Beyond the 710: The 710 EIR is Fundamentally Flawed, and Should be Scrapped and Replaced with a New Community Process Based on Modern Mobility Thinking
Formal comment letter is submitted to Caltrans in connection with environmental document evaluating possible tunnel through East Los Angeles, South Pasadena, and Pasadena
August 5, 2015 -- Beyond the 710, which in May released a much-discussed proposal to solve the congestion and mobility problems in the western San Gabriel Valley without the destruction and disruption that would be caused by a freeway tunnel, has transmitted its formal comment letter to Caltrans strongly criticizing the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and calling for the consideration of Beyond the 710’salternative proposal.
“The letter we are submitting today conclusively demonstrates that the 710 EIR is fundamentally flawed, that the tunnel is a terrible idea, and that the EIR itself is biased toward the tunnel alternative,” said Ara Najarian, mayor of Glendale, member of the Los Angeles County Metro Board, and chair of Beyond the 710. “Caltrans should scrap this process and evaluate community-based alternatives such as the Beyond the 710 Proposal which will better serve the affected communities and relieve congestion.”
The formal comment letter is available at http://bit.ly/1eR9fOi.
The letter makes the following points:
1) The project purpose and need statements are fundamentally flawed;
2) The project’s study area is too narrowly defined to allow for regional transportation solutions;
3) The analysis is biased to favor the tunnel alternatives;
4) The analysis is highly segmented, resulting in inadequate review of cumulative impacts;
5) The tunnel alternatives increase regional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, conflicting with climate change policies;
6) The tunnel would benefit only a select few, and only by a small amount;
7) The proposed freeway tunnel alternatives have the potential to damage irreplaceable historic and cultural resources;
8) Regional traffic would not be improved as a result of the tunnel; rather, it would merely shift congestion;
9) The tunnel would make arterial traffic worse along certain streets in Alhambra and Rosemead;
10) Traffic would get significantly worse on various connecting freeways as a result of the tunnel, in part by inducing extra driving;
11) Most traffic isn’t long-distance, meaning the tunnel is not necessary;
12) The EIR analysis seems to (wrongly) assume an ever-increasing amount of auto traffic on streets throughout the study area;
13) The draft EIR/EIS improperly identifies Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects in Los Angeles County, as the key source of funding for the tunnel alternative.
In brief, the comment letter concludes that the tunnels should be removed from further consideration, and other, more sensible, regional alternatives to be developed in consultation with local communities. In particular, Caltrans should develop and analyze projects such as those found in the Beyond the 710 initiative. This package includes many worthwhile proposals already developed by Metro.
“As a family physician, I am deeply concerned about the negative health effects a 710 freeway extension would create for many communities if it went forward,” said Dr. Marina Khubesrian, South Pasadena councilmember, chair of Arroyo Verdugo Steering Committee, and vice chair of Beyond the 710. “The draft EIR/EIS seems to be stuck in 1950s thinking by not bothering to do a health impact analysis, and ignoring the real benefits of a modern multi-modal approach. The Beyond the 710 initiative, on the other hand, does what this analysis does not: promotes wellness, reduces pollution, relieves congestion, and better connects people to their important destinations.”
The Beyond the 710 Proposal shows that congestion can be relieved and economic development promoted by removing the freeway stubs at both the I-10 and I-210 freeways. The Proposal has started a robust community discussion about how to bring about a mobility solution that benefits everyone and destroys no one’s community. The Proposal can be found at http://bit.ly/1hk0o9u.
“We are very encouraged by the amount of discussion the Beyond the 710 Proposal has generated,” said Terry Tornek, mayor of the City of Pasadena. “It is early in the process, but it’s clear that numerous citizens and cities oppose the tunnel, which (as our comment letter makes clear) presents environmental, traffic, financial, and planning flaws. Beyond the 710 has generated support and discussion because it proposes a 21st century multi-modal solution including reconfigured and improved surface streets, better community-serving transit that connects people to key destinations and other transit lines, and strategies for increasing walkability and bikeability.”
In addition to Beyond the 710, comment letters against the tunnel project have been submitted by, among others: the City of Pasadena, the City of La Cañada Flintridge, the City of South Pasadena, Senator Carol Liu, Assemblymember Chris Holden, the USC Keck School of Medicine, the Los Angeles County Department of Health, the No 710 Action Committee, the Arroyo Verdugo Steering Committee, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
About Beyond the 710
Beyond the 710 is a project of the Connected Cities and Communities, comprised of the cities of Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, Cities of Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Beyond the 710’s Plan is the result of many months of study and collaboration to seek solutions that work for all the affected communities. The effort was led by Nelson\Nygaard, a full-service transportation firm, with offices across the United States, committed to developing transportation systems that promote vibrant, sustainable, and accessible communities.
An Economic Benefits analysis led by The Maxima Group LLC, a principal-led consulting firm specializing in real estate market and economic analysis, is located at www.beyondthe710.org/smart_growth.
Visit www.BeyondThe710.org for more information.