Metro Board Redirects $700 Million Away From 710 Freeway Tunnel

May 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In a move that could effectively kill the Long Beach (710) Freeway tunnel extension between Alhambra and Pasadena, the Metro Board of Directors voted Thursday to redirect its $700 million for the project to alterative street improvements.

The unanimous 12-0 vote ran contrary to a Metro staff report endorsing the tunnel, which would run 4.9 miles and help close the 6.2-mile gap between the 710’s terminus and the Foothill (210) Freeway, at total cost of over $3 billion.

But with Metro pulling its portion of the funding, the project may effectively now be dead, although Caltrans has the final authority on building the tunnel and is expected to vote on the issue later this year or in 2018.

The motion redirecting the money was introduced by Metro board Chairman and Duarte City Councilman John Fasana and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

Fasana had previously supported the tunnel but said he was reversing course because he did not believe the full funding for the project would ever materialize and he wanted to help the communities along the corridor immediately, particularly where freeway traffic is dumped at the end of the 710
Freeway in Alhambra.

“I thought the tunnel was the best approach. I have also come to the realization that it is not fundable. If it happened it would be many, many years away,” Fasana said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Metro board member, said he sympathized with both sides but also did not believe the funding for the tunnel would ever materialize.

“So eyes wide open, let’s think of the incremental things. What can we do so that folks who are choked on public streets, who do suffer from asthma and cancer have real options,” Garcetti said.

The possibility of a 710 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 surface freeway extension. But a series of lawsuits and opposition from some communities and activists has kept the project in perpetual limbo for decades.

Last year, Caltrans began the process of selling off the houses and apartments it owns along the corridor as part of its shift away from a surface freeway extension and toward a tunnel or other options.

The tunnel received a wave of momentum after county voters approved Measure R in 2008, a half-cent sales tax that raised $780 million for improvements along the 710 corridor, some of which has already been spent on studies and reports.

Some leaders of communities along the corridor, including Alhambra, have been in support of the tunnel as a viable alterative to relieve the extra congestion and air pollution caused by freeway traffic cutting through the surface streets. But other communities have opposed it out of safety concerns over building the tunnel and with doubts that it would relieve congestion or reduce air pollution in the area.

A Metro study concluded the tunnel would carry 90,000 vehicles and remove 42,000 vehicles a day from local streets. But the Metro board’s vote will redirect the agency’s $700 million that had been dedicated to the project toward traffic, safety and public transportation improvements along the gap corridor and the greater San Gabriel Valley area.

The alternative choices endorsed by Metro are included as options in Caltrans’ draft environmental report on the tunnel, which was issued in 2015 and removed a surface freeway as an option.

Dozens of public speakers lined up at the board meeting to voice opposition or support for the motion, including prominent public officials from communities near and along the corridor.

“Supporting the tunnel should be a no-brainer for the board. Our goal is to relieve congestion in our neighborhoods,” Alhambra Mayor David Mejia said.

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to endorse a state Senate bill that would prohibit the construction of the tunnel while creating an I-710 Gap Corridor Transit Zone Advisory Committee, which would review alternative options to a tunnel.

 

SR-710: Metro Committee Backs ‘Transportation Management’ Over Tunnel

May 24, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Decades of uncertainty and discord over the controversial State Route 710 North project could soon turn a new page if transportation officials vote Thursday to adopt a recommendation to fund a traffic management system as the preferred route to fill the transportation “gap” between the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways.

The decision by the Metro Ad-Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee to support the traffic management system alternative over a proposal to build a 6.3-mile tunnel to close the gap, however, is not without controversy.

Eddie Torres, president of the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and a longtime proponent of the tunnel alternative, told EGP he was stunned by committee member and Metro Board Chair John Fasana’s unexpected motion to bypass the tunnel option for the street management system.

Fasana is also mayor pro tem of Duarte — a San Gabriel Valley city where streets are not impacted by the traffic spilling over from the 710 terminus in Alhambra — and had previously expressed support for the tunnel alternative.

Torres went on to say he believes Fasana was pushed to make the motion and become the “bad guy” because the decision would not be controversial among his constituents.

The proposed traffic management system, one of five alternatives under consideration in the SR-710 Study, would upgrade and synchronize signals and make other enhancements to local streets and intersections. Proponents say it’s a more cost-effective and achievable plan to improve the traffic congestion that has made traveling north from the 710’s end on Valley Boulevard to connect to the 210 in South Pasadena a nightmare.

Last week, after two years reviewing some 8,000 public comments and weighing the impacts and benefits of each of the five alternatives under consideration, the SR-710 Study team presented the tunnel option as the preferred alternative to Metro’s Ad-Hoc Committee, but with a caveat.

In a letter to stakeholders, Metro officials explained the single bore freeway tunnel with tolls and truck restrictions was the alternative that “best addresses the purpose and need of the project,” however, with a price tag of $1.5 billion, it is “not fundable in the foreseeable future.”

(METRO)

(METRO)

Only $780 million in Measure R funds were earmarked for the SR-710 North project.

In response, Fasana moved to make the transportation system management alternative the preferred option. His motion calls for using $105 million of the Measure R funds to build the system and for the remainder to be used on new mobility improvement projects to relieve congestion in the San Gabriel Valley.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council threw its support behind legislation by a Pasadena assemblyman that would prohibit the construction of a tunnel to extend the 710 Freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. Residents of the more affluent areas of Pasadena and South Pasadena have long opposed the tunnel and most other options as disruptive to their neighborhoods, while residents in less affluent East Los Angeles and Commerce have complained they have disproportionately shouldered the burden of the region’s transportation needs.

The bill by Assemblyman Chris Holden — which failed its first hearing in April but could be reconsidered — would create the I-710 Gap Corridor Transit Zone Advisory Committee, which would review a wide range of mass transit options to fill the 6.2-mile gap between Alhambra and Pasadena, which currently are linked only by surface streets. They would recommend solutions that do not include a tunnel or a surface freeway.

It’s not clear if the options to be considered would be those already considered in the SR-710 Study and Draft EIR, or if the process would start over.

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 Holden’s bill.

“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.

Metro received 1,328 comments supporting the tunnel alternative. Torres calls the traffic management system a “band aid solution.”

“Why ask us for our opinion if you’re only going to use money as an excuse to not give us what we want,” he complained.

If not fundable, Metro officials should have removed the tunnel as an option years ago when the cost estimates were released, Torres said.

“Why spend money on this study and process if they already knew how expensive [the tunnel] would be” and had no way to make it a reality, he added in frustration.

Over the last few years, Metro has held dozens of public hearings and informational workshops in the various communities impacted by the SR-710. They shared the findings from the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement on each of the five alternatives, which also included a light rail train, a rapid bus line and a “no build” option.

Members of the 710 coalition, a group in favor of the tunnel with members from Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel and San Marino, were thrilled to learn the study team’s report favored a tunnel, which they argue will reduce congestion, air pollution, emissions and cut-through traffic.

“Lets stop debating and start building,” urged Alhambra Mayor Dave Mejia in a note to supporters last week. But upon learning of the new motion, Monterey Park Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian urged residents to attend the upcoming Metro Board meeting to express their disapproval.

“Instead of listening to Metro staff, the Ad Hoc Committee approved a motion that goes against the wishes of the voters when you approved Measure R and the completion of the 710 gap,” she wrote in an email to residents.

According to Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar’s spokesperson, Rick Coca, his boss is concerned there are no specific provisions in Fasana’s motion to relieve traffic congestions in two of the most highly impacted areas, East Los Angeles and El Sereno, a neighborhood the councilman represents.

Those areas have been inundated with commuters trying to get around traffic tie-ups, and the resulting pollution from vehicle emissions.

But Huizar on Wednesday voted to support Holden’s bill, saying he, Sup. Hilda Solis and Mayor Garcetti all oppose building a 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.

According to Coca, Huizar will send a letter to the Metro Board detailing his concerns with the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendation, and advocate that the plan ultimately approved serve the needs of his eastside constituents.

The Metro Board could vote on Fasana’s motion as early as Thursday. A final environmental document is expected to be completed in 2018 before the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 7 makes the final selection on the alternative to move forward.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

710 DEIR Flawed, Says County Health Official

August 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

East Los Angeles resident and business owner Amaury Reducindo has attended his fair share of meetings about the State Route 710 North project. It’s a project he says always leads to his neighbors fighting over the freeway tunnel and light rail train alternatives proposed to improve traffic in the region.

“It seems we are being herded to pick the better choice when we should be asking for the best choice,” he said Monday during a meeting at the East Los Angeles Library.

“Lets return to the drawing board and look for something that is really going to benefit us,” Reducindo said.

He was not alone, a dozen speakers expressed frustration over proposals they claim will displace more homes and businesses in a community already divided by more than its share of freeways and the Metro Gold Line.

A map depicts the path of the proposed Light Rail Train alternative for the SR710 North Project, which travels  7.5 miles from Pasadena to East Los Angeles. (Metro)

A map depicts the path of the proposed Light Rail Train alternative for the SR710 North Project, which travels 7.5 miles from Pasadena to East Los Angeles. (Metro)

Sup. Hilda Solis hosted the meeting, which included health experts advising the 60 or so attendees they should also be worried about issues that could harm their health.

Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the Toxicology and Environmental Assessment Bureau for the County Public Health Department, said Metro’s Draft Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (DIR/EIS) does not adequately address the transportation project’s impact on public health. His unexpected assessment came just two days before the end of the public comment period for the environmental document.

It was the first time a county official had made such a declarative statement criticizing the report since its release in March.

From particle pollution and radioactive substances to noise and ground vibrations, the DEIR “does not address these exposures adequately to our satisfaction,” he said frankly.

Rangan and Andrea Hricko, a professor of clinical preventive medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine, detailed their concerns with the state mandated document that is supposed to describe the impact each alternative will have on the environment.

“Due to the complexity of this extremely technical EIR document, I instructed both the Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health to review the document and submit letters specific to their respective areas of expertise,” Solis told EGP in a statement.

The supervisor, however, did not say whether she agrees with the health experts’ concerns or if she too would like to see the EIR redone.

Hricko said a major flaw of the DEIR is that it failed to include information about the project’s role in completing the plan for “goods movement” started decades ago when the freeway was first built.

“By ignoring this, they [Metro] are actually being very deceptive,” she said.

For years, critics of the freeway expansion, first as a surface freeway and now possibly a tunnel, have argued that financial interests tied to the movement of goods from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are at the center of efforts to extend the freeway, thereby closing the transportation gap for trucks headed north.

That goal would be met at the expense of the environment and public health, they claim.

Health experts have long said that large numbers of trucks moving goods come with their own set of potential health risks.

Rangan and Hricko agree.

Rangan said county health officials would be submitting a document outlining the department’s many health concerns. Hricko said she and other USC professors would be doing the same.

“Metro must redo the study,” Hricko said emphatically. At the very least, “if the light rail were chosen, then Metro and Caltrans must do an EIR just for that alternative,” she emphasized.

Eastside resident takes notes during a discussion with health experts Monday on the SR710 North project’s draft environmental impact report at the East Los Angeles Library. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Eastside resident takes notes during a discussion with health experts Monday on the SR710 North project’s draft environmental impact report at the East Los Angeles Library. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Metro looks forward to reading the comments formally submitted before the comment period closed, agency spokesman Paul Gonzales told EGP in a statement.

“After that, Caltrans will review the comments and questions and respond as warranted,” he said.

The long battle did not originally include East L.A. An alternative for a light rail traveling on an elevated track through East L.A. was added in 2012, bringing eastside residents into the conversation that until then had for the most part been taking place in more affluent communities. As proposed, the light rail would go underground in those cities: South Pasadena, San Marino and La Cañada, leaving eastside residents to feel they will again be forced to bare the brunt of the region’s transportations needs.

In desperation, many people have decided to support the tunnel option because they want to keep the light rail out of their backyards, some speakers said.

“We have been taken by surprise,” said Reducindo. “The fact is that we are not well informed and [are just now] learning more and more about the real impact this project will have on our residents and community.”

If she had to choose just one option, Sonia Fernandez said it would be the tunnel because it’s “the one with the lowest impact to our community.” She accused Metro of not consulting with the East L.A. community before proposing alternatives that will greatly affect the area.

At previous meetings conducted by Metro, eastside residents said they are fed up with the “plague” of pollution and health issues their predominately Latino neighborhood has been forced to endure for the benefit of the region. They said they are tired of the dangerous toxic emissions from heavily traveled freeways in their area.

“I don’t think they take into account the health issues in the area,” said Rachel Vermillion, who lives a stone’s throw from the 710 freeway. “We have cases of asthma, autism and diabetes in the area.”

Residents have even gone as far as accusing Metro and Caltrans of environmental racism.

“For many years our community has been ignored, not just over health but cultural and environmental injustices,” Fernandez said.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents the unincorporated areas of East L.A. and surrounding communities in the 40th district, previously told EGP the light rail alternative is one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease neighborhoods that are more affluent.

“While the light rail is being proposed under the guise of a regional solution, the fact is it is nothing more than an irresponsible and unconscionable response to the more influential areas opposing the logical completion of the 710 Freeway,” she told EGP in a statement.

Doelorez Huerta, an environmental activist in the area, gave Solis’ staff a stack of petitions Monday she said were signed by hundreds of residents. The petitions ask for Metro and Caltrans to hold more public meetings in East Los Angeles in hope that the process will be reset to the scoping phase.

“No tunnel, no train, no way,” she said. “Lets start this over and include East L.A. from the start.”

El Sereno Residents Feel Left Out of SR710 North Debate

August 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

About 30 people attended a meeting at the El Sereno Senior Center last week to discuss alternatives for closing the “transportation gap” between the end of the 1-710 Freeway in El Sereno near the Alhambra border and the northbound 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

It was the second such meeting in the neighborhood since Metro released its Draft Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (DIR/EIS) for the controversial transportation project in March, and the final meeting before the comment period on the report ended yesterday, Aug. 5.

El Sereno residents do not feel they have been given enough information “to know what the problem is or what the solution is,” said the meeting moderator, Kevin Ocubillo, planning deputy for Councilman Jose Huizar. They have not yet had an open conversation with Metro or Caltrans, he said.

The SR-710 project has been on the books for nearly 60 years but languished for decades when residents living along the path — including in El Sereno — strongly objected and won court injunctions against what was then to be a surface freeway.

During the 1960s, Caltrans purchased 500 houses along the then proposed freeway expansion route; nearly half, 220, were in El Sereno. The properties are still owned by Caltrans, which plans to sell the properties since the surface freeway has been eliminated from consideration.

Residents of El Sereno voiced their concerns about feeling excluded in the SR 710 meetings during a community meeting last week. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Residents of El Sereno voiced their concerns about feeling excluded in the SR 710 meetings during a community meeting last week. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Instead, the five alternatives for improving traffic in the region in the current Draft EIR/EIS now include: a bored freeway tunnel; light rail train; rapid bus lines; a traffic management system and the required “no build” option.

The proposed alternatives, however, have done little to lessen heated views on the project.

Last week’s meeting in El Sereno was co-hosted by the El Sereno Organizing Committee (ESOC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Office of Councilman Huizar, who represents the area. The councilman felt it was important to hear directly from El Sereno residents about their concerns, said Huizar Spokesman Rick Coca.

But “Not everybody knows about these meetings,” lamented El Sereno resident Olivia Trujillo. She complained that language barriers  — the meeting was in English — busy work schedules and too little information in public places, like libraries restaurants and on bulletin boards, have made the meetings and the issue “a hidden secret.”

Longtime resident Simon Fuentes said the local neighborhood council years ago opposed “any type of connector road.”

“For the past 56 years, Pasadena and South Pasadena want to dictate how El Sereno should live,” Fuentes said.

“It is not fair, not constitutional,” he complained. Fuentes said El Sereno residents did not have the same financial resources as those cities “to fight state and local government.”

During the meeting, people complained that Caltrans and Metro have done a poor job of listening to El Sereno residents.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the transportation agencies if eastside residents provide input, ESOC President Hugo Garcia said. From the beginning, “[Metro/Caltrans] made their choices and we weren’t taken into consideration,” he said.

Just 4.7-square-miles in size, El Sereno is home to about 44,000 people, the vast majority Latino and working class. The Los Angeles neighborhood is right where the 710 Freeway now ends, forcing thousands of vehicles onto local streets.

The Draft EIR does not really mitigate the traffic issues in El Sereno, Garcia told EGP. Instead, it causes more traffic, environmental, health and safety issues for local businesses and residents, he said.

“If a tunnel is built, there will be a lot of danger,” Garcia said. “What if there is a fire? Innocent people could pay the consequences,” he warned.

He wants Metro and Caltrans to go back to the drawing board and develop a better multimodal traffic diffusion plan to synchronize traffic signals and implement traffic calming measures.

“Prior to release of the Draft EIR/EIS, Metro and Caltrans conducted 92 community meetings, participated in six city-sponsored community forums and held over 200 briefings with community stakeholders,” Metro spokesperson Paul Gonzales said, defending the agency’s outreach.

“Any story indicating Caltrans and Metro have not provided opportunity for comment while the comment period [was] still open is based on opinion and not fact,” he said, pointing out that five public hearings were held on the Eastside, including one at the Christian Presbyterian Church in El Sereno on May 7.

State law only requires that we allow a 45-day period to comment on the Draft EIR/EIS, but we extended the period to 120 days, Gonzales told EGP.

Huizar, however, was not happy with Metro/Caltrans’s outreach and decided to join with community groups to host meetings focused entirely on the needs of El Sereno and the surrounding communities, Coca said.

According to Coca, the comment letter submitted by Huizar yesterday included the feedback he received from residents, as well as his longtime opposition to the tunnel option and the failed logic of the other proposed routes.

Huizar believes there isn’t any consensus at this point because no truly viable, vetted and well thought out proposal has been offered to the residents of El Sereno, he said.

“People do think, and we agree, that if we focus on local alternatives that improve traffic and access using a combination of street improvements and increased public transportation, that would be a much-more cost-effective answer to traffic issues than building a $5.6 billion outdated and bloated freeway tunnel model that will likely be a toll road,” Coca said.

Metro/Caltrans will now gather all the comments submitted since March—either at public hearings, by email and mail—to create a final report on the recommendation of the agencies’ final alternative.

Forum Takes Closer Look at SR-710 Debate

April 2, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

A forum Monday at Cal State Los Angeles billed as a discussion on whether to “Extend or Nor Extend?” the 710 Freeway, turned into a lively debate that could have appropriately been re-titled

“Rail or Tunnel?”

Approximately 200 people attended the forum co-hosted by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA and the League of Women Voters of Pasadena.

Lea este artículo en español: Foro Examina el Estudio SR-710

Efforts to fill the 4.5-mile gap between the 710’s terminus in Alhambra and the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena, has drawn heated debate, public protests and lawsuits, halting the project for nearly six decades.

Caltrans and Metro in March released the draft impact report/environmental impact statement (DIR/DEIS) on the five proposed alternatives, which vary in cost. The transportation agencies have in the past said they are taking a regional view of the impact each of the alternatives will have, as well as looking at the direct impact to communities along the 710 to 210 corridor.

A woman reads a Metro pamphlet on the SR-710 North study during a forum at CSULA Monday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A woman reads a Metro pamphlet on the SR-710 North study during a forum at CSULA Monday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The forum featured an informative and engaging discussion between four city council members —Barbara Messina (Alhambra), John Fasana (Duarte), Ara Najarian (Glendale) and Michael Cacciotti (South Pasadena) — whose names kept coming up as experts on the alternatives and history of the controversial project, according to Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute and forum moderator.

“I assume most of you have read the report,” Sonenshein jokingly asked, drawing laughter from the audience, aware that the report, including all studies and amendments, is 26,000 pages long.

The five alternatives include a traffic management system, a rapid bus line, a light rail, a freeway tunnel and the required “no build” option.

On Monday, the freeway tunnel – which would extend the 710 north as a high-speed with limited access roadway – and the light rail transit – which would provide a rail service directed to provide transportation from East Los Angeles to Pasadena – were the most debated.

Messina told the audience she strongly supports the freeway tunnel because it would alleviate a “regional issue.”

She worries that if the light rail is approved, it would cause more damage than good.

“It will destroy too many businesses and residences,” she said, prompting laughter from members of the audience who have the same concerns about the tunnel.

On the other hand, Najarian said he strongly supports a light rail train because at $2.4 billion it will be cheaper to build then the $5.65 billion estimated cost to build a freeway tunnel.

The discussion grew heated as panelists disagreed over whether a nearly five-mile tunnel, with no outlets except at its entrance and exit, would be safe.

Messina said it is “very lame” to think that a tunnel is dangerous because they have existed for hundreds of years.

Fasana also favors the tunnel alternative, but said the real question is whether trucks should be allowed.

It’s not clear if trucks would be allowed and that raises concerns about what happens if a big rig overturns or if there is a fire in the tunnel. Emergency response could become an issue, said Najarian.

“If something happens, you are stuck there,” Najarian pointed out.

The tunnel’s high price tag has raised the specter of a toll charge to make up for costly maintenance, which has yet to be addressed.

A tunnel will most definitely mean a toll, Najarian said firmly. “A soccer mom traveling on that freeway will not pay that toll,” so it’s going to be the truckers who will be on the hook for toll charges, Najarian said.

Concerns about a large number of trucks traveling through the tunnel are unfounded, Fasana argued. Most trucks travel east because that’s the direction goods are moving, not north and south, he argued.

Cacciotti sees more benefit in building a light rail system through the area. The best traffic solution is to provide more public transportation options in the northeast area, he said. Cacciotti doubts that a tunnel will improve local traffic as it’s supporters claim.

“Many of these cars are local, they won’t move off the streets,” he said.

The L.A. basin needs more freeways and highways, Messina countered. “People are not going to get out of their car,” she said. “We need to invest in our transportation system.”

Messina said adding a light rail line between East Los Angeles and Pasadena would ultimately devastate East Los Angeles the most.

On the other hand, a tunnel could bring up to 40,000 jobs to the area, said Messina, adding it’s the reason labor unions favor the tunnel option.

But with the same amount of money it would cost to construct the tunnel you could build three or four light rail lines, argued Cacciotti.

While many in the audience following the forum said they appreciated the clarity of the information presented, a few people said that they were disappointed there were not representatives from some of the cities and neighborhoods in the study area, which covers much of the San Gabriel Valley as well as portions of unincorporated East Los Angeles and the city of Los Angeles.

Forums such as this should strive to have equal representation from all communities, said El Sereno resident Melissa Preciado.

“Next time, I would like to see Councilmember Huizar and representatives from Monterey Park because they will be just as much affected by this project,” Preciado said.

Monterey Park resident Elizabeth Lopez, however, told EGP that when she went into the forum she was already a big supporter of the tunnel, but the panelists did done a good job of clarifying the various points of views.

“I was happy to hear arguments were coupled with facts,” Lopez said. “At the end, I felt very well informed.”

East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce President Blanca Espinoza told EGP that some people in her community have lost interest in the issue because they don’t feel Metro takes their point of view seriously.

She recalled when Metro began discussions over the Eastside Gold Line Extension, which began construction in 2004. Residents would attend meetings and voice their concerns, “but in the long run, [it was Metro] that decided what to do,” she said.

Lopez also expressed disappointment that she did not see more of her Monterey Park neighbors.

“I thought at least the elected officials would be here,” she said.

Metro and Caltrans are scheduling three public hearings where residents can ask questions and submit comments:

—Saturday, April 11, at the Roscoe C. Ingalls Auditorium on the campus of East Los Angeles College, with a map viewing from 10-11 a.m. and a public hearing from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and

—Tuesday, April 14, at the Pasadena Convention Center, with a map viewing from 5-6 p.m. and a public hearing from 7-9 p.m.

–Wednesday, May 6 at La Cañada High School auditorium, with a map viewing 5-6p.m. and public hearing from 6-9p.m.

–Thursday, May 7 at the Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church, map viewing 5-6 p.m. and public hearing 6-p.m.

The full study is available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis

The full document can also be viewed at the Caltrans District Office, 100 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Copies are also available at public libraries listed here: http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/.

Comments will be accepted through July 6.

[Update April 3, 2015 : Two public forums announced in the month of May.]  

—-

Twitter @jackiereporter

@nancyreporting

jgarcia@egpnews.com

nmartinez@egpnews.com

Environmental Study on 710 Freeway Expansion Released

March 6, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Caltrans and Metro released a draft environmental study of proposals to address the 4.5-mile gap between the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena and the end of the Long Beach (710) Freeway in East Los Angeles.

The five alternatives proposed in the draft environmental impact report/environmental impact statement are:

– a “no build” option that would leave conditions as they are;

– a traffic management system to upgrade and synchronize signals and improvements to local street intersections to more quickly move traffic that exits the dead-end freeway;

– a rapid bus line featuring high frequency service with minimal stops and potentially a dedicated bus lane;

– light rail to carry passengers between East Los Angeles and Pasadena; and

– a freeway tunnel that would extend the 710 Freeway.

No decisions have been made on any proposed alternative in the report, said Paul Gonzales of Metro.

A 120-day public comment period began with the release of the document, Gonzales said.

Two public hearings have been scheduled for community input:

– on Saturday, April 11, at the Rosco C. Ingalls Auditorium on the campus of East Los Angeles College, with a map viewing from 10-11 a.m. and a public hearing from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and

– on Tuesday, April 14, at the Pasadena Convention Center, with a map viewing from 5-6 p.m. and a public hearing from 7-9 p.m.

A third public hearing will be scheduled at another date, time and place.

“We look forward to receiving valuable input from communities and the public on this critically important transportation issue that has affected not only this area, but the region, for decades,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen.

“The feedback we receive is a vital part of the project development process and helps inform the selection of a preferred alternative,” Bowen said.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the public hearings and read the document at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis.

The public comment period ends July 6.

The full document can be viewed at the Caltrans District Office, 100 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Copies are also available at public libraries listed here: http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/.

An EIR is required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, and an EIS fulfills requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The laws require government agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions, and to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects.

Information from public comments will be weighed before preparing the final environmental document, Gonzales said.

Altogether, about 26 detailed technical studies are included in the Draft EIR/EIS, Gonzales said.

Through the process of compiling the Draft EIR/EIS, Metro and Caltrans conducted 92 community meetings, participated in six city-sponsored community forums, and held over 200 briefings with community stakeholders.

Copyright © 2017 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·