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City Council Likely to Hire Expert for Traffic Project

The decision served as a bit of a no-brainer for the council, which first committed to the two projects in 2019 after several months of controversial debate on what were initially five proposals. Not only is Metro going to foot the bill for the engineering, but it will rescind funding for the remainder of the projects if the city doesn’t engage the consultant.
“This work would be totally funded by Metro Measure R funds, so it would not be any money out of pocket for us,” Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne explained last Friday. “It would basically just be a pass-through — we would be billed by the consultant, we would bill Metro and then we would be reimbursed.
“Without doing this,” he added, “we would lose our eligibility to collect any of the $14 million of Metro funds.”
Friday’s brief discussion represented the first update on the so-called Measure R projects, which are being funded by tax dollars initially collected to pay for the connector tunnel that would have directly linked the 710 freeway to the 210. That project was ultimately killed off after decades of advocacy by South Pasadena, underneath which the connector would have tunneled.
Instead, Metro elected to begin doling out the monies to San Gabriel Valley areas that would have been most impacted by the tunnel’s construction. The allocations were initially earmarked based on alternative transportation projects, which had to be conceptualized as part of the 710 tunnel’s environmental impact report.
San Marino ultimately decided to move forward with two of those target areas to the tune of around $14 million, out of the $32 million — a sum that roughly represented a year of the city’s annual expenditures — initially earmarked for the city. One proposal will consider how to tweak traffic flow on Huntington Drive along the city’s four public school sites, while another places San Marino as the lead agency in developing an improvement to the six-way triangular intersection of Huntington Drive-Garfield Avenue-Atlantic Boulevard that is also jointly owned by South Pasadena and Alhambra.
The complexity of the latter project — Atlantic feeds directly into the more residential Los Robles Avenue, and the six primary roads wrap around a triangular lot currently occupied by a Pizza Hut — along with Metro’s apparent willingness to pay for the consulting had Councilwoman Gretchen Shepherd Romey open to aiming higher in terms of initial funding.
“I would think that we’d need to get a dedicated engineer that would easily cost $95,000 for that work alone, because that’s going to be a massive project,” she said, referring to the intersection project. “I would like to see a number that’s more realistic, particularly if we are going to get reimbursed for it.”
In response to a query, Throne said he was confident Metro would pay whatever the city needed back.
“I have it straight from them that they want it to work and they’ll pay for it,” he said.


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