By Ted AYALA
Last May the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) held open houses throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Northeast Los Angeles area that detailed the progress of the contentious 710 Freeway extension.
The open houses allowed the public to not only observe the various possibilities for the long-fought project, but also allowed them to pose direct questions to MTA representatives as well as submit questions for the agency to answer at a later date.
Now, beginning this week, the MTA is following up on the open houses with a round of “community liaison meetings” that purport to answer some of the concerns expressed by affected residents.
The next community liaison meetings are scheduled for today in El Sereno, Monrovia, and South Pasadena; then on Monday at La Cañada High School. All meetings are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. Concerned members of the public are encouraged to attend.
The meetings are designed for the public to see and hear the MTA’s feedback to their queries. Technical data relating to the project will not be presented.
The 710 Freeway extension project has been one of the longest drawn out public works projects in California history. Proposed by CalTrans nearly half a century ago, it has met stiff resistance from various cities in the northern Los Angeles area including Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, and South Pasadena – the last sitting in the middle of the proposed extension.
Former Glendale mayor, current councilmember, and sitting MTA board member Ara Najarian was a prominent opponent of the plan, appearing in symposiums debating the project, and criticizing it from the mayoral pulpit.
“I don’t think the 710 tunnel is a viable project that can settle our traffic problems,” he said at a symposium about the project held in Pasadena’s Maranatha High School in 2010.
Recently the flames of opposition were fanned when the MTA expressed its interest in exploring the option of paving the extension through Highland Park and the San Rafael area of Pasadena. The proposed four-lane freeway connector would be paved along Avenue 64, which has seen a number of large “Stop the 710!” banners unfurl on the walls and fences of area residences and businesses.
More information on the meetings can be found at http://www.metro.net/projects/i-710-corridor-project/ or by calling (323) 466-3876.