio only)

710 Day in Alhambra stops traffic, draws crowd


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. (Photo by James Carbone for the Pasadena Star News)

 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:
Garrett Damrath
Chief environmental planner
Division of Environmental Planning
Department of Transportation, District 7
100 S. Main St., MS-16A
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Posted on Facebook, June 11, 2015


Thursday, June 18 6-8 pm 

El Sereno Senior Center
4818 Klamath Pl, Los Angeles, California 90032 

Just off Eastern at Klamath 

Remember limited parking in front, with parking east/behind the bldg...and across the back street - Kings Place...

Learn about ALTERNATIVES AND THE SR 710 Freeway TUNNEL through El Sereno.
Join residents, elected officials and community based organizations in a DISCUSSION about transportation improvements for our neighborhood.
We need YOUR input!


BUT Tom will record and convert to comments for submission to Caltrans for SR-710 North DEIR

Questions? Contact Dr. Tom Williams -

Julio.Torres@lacity.org or (323) 226-1646

710 Day press release from Alhambrans Against the 710

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                     
June 9, 2015

Alhambra Wastes $150,000 to Create Gridlock Event vs. Real Traffic Solutions
City Officials' Tactics, Expenditures Backfire As Alhambra Residents Seek Real Traffic Relief

While Alhambra officials have proclaimed June 10 as "710 Day" to celebrate their efforts to close the perceived gap between the 710 and 210 freeways, Alhambra citizens are shocked to learn that nearly $150,000 have been spent   to create gridlock on their city streets for a one-day event instead of applying  those funds toward developing a comprehensive regional plan.  The organization Alhambrans Against the 710 supports the recently-proposed regional plan, "Beyond the 710", developed by a coalition of five cities, organizations and elected officials which was presented to Metro on May 28th.  That regional plan is estimated to cost $705 Million compared to the estimate of $5.65 Billion for the SR-710 Toll Tunnels.
For the past two years, the City of Alhambra has hosted a "Close the Gap" event to restrict traffic on Fremont Ave. with the intent to demonstrate that the proposed Toll Tunnels are necessary to relieve traffic on Alhambra’s streets.  According to a recent public records request, $120,000 was spent on “Close the Gap” street banners along Fremont Ave, an additional $23,000 on event expenses and an unspecified amount for salaries of city workers required to attend the event.

Instead, some Alhambra residents say the traffic jam created by the “710 Day” event is similar to the traffic that will be created in Alhambra by drivers avoiding the tunnels due to tolls and lack of intermediate exits that would provide access to communities between Alhambra and Pasadena.  The increased traffic volume from toll avoidance and induced demand created if the $5.6-$12 Billion tunnels were built is unacceptable.  Some residents also cite poor urban planning by Alhambra officials and green-lighting of high density development along the Fremont corridor as a major contributor to traffic congestion in the City.

Responsible Alhambrans Against the 710 believe that the proposed 710 Toll Tunnels would not only destroy neighborhoods, but would also be a massive waste of money that could be better spent on different projects to relieve Alhambra's traffic.  Caltrans’ and Metro’s own studies show that the expenditure of billions of dollars would not improve commutes appreciably, and would create additional congestion on Alhambra's streets. Responsible Alhambrans Against the 710 calls for the City of Alhambra to join and collaborate with the "Beyond the 710" plan to relieve local traffic.

710 Traffic Relief Background:
Beyond the 710
Beyond the 710 proposes a $705 Million package of remedies to address the traffic problems that plague Alhambra streets along the north-south corridor between Valley Boulevard and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. This package is endorsed by the Cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, plus the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the No 710 Action Committee and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank

Alhambrans Against the 710
This organization of concerned Alhambrans opposes City officials spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to promote the most expensive of five alternatives studied in the $40 Billion draft environmental impact report (DEIR) that is currently under public review.
More info on expenditures: http://alhambransagainst710.com/costs-to-taxpayers
Contact info:
Melissa Michelson 


From Sylvia Plummer, June 10, 2015

Barbara Messina and John Fasana, both of whom are in favor of the tunnel, are both on the governing board of the San Gabriel Valley COG as well as being on the transportation committee which meets tomorrow.    I am surmising that one of the two of them was involved in getting this proposed action regarding the SR 710 North onto the agendas of both the transportation committee as well as on the full board agenda for next week.

Both of the meetings of the transportation committee and the full governing board are public meetings governed by the Brown Act and any citizen has a right to appear and provide public comment at either or both of these forums.

We need people to attend these two meetings and speak against the proposed action to support the SR-710 tunnel alternative.

Below is the link for the agenda for the San Gabriel Valley COG transportation committee (See item # 7) which meets on:

Thursday, June 11 @ 4pm

The Garvey Center,  9108 Garvey Avenue in Rosemead



Below is the link for the agenda for the full governing board meeting of the San Gabriel Valley COG (See item # 22) which meets:

Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Offices of the Upper San Gabriel Water District Offices
Suite B, 602 Huntington Drive in Monrovia.  


As you can see from the agenda descriptions, they want the board to provide direction to staff to prepare comments for the SR 710 North EIR.   The fact that this comes so late in the comment process could be interpreted as an indication that they may be attempting to do a last minute end run to attempt to get the San Gabriel Valley COG to support the tunnel.    

Also you should note that they do not describe the project properly as the EIR/EIS for the Western San Gabriel Valley Gap Closure Project – which contains five alternatives – only one of which involves the SR 710 North.   Instead this has been agendized as providing direction to staff with respect to the “SR 710 North EIR/EIS”.  Completion of the 710 North is only one of the five alternatives in the EIR/EIS.   There is no mention of the other EIR/EIS alternatives.   Although the agenda description does not indicate what the “directions to staff” might entail, a reasonable person might conclude that there is the possibility here that Barbara Messina and John Fasana may be attempting to influence the San Gabriel Valley COG’s governing board to endorse completion of the SR 710 North tunnel.