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Diverting trucks in Alhambra? 710-gap battle's latest turn

South Pasadena is taking steps to remove a truck route that Alhambra officials charge will dump additional traffic onto its streets, in the latest development of the 710-gap battle. The South Pasadena City Council was planning on holding a public hearing on Wednesday night on “an ordinance to remove the truck route designation from Fremont Avenue between Huntington Drive and Alhambra Road.” The item was taken off the agenda  after Alhambra submitted an objection. The South Pasadena city attorney recommended that the ordinance needed additional review.

South Pasadena officials contend closing Fremont will help traffic flow on its streets by creating a dead end for commercial trucks in an area that is mostly residential. The area of Fremont, which Alhambra government correspondence refers to as part of the 710N Designated Interim Truck Route, is the only north-south street that runs the entire length of South Pasadena. It carries a daily average of 26,500 vehicles of which 3,500 are buses or trucks, according to the South Pasadena analysis. Alhambra submitted a written objection, stating that closing Fremont is essentially an attempt to “divert traffic through the City of Alhambra,” that the public was not given proper notice, and that it is incorrect to say this decision can be made without input from neighboring cities.   “It is ludicrous for South Pasadena to claim this is a local street and changing its designation only requires notice and action under laws pertaining to simple Municipal Code changes,” Alhambra Special Counsel Leland Dolley wrote. “Such action instantly creates hazardous conditions in Alhambra and significant peril to public health, public welfare, and public safety.”Alhambra filed the objection on November 14, charging that South Pasadena “has failed to do its due diligence and perform required noticing and consultation with various state, regional, county, and local agencies.”  Dolley wrote that Fremont cannot be simply removed from the truck routing system, “without the consultation and agreement with all affected parties, starting with CalTrans and including the City of Alhambra.”  Furthermore, he states that the proposed project violates the Constitution of the State of California and challenges the sovereignty of Alhambra as a Charter City with jurisdiction over all streets falling within city limits, including Alhambra Road. “South Pasadena does not have jurisdiction over any potential alternate routing within neighboring cities along this truck route,” the written objection states.

But South Pasadena contends that the move will benefit the city’s residents, they have followed all legal procedures, and that it has right to make the decision unilaterally. The South Pasadena analysis notes that Fremont Avenue in Alhambra is designated a truck route and the city has refused to remove its designation, despite a 2006 recommendation from a city traffic study.  At the time, Alhambra’s City Manager Julio Fuentes responded that rather than banning truck traffic, “We feel the long term solution of completing the 710 will address your concerns.” Currently, the city of South Pasadena has five identifiable truck routes. Even if Fremont is closed, exceptions will be made for delivery trucks servicing the street as well as buses.

The Alhambra objection also expresses concern about environmental and safety impacts, charging that the proposed action will have noise and air quality impacts not just in South Pasadena, but also Alhambra, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and along the SR 710N Interim Corridor.  Interrupting the flow of truck traffic along this corridor will lead to increased traffic congestion for all vehicles that use the 710N Interim.  In addition, many vehicles will experience queuing exiting the 10 Freeway heading along Fremont Ave in Alhambra, due to an increase in truck turning on the SR 710 or at the city border.  “Any left turn increases off of Fremont Avenue in Alhambra create safety issues,” Dolley writes. “Any travel delays along the truck route create safety issues.”Instead of focusing on the elimination of a truck route designation, the City of Alhambra has urged South Pasadena to focus their attention on the 710N gap closure efforts. South Pasadena has blocked the completion of the freeway for decades. “We look forward to South Pasadena joining in the 710N Gap Closure efforts and working with all concerned for the day all cities along the 710N Interim Corridor can return their streets to a more local designation,” Dolley concludes.

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5 thoughts on “Diverting trucks in Alhambra? 710-gap battle's latest turn”

  1. I’m sick of South Pas and its NIMBY politics that have forced excessive traffic on Alhambra. Let’s bulldoze Meridian and finally finish the 710.

  2. I don’t understand what this means for Alhambra traffic, I see trucks on a daily basis using Frement travelling north & south at all times of the morning, day, evening.

  3. Alhambra will win this one. That the designated truck route has been in existence for a very long time does not bode well for South Pasadena’s argument. First, the city has designated that stretch of Fremont as a truck route for what appears to be a long time. Second, folks living in the affected zone knew the traffic issues when they moved to those locations or have acquiesced to this truck by the lack of action until now. Third, equity would strongly suggest that South Pasadena should not be allowed to shift traffic to other routes that more heavily burden neighboring communities. In this case, the debate is not about traffic in general. It is about truck traffic.

    As Dolley notes, other transportation planning agencies have a stake in the decision and can override South Pasadena in this battle in one way or another. Most importantly for South Pasadena, Caltrans and MTA control the purse strings. They decide where money is spent and prioritize repairs. For example, the Fair Oaks repairs were largely financed by money from agencies outside South Pas. Either agency could cut off or delay release of all funds to South Pas. subject to a slow review process.

    Lastly, if South Pasadena succeeds, then Alhambra should be able to re-institute traffic calming.

    @South End: I believe both cities have faults. South Pasadena favors residential to the detriment of its business community. In contrast, Alhambra very often favors its businesses to the detriment of its residents. Neither is healthy. Neither is favorable. Such attitudes leave both cities vulnerable in different ways, especially with revenue limits under prop 13 and its progeny. Ultimately, Alhambra must live with the demons of the past. Those demons destroyed the beautiful homes that rivaled South Pas. and built a pollution spewing foundry that left it a less desirable place to live. But insisting on continuity of transportation planning between cities (that’s MTA’s role) and maintenance of long-standing transportation corridors is reasonable. I don’t support the 710 surface route because I like South Pas., but I do not support South Pas. making a change with major impacts without notice and a reasonable opportunity for other affected communities to weigh-in. Such moves also happens to violate CEQA, the same statute South Pas. used to nix past 710 environmental impact reports and plans, but that is beside the point.

  4. From the south end

    South Pasadena is visionary. Alhambra is still stuck in the 1950’s.
    The City of Alhambra (e.g., its political “leadership”) has always sacrificed its citizens and neighborhoods in favor of business with mixed results.
    South Pasadena has valued its communities and residents which has made it an enviable place to live.

    Alhambra’s traffic problems are as a result of over-population/over-development and its scattershot approach to building. Witness the countless apartments/condos built along the 2-lane [each direction] stretch on Atlantic Avenue. Can you imagine how much traffic gets backed up whenever any of these occupants turns into these apartments — multiplied by 10-20?! It appears no studies were done prior to building these multi-units to see how it would affect traffic. In Alhambra, developers are King.

    We don’t need yet another freeway tearing up communities just to save a couple of minutes for 1-passenger commuters.

  5. They had DOT truck inspections on both sides of Fair Oaks earlier this week…what was that for?