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, May 26, 2017

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board Meeting Pt. 2

Joe Cano: Metro Board members comments & vote to kill 710 tunnel project.

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board Meeting Pt. 1

Joe Cano: "Please note due to the overwhelming amount of participants at this meeting it was unavoidable the side camera used for the comments section kept getting bumped by people from time to time. Also, some folks kept leaning on the intercom phone behind me. It was a war zone alright."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Metro Board supports local road improvements to help remedy 710 gap traffic


By Steve Hymon, May 25, 2017

The Metro Board of Directors approved a motion today by a 12 to 0 vote that calls for Metro to fund local road improvements to address traffic congestion caused by the 4.5-mile gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. Many Board Members said they hoped to do something immediate rather than wait years for a freeway tunnel that may never have enough funding and/or political support to be built.

Among those improvements that can now be funded: traffic signal upgrades and synchronization, local street and intersection improvements, improved connections to existing bus service and the promotion of rideshare in the area.

The motion approved by the Board today is the latest development in the decades-long saga involving the freeway gap. The 710 opened to Valley Boulevard in Alhambra in 1965 but a planned extension north to a junction with the 134 and 210 freeways in Pasadena has since met near constant funding and legal challenges. Over the years, there has been widespread agreement the gap increases traffic on local roads but considerable disagreement over what should be done about it.

“I’ve thought the tunnel was the best approach, but I’ve also come to the realization that it’s un-fundable and if it happened it was many, many years away,” said Board Chair and Duarte Mayor Pro Tem John Fasana, adding that the tunnel would not confer immediate benefits to residents and businesses impacted by the gap.

In 2011, and with $780 million in new funding from the Measure R sales tax (approved by L.A. County voters in 2008), Caltrans and Metro essentially started from scratch with a new environmental study to identify a project to tackle and help relieve traffic caused by the gap. The project’s environmental study looked at five alternatives: the legally-required no build option, a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit and the “Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM)” alternative — which is now the Metro Board’s official ‘locally preferred alternative’ for the project.

The new study found a freeway tunnel would meet the project purpose and need, and offer the most mobility improvements (see this project status update and the project’s performance evaluation matrix below). But the Metro Board was faced with this dilemma: there was only $780 million in funding available for a tunnel expected to cost much more. And with more legal challenges to a tunnel likely on the horizon, prospects were very dim for finding other funding sources.

Under the motion approved by the Board, $105 million from Measure R would be used for local road projects described above. The remaining funds from Measure R could be used for new mobility improvement projects.  

Under the motion approved by the Board, $105 million from Measure R would be used for local road projects described above. The remaining funds from Measure R could be used for projects including — but not limited to — sound walls, transit and rail capital improvements, bikeways, pedestrian improvements, signal synchronization, left turn signals, major street resurfacing and reconstruction. Those projects would be located in Alhambra, La Canada-Flintridge, Pasadena, South Pasadena and the 90032 zip code, which includes parts of the city of L.A.

Other funds would also be available to Metro’s Central Subregion — i.e. unincorporated East Los Angeles, El Sereno and the city of L.A. — would be prioritized for ‘multi-modal and safety enhancements’ that are within the project’s study area.

Public testimony continued for well over an hour. There was considerable support for the Board’s action with many speakers heaping scorn on a prospective tunnel while saying it was time to move on to other options.

The project’s final environmental study is scheduled to be completed later this year. Even if Caltrans selects the freeway tunnel as the preferred alternative, the motion approved by the Metro Board would prevent funding a tunnel with Measure R funds — the only money currently available for a tunnel.

Metro Board Sets New Path for SR-710

 By Connected Cities and Communities, May 25, 2017

Metro Board Sets New Path for SR-710

Board votes unanimously to end the tunnel project and distribute allocated funds to the affected communities

LOS ANGELES—In a historic vote today, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board ended the 50-year debate over the SR-710 “connector” in the San Gabriel Valley. The unanimous vote is a major step forward that will finally allow the communities in the western San Gabriel Valley to pursue strategic, sustainable, multi-modal projects that will enhance mobility for the region, while removing the potential of exorbitant costs and destructive effects of a 5.4-mile, 60-foot wide tunnel proposal.

The leaders of the Connected Cities and Communities (C3) coalition praised the vote as a forward-thinking and cost-effective solution for the region’s transportation needs. The C3 coalition brought
together the cities of Glendale, Pasadena, La Cañada-Flintridge, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the No 710 Action Committee as partners who share a vision of better transportation solutions.

“Today’s Metro Board decision is a vote for healthy communities, fiscal responsibility and a 21st
century approach to transportation in Los Angeles County. The time has come for us to move beyond this outdated project," said Ara Najarian, the chair of the C3, and a member of the Metro Board of Directors and a Glendale City Councilman. “I applaud the leadership of Metro Board chair John Fasana, who recognized that the tunnel was not viable, and the millions of dollars designated for the project should be put to better use.”

The tunnel project has been under environmental review since 2011. While the Metro Board
received a staff report recommending the tunnel, the Board acknowledged that the contentious multibillion dollar project lacked a viable financing plan and they wisely chose to redirect the funds toward a package of new local transportation fixes.

“After years of requesting bettermobility for the region, the residents of South Pasadena and our
C3 coalition partners are relieved to know that the SR-710 tunnel is now highly unlikely,” said Marina Khubesrian,M.D., vice chair of the C3 and amember of the South Pasadena City Council. “We look forward to working with all of the corridor cities to develop projects that will be better for their communities, relieve traffic and provide more options for people to travel to their homes, jobs, schools, and doctors’ appointments.”

“Cities are only effective when they work for everyone,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and
CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Since naming the historic neighborhoods along the 710 to our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, we have advocated for a solution that addresses the growing region’s need for equitable transportation while preserving its unique history. As such, we are pleased that today’s Metro Board decision will enhance the character and identity thatmakes these diverse communities thrive.”

According toMetro staff, approximately $730 million remains in the SR-710 fund appropriated in
Measure R. Today’s vote devoted $105 million of that fund to implement the Transportation System
Management and Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) list of projects already identified in the Environmental Impact Report. The remainder of the money will be made available for new projects in the corridor communities, which will be developed collaboratively with Metro.

“Taking the divisive tunnel project off the table heralds a new era of cooperation among San
Gabriel Valley cities, to the benefit of everyone,” said Terry Tornek, the mayor of the city of Pasadena. “The vision of leaders such as Supervisor Katherine Barger and John Fasana will allow our cities to work together in pursuit of smartermobility improvements, such as those outlined in the Beyond the 710 Plan."

# # #

About the Connected Cities and Communities (C3) Cities, organizations and individuals that make up C3 have come together to find the best way to relieve traffic, connect communities, promote smart growth, and help people get to their jobs, schools, shopping, and recreation. C3 is about connecting communities, increasing everyone’s quality of life, and putting scarce transportation dollars to their best use. This ever-growing coalition is comprised of the Cities of Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, plus the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and No 710 Action Committee.


The 710 tunnel appears to be dead at last!  This morning the LA Metro Board voted unanimously to drop its support for the 710 Freeway tunnel, and to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars that had been earmarked for the tunnel to local transportation alternatives instead.  

So many persons in my Council District, Pasadena, South Pasadena, La Canada,  Glendale and beyond, including my office, have worked together tirelessly for literally decades to put an end to the 710 extension.  The surface route was eliminated a few years ago, and the tunnel was the last gasp for the 710; and now that's been eliminated too!

I could not possibly name everyone to whom gratitude is owed, but many thanks to everyone who supported my motions in 2000 and 2012 (making the official position of the City of Pasadena to oppose the 710), to those who participated in and attended the several 710 forums we held over the years, to the dedicated freeway fighters in Pasadena and our region, and very special thanks to the Metro Boardmembers for making this historic decision, especially LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.  It has been a long but important and worthwhile fight and in the end we have prevailed.   I'm sure we will organize a celebration in the near future, as we look forward to reclaim the freeway "stub" and reintegrate it and the CalTrans homes back into our West Pasadena neighborhoods.

Steve Madison
Pasadena Councilmember

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board Vote to Kill the SR710

Alhambra Babs sitting in the 2nd row and Terese Real Sebastian across the isle. Mad as hell for sure.

Metro board squashes 710 freeway tunnel

The agency will focus on small infrastructure improvements instead.

By Elijah Chiland, May 25, 2017


Originally planned to link up with the 210, the freeway currently lets riders off just north of Interstate 10.

The Metro Board of Directors closed out another chapter in the long saga of the never-finished 710 freeway Thursday, nixing a plan to extend the route north via an underground tunnel.

In a unanimous vote, the board approved a motion submitted last week by chairman John Fasana calling on the agency to pursue an alternative to the tunnel that focuses instead on smaller infrastructure improvements in the area.

Fasana previously supported building the tunnel, but said Thursday it was simply too costly for Metro to finance. In the works for well over a decade, the project, Fasana suggested, needed a resolution. “I think we’ve reached a point where a decision needs to be made,” he said.

With the board’s vote, Metro will now pursue the so-called “Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management” alternative—one of five options proposed by Metro in a 2013 study that analyzed possibilities for closing the 710 freeway gap.

Original plans for the route had it stretching between Long Beach and the 210 freeway, rather than abruptly ending just north of Interstate 10 at Valley Boulevard, as it does today.

Other possible alternatives to the tunnel included a light rail line and a rapid bus system, but those projects would have also commanded relatively high price tags.

Instead, Metro will pursue bringing smaller changes to the communities the tunnel would have linked. Those include more frequent bus service, widening certain streets, and better traffic signal synchronization.

The infrastructure improvements will be paid for with $780 million in funding set aside for the 710 project through Measure R

Fasana’s original motion called for the bulk of those funds to go toward “mobility improvement projects” in the San Gabriel Valley, but was later amended to include communities like El Sereno and unincorporated East LA that have been affected by the project.

 As board members at the meeting expressed their support for the proposal, it became clear that the vote was in part a referendum on the future of transportation in Los Angeles. 

Director and Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian called the tunnel “outdated,” while Mayor Eric Garcetti said that freeway projects like this one were no longer a viable solution to LA’s traffic woes.

Fasana agreed, suggesting Metro will have its work cut out for it going forward. “The highway system we have today is what we’ll have 100 years from now,” he said. “We have to live with the [system] we have.”

A brief history of the not-so-brief battle over the 710 Freeway extension, which may be coming to a close


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

710 Freeway Epansion Tunnel Hits Roadblock

The LA City Council voted to support a bill prohibiting the constructions of a 710 Freeway tunnel to Pasadena. 

May 24, 2017

 710 Freeway Epansion Tunnel Hits Roadblock

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Los Angeles City Council threw its support Wednesday behind legislation that would prohibit the construction of a tunnel to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway and establish a link between Alhambra and Pasadena.

The bill would create the I-710 Gap Corridor Transit Zone Advisory Committee, which would review a wide range of mass transit options for the 6.2- mile gap between Alhambra and Pasadena, which currently are linked only by surface streets, and recommend solutions that do not include a tunnel or a surface freeway.

The panel would include representatives from the cities of Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena, along with Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and select members of the California Legislature.

Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents communities in northeast L.A. near the 710 gap, was the lone dissenter to the resolution supporting the bill by Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena.
Cedillo expressed support for a tunnel.

"We should move away from the kind of hysteria that gets engendered by this discussion and move into a dispassionate discussion about the benefits of a tunnel and how it accomplishes the goals of all of those communities impacted," Cedillo said.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who also represents communities in northeast L.A. near the 710 gap, voiced support for the resolution and said Mayor Eric Garcetti and county Supervisor Hilda Solis are opposed to the tunnel.

"All of us agree that it's time to get away from this boondoggle of a project that's going to cost billions of dollars but not ease much traffic ... that those dollars instead be used for a more efficient way, a more 21st century way, in planning for transportation," Huizar said.

The possibility of a 710 Freeway extension has been on the table for decades, but has been thwarted by generations of opposition from some of the communities in its path, including South Pasadena.
Caltrans began in the 1950s and 1960s buying empty lots, houses and apartments along the planned route of the 710 Freeway extension between Pasadena and Alhambra. Last year, Caltrans began the process of selling off the houses and apartments as part of its shift toward a tunnel or other options.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

710 Tunnel Update

From Sylvia Plummer, May 23, 2017


  1.  LA Times Editorial -- Pull the plug on 710 tunnel
The Los Angeles Times published this editorial today (May 23) -- a significant step in acknowledging that the tunnel has no future in the transportation future of Los Angeles.   http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-710-tunnel-20170523-story.html
2.  Recent developments in SR 710 
The latest and most significant development occurred at a meeting of Metro’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee meeting last Wednesday.  At that meeting, the decision was made to forward to the entire Metro Board a motion to recommend the Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management alternative as the locally-preferred alternative – NOT THE TUNNEL IN EITHER CONFIGURATION (SINGLE- OR DUAL-BORE).  This recommendation was made even though the SR 710 North Study staff reported to Metro that the Single-Bore Tunnel alternative offered the best performance and financial return (a flawed conclusion).  As you will read in the motion, the Committee has come to the realization that the tunnel is not fundable.  We know for a fact that no private partners have come forward with interest in financing and building the tunnel – an indication that the project does not “pencil out” and represents too great a financial risk.  The motion also addresses the disposition of the remainder of the original $780 million from 2008’s Measure R.  This portion of the motion has been somewhat controversial, and we may see modifications of the original motion, or even introduction of an alternate motion  on Thursday .  We believe the Board is poised to act favorably on the committee’s recommendation.  You can view the Board Meeting agenda at:  http://metro.legistar1.com/metro/meetings/2017/5/1210_A_Board_of_Directors_-_Regular_Board_Meeting_17-05-25_Agenda.pdf .  The action is item 29 on the agenda, and the text of the original motion is included as item 29.1.
3.  Call to Action:  Metro Board of Directors to act on committee’s recommendation this Thursday, May 25th.   We need people to attend what may be an historic decision!
9 am
One Gateway Plaza
METRO Board Room - 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

This is a VERY important meeting because the METRO Board will be discussing and voting on a Motion, which, if passed, will be another MAJOR step forward in killing the 710 Freeway Tunnel.
We need you there!!

Speakers will probably be limited to  a 1 minute presentation so if you choose to speak, it is wise to have prepared a statement ahead of time. It is not necessary for all of us to speak but we do  need a real show of support for ending the tunnel.  
We want to continue to demonstrate our commitment to opposing the tunnel and our support for a motion to remove the tunnel by having a large number of the engaged public at the meeting.  Even if you don’t  speak, those who do will be able to point to our group as supporters of their statements.  Optics play an important role.
So – please come and bring your friends and neighbors!
4.  Message from State Senator Anthony Portantino
 Dear Freeway Fighters and Interested 710 Friends,
What an exciting series of events. Clearly, the motion being contemplated for
action Thursday of this week by MTA is a very positive step forward for the Metro
Board and our communities impacted by the threat of the 710 tunnel. Designating
the Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management
Alternative as the Locally Preferred Alternative and recommending expenditure of
the Measure R dollars on local projects rather than the tunnel is an effective way
of bringing the 710 tunnel saga to a close.
Is it the perfect solution? Perhaps not. But is it an appropriate solution for the
many of us who have opposed the above‐ and below‐grade 710 freeway
proposals for five decades? I would say a resounding YES! Recognition by the
MTA Board that the tunnel does not enjoy broad local support and is not
economically feasible is a giant leap forward from the time proponents were
exhibiting optimism about breaking ground in 2015, curtailing studies to predetermine
outcomes and fighting the release of the cost benefit analysis. And, for
those who were hoping the final EIR would include the tunnel as the preferred
solution the proposed motion is a significant disappointment.
The many activists and community leaders who championed the NO 710
FREEWAY/TUNNEL cause are to be commended. Those folks who ensured the
failure of Measure J, which included money for the tunnel and the subsequent
success of Measure M, which did not, deserve a healthy pat on the back.
Metro, though long struggling with this project and still containing Board
Members who have sought the completion of the tunnel, is also to be
commended for putting personal feelings aside for a practical and just conclusion.
And, those communities that have long felt that their unique local transportation
needs would benefit from the tunnel should be appreciated for working with
Metro leaders on setting aside their decades’ long passion on the hope that local
mitigating measures funded by Measure R can bring relief to their communities.
In short, there is much for everyone to be cautious about as the detente solution
is finally discussed and passed this week. But, I believe that folks should feel
comfortable supporting the motion being contemplated by MTA this Thursday.
Here are two reasons why: First it is a good‐faith effort to end this situation in a
manner that makes it clear the 710 tunnel is not the preferred alternative. And
second, it is also important to remember that Caltrans will make the final
determination and certification of the Environmental Impact Report. I have been
in almost daily contact with the Department of Transportation for the past six
months and I anticipate a positive conclusion. I also want to reassure everyone
who has trusted my efforts to fight the tunnel, and before that the freeway, that I
am committed to protecting local interests and the right outcome. Although I
have not been touting these months‐long efforts in the news or endeavoring to
make splashy headlines, I have been intimately involved with helping to bring this
issue to its rightful conclusion. I will continue to lead that effort as your State
Senator and two‐decade compatriot in this effort.
Last week, I held a town hall with 710 tenants and Caltrans to help facilitate the
sale of the Caltrans owned houses; while simultaneously my legislation to ensure
the low‐income tax benefits for the Caltrans tenants is on its way to becoming
state law. This necessary tax fix has complete support of the County Assessor and
of Caltrans.
So, in conclusion, I’m optimistic that the rightful outcome is at hand and steadfast
in my resolve to ensure its happens.
Anthony J. Portantino
State Senator, 25th SD

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Metro Board to Consider Motion on 710 North Project Alternative

By Steve Hymon, May 17, 2017

A motion that would support one of the five alternatives for the 710 North project -- to improve local roads -- as the project's 'locally preferred alternative' was approved on a 3 to 2 vote Wednesday by the Metro Board of Director's Ad Hoc Congestion, Highways and Roads Committee.
The alternative's official name is "Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management" (TSM/TDM) and includes traffic signal upgrades and synchronization, local street and intersection improvements, improved connections to existing bus service and the promotion of rideshare in the area around the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. These are the kind of projects that Metro staff have said could provide immediate travel benefits.
The motion is posted above. Something worth highlighting: the motion calls for spending $105 million on the TSM/TDM alternative and using the remaining project funds -- potentially hundreds of millions of dollars -- for new mobility projects in the San Gabriel Valley area. Please see the motion for details.
In committee, the 'yes' votes were from Board Members John Fasana, Kathryn Barger and Ara Najarian and the 'no' votes were from Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker and Janice Hahn. The full Board will consider the item at their meeting next Thursday (May 25) at 9 a.m. The public can listen and watch Board meetings online.
The project's final environmental study is due to be released by the end of this year. The five project alternatives studied include a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, TSM/TDM improvements and the no-build option. Here is is the project homepage, which includes much more background about the project.

Joe Cano Video: Metro Board of Directors, May 17, 2017

Metro Board of Directors Ad-Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee, May 17, 2017


Metro Board could dash plans for a 710 freeway tunnel next week 5 comments Board Chair John Fasana wants smaller street improvements instead

Board Chair John Fasana wants smaller street improvements instead

By Eljiah Chilan, May 18, 2017


In a blow to advocates of a 710 freeway tunnel, a Metro committee yesterday approved a motion calling on the agency’s Board of Directors to support an alternative to the project that would facilitate street improvements and better connections to public transit in the area, rather than building the multi-billion tunnel.

The Metro Board’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highways and Roads Committee approved the motion, introduced by Board Chair John Fasana, in a contentious 3-2 vote, as The Source reports. It will be considered by the full Board at its next meeting on Thursday, May 25.

The question of how to compensate for a never-built extension of the 710 freeway has been debated for years. In 2013, a Metro study presented five options for closing the gap between the freeway’s current terminus just above the 10 freeway to the 210 in Pasadena.

Only one of those plans—the tunnel—would create a new path for drivers. The others, which include a light rail system and a rapid bus line, are focused on expanding options for commuters in the area.
Fasana’s motion favors the so-called “Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management” alternative, which focuses on smaller-scale improvements that could help relieve congestion in the area. Those include more frequent bus service, widening certain streets, and better traffic signal synchronization.

Fasana notes in the motion that the agency lacks the money needed to construct the tunnel (costs are projected to be over $3 billion), while light rail and rapid bus options “may not produce the expected traffic impact mitigation.”

When LA County voters approved Measure R in 2008, $780 million was set aside for the 710 project. Fasana’s motion calls for $105 million of those funds to be dedicated to the TSM/TDM plan, while the remaining money would be used for “mobility improvement projects” in the San Gabriel Valley.
This isn’t the only threat to the tunnel’s possible construction. In February, Assemblymember Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, announced a bill that would effectively prohibit building the costly project.