The SR-710 Environment Impact Report, released on Friday by Metro and Caltrans, says that it could cost upwards of millions of dollars—possibly even billions—to address the 710 Freeway gap. An underground tunnel connecting the 710 and the 210 Freeways—Alhambra’s preferred solution — could end up costing $3 billion-5.6 billion and take four to five years to construct.
There are two different tunnel designs in the study: a dual-bore one with two side-by-side tunnels for north and south traffic, and a single-bore tunnel with northbound traffic running above southbound traffic. The report says that the dual-bore design tunnel would alleviate traffic the most and provide for “the most additional capacity and largest differences in mobility of all the Build Alternatives.”
Alhambra is the leading force in pushing for the tunnel, with Monterey Park, San Marino, Rosemead, and San Gabriel voicing support. Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale, and Los Angeles oppose the tunnel. On Monday, Councilmember Barbara Messina and La Canada Flintridge Mayor Pro Temp Donald Voss debated the issue on KPCC’s AirTalk.
When asked what measure Alhambrans support, Messina told AirTalk, “Definitely the tunnel alternative because it addresses the issues that the EIR study is based on and that’s mobility, air quality, and congestion. All three of those issues are addressed with the tunnel.” Voss said that La Canada Flintridge and its residents support a combination of traffic management systems, a light rail, and bus expansion to address traffic in the area. “Our primary issue with the freeway tunnel would be increased traffic in the form of health risks,” Voss told AirTalk.
The report looked at a tunnel freeway, light-rail train, rapid bus line, and traffic management systems to address traffic in East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley stemming from the 710 Freeway. A fifth alternative, which the study reviewed, was to build nothing.
The traffic management systems would aim to maximize efficiency from already existing constructions and streets. These strategies look at synchronizing traffic signals, reversible lanes, freeway on-ramp metering, auxiliary lanes, ridesharing programs, and more. The report said that this would take two years and $105 million to implement.
The report also reviewed a bus transit system that could run every 10 minutes during peak hours, and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours. The transit would cover a 12-mile route from East Los Angeles to Pasadena, going along Atlantic Boulevard, Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue, and Del Mar Boulevard. This alternative would cost $241 million and take two years to finish.
A 7.5-mile light-rail train was another option; it would cost $2.4 billion and connect the Gold Line from Pasadena to East Los Angeles, with a route running through South Pasadena, Alhambra, and Monterey Park. The rail would run underground for 4.5 miles, and would require both a tunnel and three miles of aerial rails and platforms. The light-rail would take six years to complete.
The full SR-710 Environmental Impact Report can be found at the Department of Transportation's website.
Residents are encouraged to send their input to Metro during the 120-day public comment period from March 12 to July 6. Messina asked community members to participate in the 710 discussion, saying it is “very critical for all of us to find out what the options are and how it affects us.” Messina added, “I think it really behooves us to make comments during this 120 day period.” To contact Metro, send written comments to:
· Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 S. Main St., MS-16, Los Angeles, CA 90012
· The Metro website.
Public hearings will be held at:
· Saturday, April 11, 11am-4pm at East Los Angeles College, Rosco Ingalls Auditorium, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA 91754
· Tuesday, April 14, 6pm-9pm at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 with a third one to be planned.
· Metro says a third hearing will be announced at a later date. The announcement will be made online.