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Schiff to Metro Board Members Opposing 710 Tunnel

Posted by on May 14th, 2015 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

On May 6, Congressman Adam Schiff sent a letter to Chairman Eric Garcetti and members of the Los Angeles Metro Board opposing the SR 710 North freeway tunnel alternative proposed in the SR 710 North Study by the California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). In the letter, Schiff pushes the Board and Metro to instead study a more innovative, multimodal approach, combining mass transit, bikeways, new parks to improve air quality and more efficient ways of moving cargo.

“Metro could help reshape the transportation future of Los Angeles by thinking outside the box to get people outside their vehicles, by integrating parks and better urban planning, smart traffic lights and smarter mass transit, all of this and more, and all for less than the cost of a tunnel,” said Schiff.  “At the beginning of this process, many in the community were afraid that Metro would plow ahead with a predetermined conclusion that the freeway must be finished, and other ideas would only be entertained so that they might be rejected in a process with only the appearance of deliberation. As the challenges facing Los Angeles are new, I urge Metro to think anew, reject the tunnel, and give serious consideration to other, more forward thinking and more suitable options.”

Below is the full letter that Schiff sent:

Dear Chairman Garcetti and Metro Board Members:

I write to express my opposition to the SR 710 North freeway tunnel alternative proposed in the SR 710 North Study by the California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). After review of the draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), it is my belief that a tunnel would be cost prohibitive and detrimental to the communities overall, including many cities that I represent in Congress.

When the idea of a tunnel was first raised and it was believed that the rare common ground in the decades-long fight over the 710 might be underground, I was willing to explore its fiscal, technical and community feasibility. At the time, Metro represented that due to improvements in tunneling technology, a below ground option might cost the same or only fractionally more than the discredited at-grade proposal – or roughly $1.5 billion.

This estimate would prove wildly optimistic. Whatever the technological feasibility, a single-bore or dual-bore tunnel is cost prohibitive and could cost anywhere between $3.15 billion and a whopping $5.65 billion. All of the four other alternative proposals put together would cost less than even the more modest tunnel option.

Furthermore, experience on other major transportation projects teaches us that even these costs are likely to be considerably higher than the estimates produced in an EIR/EIS report.

It was also believed by Metro at the time a tunnel was first proposed that the agency would be able to garner strong community support for the idea. This has also proved not to be the case. To the degree a consensus has formed around the tunnel – at least insofar as the communities along its path are concerned – it is a consensus against the proposal, finding it too costly, too disruptive and too backward a solution to transportation needs in the 21st century. Our communities want new and innovative ways to move people and improve air quality, not more freeways above or below ground with their smokestacks for ventilation and even more vehicles belching exhaust through their neighborhoods.

I was discouraged to see that the draft EIR/EIS did not seriously consider a more innovative, multimodal approach, combining mass transit, bikeways, new parks to improve air quality and more efficient ways of moving cargo. These are the approaches favored by so many constituents who have written in to the Board. Many urban areas in the United States, including Los Angeles, are starting to take an ‘all of the above’ approach to addressing their transportation needs using bus, light rail, and other forms of transportation to address their commuting needs. While I believe the bus rapid transit and light rail transit approaches are good starting points, I encourage Metro and Caltrans to continue seeking community input to further explore a multimodal approach that combines the best of these options and makes our communities more interconnected, not divided.

Metro could help reshape the transportation future of Los Angeles by thinking outside the box to get people outside their vehicles, by integrating parks and better urban planning, smart traffic lights and smarter mass transit, all of this and more, and all for less than the cost of a tunnel.

At the beginning of this process, many in the community were afraid that Metro would plow ahead with a predetermined conclusion – that the freeway must be finished, that it must proceed along its historic route, above or below ground it did not matter – and other ideas would only be entertained so that they might be rejected in a process with only the appearance of deliberation. As the challenges facing Los Angeles are new, I urge Metro to think anew, reject the tunnel, and give serious consideration to other, more forward thinking and more suitable options.

Sincerely,


Adam B. Schiff

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