Should Metro build a freeway tunnel or take another route in the 710 project?

Jul 16, 2013

Freeway Battle

Early morning traffic jams the entrance to the 710 Freeway in Alhambra.; Credit: Nick Ut/AP

Metro and CalTrans have already spent two years researching how to relieve traffic in Los Angeles County. Their study, SR-710, began in 2011 with 40 different traffic alternatives. By 2012, it became 12 options and is now narrowed down to five. The study focuses on the gap between the 710 and the 210 freeways, forcing commuters to take local streets to travel north and south in the San Gabriel Valley. According to Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap, there are 60,000 cars on Fair Oaks Avenue and 50,000 cars on Fremont Avenue per day and the gridlock in that area is very severe.

Metro’s five alternatives are:

  1. No-build: The only changes will be those already planned by local jurisdictions.
  2. Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management: Metro would improve the existing system by introducing strategies such as coordinating traffic signal timing and promoting carpooling and public transit.
  3. Bus Rapid Transit: By creating bus lanes, high speed and high frequency buses would run between 18 proposed locations.
  4. Light Rail Transit: Metro would build a 7.5 mile light rail with trains connecting East Los Angeles to Pasadena.
  5. Freeway Tunnel: A 6.3 mile four-lane tunnel would connect the end of the 710 freeway in Alhambra with the 210 freeway in Pasadena.

This study and the controversial freeway tunnel have spurred cities to go head-to-head. Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Marino and Duarte are in favor of this project. Mayor Steven Placido of Alhambra joins AirTalk to discuss how the 710 freeway was never supposed to end in Alhambra. Placido supports the freeway tunnel because he believes it would relieve traffic by 20 percent and the other options would only have a two percent effect.

However, South Pasadena, Pasadena, La Cañada, Glendale and Los Angeles oppose the freeway tunnel. Mayor Pro Tem of San Marino, Marina Khubesrian, also joins AirTalk to raise her concerns. She believes that this freeway tunnel is contrary to Metro’s efforts of reducing drivers through public transportation. In addition to air quality concerns affecting residential neighborhoods, opponents state the money just isn’t there to build a freeway tunnel.

The SR-710 study has caused the No 710 Action Committee to actively oppose the freeway tunnel. Committee members marched on the Fourth of July in protest of the tunnel. In contrast, Mayor Placido made last Wednesday “710 Day” in Alhambra. All this debate caused the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board to recently vote on not accelerating the 710 project, giving Metro time to continue studying options. Metro will present their most recent research to the community on July 18, 20, and 23.

Which option should Metro pursue? What are your concerns about the five alternatives?  

Doug Failing, Executive Officer for Metro Highway Program; oversees the environmental study on the 710

Steven Placido, D.D.S., Mayor of Alhambra

Marina Khubesrian, M.D., Mayor Pro Tem of South Pasadena

For more information about Metro’s community meetings on Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday, click here.

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