Metro released the findings from its Alternative Analysis Report that was used to narrow down its list of routes meant to improve mobility and relieve congestion through the SR-710 gap between East/Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.
Last week community members attended an open house hosted by Metro and Caltrans to review the results obtained by the recently completed report, which compared 12 alternatives that were meant to relieve congestion in the study area bordered by the SR-2, I-10, I-210 and the 1-605 freeways.
Metro’s Executive Officer for the Highway Program, Frank Quoun, told EGP that after years of scoping efforts and feedback from the community Metro is ready to move forward to the next phase in the project.
‘We’ve been able to identify five that we think are good alternatives to move forward into the environmental document,” Quon said. “We want to make sure that [the public] understands there’s no decision made yet but what we want them to see is the five alternatives that will be considered.”
Through the Alternative Analysis Report each alternative was rated on how well it would fulfill the following objectives:
—Minimize travel time
—Improve connectivity and mobility
—Reduce congestion on the freeway system
—Reduce congestion on local street system
—Increase transit ridership
—Least impact on the environment and communities
—Consistency with regional plans and strategies
—Maximize cost-efficiency of public investments
Deborah Pracilio, a LSA consultant, told EGP the alternatives were rated based on how well they met each objective.
The 12 alternatives where then narrowed down to five that will continue on to a detailed Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), to further determine the environmental, social and economical impact each route would have as it tries to connect the SR-710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena.
“Were going to do much more detailed engineering on each of the alternatives, were actually looking at incorporating some of the modes together so they are looking at some refinement,” said Pracilio.
The five alternatives that will be studied in the SR-710 EIR/EIS will include the no build option, the transportation system management/transportation demand management (TSM/TDM), the light rail transit alternative (LRT-4X), the bus rapid transit alternative (BRT-6X) and the freeway tunnel alternative (F-7X).
“We tried to pick the best bus rapid, the best light rail, the best freeway and the best highway and really the highway fell out because it wasn’t fulfilling the purpose and need,” said Pracilio.
According to Metro, freight traffic will be considered within the SR-710 EIR to determine the effects of truck travel to and from the ports to distribution centers and warehouses.
Rob McCann, President of LSA Associates Inc, a consulting firm hired by Metro that specializes in environmental, transportation, and planning services, told EGP that the firm was asked to gather information because there was so much public interest in the question of goods movement.
“There will be a discussion of truck traffic in each [alternative] and how it changes and will compare with one another,” McCann said. “There’s always going to be some trucks on any highway but on this project it’s not a high percentage.”
Charles Miller, a member of the No on 710 coalition told EGP he was happy to see Metro include the study on goods movement.
“That’s something that had been omitted from their public commentary but something we had really pressed hard with,” said Miller.
Loren Bloomberg, a traffic engineer, told EGP that a computer model used to predict traffic in Southern California through 2035 was used to analyze the alternatives to see how they hurt or helped traffic on surface streets and freeways. That same model will be used to analyze the five alternatives including their variations like tow versus non-tow or truck restrictions versus allowing trucks.
“As we refine it we get more details on it,” Bloomberg said. “The other refinement is we look into details of individual intersections.”
Supporters of the 710-freeway expansion like Harry Baldwin attended the open house to better understand the alternatives that Metro is looking at but also to help dispel rumors caused by this controversial expansion.
“There’s a lot of people that are hearing rumors in the neighborhood, some people have been here today and have found out these rumors are not true,” Baldwin told EGP. “We need to be able to move our traffic through the system as efficiently as possible and I think this is one of the major links in doing that.”
Baldwin told EGP some residents had heard rumors that their homes could be taken away, but after checking the routes that Metro is looking at for the five alternatives, some people discovered their homes would be safe from the construction.
Some of the attendees, however, were not reassured by the presentation when it comes to the cost of the project, which some claim will be billions of dollars more than Metro has claimed.
Miller, a resident of Los Angeles, told EGP that some questions and concerns have yet to be addressed by Metro.
“There are a number of reasons why I’m opposed, there are a number of concerns over inducing traffic into this area, there are health concerns but probably the number one concern I have is for L.A County taxpayers,” Miller said.
Some residents also felt that Metro has already set their mind on the tunnel route, one that Miller says would take away funds from other transportation services.
“It’s not just a financial risk for us being able to pay for it, but also for bus and transit that will just suck the money out of all of those [services] and deplete service in the area rather than enhance it,” he said.
The study has been funded by Measure R, which was approved by voters in 2008 to increase taxes by a half-cent to fund Los Angeles County transportation projects. Voters recently extended the tax trough 2040 that will provide $40 billion for transportation projects with $780 million for the SR-710 study and improvements.
Metro projects the release of the Draft EIR/EIS will be available by Spring 2014 and a final preferred alternative to be selected by Spring 2015.
For more information about the SR-710 Study visit www.metro.net/sr710study.