Residents Worried SR-710 Light Rail Would Burden East LA

April 16, 2015 by · 5 Comments 

East Los Angeles residents fear they will once again be forced to bare the brunt of efforts to relieve traffic in the region.

They remember all too well the disruption to businesses and residents extending the Gold Line east caused in their neighborhood.

Lea este artículo en Español: SR-710 Tren Ligero Podría Ser una Carga Para el Este de Los Ángeles

Those concerns were expressed Saturday during a public hearing at East Los Angeles College hosted by Metro and Caltrans to get feedback on the State Route 710 Study.

While a majority of people who spoke at the hearing appeared to support a freeway tunnel option, several eastside residents said support in other cities for a light rail train through their neighborhood has them worried.

A map viewing at East Los Angeles College Saturday allowed residents who live along the proposed SR-710 Freeway project to view the impact on their communities.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A map viewing at East Los Angeles College Saturday allowed residents who live along the proposed SR-710 Freeway project to view the impact on their communities. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

More vocal communities along the route are getting all the attention, they complained.

In March, Metro and Caltrans released a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), which outlined five alternatives for closing the gap between the 710 and 210 freeways. The options include a traffic management system, a rapid bus line, a light rail, a freeway tunnel and the required “no build” option.

About 100 people from Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, Monterey Park, El Sereno and East Los Angeles attended the hearing.

Many speakers supported the option to build a 2-way, 6.3 mile tunnel from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the connection with the 210/134 freeways in Pasadena.

The double decker option would have two lanes traveling in each direction and would run for 4.2 miles of bored tunnel. Vehicles carrying flammable or hazardous materials will be prohibited in the tunnel.

Residents from eastside communities and throughout the San Gabriel Valley spoke at the SR-710 Metro meeting, held at ELAC Saturday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Residents from eastside communities and throughout the San Gabriel Valley spoke at the SR-710 Metro meeting, held at ELAC Saturday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Several eastside residents claimed they “were left out of the conversation,” referring to the decision to include the Light Rail Train (LRT) alternative. They pointed out that some of the businesses hurt by construction of the Gold Line Eastside Extension in 2009 never recovered.

A light rail will destroy “one of the nicest corridors” and the East LA Civic Center on Third and Mednik Streets, they complained.

“We do not need the rail,” Martha Hernandez told Metro. “We can get to Pasadena on the Gold Line,” she said, adding that eastside residents can already get to Cal State LA by taking Metro’s Silver Line. There is also an express shuttle from ELACC.

Liz Sanchez lives one block from Mednik Street where a station could be built if a light rail is chosen. She told EGP a train would add to parking problems in her neighborhood because there’s no plan to provide public parking for rail passengers.

“I have a disability and even now it is hard to find parking… I don’t want to be selfish, but this is not a good option,” she lamented.

Clara Solis asked Metro and Caltrans to explain why East LA residents should bare the burden of other cities’ transportation problems. “Fifteen of our precious businesses that are walking distance from residences will be removed,” she said.

Yolanda Duarte, advisory chairperson for the Maravilla Community Center, said Metro 710 project spokespersons had gone to the eastside Center to give the community and businesses more information about the project.

Yolanda Duarte, an East Los Angeles resident, told Metro officials her concerns with the rail alternative.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Yolanda Duarte, an East Los Angeles resident, told Metro officials her concerns with the rail alternative. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“On two occasions questions were asked if businesses or residences will be taken, the answer [by Metro] was no. [Now] The EIR states 15 businesses will be targeted” to make room for rail stations, she said, visibly frustrated. The businesses are on Mednik, south of the I-60/at Third Street: One home and a businesses on East Cesar Chavez could also be taken.

People were able to review maps and other visual materials pertaining to the five alternatives and ask Metro engineers questions before the public hearing got under way.

Metro planners explained that if the light rail is chosen, it would travel 7.5 miles, divided into 3 miles of aerial track and 4.5 miles submerged approximately 6-stories underground.

The rail line would run from south of Valley Boulevard, with the first aerial station on Mednik Avenue adjacent to the East LA Civic Center Station, and two more aerial stations on Floral Drive and at Cal State LA. It would then go underground with stations in Alhambra, Huntington Drive, South Pasadena and to the Fillmore Station in Pasadena where it would connect with the Gold Line.

Many eastside residents have long resented Metro opting to build the Eastside Gold Line above ground while  approving preferred but costlier underground subway options for other communities.

Several people said the eastside is once again getting the short end of the stick, complaining that the proposed rail line would run above ground through East LA, but then go underground through the more affluent communities north of Cal State LA.

“Why don’t we get a tunnel” like they do in Pasadena, one speaker demanded to know.

“Take out this project, do not even consider it,” said Gilbert Hernandez.

How to fill the 4.5-mile gap between the 710’s terminus in Alhambra and the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena is a debate that has raged on for more than six decades. If a route is eventually selected, a revenue source to cover the hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars needed to build it would still have to be found. The project could take three to five years to complete if the light rail is chosen.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis represents East Los Angeles and other areas impacted by the SR-710. She told EGP via email it is imperative to reduce congestion, improve air quality and enhance mobility for all residents, however, she does not yet see “any option as a natural choice” due to the many pros and cons.

“For example, the light rail alternative threatens the highest number of businesses and homes while the tunnel options could become a bottomless money pit. A combination of alternatives may end up being the way to get the most for our money,” she stated, adding that her staff is studying the various options and will hold community input meetings in addition to those scheduled by Metro.

“The communities I represent deserve a solution that absolutely improves their quality of life and environment … while improving mobility and using transportation to foster economic growth,” she said.

Metro and Caltrans have scheduled two more public hearings:

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

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

The full study is available at  http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis and can be viewed at the Caltrans District Office, 100 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 and public libraries listed here:  http://www.metro.net/projects/sr- 710-conversations.

Comments will be accepted by mail through July 6: Mail to Garret Damrath, Caltrans Division 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 South Main Street MS-16, Los Angeles CA 90012.

To read more about the SR-710, go to www.EGPNews.com.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com
Updated 2;50 p.m.

Two Teens Shot at CSULA

April 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

 Two males, one 14 and the other 18, were shot and wounded in a parking lot at Cal State Los Angeles Sunday.

Teens inside a van that made its way through an area east of downtown Los Angeles taunted people as they went and when they drove into a parking lot at the university about 9:15 p.m. someone fired on the vehicle, striking the victims, said Lt. Peter Gamino of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station.

Both were taken to County-USC Medical Center, he said. Their conditions were not immediately available.

University police were investigating the shooting, which appeared to be gang-related, Gamino said.

No suspect information was available, he said.

Journalist Ruben Salazar to be Focus of Cal State LA Panel

January 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A panel discussion on the relevance Mexican American journalist Ruben Salazar’s life and work has in today’s society will take place Feb. 4 at Cal State University, Los Angeles.

Titled “Rubén Salazar – Siempre Con Nosotros/Always With Us,” the discussion is being presented in conjunction with the multimedia exhibition, “Legacy of Rubén Salazar: A Man of His Words, a Man of His Time,” on display through March 26 at the University’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Library.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Next Wednesday’s panel will be led by noted history and journalism scholars, Mario Garcia, Ph.D, who has published works on Mexican American and Chicano activism and Latino millennials, and Felix Gutierrez, Ph.D, who has written and spoken extensively about the biases of mass media and the need for diversity in journalism.

(EGP photo archive)

(EGP photo archive)

Panelists will speak to the importance of principled journalism in today’s polarized society, using the life and writings of former LA Times and KMEX-TV Spanish language news reporter Ruben Salazar as context.

Salazar, perhaps best known for his death at the hands of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies during the 1970 Chicano Moratorium, was at the forefront of principled journalism during another period of polarization, the 1960’s civil rights and anti-war movements.

He was a nationally recognized foreign correspondent who reported on the escalation of the Vietnam War and on Latin America during the beginnings of the post Cuban revolution. When he returned to Los Angeles in 1969, he found a community in transition, fighting to be empowered.

Salazar’s in-depth reporting of the Mexican American and emerging Chicano movement for the Times and KMEX in many ways gave voice to that struggle, presenting leaders and common people as subjects, not objects, or stereotypes for mainstream media sound bites.

Early in his career, while covering jail conditions in El Paso, he was arrested while posing as a drunk and went on to describing life in the tank. One of his last columns before being killed, in moving detail described the plight of welfare mothers and children.

Salazar covered action on the front lines in Vietnam, the Tlateloco massacre in Mexico at the time of the 1968 Olympics, and he wrote about the beginnings of Cesar Chavez’ farm labor organizing before the strikes and boycotts. He also wrote about Chicano teacher Sal Castro years before he emerged as a major figure in the East LA Walkouts.

Salazar’s tragic death cemented his place as an icon of the Chicano Movement.

His return to Los Angeles in 1969 marked the establishment of the Mexican American/Chicano news beat, journalism to empower people.

In the year before he died, Salazar wrote over 100 articles on a wide range of issues from the barrios and fields in and around Los Angeles and nationwide.

The panel discussion will be held at 3pm, Feb. 4 in the Golden Eagle Ballroom 2, in the Student Union building. To attend, RSVP by Feb. 2 at http://www.calstatela.edu/events/ruben-salazar. For more information, call (323) 343-3066 or send an email to events@calstatela.edu.

Truck Fire Snarls Freeway Traffic for Hours

January 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A big rig fire prompted the closure of the westbound San Bernardino (10) Freeway in the University Hills area east of downtown Los Angeles for nearly six hours Tuesday, causing major congestion as crews checked the structural integrity of an overpass.

Firefighters were sent shortly after 11 a.m. to the freeway at Eastern Avenue, about a quarter-mile west of the Long Beach (710) Freeway. It was unclear what caused the blaze, with the truck driver saying he came to a stop beneath the Eastern Avenue overpass when he saw flames shooting out of his engine.

The westbound lanes and the Eastern Avenue overpass were finally reopened about 4:30 p.m. after Caltrans checked them out, but the Campus Road on-ramp remained closed as diesel fuel was being removed.

According to Caltrans, the damage to the overpass was only cosmetic.

The big rig was hauling a load of televisions and other appliances. There were no injuries.

Once the truck fire was doused, a Los Angeles County Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue team was brought in to check for flames in the bridge above the truck.

Smoke could be seen coming from some vents on the underside of the bridge. The structure was built with a wooden casing that could have been damaged by the fire, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Keith Mora said.

A county Department of Public Works crew was also sent to the scene to keep diesel fuel leaking from the truck from running into storm drains.

In December 2011, a tanker truck caught fire under a bridge over the Pomona (60) Freeway in Montebello, causing extensive damage to the structure and requiring its demolition and replacement.

The Paramount Boulevard bridge over the Pomona Freeway was closed for five months, and the structure was replaced at a price of $40 million — with the cost covered by the Federal Highway Administration.

Se Refuerza Asociación Entre Garfield, ELAC y CSULA para Mejoras de Educación

May 15, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

La semana pasada funcionarios de educación anunciaron una iniciativa que se enfoca en motivar a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles para que obtengan educación superior garantizándoles admisión a la universidad Cal State Los Ángeles.

“GO East L.A.: Un Camino para la Universidad y Éxito Profesional” es una sociedad entre la preparatoria Garfield, el Colegio Comunitario del Este de Los Ángeles (ELAC), y la universidad Cal State L.A.

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de  asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

José Huerta, presidente de la preparatoria Garfield muestra la firma del documento de
asociación con las entidades ELAC y CSULA para promover educación superior a estudiantes del Este de Los Ángeles. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El programa creado por la Miembro de la Junta Directiva del Distrito Escolar de Los Ángeles, Mónica García, el Presidente de ELAC Marvin Martínez y el Presidente de Cal State L.A. William A. Covino, ofrece a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC prioridad de admisión a Cal State L.A. si reúnen los requisitos necesarios.

Los creadores de la iniciativa dicen que su visión es desarrollar una “comunidad que sea un sistema educativo de la cuna a la carrera profesional” que apoye a los jóvenes del área desde el preescolar hasta la graduación de la universidad con las herramientas necesarias para tener éxito en cada nivel del sistema educativo. El objetivo es asegurar que los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield en el Este de Los Ángeles obtengan las habilidades necesarias para “contribuir a la vitalidad económica y de salud de la comunidad”, según un comunicado difundido por ELAC.

A través de GO East L.A., los estudiantes que asisten a la preparatoria Garfield recibirán apoyo para sus metas académicas después de graduarse de la preparatoria, si quieren asistir primero a ELAC o ir directamente a Cal State LA. Estudiantes que asisten ELAC también recibirán asistencia específica para ayudarles a transferirse a Cal State L.A.

Entre otras cosas, la iniciativa pide la recopilación de recursos privados y públicos para proporcionar más asesoramiento académico y de apoyo a los estudiantes de Garfield y ELAC para asegurarse de que están completando con éxito las clases que necesitan para asistir a Cal State L.A. Se animará a los estudiantes a tomar más clases de preparación universitaria y cursos que califiquen para créditos universitarios mientras estén en la preparatoria.

La preparatoria Garfield, que en algún momento fue una de las escuelas más sobre pobladas de LAUSD, actualmente matricula alrededor de 2.500 estudiantes y tuvo una tasa de graduación de 87,3% en el 2011-12 , según el Presidente de Garfield, José Huerta.

García, dijo que el objetivo de GO East L.A. es eliminar los obstáculos que enfrentan muchos estudiantes para que puedan graduarse en menos tiempo y acceder al mercado laboral con un título en sus manos. La asociación se compromete en ser ellos mismos “responsables” en cuanto al éxito de los estudiantes, dijeron los funcionarios.

“Vamos a empezar por conseguir que nuestros profesores y nuestros maestros hablen entre sí”, García le dijo a EGP. “Los consejeros de los campuses que hablen el uno al otro también”, agregó. “… La clase del 2014 de la preparatoria Garfield ya está conectada con ELAC y Cal State L.A.”, anunció.

Julia Soto, estudiante del 12 grado en Garfield, le dijo a EGP que la iniciativa es un gran recurso para ella porque planea obtener su título Asociado o entrar en un programa de enfermería y posteriormente conseguir una licenciatura en Ciencias . “Este programa [nos] anima a ir a ELAC y después transferirnos a Cal State L.A., con prioridad de inscripción”, dijo después de la conferencia de prensa que se llevó a cabo el 8 de mayo en Garfield.

Soto dijo que actualmente ella está tomando clases de la universidad durante los fines de semana para obtener más rápido su título universitario. “Gente de ELAC viene los sábados a darnos clases”, dijo. “Ellos nos motivan a continuar con nuestros estudios”.

Huerta le dijo a EGP que él esta “muy impresionado y honrado” de que los logros de Garfield estén siendo reconocidos.

Por ahora, la iniciativa se ofrece solo en Garfield, pero García dijo que espera que otras escuelas del Este como Esteban Torres y la Academia de Aprendizaje Solís se añadan en la próxima ronda.

Mientras que las tres instituciones educativas siempre han tenido una relación, García dijo que espera que este nuevo esfuerzo convierta la relación más fuerte con objetivos más claros. “Lo que queremos ver en el programa GO East L.A. es una mejor organización en torno a los programas, el apoyo y los resultados”, le dijo a EGP.

Las empresas locales también proporcionarán ayuda a los estudiantes necesitados. Entre los partidarios locales, Grifols Worldwide, un grupo mundial de la salud localizado junto a Cal State L.A., ha donado $50.000 para becas para estudiantes en el programa.

GO East L.A. también desarrollará programas orientados a ayudar a estudiantes a obtener un título universitario o certificados de carrera necesarios, así como edificar conocimiento sobre la universidad mediante el alcance a las escuelas secundarias y asociaciones con grupos comunitarios y los padres para promover la asistencia a la universidad con las habilidades necesarias.

GO East L.A. espera incluir escuelas intermedias del Este como Belvedere, Griffith y Stevenson, para acrecentar el esfuerzo.

García dijo que espera ver que los programas sean eventualmente expandidos a escuelas fuera del Este de Los Ángeles.

“Queremos ver un GO Lincoln Heights, GO Boyle Heights”, dijo. “Tenemos que ver a todos llegar a la meta.”

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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