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Public Comment Countdown to EIR (Environmental Impact Report)Last day to tell Metro what you thinkAugust 5th, 2015
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Protected: 710 Toll Tunnel will NOT help traffic in Alhambra – Alhambra’s city council’s myth debunked!
[Current] Alhambra Councilmember Barabara Messina continues to push her 710 Freeway Tunnel agenda, despite only 3.9% of polled Alhambra residents wanting the 710 connector addressed (see City of Alhambra General Plan 2015 Survey Results). According to the Pasadena Star News, she supported Rosemead Councilman Stephen Ly, proponent of 710 freeway tunnel, to be on the South Coast Air Quality Management District governing board, but supporters and the majority of the AQMD members preferred green-going Michael Cacciotti.
Perhaps Ms. Messina should carefully read 710 Facts History Dangers.
Businesses, Environmentalists and the 710 Tunnel Collide in AQMD Board Member Battle (Pasadena Star News, 2/12/16)
The headline says it all.
The 710 Tunnel is now considered 1 of 12 highway boondoggles in the country. No surprise there.
A double-bore tunnel would be the most expensive, most polluting and least effective option for addressing the area’s transportation problems, reported CALPIRG on Monday.
- CALPIRG report, summary and press release
- Pasadena Star News article “710 Freeway Tunnel Included in Report’s Top 12 Boondoggle Highway Projects” Jan. 19, 2016
After spending $40 million on the EIR of March 2015 (of the $780 million set aside from Measure R), and with most of the cities in the San Gabriel Valley against the project (Alhambra City Council being one of the odd-cities-out that is still supporting an underground freeway), when will CalTrans/Metro finally take this project off the table?
As you know, the 710 Freeway Tunnel would have drivers pay a toll of $6-12/car one-way to use it. The Pasadena Star News reports: “Metro is exploring a public-private partnership, known as P3 funding, meaning the idea is to secure private funding for at least a portion of the freeway tunnels. The investors would be paid back by tolls charged to motorists using the tunnel.”
According to the CALPIRG report, an extension to an existing toll road in southern California is getting shut down on the grounds “that it, and a future additional extension, would threaten local water resources. Other toll roads in the region have failed to attract enough traffic to meet revenue expectations, and data suggest traffic is not growing as quickly as officials had projected.”
Would YOU want to pay $6-12 to drive 4.5 miles underground, with no exits, with the high potential for stand-still traffic at the 210/134 connector? Most drivers currently exiting the 710 in Alhambra would not even benefit from the tunnel, as they are not all heading straight up to the 210 freeway, but rather are also heading east and west, going to San Marino, South Pasadena, Alhambra and lower Pasadena. Drivers will continue to use city streets with or without an extension of the 710 for these reasons.
“The 710 project does not offer comprehensive relief, it costs too much, it creates new environmental problems, and it is not going anywhere. The proposal should be dropped!” wrote former Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard in reaction to the study.
One part of the EIR places the cancer risk of the project at 149 chances per million people exposed to pollutants, well above the district’s standard threshold of 10 chances per million. Yet, the report concludes that the cancer risks are “less than significant” based on faulty data….
The eight-page letter from Ian MacMillan, the anti-smog district’s planning and rules manager, says the lack of basic air quality analysis renders the draft EIR useless to the agency or those deciding on a tunnel or other transit options.
A letter from Alhambra supports the tunnel alternative as not only the best way to move traffic but to improve air quality. Alhambra comments that a tunnel project would reduce the higher cancer risks currently experienced by residents of Alhambra and nearby communities from traffic gridlock at the 710 terminus on Valley Boulevard and along arterial streets.
- SGV Tribune (8/13/15): AQMD: 710 Freeway Tunnel Would Raise Cancer Risk to Unacceptable Levels
Who’s facts would you believe: a lobbyist’s or a governmental agency (Air Quality Management District)?
2 Letters to Pasadena Star News, Aug. 6, 2015:
710 tunnel proposal not proven fiscally sound
Alhambra Vice Mayor Barbara Messina’s letter (Aug. 2) is right about one thing: The city should not be accused of being “imploded by humans.” Rather, it is being imploded by over-development and the increased traffic congestion and pollution resulting from that over-development. Messina claims that Alhambra has been overrun by cut-through traffic. The truth is that Alhambra suffers no more cut-through traffic than any of the neighboring cities. Traffic studies by independent transportation planners have consistently shown that 87 percent of that traffic is local.
When Alhambra residents learn that the proposed tunnel will have no entrances or exits for its entire 4.5-mile length; that it will not be a freeway because tolls will be charged; that it will be virtually impossible to rescue people when there is a fire in the tunnel, they are overwhelmingly opposed.
The proponents of the tunnel have not been able to prove that it is fiscally sound. Let’s use our resources more responsibly to build a mass-transit system that will provide commuters with viable options. That will reduce traffic congestion on local streets as well as on all of the region’s freeways.
— Janet Ervin, Alhambra
No ‘virgin air’ from the 710
Barbara Messina seems to be for selling out our city’s residents. She claims opponents are non-Alhambran wealthy people. Poor Alhambrans belong to Responsible Alhambrans Against the 710. We are witness to Messina’s destructive development. Her City Council demolished houses in favor of eight-unit condominiums, which changes allowing two autos per house to the new 24 to 36 cars for each conversion. She demolished our historic Main Street in favor of monstrous 3- to 8-story mixed-use buildings that equal “imploding with humans.” She caused thousands of additional cars on Main Street. If the terrible tunnel is built, per Metro’s EIR, Alhambra residents would experience increased pollution and nightmare traffic with closed streets and lanes during construction. That we deserve to live without harmful toxic emission is true, so why did she irresponsibly overdevelop? Contrary to her inference that the tunnel will affect emissions, the EIR says all options, including no build, will not provide “virgin air.”
— Gloria Valladolid, Alhambra
They’ve been talking about it for years! But it’s time for CalTrans/Metro to hear from YOU until Aug. 5, 2015.
Yes, indeed, they’ve been talking about the above-ground freeway for years, since the 1950s. More recently, there’s been a push for a tunnel. How many commuters would actually use the tunnel, or is the tunnel for freight trucks coming from Long Beach? (The 710 freeway is, after all, called “Alt. Truck Route”.) Now that the Environmental Impact Report is out, it’s time for the public’s voice to be heard. Did you know:
- For those exiting the 710 at Valley, 80% of drivers would not reach their destination via proposed tunnel.
- Metro/CalTrans expects to charge a $6-12 toll per car one way. People will avoid the tunnel and use surface streets, exacerbating the traffic on our streets. (CalTrans Metro estimates 60,000 more cars a day on the streets.)
- For Alhambrans to actually take the tunnel, we would have to catch it south of the 10 freeway, NOT at Valley which is 4 miles further north. Please read Fact v. Fiction and make up your own mind about the tunnel.
- There would be two air ventilators at either end of the tunnel, none in the middle. Since the ‘scrubbers’ cannot clean the cancer-causing fine particular matter from diesel trucks, Alhambra would directly bear the brunt of that pollution .
- The City of Alhambra spent $141,726 on its 2015 and 2014 “Close the Gap” days (aka: Gridlock Day). Find out more of how Alhambra is spending taxpayer money on promoting the tunnel, even before the draft of the $42-million-dollar, 26,000-page Environmental Impact Report came out.
- The City of Alhambra has spent $133,714 on the banners on Fremont so far.
CalTrans/Metro is asking the public what they want. Read this page about the Environmental Impact Report and the posts below, then submit your comment to them before Aug. 5. After that, CalTrans/Metro will make its decision of its alternatives to the above-ground freeway to build. When you comment on the EIR, be sure to address issues, problems or questions about the document, and ask questions, which will be answered back to you. Check here for tips on how to do this most effectively.
1) Valuing “Bigness” over anything else by falsely asserting that benefits “are typically examined independently of their relationship to costs.” In fact, if the alternatives were presented in terms of the ratio of benefit to cost, the results would show that the Transportation Systems Management and Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) alternative provides the best ratio of benefits.
2) The Analysis inflates the operating costs of the bus rapid transit (BRT) alternative in a way that degrades its cost-benefit ratio. If the Analysis used the same numbers from the DEIR, the BRT ration would approach the TSM/TDM alternative in performance.
3) The Analysis appears to adopt a model that values the time of car riders over the time of transit riders, without any explanation, and as a result skews the results in favor of the tunnel alternative.
4) The Analysis purposely underestimates the cost of the proposed tunnel by half. Analyses of similar projects, most notably the one for the Sepulveda Pass, are using $1 billion per mile as a budgeting model, yet the 710 DEIR and CBA are using $500 million. This is another example of how the Analysis is skewed in favor of the tunnel.
5) The CBA and DEIR have no provision, plan or budget for the anticipated breakdown of the tunnel-boring machine. The same machine has been stuck in Seattle for over a year and is requiring a four-city block additional vertical tunnel to be excavated in order to free it. While of course we cannot be sure that the same machine would break down in a similar fashion here (despite geology that is, if anything, more challenging than Seattle’s), the lack of any contingency costs (again) skews the Analysis in favor of the tunnel. This is most obvious in that the Analysis uses the same discount rate for all the alternatives, which does not reflect the differential in risk among them.
6) One of the primary concept used in the Analysis, “Net Present Value,” is an inappropriate measure for public infrastructure projects.
7) The calculations used to come up with an employment benefit for the various alternatives is directly correlated to capital cost, skewing the benefits to the most costly alternatives. (Again, this is a fundamental problem of the Analysis, in that it unfairly favors “Bigness.”) Employment benefits are directly correlated to capital expenditures. The disparity in capital costs insures that the higher cost projects will generate more jobs than lower cost alternatives.
“Metro board members and other policy-makers should understand that this so-called Analysis appears to be a continuation of the skewed analysis unfairly favoring the tunnel that was obvious in the EIR,” said Marina Khubesrian, South Pasadena councilmember and Vice Chair of Beyond the 710. “It appears that an independent study of these issues may be necessary to get an unbiased view of whether this tunnel will be worth its huge projected costs. Obviously, we believe otherwise, and that instead Caltrans and Metro should study the Beyond the 710 proposal.”
The Beyond the 710 proposal was released on May 28, 2015. A key insight of Beyond the 710 is to understand that more than 85% of commuters exiting the 710 Freeway at Valley Boulevard are intent on reaching local destinations, and the vision of Beyond the 710’s plan is to use 21st Century planning solutions (such as well-planned transit lines, Great Streets concepts, and traffic mitigation) to reduce congestion and promote smart growth rather than 1960s freeway-oriented approaches.
The Beyond the 710 plan demonstrates that removing the freeway “stubs” at both the 10 and 210 freeways can free up land for smart development, employ transit to connect people to important local destinations and other transit lines, and employ modern strategies for increasing bikeability and walkability.
The plan is available at www.beyondthe710.org/better_alternatives.