Sign the Petition at no710.com
The War Against the 710
Pasadena Magazine, January 2014
Excellent article featuring long-time freeway fighters, Claire Bogaard & Joanne Nuckols http://www.pasadenamonthly.com/articles/war-against-710-2014-01-06
South Pasadena passed the first resolution against extending the Freeway
Master Plan of Freeways was adopted showing the plan for Route 7, now the I-710 and SR-710
Caltrans bought houses in El Sereno, South Pasadena, Pasadena and Alhambra to build the surface route
Section from Long Beach to El Sereno (Los Angeles) opened
1973 - 1998
Injunction granted to prevent Caltrans from buying additional properties and proceeding with the project
Second injunction granted (still in place)
2002 - 2003
Bored tunnel proposed and presented as an option
2003 - 2004
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rescinded their approval for the surface project. Following the FHWA, the State of California also rescinded their approval.
First Route 710 Feasibility Assessment. Determined that more effective study was needed.
2007 - 2009
Second Route 710 Tunnel Technical Feasibility Study. Only geotechnical testing conducted. Five zones studied. $7 million spent.
Final Geotechnical Report presented in March. Conclusion: All zones are viable options for tunneling. No zones eliminated. Surface route not eliminated. MTA Board voted $11.5 million contract to InfraConsult to pursue Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for 6 projects, including the SR-710 Extension. MTA Board voted to include the SR-710 “Gap Closure” in the Mayor’s 30/10 Initiative (America Fast Forward), 12 fast-tracked projects to be completed in 10 years. MTA Board voted to move to the next steps of the project, to include Scoping (evaluation), Alternative Analysis, and environmental studies. InfraConsult completes Public-Private Partnership report, outlining concept to bundle three highway projects together to attract investors - I-710 Freight Corridor, SR-710 North Tunnel, and the High Desert Corridor.
Scoping process begins. Metro
holds a series of community outreach sessions. Study area defined. Work begins
on Purpose & Needs statement that does not include port or goods movement considerations.
Gloria Molina reveals in a Metro Board meeting the plan to use the original
Meridian route in Zone 3 in spite of the supposed “route neutral” study that
was conducted. In March, Metro sends out Press Release and Executive Director
of Highway Programs, Doug Failing, does interview for “Everything Long Beach”
where the 710 North "Gap Closure" is described as necessary to
complete the natural goods corridor that was begun several decades ago.
Stakeholders submit comments for initial DEIR and Scoping closes April 14.
Study area expanded to include La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale. Metro Board
Chair, Ara Najarian, points out the vast differences in tunnel estimation
costs. Requests a full cost-benefit analysis. Meetings begin with No 710 Action
Committee representatives, Metro and InfraConsult to discuss a base-case
scenario. CH2MHill awarded $37,300,000 contract for EIR/EIS.
Metro and InfraConsult disclose that their tunnel cost estimates are based solely on the Alaskan Way Tunnel bid amount per linear foot, not a completed project such as the Big Dig that had cost overruns of over $12 billion ($24 billion if you consider full final costs.) It is also revealed that a cost amount over $8 billion would be too high for most investors. SCAG adopts Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) in April, that names the SR-710 as a tunnel in the amount of $5.636 billion with tolls included in revenue projections. Stakeholder cities ask to have the language revised and the project moved out of the constrained plan. Project enters Alternatives Analysis phase. Metro creates three types of committees for outreach purposes – Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), Stakeholders Outreach Advisory Committee (SOAC), and Community Liaison Councils (CLC). TAC presented in April with chart of 42 alternatives and the 11 selected choices at one session, prior to any CLC or SOAC meetings being held. Stakeholders very unhappy about the process. Metro holds a series of Open Houses in May with Technical Team from CH2MHill and Aecom and the Outreach Team from Metro and MBI. It is demonstrated that a tunnel is being designed along the Meridian route from north of Valley in El Sereno, despite the City of LA Resolution against it and to Del Mar Blvd in Pasadena. The tunnel could also have a grade of up to 4% despite Metro's claim that it wouldn't exceed the standard of 2-2.5%. InfraConsult's PPP report is received and filed by the Metro Board in July. Glendale City Councilmember, Ara Najarian dismissed from Metrolink Board by new MTA Chair Michael Antonovich. Further TAC and SOAC meetings reveal a renewed consideration for a route in Zone 2 near Glassell Park and brand new routes in the northwest corner of Zone 3. Resident groups in West Pasadena, Garvanza, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock bring new energy to the cause by showing up to the CLC meetings in high numbers, placing posters around town, writing letters, signing petitions, and connecting with each other through social media. InfraConsult/HDR Engineering Executive Michael Schneider and Metro's Executive Director of Highway Programs, Doug Failing solicit investor interest by making presentations to transportation groups. The SR-710 is shown in the slides as a bored tunnel, not a potential light rail or bus rapid transit system which may reveal a bias in the Alternatives Analysis selection process and a premature marketing plan. Duarte City Council and City Selection Committee member, John Fasana asks member representatives to vote against Ara Najarian for his re-confirmation to the MTA Board, based on his outspoken views on the 710. This has never been done before.
Caltrans releases the final SR 710 Alternatives Analysis Report to the public on January 18, five days before the scheduled Open House meetings. The stakeholders are outraged that there is so little time to review the report prior to the public meetings. The agency listed on the report is Metro, not Caltrans which sparks discussion about who the lead agency truly is. Ara Najarian asks for clarification from the Metro Board on the MOU between the two agencies and is told that revealing this information would violate attorney-client privilege. The No 710 Action Committee marches in the South Pasadena, Festival of Balloons parade, July 4. The City of Alhambra hosts a “710 Day” on July 10 which is attended primarily by Alhambra City employees. Ara Najarian remains on the MTA Board and is reinstated to the MetroLink Board by new Chair, Diane Dubois. In October, Metro Board votes to add the SR-710 to the list of “Accelerated Funding” projects.
Cost, Tolls, Length, Safety
Over the last two decades, public officials and government sources have quoted project cost ranges between $1 to $14 billion to build the tunnel. The current figure being used by the MTA is $5.425 billion and SCAG is $5.636 billion. The $780 million in Measure R funds may be allocated for the environmental process but the project is being planned as a public-private partnership with tolls. Measure J on the ballot in November 2012 would have extended the half cent sales tax from 2039 to 2069 and could have been used to accelerate the project. It did not pass and transportation leaders are discussing changing the percent needed by voters from two-thirds to 55% for funding of transportation projects.
From $5 to $15 one-way to be collected by a private company through congestion pricing transponders. Tolls are calculated based on project cost. Metro/InfraConsult project 180,000 vehicles per day will use the tunnel, 4X the current number of 44,000, with a 35% diversion rate of 63,000 for those who will exit the freeway to avoid the toll.
The project will be 6.3 miles long with the tunnel measuring 4.9 miles. If completed, it will be the longest road tunnel ever built in the U.S. Road tunnels have a history of danger from fire, flood, earthquake, collapse, and terror attack. Threat from these dangers cannot be truly mitigated.
No 710 Action Committee
Updated by Susan Bolan 1/14/14