By Brandon HENSLEY
The Crescenta Valley Town Council is concerned Metro and Caltrans are not listening to the community’s concern about increased traffic on the 210 freeway and Foothill Boulevard if the proposed SR North 710 freeway tunnel is approved.
Representatives from Metro, Cal Trans and the engineering company CH2m Hill took questions from council and the audience at the May 21 meeting regarding the SR 710 North Study Report. Councilmember Mike Claessens called the representatives dishonest.
“You’re not being honest about it – at least not with us. Not in this community,” Claessens said.
That charge has to do with research in how Montrose and La Crescenta would be affected if the tunnel, or its alternatives, were built.
Michelle Smith, John Lee and Loren Bloomberg handed out 26-page packets to each councilmember, updating the research done for the 710 freeway’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which was released in March. The research focuses on a roughly 100 square-mile area that, from east to west, spans the 605 freeway in Irwindale to the 2 freeway in Glendale and La Cañada.
The packet has scarce information about potential traffic for areas in the foothills. The closest intersection examined is Ocean View and Foothill boulevards. The packet gives a community impact summary table, which labels nine “impacts,” such as business displacement and property tax loss. The table states that none of these impacts in La Crescenta-Montrose would be affected by a tunnel or its alternatives.
That page doesn’t mention any potential congestion problems with the tunnel, something Claessens and CVTC president Robbyn Battles were more concerned about.
“Are they just coming through the 210 and getting on only at Angeles Crest?” Battles asked. “I’m not sure how you can say there’s no impact.”
Claesessens said the impacts identified in the packet are not relevant to the community.
“What about traffic volume?” he asked. “Isn’t that an impact?”
“Traffic impacts are addressed separately,” Bloomberg replied. “Those aren’t community impacts by definition.
Claessens then brought up air quality.
“I don’t think that’s on the community impact [page],” Smith said.
“It’s not here, I know,” Claessens said. “You might as well put down impact on La Crescenta zoo animals – zero. I could think of a lot of other columns of things that aren’t relevant to us on this table.”
Smith and Bloomberg said the EIR has a more detailed study of traffic impact, and can be found in the third chapter of the more than 2,000-page document. Chapter 3 contains hundreds of pages on the effects the tunnel or its alternatives could have on the environment and air quality for the communities highlighted in the area study, but it does not include anything for La Crescenta-Montrose.
The EIR can be found on the Caltrans website.
Glendale city councilmember and outspoken critic of the project Ara Najarian spoke at the meeting. Najarian is upset that the report’s traffic statistics were done by the Southern California Assn. of Governments, and that group’s executive director is on the record as being in favor of the project.
“If that is not an outrage in any sense of fairness in the democracy that we call the United States, I don’t know what is,” Najarian said.
Park stressed to council and the audience the importance of making their voices heard at meetings and through mail.
“Right now, these community meetings, we do them at the request of city councils … these don’t get recorded,” he said. “We try to take notes to help us better answer questions at the public hearings when they come up, but these don’t get responded to.”
“We feel like we’re not being heard, and that you have not studied the impact it’s going to have on our community,” Battles said.
The last scheduled public hearing is June 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at David Wark Griffith Middle School, 4765 E. Fourth Street, Los Angeles 90022.
Written comments can be sent to Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 S. Main St. MS-16, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
In other council meeting news, Thomas Love, new general manager of the Crescenta Valley Water District, introduced himself and gave some water conservation tips while also adding the district will be proposing rate increases. He said pipelines are outdated and need to be updated.
“Last week we had a pipeline failure on Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said. “It lifted up the asphalt. It’s a high-pressure main. That pipeline was installed in 1947.”
Love said the district would also like to fund the installation of automatic earthquake isolation valves, so that if a quake occurred, the valves would automatically shut off and save water.
Also highlighted were CVTC scholarship winners for this school year. Each high school student was given two certificates of appreciation, one from the House of Representatives and one from the state Senate.
“It has been a lot of fun getting to know the students,” said councilmember Leslie Dickson. “It’s great to see how involved everyone is and what a great school we have.”
The scholarship winners are: Liam Huber, Nicole Wilson, Taylor Middleton, Allison Zadrvecz, Jennielyn Bazon, Lisa Chik, Brett Tyler, Deborah Rheem, Kathryn Davis, Gabriel Hoffman, Rachel Achterman, Lauren Harvey, Alexandria Chwierut and Irene Kim.
The next CVTC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 18 at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta.