Following nearly two hours of discussion, the Pasadena City Council last night agreed to consider in closed session Mayor Terry Tornek’s recommendation to hold a special election in November to repeal Measure A, the 2001 measure which placed Pasadena firmly in favor of completing the 710 Freeway extension.
Tornek has said he made the recommendation because he believes repealing Measure A would allow the city to aggressively oppose the construction of the proposed 710 Freeway Tunnel, something he predicts will be a very real possibility if Metro wins the $120 billion in funding voters are expected to approve in the next elections.
While the Council is unanimous in its opposition to the proposed plan to build a 4.5 mile tunnel from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the current beginning of the 210 Freeway near California Boulevard, the Council was torn as to the timing and effectiveness of a November vote.
The Mayor had hoped for a vote on the issue Monday evening.
“This is the quiet time,” he said, in explaining the importance and urgency of a vote in November. “I think the circumstances have changed (since 2001). I thought that interest in building the tunnel had waned. But it has definitely not.”
Mayor Tornek added that the Five-City coalition (of which Pasadena is a member) against the 710 Tunnel “still feels that the push is there.”
Tornek told the Council that once the November election has passed, he is convinced the 21 cities in favor of the tunnel project will exert pressure to complete the tunnel.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said Monday night that the city must urgently prepare a measure to repeal the 2001 initiative ordinance which promotes completion of the 710 Freeway while simultaneously readying for an “ambush” in November by forces in favor of building the tunnel extension.
The new repeal measure requires immediate action, said Mayor Tornek, because it will need to be ready in July to qualify for the November ballot.
It would repeal Measure A, the 2001 ordinance that positioned the City as squarely in favor of completing the “missing link” gap in the 710 Freeway connecting its current terminus at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra with the 210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena.
“It’s my conclusion that soon after the November elections the City is going to get ambushed,” said Tornek, “and we will be confronted with a full court press to build that project. And we have got to be prepared to make a concentrated effort to prevent that from happening.
“So,” he continued, firing a shot across the bow of the 21 cities in favor of the project, “In order for us to be ready when this hits the fan after November, and I am sure it will, we must repeal Measure A … because Measure A restricts our ability to actively oppose the completion of the freeway. And that measure can only be repealed by a vote of the people.”
The final Environmental Impact Report for the project has not yet been released, but said Tornek, “the EIR…is being stalled, so that it doesn’t impede the vote on Measure R.” (Measure R is a new sales tax to fund public transportation.) Any suggestions we have made with Metro, with various boards, transportation officials in general, have generally been dismissed, because they don’t want to engage. We have been trying to get them to kill the project based on the tremendous evidence that has emerged over the course of the EIR and the comments thereto.”
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
With the $40 million environmental analysis yet to be approved, the fight over the extension of the 710 Freeway will spill over into the state Legislature in April, when a bill by a local senator brings the cost and benefits center stage.
State Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, wants to force the hand of Metro and Caltrans, the two lead agencies on the 710 completion, by incorporating the “Analysis of Costs and Benefits for the State Route 710 North Study Alternatives” into the project’s Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement.
click here to read moreRead more
Mayor Garcetti asks mayors to support Cacciotti (advocate of clean fuels & reducing air emissions) for AQMD board
San Gabriel Valley Tribune 2-12-16 article excerpts:
"As part of the comments on the draft Environmental Impact Report, the AQMD letter said the [710 tunnel extension] project would raise the cancer risk in the area and the air quality analysis of carbon monoxide and airborne particulates was incomplete. Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina, the lead advocate for the tunnel project, said the AQMD overstepped its authority."
"Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked mayors to support Cacciotti [for the AQMD board]. In an email to Alhambra Mayor Luis Ayala, Gail Koretz, the mayor’s local government liaison, said Cacciotti was a 'strong advocate for the environment' and added: 'With recent changes in the board’s composition, Mike’s credentials as an environmentalist are important to our shared goals.'
The meeting of the City Selection Committee of the Eastern Region of Los Angeles County is open to the public. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Duarte Community Center, 1600 Huntington Drive. All San Gabriel Valley cities are able to vote, plus San Fernando and Santa Clarita.
A candidate needs a majority of votes and a majority of population from the 34 cities."
San Gabriel Valley Tribune | JANUARY 19, 2016
A national consumer watchdog group listed the 710 tunnel extension project as one of 12 highway boondoggles that represent a waste of taxpayer dollars, outdated thinking and misplaced national transportation priorities, according to a report released Tuesday.
“Highway Boondoggles 2” from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is the second such report from the group in two years targeting future highway projects in the country. This list includes $24 billion in projects that the group finds questionable and too expensive. READ MORE HERE
"Around the country, cities are demolishing stretches of highway, turning them into parks or boulevards.
Los Angeles has an opportunity to do something even more dramatic: to close a piece of elevated freeway to traffic but keep it intact as a huge platform for new open space and housing.
In a single gesture, the city could produce significant parkland and a monument to the ambition that produced the Southern California highway network in the first place."
"A number of West Coast freeways have been decommissioned and demolished over the years — Harbor Drive in Portland in the 1970s, the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco in the 2000s. Doyle Drive in San Francisco is currently being demolished. And the long-delayed project to remove the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a raised freeway that mars downtown Seattle's waterfront and will be replaced with a tunnel, resumed on Dec. 22 when Bertha, a giant tunnel-boring machine, finally got repaired.
But in Southern California, the freeway is king. It may be impossible to build a new freeway in L.A. County, but it's damn near unthinkable to remove one.
That may be about to change."
"In their $40 million draft environmental report, Caltrans and Metro claimed that the freeway would lead to a “minimal” elevated cancer risk—hardly reassuring, given that my wife’s breast cancer is in remission. The report was so wan, the Environmental Protection Agency deemed it inadequate. The South Coast Air Quality Management District went further, concluding that the tunnel would raise the cancer risk to unacceptable levels. The rates are especially high beside the 710, a major truck corridor. Trucks use diesel, spewing tiny carcinogenic airborne particles that lodge in the lungs."
"And the plan is for more trucks. In 2007, Los Angeles County officials declared that by lengthening the 710, goods could be hauled from the docks of Long Beach and Los Angeles to an “inland port”—storage yards, essentially—in the Antelope Valley."
"Build a freeway, and more drivers want to crowd onto that freeway. (The phenomenon is called “induced demand,” for all of you commuters on the 405 who’ve seen the $1.1 billion expansion quicken your rush hour by zero seconds.)"
"And when thoughts linger on the travails of Boston’s Big Dig or the tunnel-boring leviathan that’s been stuck under Seattle for two years, I remind myself that the whole thing could be moot: The agencies behind the 710 plan have vowed to consider rail and bus alternatives, too. So when the final decision is announced in mid-2017, the extension could be laid to rest."
"Lawmakers are debating how to find money to fix the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges. But it will be almost impossible to end Californians’ top driving headache – congestion.
Making roads wider is a traditional solution. But this holds little appeal in California, where land is expensive and urban corridors are densely packed. Also, for environmental reasons, officials want people to drive less.
So future solutions will rely heavily on measures to manage traffic demand and on incentives to encourage Californians to get off the roads and onto public transit or bikes. The emerging revolution in automobile technology, with automated driving features and carpooling apps, will also help.