What's the solution to the 710-gap?

A three-year, $37 million environmental study to determine the best option to close the 710-gap launched last week.

Alhambra government supports a tunnel as a solution to the way in which 710 traffic is currently dumped on its clogged streets; South Pasadena is promoting a vision for a "multimodal approach", incorporating bikes, trains, and other public transportation. We asked readers what they thought the best solution was.

The reults: A tunnel was the top choice, followed by more bike lanes and rail and bus transportation.

Thirty-one people responded, 22 of them from Alhambra, one from South Pasadena, and seven from other places.

13 thoughts on “What's the solution to the 710-gap?”

  1. I think I understand the “octopus analogy” as it pertains to the “overall efficiency” of traffic flow, but current traffic that flows out at the 710N terminus has no port traffic: there aren’t any intermodal trucks travelling up and down Fremont to catch the 710/210/134. As I and others already stated, that traffic has already been taken up by the Alameda Corridor or other freeways going in all directions.

    Councilwoman Messina’s (and others) reason why the 710 needs to be connected–relieve traffic congestion in Alhambra, especially along Valley and Fremont by using the “octopus analogy”–is really a red herring because it does not answer the fundamental question of traffic in Alhambra. Traffic will still continue to flow out at Valley (assuming this will become an on/offramp) for Alhambra, South Pasadena, and San Marino residents. And as everyone knows, Alhambra has one of the highest population and highest population densities in the San Gabriel Valley, meaning that most of the outflowing traffic on Valley will end up somewhere in Alhambra. Port traffic will continue to utilize Alameda and the freeways, and perhaps the 710 connection to 210/134. This traffic never affected Valley, and will not affect Valley even after the 710 connection is built (assuming for the sake of argument). Unless we build a surface, at or above grade route with many on/offramps along the way–which incidentally will decimate a big chunk of councilman Ayala’s district–how exactly will this relieve traffic? And if the “solution” is a tunnel, the number of on/offramps becomes even more important because these will cost more money as more tunnels need to be built to bring the traffic up to the surface. Considering the concentration of traffic, there’d need to be more on/offramps in Alhambra than other cities.

    There are many freeways that had been planned but never built or completed. The 91 was supposed to connect all the way to PCH, which itself was to be a freeway (I lived around this area in the past). I’m sure a fair number of people were disappointed that those freeways were never built or completed, but I think it’s safe to say there aren’t many disappointed people around now, and certainly very few, if at all, would push to complete the 91 or to turn PCH into a freeway now. This is the question: will building the 710 relieve traffic in Alhambra, or are we clamoring to build it just because we think the 710 should connect to something?

    I think I’d feel a little better if at the same time of supporting the freeway, she and the council presented a concrete and workable plan to relieve/reduce traffic. I’d really like to see Alhambra working with its neighbors. But considering they never seriously considered even a bike plan until recently, I will continue to have my doubts.

  2. Our freeway and road network system is caught in a Catch-22. LA County freeways are at capacity. Even if more freeway lanes are built, such as the case of the 710 tunnel, it will be at capacity very soon after they are built. Or, more likely in the case of the 710, tolls will be too expensive for people to afford so they will bypass the 710 tunnel using the same Valley to Fremont route.

    To accommodate growth, we need to focus on creating a public transportation infrastructure that can take cars off the roads. It too is caught in the Catch-22. For example, passenger trains need to go near enough to where people live, take them to the job centers where they work, run more often, and be more timely. The current network just does not cut it. Unfortunately, to accommodate rail, we would need to take freeway lanes, budget from freeway projects, and expand or create rights of ways that will go by people’s homes and businesses. Consider the plight of the Metrolink line that goes down the center of the 10. It is a single lane. That means trains at either end of the section need to wait for a train to finish going through that segment, delaying the system and limiting the number of trains that can use that part of the track. The line is mostly single tracked to the end in San Bernardino. Thus, to increase capacity, Metrolink would need to add a second set of tracks. Down the 10, it would require eliminating 1 to 2 freeway lanes. Through El Monte and points east, it would need to expand the right of way through many areas. Now imagine that several times over as a rail network is built out.

    At the end of the day, Alhambra will need to support efforts to move the region to a multi-modal approach. Otherwise, it risks being caught again under Caltrans’ steamrollers during the next ten freeway expansion.

  3. The connection WILL be made one way or the other. The only variable is “time”.

    That said, the city of Alhambra should be careful what it wishes for. All that traffic on Valley and Freemont are potential customers to all the business on those streets. Removing that traffic might relieve traffic congestion, but hurt business badly.

    If I was “king” of Alhambra, I would eminent domain those parts of Valley and Freemont and add some lanes and “welcome” the traffic.

  4. The traffic north of the 10 does not have much traffic from LB port–as you mentioned, these are either carried by the Alameda Corridor or by trucks that have already turned to the 405, 91, 105, 5, 60, or the 10. The remainder left, then I assume, would be comprised mostly of residents (and few commercial traffic around the area). That’s been my observation in my daily commute on the 710.

    So then my conclusion is that even if the 710 is connected–whether on surface or by a tunnel, the large volume of residential traffic is still not resolved–traffic that spills out to Valley, Fremont, and beyond. Surely, for those multi-nodal traffic you refer to, 710 connection will present another option for these traffic through the region.

    Of all cities, I find it ironic that Alhambra is not the one pushing for a holistic approach–it being the most densely populated city in the affected area. We can build all the high density housing we want, but you have to also realize until jobs are created and sustained near these places, there will always be a mass of traffic going in and out. I’m sure you’re not knocking on South Pasadena, but you also have to admit at least they have the higher household income and can afford to take a position of low density housing and slow growth.

    The arguments have been going on for 50+ years and I’m afraid it’s too late be be adults and listen to one another. As much as one can wonder why South Pasadena (and others) are fighting tooth and nail against the 710, we also need to ask why is the 710 so absolutely necessary?

    1. “we also need to ask why is the 710 so absolutely necessary?”

      Because it takes 30 minutes to go from Garfield & Garvey to 1886 Bar’s happy hour.

      Because it takes 40 minutes to go from ELAC to Whole Foods.

      Alhambra’s practical — Build connector, bring economy to the region, increase population & home ownership, get S.Pasadenians out of their town to/fro work. Good on the city.

  5. The Alhambra Source poses an interesting question to the 710 freeway gap dilemma. In my opinion, there really is no specific “solution” to this issue because no matter what happens, there will always be a group not completely satisfied. Thus, the strategy of swaying political will for completion or not becomes just as important as the pragmatic efforts needed for assessment on this project. I do feel however, something needs to be done. The tunnel option may perhaps be the better option than the surface alternative that would definitely cut-up and divide the city of South Pasadena.

    Forecast models for highway use shows an increase of vehicular traffic and the need for higher capacity (SCAG Regional Transportation Plan 2012). Many critics will argue that making more freeways only compounds the problem and creates more traffic. I agree to this but the bigger issue is “how do we adapt to growth?” Growth will continue and that is a fact. If you look at the 710 freeway its southern terminus is right smack next to Long Beach Port. This port along with the port of Los Angeles represents the Pacific gateway in terms of trade. When combined, these ports near the top of the list with highest cargo volume in our entire country. To prevent bottlenecks and traffic congestion as trade grew, the Alameda Corridor project was constructed and became a force multiplier in accommodating larger capacity for our southern ports. As a rail network, the corridor runs from Long Beach to the downtown L.A. rail yards before heading east to the Colton junction in San Bernardino. That’s why we have trains running through Alhambra along the Mission Rd. trench. That right-of-way contributes to our global economic chains as some goods from Asia ride those trains from L.B. to San Bernardino and beyond. I don’t think it’s just residents who use the 710 freeway (which parallels the Alameda Corridor) but working commuters and trucks that haul cargo north to other distribution networks. The 710 freeway gap closure will not solve all our problems, but just like the Alameda Corridor, it will provide further multi-nodal access to our congested transportation grid from a regional perspective. This is the octopus analogy Messina was referring to.

    South Pasadena wants to take a holistic view of this problem by seeking a “multi-modal” approach.Unfortunately, we comprise of so many cities here in Los Angeles County with so many different views. The interest of any one city may not integrate with regional needs and vice versa. Hence, we have people in Alhambra supporting South Pasadena’s multi-modal approach (like public transit/rail) and yet cringe on the thoughts of high-speed rail passing through our city. We also complain about traffic accidents and the dangers it poses to bikers in Alhambra yet many residents despise developers who build high-density mixed-used projects that promote walkability. What’s also ironic about South Pasadena’s push for bikes, trains, and public transportation is the city’s resistance to high-density projects. From my experiences in 23 countries, those things work best in high-density environments. I don’t foresee the majority of South Pasadena residents using public trains or bikes, especially in a slow-growth city with many single family homes, higher incomes, and highly separated land-use zoning.

    I think before we can find a solution, we need to ask ourselves first how to approach the problem. Do we take a regional approach or a “not in my city” approach. We can have both approaches, but seeking common priorities should be the first order of business. Both sides must listen. Only then can we create a project that effectively addresses the needs of the majority. Even if it does take a century or more to find a solution, that’s the price we pay for living the way we want in a community of so many competing interests. Until we all mature ourselves into further collective collaboration, we still have a long way to go.

    1. @John, Robert is right. Port traffic does not equate freeway traffic through Alhambra. We already paid billions and are paying billions more through the Alameda Corridor Projects to make it easier for trains to move freight east. Most freight currently is shipped by truck or train to the Colton area via the 60 where it is then put on long haul trucks or trains for the trip east. The tunnel will be off-limits to freight trucks — to make it more affordable to build and cheaper to maintain.

      1. @ Neighbor, do you really think Port traffic has no relevance whatsoever to traffic in Alhambra? I’m not totally disagreeing with you, but we need to look at the system as A WHOLE instead of looking at this 710-fwy issue as only a local issue. That’s why I mentioned the Alameda Corridor. I don’t know about you, but I’ve traveled down the 710 fwy many times like Robert. I use to go to college down in Long Beach and I can tell you I’ve seen many cargo trucks make their way through Alhambra (via I-10) down south via the 710 south. I also see many cargo trucks heading their way north towards the I-10 when I am on the 710 northbound during the week (See Alhambra Source’s article on the 710N Designated Interim Truck Route).

        The LA/LB ports provides a trade/transportation hub for San Diego and Imperial Countries as well. So traffic isn’t just about going north or east, but in all directions. In addition, any congestion in one area affects other areas as traffic flow seeks the path of least resistance based on costs and route efficiency. It’s called regional logistics. No freeway, including the 710, is immune from that. By closing the 710 gap, we help mitigate the inefficiences in all directions. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean traffic will decrease. That’s were ideas such as yours are important and hopefully will help integrate an effectively solution to this area’s traffic problems.

        Like what VinceF and Sinosoul have said, the gap needs to be connected. And I absoultely agree with you on the need for more public transportation infrastructure. But please keep in mind that how we build our cities (high-density, vertical height restrictions, land-use zoning/separations, etc.) also plays a very big part. What brings strong ridership for public transportation is to not only create more infrastructure, but provide OPPORTUNITIES that are AVAILABLE near those stops as well. A suburban community is a very poor model for public transportation. You mention the Metrolink trains and the limited space on the center median of the I-10. Are you open to an aerial track? If not, how about another tunnel of some sort? Widening the freeway will definitely bring up stiff resistance, especially among the residents along Ramona Blvd/Rd. The reason why we are so congested is because everyone doesn’t want anything built and yet expect our economy to keep prodding along without development.

      2. Speaking of opportunities, I’m curious and interested in the new building that’s being built on Atlantic and Main that will be occupied by the County Housing Authority, in terms of incremental increase in traffic in the area, and what steps the city and county will take to reduce/relieve traffic in the already congested intersection. Parts of Atlantic north of Main is not much wider than Monterey Rd in San Marino–and this is a residential street…

      3. I’ve tried looking for similar information last year. Here is a link for the LACDC HQ facilities lease agreement that does mention environmental impacts and some traffic mitigation measures. It’s not an EIR however. Try starting on page 8.

        http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/60303.pdf

        The existing parking structure for this new building has a main north entrance and a south entrance. I read somewhere that the south entrance will be used for servicing and maintenance vehicles. I think allowing employee/customer vehicles through the south entrance (perhaps during certain hours during non-service operations throughout the work day) will help reduce the need for cars to travel through the Main/Atlantic intersection (mainly for the cars on Atlantic coming from the south).

      4. This is good info. Short on details on my question–I have a feeling some of the visitor estimates were lowered a bit to give a better impression. No blames there, and I’m sure visitors and employees will adjust as they experience the traffic in the area.

        I don’t recall Alhambra Source mentioning a possible 2700 soft retail space mentioned in the document. My guess is a cafeteria for employees and visitors, though there are a good number of eateries in the immediate area. Cautiously optimistic.

  6. It seems, and I’m glad for it, the surface route is off the table in the present discussions and planning. With the tunnel route, I’m curious if that’s a tunnel with various exits along the route, or a tunnel that just connects (i.e., no exits) the current 710N terminus with the 210/134 freeways.

    One can imagine the cost of the tunnel will depend, among many things, on the number of exits (or no exits) as additional tunnels will need to built to connect to existing surface streets. There doesn’t seem to be a conceptual drawing that shows how that tunnel may connect with say, Huntington Dr, or Main St. So it’s difficult to imagine this tunnel solution having exits along the way, but to think of it as simply a connector with no exits along the route.

    If that’s the case, how would that solve current traffic pouring out of 710 into Valley Blvd? Undoubtedly many are residents so a tunnel with no exits along the route would not do them any good–they’ll simply spill into other exits before the connector. Moreover, how much of the traffic from 710/Valley do actually connect with the 210/134?

    It seems to me the main reason of having the 710 connect all the way to the 210/134, traffic alleviation, is a completely separate issue that people think it has all to do with the 710. If it’s the octopus analogy put forth by Councilwoman Messina, then it seems to be a solution in search of a problem–problem that no one has clearly identified. Everyone would agree that traffic on 710/Valley to Fremont, and 10/Freemont at times can be horrendous during mornings and afternoons, but until they–supporters, planners, etc., can show definitively that connecting the 710 to 210/134 would effectively reduce traffic at these locations, I’m inclined to remain very skeptical.

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