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, 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