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Two Alhambra reps take opposing stands on 710 tunnel

Two Alhambra representatives have taken opposing stands on a possible 710 Freeway tunnel in recent letters to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, La Canada Valley Sun reports.

Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Alhambra) wrote Monday urging MTA to continue researching the tunnel option for the 710 gap closure, extending the 710 Freeway 4.5 miles from where it ends in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Eng said expanding the 710 would reduce traffic both on freeways and Alhambra surface streets. He also emphasized its potential environmental impact, saying the tunnel would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in nearby residential areas 16 percent by 2035. Such a reduction would meet target levels set by the California Air Resources Board.

Another elected official representing Alhambra, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), wrote a letter last week strongly opposing the tunnel. Schiff said the tunnel’s most recent estimated cost of $5.6 billion was more than the resources likely to be available to fund the project. He also wrote that many people in the area were against the freeway connection. In addition to Alhambra, which supports the 710 extension, Schiff’s district also includes cities that oppose it such as Glendale and South Pasadena.

The MTA is engaged in a three-year environmental study of options to close the 710 gap. Proposed alternatives to the tunnel include a bus line, light-rail line, and traffic management systems that coordinate traffic lights with car flow.

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7 thoughts on “Two Alhambra reps take opposing stands on 710 tunnel”

  1. I have had a basic problem with the 710 – can we trust Caltrans and METRO to do what they say??? I doubt as they have changed their verbal and even written elements of the project and then they say that “that is how they define something” rather than indicating they have defined something different from common sense or industry standards.

    During scoping recommendations had included projects to improve – North-South connections as far east as Peck Road as Caltrans had made the Project area of 210 sq mi but no improvements are included east of Atlantic.

    The F-7 Tunnel has gone from 120ft deep in 2006 to 180ft deep in 2010, to 30ft deep in August 2012, to 100-150ft deep in September = deeper means huge excavations and trucking, shallower means removal of surface structures as a cut-and-cover tunnel…

    Then Will there be trucks or No Trucks?? Some say yes some say no BUT the Tunnels are designed with 16ft+ clearance = TRUCKS, 12ft = no trucks

    The I-710 DEIR says that they will drop 290,000 cars and 40000trucks a day everyday on to the 710 south side of I-10

    SCAG says they will double the trucks on I-10 and I-210 but carefully avoid what they will do on the SR-710


    1. Thanks for chiming in Tom. Please link to the documents/reports you’re referring to, or give a URL. The inconsistency you cite is not good; however, from what I’ve seen there won’t be a cut and cover. Caltrans is expecting to sell the homes it owns in the old surface route’s path to help pay for the project’s costs. A cut and cover would destroy too much value from those properties. Also, my understanding is that Caltrans/Metro have not released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), yet.

      FYI – for those who aren’t following the election, yet, Measure J was placed on the ballot by Metro. It extends a half-cent sales tax created when voters approved Measure R a few years ago. Instead of expiring in 2039, the tax would expire in 2069. Metro has more information about Measure J on its web site. Metro plans to borrow against its anticipated revenues to pay for accelerating its planned infrastructure projects.

      Funding for the 710 gap closure was approved by voters in Measure R. Incorporated by reference in Measure R is the expenditure plan (Attachment A) that clearly sets aside $780 million for “Interstate 710 North Gap Closure (tunnel).”
      Measure R: text
      Measure R: Attachment A (expenditure plan)

  2. Maybe it’s time for Alhambra to embrace the fact that the 710 will never be extended.

    Why not use it to our advantage and see it as NOT a traffic problem, but thousands of potential customers for our local businesses every day.

    Maybe Alhambra needs to figure out a way to make it easier for those exiting the 710, and make them feel welcome to the local businesses on Valley and Fremont streets.

    Since government loves doing studies, lets study this instead of something that will never happen.

    1. Interesting idea about the potential for thousands of customers.

      Also, I’d be careful about using the word “never”. That’s a very strong word…

  3. Not only it’s uncertain that the tunnel would reduce pollution, the connection itself has been sold as the solution to reducing traffic on local streets. I have serious doubts on that claim, especially with the tunnel. The tunnel does nothing for the residents and they will continue to spill out on Valley (or whichever that will be the last exit before the tunnel). Without a plan to reduce traffic congestion at this level–whether through increased mass transit (bus and/or rail), street improvements, etc., we will be in the same condition as we are in now.

  4. I think it is worth noting that Adam Schiff will no longer represent Alhambra after the upcoming election so the difference in opinion isn’t surprising. Schiff’s district will now include only the cities who are fighting the tunnel, including Glendale and La Canada. Alhambra will now be part of the district currently held by Judy Chu.

    Also, I think Mike Eng may be jumping the gun by stating that the tunnel will reduce pollution or congestion on local streets. We don’t know that, yet. One purpose of the EIR/EIR is to study the effects of the different options studied, including detailed effects on congestion and pollution. See Route 710 Tunnel Technical Feasibilty Assessment Report, Page 5-52 (“The traffic analysis performed at this conceptual stage is not intended to be a detailed travel demand forecasting effort, or a traffic/transportation impact analysis typically performed during the environmental phase of projects.”).

    For instance, the amount of congestion will be affected by the toll Caltrans requires for drivers to use the tunnel. Set it too high and people will avoid the tunnel and continue clogging our streets.

    In their technical feasibility report, Caltrans and Metro estimate that $3 tolls will cause 20% of drivers to avoid the tunnel (called the diversion rate), while $5 tolls will cause a %30 diversion rate. See Route 710 Tunnel Technical Feasibilty Assessment Report, Table 10-3, Page 10-128.

    This issue is playing out right now in Seattle where Washington is having difficulty setting toll prices for a tunnel that goes beneath downtown Seattle. Washington is saying a $3.25 toll will cause people to avoid the tunnel route and clog downtown streets.

    Moreover, Caltrans/Metro made a series of assumptions regarding the estimated cost of the project, toll charges, and estimated revenues from tolls. As they acknowledge, more detailed financial analysis needs to be completed to set tolls — “[S]ince cost data and traffic forecasts are only conceptual at this time, the toll revenue and bonding potential described below should only be considered as order of magnitude estimates.” page 10-128 (emphasis added). Also, the study apparently assumed that people avoiding the tunnel will take other freeways as opposed to other routes that may include major city streets such as Fremont or Atlantic.

    Therefore, without knowing what toll charge to expect, it may be too early to claim the 710 tunnel would reduce either congestion or pollution.

  5. My respect and admiration for Schiff has increased tenfold.

    Signed –
    An Alhambra resident