By Jason KUROSU
The proposed 710 Freeway extension is currently undergoing a review of the five proposed alternatives: a freeway tunnel, bus rapid transit, light rail transit, transportation system management/transportation demand management and a no build option.
With just over a month until the release of the draft environmental impact report/draft environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS), groups opposed to the possibility of a freeway tunnel continue to seek alternatives to what some view as a foregone conclusion.
Susan Bolan of the No 710 Action Committee said that the 5-Cities Alliance, which is composed of Glendale, La Cañada, Pasadena, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena, is prepared to react to the draft EIR with alternate proposals outside of the five included in the EIR and request an extension on the 90-day public comment period. Metro increased the comment period from an initial 45-day period.
“The DEIR is expected to be over 50 comprehensive studies and upward of 10,000 pages in length,” said Bolan. “We have no doubt that there will be many studies to pore through.”
The No 710 Action committee has circulated a petition on its website, no710.com, supporting “a multi-modal approach that may include implementation of Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM), Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail individually or in combination, but does not include a surface freeway or tunnel connecting the 710 and 210 Freeways.”
This multi-modal solution would be “a comprehensive plan that has a combination of local street repairs, signal synchronization, grade separations between street and rail, walkability, bike paths, busways and light rail,” said Bolan, who emphasized that the approach should be environmentally sound. “All of it green. Not a tunnel which moves back to 20th century, build-it-at-any cost mentality, which will increase traffic and, hence, pollution.”
When the petition is signed online, various members of the political and transportation communities in the state are messaged including the governor, members of Metro, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission.
Bolan compared concerns over the tunnel to the issues associated with the two-mile long Alaskan Way Viaduct Tunnel in Seattle, the construction of which has been delayed since 2013 due to mechanical failures.
“We are watching the lack of progress with the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel as Metro/Caltrans have used this tunnel for cost and logistics comparisons. The diameter is comparable to the 710 tunnel, which makes it the largest roadway tunnel ever attempted in the U.S.,” she said.
Expectations for the stacked tunnels are a length of 4.9 miles.
A number of bodies within the 5-Cities Alliance have publicly opposed the tunnel plans, including the Glendale City Council and the Crescenta Valley Town Council.
“The City of Glendale is committed to providing useful, factual and relevant information regarding any proposal related to the 710 extension, as evidenced by our participation in the 5-Cities Alliance,” said Glendale City Council member Paula Devine, who requested that the council discuss utilizing city resources for advocacy in the opposition effort.
“We have given our support to the 5-Cities Alliance and have asked that Metro look to alternative transportation ideas and stop the 710 tunnel,” said Crescenta Valley Town Council President Robbyn Battles, who said CVTC will address the issue when the draft EIR is released.
Bolan said that the No 710 Action Committee is prepared to respond to the draft EIR upon release, a response that will address various environmental and traffic related issues.
The draft environmental document will be released in February 2015.