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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Reaction to Assemblymember Holden’s Bill to Kill the 710 Extension Tunnel: Enthusiasm to Outrage


February 10, 2017

Reactions to Assemblymember Chris Holden’s announcement he has introduced a bill in Sacramento to prohibit construction of a tunnel to complete the 710 Freeway gap between the I-10 and I-210 freeways in Pasadena range from glowing support to outrage.

The 710 Coalition, a grouping of cities, school districts, businesses and individuals that support the tunnel alternative, called Holden’s proposal an “audacious maneuver by 710 tunnel opponents to thwart years of progress toward completion of the freeway.

Pasadena officials, on the other hand, enthusiastically supported Holden’s legislation.

“This is really exciting for our community,” District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison said. “Chris’s proposal is to have a committee appointed to study approaches to certain regional transportation needs, including the 710 corridor, but it would prohibit the study of the 710 tunnel. It would put an end to the tunnel, for sure.”

Mayor Tornek agreed.

“The great value of what Chris is proposing is he’s not just saying no; he’s suggesting a method to study alternatives in a way that should be productive and allow our people to really start to move towards something other than an early 20th century solution,” Tornek said. “The tunnel project just doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny at all. They’ve already spent $30 million on the EIR (environmental impact report), and that’s money that could have been put towards actual solutions.”

With the tunnel alternative possibly on the way out, Tornek said Pasadena officials would continue to meet with Metro, Caltrans, and all the other stakeholders as well as the community, and cooperate in the search for a better solution.

Former Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said Holden’s bill is a great step in a battle that’s been going on for more than 40 years.

“Chris has come around to a very strong position of opposition based on the facts,” Bogaard said. “The information that is now available indicates that this project, at a cost of five to $10 billion, simply does not make traffic improvements of the kind that this region needs. It’s great to have someone of Chris’ stature and standing to take this position.”

Bogaard also expects there will be continuing discussions among people who still think that building a tunnel has a role to play in the interconnection project.

“But when the facts are known – the environmental facts, the financial facts, the absolute need for other improvement in transportation in this region – the answer will be clear: the tunnel has no role in the future of Southern California,” Bogaard said.

Pasadena City Councilmember Steve Madison said he believes the Holden bill could “finally kill this 710 tunnel.”

The 710 Coalition, which includes the cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel and San Marino, said Holden’s proposal would disregard years of money and effort invested into the SR-710 interconnection project. Sixteen other Southern California cities support the Coalition.

“Hundreds of project related meetings and hearings have occurred over the last five years,” a 710 Coalition statement said. “To disrupt the process is unconscionable and disrespectful to all involved. The tunnel is the best way to close the gap – it provides reductions in traffic and the biggest job boost to the local and regional economy.”

Holden filed the bill in the light of a landmark climate legislation mandating the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

“It is clear that the State Route 710 tunnel project is a misguided and obsolete solution,” Holden said. “The tunnel option puts billions of taxpayer dollars on the line with no hard evidence pointing to traffic relief for the San Gabriel Valley. The freeway tunnel may have been a viable option 50 years ago but it is not in today’s or tomorrow’s reality.”

Holden stressed that there is now a real opportunity to set a precedent for what transportation should be in California.

“Our state led the way by building one of the most advanced freeway systems in America,” Holden said. “We should lead the way now by taking a 21st century approach to addressing our transportation needs.”