By Ted AYALA
Cheers and applause met Councilmember Ara Najarian when he spoke out against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) at their community liaison meeting held at La Cañada High School Monday evening.
“There is a snow job going on at the highest levels of the board,” he said. “I just want everyone to know that. There is a driving force behind this tunnel. People are vested in this. There are consulting firms, engineering firms, trucking firms, that are vested in making this a reality. That’s what’s driving this decision and the information coming to the [MTA] board.”
Najarian, who also serves on the MTA board of directors, expressed the frustrations from many members of the public over the MTA’s slowness and obtuseness in disseminating information about the controversial 710 extension project. He also cautioned that the agency is downplaying the detriment to cost and quality of life.
Edward Kang, a resident and parent, expressed similar concerns.
“A lot of the parents don’t know what’s going on right now,” he said as he quickly grew agitated. “Where are the studies showing the effects on our children? It’s horrendous. All the poisonous gas … that could kill our children—who is studying that?”
The thirty residents assembled displayed a marked change from the tense cordiality that characterized previous meetings. People in attendance remarked that they feel that the meetings are only a formality and that the MTA is set on making a decision that favors an extension.
Another source of irritation for residents have been the MTA’s unwillingness to consider alternate plans for freight movement that could include rail.
While the MTA conducted its meeting in La Cañada, the Pasadena City Council unanimously condemned the agency’s 12 proposals—including a controversial new proposal for a six-lane highway that would cut through Highland Park and the San Rafael area of Pasadena—to a throng of nearly 600 people that packed that city’s council chamber.
Representatives from the MTA that spoke at the meeting found themselves treated to jeers and boos.
“I look at [MTA’s] objectives to reducing congestion…and see that traffic will increase around all across the city. That is unacceptable,” said Councilmember Victor M. Gordo. “You could not have failed more miserably with these alternatives.”