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Metro, Caltrans to hold public hearings on 710 gap

Metro and Caltrans will hold four public hearings to discuss the 710 freeway gap and the hotly-debated proposals to connect the divide. The hearings will take place in Monterey Park (Apr 11), Pasadena (Apr 14), La Cañada (May 6), and Los Angeles (May 7). Attending residents will be allowed to fill out a speaker card and voice their opinions to Caltrans and Metro officials, as well as the crowd of attendees.
The hearings come after Metro and Caltrans released on March 6 an Environmental Impact Report. The study examined the costs and consequences of several proposals that are aimed at connecting the 710 gap. One option was to dig a dual-bore tunnel underground, which the report said could cost up to $5.6 billion. Another option was to re-tool existing traffic management systems to be more efficient. This strategy would look into synchronizing traffic signals, and consider the use of reversible lanes and ridesharing programs. 
The 710 gap has been a hot-button topic for over 30 years in the west side of the San Gabriel Valley. Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Marino, Rosemead, and San Gabriel have aligned to advocate the tunnel option. Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale, and Los Angeles stand in opposition to the tunnel. 
From Metro:
You are invited to attend the free Public Hearings and provide input the following ways:
Verbal Comments: Pick-up and complete a SPEAKER CARD located at the registration table and return it to staff on-site. You will then be called to provide your verbal comment to the panel in front of the audience. You can also provide your verbal comment privately to a court reporter at the event who will submit your comment for the record.  NOTE: This is only to provide your comment. If you have questions about the five alternatives or the Study process, you can ask one of the subject matter experts located in the Map Viewing area.
Written Comments: Pick-up and complete a COMMENT CARD located at the registration table. You can submit your completed comment card by placing it in the comment box located at the comment station
The four public hearing dates and locations are:
· Saturday, April 11, from 10am – 4pm
Rosco C. Ingalls Auditorium at East Los Angeles College
1301 Cesar Chavez Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91754 
(Parking Structure 4, entrance on Floral Drive)
· Tuesday, April 14, from 5pm – 9pm
Pasadena Convention
300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 
(Parking entrance on Euclid Avenue)
This meeting will be LIVE streamed from 6 pm – 9 pm
· Wednesday, May 6, from 5pm – 9pm 
La Cañada High School Auditorium
4463 Oak Grove Drive, La Cañada, Flintridge, CA 91011
· Thursday, May 7 from 5pm – 9pm
Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church
2241 N. Eastern Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90032
You can also submit comments via the Caltrans Public Comment page.

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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17 thoughts on “Metro, Caltrans to hold public hearings on 710 gap”

  1. @John T – Mel is right. If you read down into the details and look at how the reports carefully couch that conclusion, the tunnel will provide the most traffic relief of the options studied but it won’t actually reduce traffic or make it better.

    According to the draft environmental reports for the 710 Gap more freeway segments may see “adverse impacts” with a freeway tunnel than without. On Page 487, the reports have a list that says in 2035:

    • * The TSM/TDM Alternative (those are improvements to existing roads and transit that are included in all of the other alternatives) would result in adverse effects at 18 intersections and on 8 freeway segments;
    • * The BRT (Bus Rapid Transit – like the Orange Line) Alternative would result in adverse effects at 13 intersections and on 13 freeway segments;
    • * The LRT (light rail) Alternative would result in adverse effects at 13 intersections and on 17 freeway segments;
    • * The single tunnel Freeway Alternative with $4 tolls would result in adverse effects at 9 intersections and on 18 freeway segments;
    • * The single tunnel Freeway Alternative with $4 tolls and express bus would result in adverse effects at 6 intersections and on 19 freeway segments;
    • * The twin tunnel Freeway Alternative without tolls would result in adverse effects at 11 intersections and on 31 freeway segments;
    • * The twin tunnel Freeway Alternative without tolls and without trucks would result in adverse effects at 9 intersections and on 30 freeway segments; and
    • * The twin tunnel Freeway Alternative with $1 tolls would result in adverse effects at 11 intersections and on 28 freeway segments.

    Page 526 summarizes the number of recommended improvements for each alternative (mostly 1 to 2 each).

    It gets worse. The environmental report for the 710 gap project also appears to understate how bad auto traffic will get if the twin freeway tunnel is built. The report compares the number of vehicles that will still use regular roads such as Fremont – called arterials throughout the reports – when (a) a toll isn’t charged; (b) the single freeway tunnel option charges a $4 toll; and (c) the twin freeway tunnels charge a $1 toll. However, these comparisons are faulty and limit the ability of the decision makers (Metro board, Caltrans, and federal government) to analyze and understand the variable impacts on local traffic as toll prices change (which is almost certain to occur). It also has the effect of making the scrutinizing public think something is being hidden.

    This matters because the toll price will determine how many drivers will avoid the tunnel (called the diversion rate). In their 2006 technical feasibility report for the 710 Gap project, Caltrans and Metro estimated that $3 tolls will cause 20% of drivers to avoid the tunnel, while $5 tolls will cause a 30% diversion rate. That earlier report concluded that more data and analysis was needed as part of the just-released environmental report process. To that point, the actual toll won’t be known until the costs are settled and financial bonds for the project negotiated and priced, so it’s essential for the agencies to provide a sliding scale of sorts for us all to understand the diversion rate and impacts on our environment as tolls go up and down.

    Instead, it seems the agencies only decided to consider the diversion rate for $1 tolls to use the twin freeway tunnels and skip higher priced tolls and their similarly higher diversion rates and resulting traffic. Therefore, the report probably underestimates traffic on Alhambra streets if the twin freeway tunnels are built. This material failure may also be one of the things that convinces a court to send the reports back to the agencies to reconsider if they don’t address after public comments

    1. So according to your logic Dan, perhaps we shouldn’t build anything at all. You’re really saying nothing but regurgitating numbers to fit a political agenda. I say that because you say nothing of the opportunity costs involved for those options you explain, which is highly more subjective.

      The bottom line is that there will be “adverse” effects and “costs” for any option chosen, including the No Build option.

      I’m going to support those tunnels…

      1. @Tim – No, that’s not accurate. I only addressed the assertion that the tunnel will reduce traffic or make it better. I wasn’t supporting one option over another or saying that we’re better off not building anything.

        What opportunity costs are you referring to? If you’d like to see a cost-benefit analysis, that’s still missing from the reports as is a full traffic analysis. Both are material details I’d like to know, too.

      2. That’s correct, you only addressed the assertion that all of the naysayers have been harping on. Opportunity costs exist in just about everything we decide to do. It can go beyond a “cost-benefit” or “full traffic” analysis. Those thIngs are only projected snapshots in time. So many things are at play here and the real issues are all political because some people have fears and some people can’t stand change.

      3. Tim, it’s not that some people can’t stand change (and, for the most part, that’s true), but in this case it’s that people have a profoundly false expectation of change that would come from the tunnel. If we were to vote for the tunnel this minute, there are bunches of people who would expect their commute tomorrow to be wonderful.

        it will take (at current expectations), 10 years before the completion. Looking at ALL other projects at this level, to think that it will be done in 10 years is naive. Twelve to fifteen is a more realistic expectation at best. (And if you think our traffic is bad now, do not forget that Metro has stated that they will need to remove some 10 million cubic yards of dirt, a total of 588,000 truck loads. That will have to be removed ON our current roads. Not to mention all of the cement and other construction materials being brought in. These things do not just simply disappear and appear as needed.)

        But how will our traffic be once completed? If you look at Caltrans and Metros own expectations, it will be worse, not better. Metro has stated that after the tunnel is built, the road thruput will be rated at “F.” That’s F for failing.

        People are tired of the traffic in Alhambra and they have a right to be. But Alhambra’s city council has never met a housing or business project they didn’t like. There has been so much construction of new apartments and businesses in the 19 years I’ve lived in the area to stagger the mind. I cannot recall one time where the city council ever said: gosh, do we have the road capabilities to handle this new increase in cars. For goodness sake, on Fremont, busy as it already is, we are going to have a Lowes hardware just north of the arch. People driving up the 710 to get to Lowes will NOT be going through the tunnel.

        The ONLY way that there will be traffic relief in Alhambra and other cities in this area is to reduce the total number of cars on the road, NOT building new roads. In the history of road construction, building new roads or new road lanes has never decreased traffic congestion. NEVER EVER

        The classic example for the proof of this was the last Olympics in LA. The number of cars on the road were only down about 10% but the traffic flow during that time was wonderful. If we were to take 1/4 the amount that the tunnel is really expected to cost (not the profoundly artificial numbers we have been provided), we could build safe bicycle lanes and commuter train lines and this would remove a lot more than 10% of the cars from our streets.

        Or are you afraid of change?

      4. Gary, the residents of Pasadena voted in 2001 to extend the the 710 freeway to Pasadena and now their City Councils are voicing their oppositions against the voice of the people due to opposition from West Pasadena and La Canada residents.

        Light rail trains in South Pasadena? Did not solve any traffic on Fair Oaks.
        Bike lanes? Nobody is riding their bikes on Rosemead Blvd from Rosemead to Temple City.

      5. Gary, I’m for this tunnel and you’re wrong, I’m not betting it will make traffic disappear. It will make necessary mitigations. You expect this project to take longer than 10 years and I say this – THIS PROJECT SHOULD HAVE BEEN STARTED TWENTY YEARS AGO!

        So if thruput after completion is an F, we can only imagine what thruput it will be without those tunnels… perhaps X, Y, or Z?! It’s a grade G now!

        So you’re so concerned about so much construction? Dude, where have you been? People are still moving into Los Angeles if you haven’t noticed. So what are you going to do about it? Close our borders? Fat chance! We can’t even secure our southern borders and Obama wants to grant amnesty to thousands of more illegals. Where will we house them? How about more decent homes so my family can afford one? You don’t want more housing? People like you are the cause why I can’t afford one.

        You think bike lanes and commuter trains are the answer? Not if there’s not enough density to support it. And people like you are all against more development. Just reduce the number of cars? Really? Without considering the density and walkability issue?

        What world are you living in Gary? A utopia? I’d like to live in utopia too!

  2. Build these tunnels now!!!

  3. Build the tunnel now before the traffic gets worst due to population growth!

    1. Hey John,

      Please read Metro’s own studies that state very clearly that the tunnel WILL NOT reduce traffic and in fact will make matters worse.

      And the only people coming out ahead on this will be the folks taking their part of the $10+ billion.

      Or, are you one of those expecting your share?

      1. If course it’ll reduce traffic, we are not idiots. It’ll probably increase to 15 minutes in 15-20 years.

      2. Mel,

        Did you read the Cal Tran/Metro!s own studies?

        “4.2 miles of which is completely underground – would offer the most traffic relief and the fewest impacts. “

    2. What data are you using to make this claim? Or are you just fear-mongering and using your own personal anecdotal ‘evidence’? The majority of the people claiming the 710 tunnel is the answer to their dreams do not use facts and data from neutral sources. That was the whole point of Cal Trans Metro’s study (though that is also missing a cost-benefit analysis). It would be helpful if people like this actually support their claims.

  4. Alhambran resident

    Only 7-13% of all motorists in the entire region (not just Alhambra) will save a TOTAL 2.5 minutes should the freeway tunnel be built. And 87-95% of all traffic in the San Gabriel area will not benefit at all, so out of 100 cars in the affected region, 8-9+ cars will feel NO difference if the tunnel is there, and out of 100 cars, 7 to 13 cars will, and they will save a total of 2.5 minutes from their drive. These are from CalTrans/Metro numbers. Is this REALLY a good reason to spend taxpayer money (initial estimates at $5.6 billion) to insist on an out-of-date 1960’s pipe dream for a 21st century reality?

    Street traffic will get worse in Alhambra with drivers avoiding the toll for a diversion rate of 60,000 cars a day. Also there’s the issue of induced demand, that if you build it, more people will come. They expanded the 405 by one lane in each direction to alleviate traffic but there’s STILL bumper to bumper. http://alhambransagainst710.com/what-will-really-happen-to-traffic-in-al…

  5. Here is everything you need to know about responding and drafting your letter to the EIR. Check it out beforehand:

    Also of interest is what would really happen to Alhambra air quality, looking at what CalTrans Metro have provided: http://alhambransagainst710.com/what-would-really-happen-to-air-pollutio…

    and traffic: http://alhambransagainst710.com/what-will-really-happen-to-jobs-if-they-…

    NOW is the time to make yourself be heard. Once it’s been decided, it will be too late and construction will begin under Alhambra and El Sereno homes. For What? For the trucks, since regionally only 2.5 min. will be saved from only a few commuters. (see traffic page.)

  6. I wonder why the Alhambra City Council urged on their Fremont Street banners for people to attend the workshop at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park which is much closer to Alhambra than Pasadena.

  7. Anyone who believes the $5.6 billion hasn’t paid attention to the total costs of the big dig in Boston (estimated $2.8, actual cost $24.3 billion). Or the Seattle Tunnel (the Alaskan Way Viaduct) was estimated to cost $2.8 billion Current estimates are $3.145 billion but due to Big Bertha’s Big Break Down, those estimates are expected to double, triple, or more. And Seattle’s tunnel is about 3 years behind schedule. The loss to local businesses due to a hole about the size of two football fields to access Big Bertha has been astronomical. A number of them have had to shut down and walk away from their business.

    Let’s not forget that this is a PPP (Public Private Partnership) and no one private is going to give a dime unless they will get money in return. So figure $14-$20 per passage per car each way. And do not forget that after paying your $14-$20 to go 6 miles, you’ll be sitting in between trucks for the entire journey.