By Ted AYALA
The Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) held a brief online meeting on Friday morning to discuss the options remaining for resolving the impasse over the extension of the 710 Freeway. The meeting was the kick-off to a new round of community meetings that will be held over the coming weeks across the region affected by the 710 proposals.
Reviews of environmental impact reports and statements by the MTA’s EIR/EIS Project Committee in January and May have narrowed down the options to five, all of which carry various problems.
For many residents, the option to build the proposed freeway tunnel that would link the 710 Freeway from Alhambra to Pasadena is the most controversial of all, requiring the demolition of structures in the tunnel’s path, as well as the construction of vents that would air out the fumes collected in the tunnel.
But other proposals, such as options that would employ an improved and augmented bus and rail service, face challenges.
Some proposed increases in bus service would necessitate the restriping of major thoroughfares, including Fair Oaks Avenue. Restriping would allow for dedicated turning lanes for vehicles. Significant portions of those affected streets would also require lanes made for the exclusive use of buses, which would reduce available lanes for cars. Parking space would also have to be eliminated during certain areas during peak hours in order to make bus-only lanes. MTA said that making bus riding as attractive an option as traveling by train is another challenge faced.
The proposed light rail option would also require a tunnel, MTA representatives said. That tunnel would stretch from the current end of the 710 Freeway on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the Fillmore Station in Pasadena.
Options of improving bus and rail service would also require amenities to better serve local pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Whichever option is ultimately chosen will, no doubt, result in another battle between the MTA, CalTrans and affected communities. The battle over the 710, with various cities supporting and opposing the extension, has been waged for over half a century.
Community meetings will be held on July 18, 20, and 23 in El Sereno, Pasadena, and Monterey Park respectively. For more information, visit www.metro.net/sr710study or call (855) 477-7100.