Metro held the first in a series of open houses in El Sereno on Monday to gather public input on some of the alternatives under consideration to relieve traffic congestion in the region, including possible routes to close the gap between State Route 710 and the 210 Foothill Freeway.
Comments collected at the meeting will be used in the SR-710 Study, which includes an alternative analyses, conceptual and preliminary engineering, technical assessments, project report preparation and environmental studies to address the congestion within the study area of the western San Gabriel Valley and East/Northeast Los Angeles, according to Metro.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Muestran Rutas Posibles para Cerrar la Brecha del SR-710 
The turnout was small for Monday’s meeting held at the El Sereno Senior Center — at one point Metro representatives appeared to out number stakeholders — despite the fact that El Sereno residents have long opposed closing the freeway gap between the two freeways if the extension runs through their Los Angeles neighborhood. In the past, they have argued that such an extension, no matter if it’s built above or below ground, threatens their quality of life.
The northbound 710 freeway currently ends on Valley Boulevard, where El Sereno, Alhambra and Monterey Park meet.
Large boards with maps of the area and possible traffic reducing routes were displayed around the perimeter of the senior center. At each location, Metro representatives stood ready to answer questions.
The information was presented bilingually with Spanish translations on the right half of the boards. The information, however, was not available in printout form or on the Internet. Metro plans to upload the information online in a couple of days, Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap told EGP.
Twelve alternative concepts to relieve traffic congestion were shown, including a “no build” freeway option and other projects still listed in the Regional Transportation Plan. Those options include alternate bus, light rail and freeway routes, highway and street artery concepts, non-infrastructure improvements and hybrid combinations of the other plans.
Stakeholders seemed to gravitate to two boards in particular, those showing alternative freeway concepts.
All of the freeway alternative concepts will connect the terminus of I-710, north of the I-10, one board stated. “Freeway alternatives are all on dedicated right-of-way with limited access and interchanges. Freeways have the highest speeds and design standards of any roadway. The alignment can be a tunnel, depressed, at-grade, elevated or any combination,” the board indicated.
Cesar Fernandez of East Los Angeles said he was concerned about the LRT-4 Bus Rapid Transit Alternative Concept. He posted a comment indicating he was interested in hosting an open house in East Los Angeles to discuss the LRT-4 alternative.
Businesses along Third Street in East LA have not yet recovered from the construction of the Edward Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, and another light rail route could further hinder economic development, he said.
The LRT-4 concept proposes a partially subterranean light rail line that would travel from the East LA Civic Center Gold Line station to the Fillmore station, go north on Mednick at street level and it could stop at Cal State LA, the board indicated. The rail is a tunnel on the north end; the concept also includes two bus routes.
El Sereno activist Tom Williams said he was not satisfied with the meeting’s format or that information was not available in advance of the meeting.
He called the meeting a “farce,” and said it would not lead to a “locally preferred alternative.” Williams told EGP he prefers a multi-modal low-build project as decided in an injunction a decade ago.
He said Metro representatives were deflecting criticism by saying the routes are all just concepts.
Long-time Alhambra residents Carla Pemberton, Virginia Orenos and Rozanne Child said they were interested in a fair and equitable solution with the least impact on the environment, but they didn’t agree on what concept that might be.
Pemberton said Alhambra has paid its dues and she would prefer a route go through Valley Boulevard and Huntington Drive in El Sereno. That idea bothers Child, who said the community with least financial resources would be hit the hardest. “Then build it through San Marino,” Pemberton responded.
Orenos said she would like to see a bridge over the railroad tracks on Mission Road in order to alleviate traffic on Huntington and Fremont.
“The problem is no one wants it in their backyard, but everybody wants to use it,” Orenos said.
The friends did agree however, that everyone should share the burden if they want to benefit from the traffic relief.
Comments detailing why someone was for or against a particular proposal were posted on each of Metro’s information boards.
“I am against any highway build—too destructive, too polluting,” one comment indicated, while another said, “Build the tunnel already!”
The next meeting is today, Thursday, May 17, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Eagle Rock Elementary School, located at 2057 Fair Park Avenue, Los Angeles, Ca 90041.
Additional meetings will be held in La Cañada on May 19, El Monte on May 22, in South Pasadena on May 23, and Alhambra on May 24.
It is anticipated that by fall 2012, the MTA Board will be presented an update on the SR 710 alternatives that will be advanced and studied during the development of the draft environmental document. Circulation of the draft environmental document, for public comments, and a public hearing is expected to occur by the end of 2013. A final environmental document and the selection of the preferred alternative are scheduled for the end of 2014, according to Michelle Smith, Metro project manager.
For more information on the meetings and the SR-710 Study, visit metro.net/sr710study or call (855) 4Sr-7101 or (855) 477-7100.
Freeway alternative concepts presented at Metro Open House in El Sereno on Monday:
Alternative Concept F-2:
–Connects to SR 2 (Glendale Freeway) between Verdugo Road and SR 134 with a new interchange.
–Performs well for traffic operations across the board, although somewhat weaker at addressing the north-south travel needs because of the alignment.
—Results in different impacts than the other freeway alternatives because of its location .
Alternative Concept F-5:
—Connects to SR 134 at a new interchange— just north of the intersection of Colorado Blvd/Avenue 64.
—Performs well for operations, similar to the other freeway alternatives.
—Results in different environmental and community impacts compared to the other alternative concepts.
Alternative Concept F-6 and F-7:
—Share the same alignment—between the north and south terminus of the existing SR 710
—F-7 is the tunnel alignment, although it has depressed and at-grade sections at the north/south ends.
—Performs well for travel time and travel served, and improves regional and local traffic operations.
—F-6 is surface/depressed alignment (at-grade) very similar with even better operations and mobility.
—F-6 results in more negative physical impacts.
Alternative Concept H-6:
This alignment is between the termini on Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue, Columbia Street, Pasadena Avenue and St. Johns Avenue.
—Improvements would carry SR 710 traffic over Valley Boulevard and then connect directly to Huntington Drive between Lowell Avenue and Sheffield Avenue.
—Performs well in traffic and transit operations, and was the strongest overall of the highway/arterial alternatives. It provides additional capacity as a direct route for north-south travel in the study area.
Alternative Concept H-2:
—This alignment is situated to the west, but generally serves north-south traffic: Concord Avenue, Fremont Avenue, Monterey Road, Ave 64, Colorado Blvd.
—Improvements would carry SR 710 traffic over Valley Boulevard and the railroad, and then connect with Concord Avenue.
—Performs well in traffic and transit operations, serves a variety of different trips, and improves a wide range of roads. It has fewer impacts than H-6.