Extending the 710 Freeway from Alhambra to a proposed interchange with the 210 Freeway in Pasadena has been one of the more hotly contested issues in the San Gabriel Valley for almost half a century. The freeway extension, which many in communities such as Alhambra, South Pasadena and Pasadena argue will greatly increase local traffic and pollution, is now being studied by Metro, Los Angeles County’s governing transportation authority which is charged with considering several options to improve north-south traffic circulation, including a no-build option; a bus rapid transit (BRT) option; a light rail transit (LRT) option; and the controversial freeway tunnel alternative, which would connect the 710 and 210 with a $5.6 billion tunnel.
When the public comment period for the State Route 710 North Study’s Draft Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) closed last August, Metro had received more than 8,000 comments from various stakeholders.
The organization, in cooperation with Caltrans, is now preparing responses to the comments and believes this process will take the remainder of the year.
Once all the responses have been sent out, Metro’s 710 project team will identify a preferred option and finalize the EIR/EIS. Its preferred option will be recommended to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority Board of Directors and Executives, which will have the final say on how to move forward.
The 710 project team will continue to provide updates to stakeholders, allowing government jurisdictions and 710 activist groups plenty of time to discuss their stances with the many communities of the San Gabriel Valley.
City Council member Steve Talt recently restarted the 710 conversation in San Marino.
“My desire in opening up this Pandora’s box on the 710 was not necessarily to change our perspective, but to understand why we take the position we do,” he said.
The San Marino City Council passed a resolution in support of the completion of the 710 in 2012.
Talt and fellow City Councilman Steven Huang met with Alhambra Vice Mayor Stephen Placido on April 13 regarding the 710 extension project.
The meeting gave these elected officials an opportunity to look at alternative solutions to north-south traffic in Alhambra, like focusing density closer to the 10 freeway.
San Marino Vice Mayor Richard Sun and Los Angeles City Council member Paul Krekorian attended a meeting of the 710 Coalition on March 31.
The 710 Coalition, an organization of cities and other community groups in favor of the completion of the 710 freeway, has plans for a community engagement tour starting in the summer. Providing workshops to cities interested in talking about the tunnel alternative will be one component of the tour.
Rosemead City Council member Steven Lee said the 710 Coalition has been working with its consultants and traffic and engineering teams to prepare a presentation highlighting the positive impact of the extension.
“The data speaks for itself,” he said after listing some of the positive findings in the draft EIR/EIS.
Organizations opposed to the 710 tunnel alternative are making preparations, as well. Beyond the 710 (BT710), an assemblage of cities, organizations and individuals, has a new “multimodal great streets alternative” proposal.
Coby King, CEO of public affairs firm High Point Strategies, LLC, said the BT710 alternative “moves cars better than the current configuration.”
He added that the lack of an alternative of this kind in the draft EIR/EIS is a “significant and fatal flaw” in the document.
The proposal, which came together with the help of the transportation firm NelsonNygaard, provides an alternative to the no-build option that King suggests would mitigate traffic impacts without building the proposed freeway tunnel.
BT710 will continue to be talking with stakeholders and gathering reactions from them about the proposal until there is a recommendation made by Metro.