Los Angeles Metro votes to implement alternatives to the 710 tunnel

Photo by Ken Lund licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Los Angeles Metro’s Board of Directors voted unanimously on Thursday to endorse a traffic management solution to alleviate congestion from an unfinished 710 freeway. Officially known as the Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management alternative, this solution would be implemented instead of a controversial 710 tunnel.

The motion that the board adopted would take $105 million of $780 million allocated to close the 710 gap and use that money to implement this alternative, which could include traffic light synchronization and street widening, a Metro press release said. This $780 million was raised by a half-cent sales tax increase that took effect in 2009, known as Measure R.

The LA Metro press release said that the remainder of the $780 million would go to other “mobility improvement projects” in Alhambra and other San Gabriel Valley cities. The 710 freeway currently ends in Alhambra, and has caused major traffic congestion there.

One of the proposed solutions has been constructing a 4.5-mile tunnel to connect the 710 with the 10 and 210 freeways in the San Gabriel Valley, a solution that Metro issued a detailed report on in 2015. Alhambra supported the tunnel, while neighboring cities like Pasadena and South Pasadena opposed it.

While the final decision over whether the tunnel project moves forward lies with Caltrans, Metro’s endorsement of the Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management alternative takes key funding away from the tunnel.

Kim Upton, a spokesperson for LA Metro, said that the board recognized that “the tunnel is not fundable for many, many years.” The transportation system management alternative was a much more palatable option. “There’s a lot of money to do some good, and that’s what the goal of this measure is,” Upton said.

Alhambra Mayor David Mejia said that while the tunnel would still be the best option to relieve traffic, he hoped that the majority of Measure R funds would get allocated to Alhambra and its neighbors. “I hope that Alhambra gets a little more than everybody else, because we’re at the epicenter,” he said, adding that the city council would soon make a list of traffic relief projects to get funding for.

2 thoughts on “Los Angeles Metro votes to implement alternatives to the 710 tunnel”

  1. I found it amusing that despite voting against the tunnel, the email I received from Metro said its staff (most likely spoon-fed by the consultants) still think a tunnel the best option available. Specifically, it said “the alternative that best addresses the purpose and need of the project and the performance measures set to evaluate all alternatives considered in the environmental process is the Single Bore Freeway Tunnel (SBFT) with tolls and truck restrictions.”
    After all this time, it is clear there isn’t sufficient political will or money to build the tunnel on the local level. The $7-11 billion it would have taken to build a vehicle tunnel will now be used to fund light rail or subway projects. For comparison, the Blue Line light rail cost about $85 million per mile (in 2012 dollars) and the Purple line subway is expected to cost about $450-500 million/mile. My guess is the money goes to build a light rail connector from Pasadena to the NoHo Red Line station, and perhaps Burbank Airport.

  2. The Measure M sales tax doesn’t go to any of this! So we’re paying the tax and getting no benefit. Disappointing.

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