Where does City Council’s interests lie? (Letter sent to CA Transportation Commission)

Will Kempton, Executive Director

California Transportation Commission

1120 N Street, Room 2221 (MS-52)

Sacto,  CA  95814     Will.kempton@dot.ca.gov

 

Dear Staff

The City of Alhambra has pushed the 710 tunnel on its citizens with their propaganda everywhere710  banners, expensive, disruptive “710 Celebration Days,” and the monthly articles with no documentation of facts in the Chamber of Commerce controlled propaganda rag that pretends to be a newspaper, Around Alhambra.  The Alhambra City Council spent $150,000 in 2014 when they twice closed Fremont to create unbearable gridlock.  They also closed Fremont in 2013 and again in 2015 when they spent tens of thousands each time to again create gridlock for its citizens.  Their incorrect messages are that the tunnel will eradicate the traffic congestion and provide “virgin” air (Messina).  Clearly, the City Council does not have the welfare of its citizens in mind when pushing the 710.  The City never publishes notices regarding issues that affect its citizenry in real newspapers read by the thinking public.

Consequently, at Monday’s Council meeting when they “discussed” the 710 EIR Comment Letter from the city, we coincidentally only had one representative at the meeting to speak against the city’s letter.  One of our members presented facts that demonstrates that the tunnel is a terrible idea for Alhambra because it does not do what our Council says; it does not improve congestion nor air quality in Alhambra. 

Her comments were directly from the EIR referring to the Air Quality Criteria Pollutants Table.  That Table says the air quality is the same for every alternative, including the no build alternative.  She also said the EIR says air quality is determined by location and topography (EIR 3.13.2.1). Finally, she cited the EIR which says, freeway congestion gets worse on the 210 between the 710 and Glendale and the 2 and the 710 south of the 10. Consequently, the only traffic relief will be on the 605 because some commuters will shift to the 710 and take the tunnel instead because it will be more direct for their particular destinations.    Clearly, the facts emphasize that the tunnel is not a good idea for Alhambra.  Commissioners, please consider our comments as representing the people and not our City Council’s position who is selling us off as we will continue to experience our local traffic congestion and suffer the health disbenefits of this supposed regional improvement.  Subjecting a whole segment of the population to these insufferable conditions is criminal for a civilized society.  Our City officials are not serving their constituents.   

Commissioners, please consider the people who live in Alhambra and the horribly negative consequences of having the tunnel.  Do not support the tunnel construction.

Sincerely

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Alhambrans are ‘letting their voices be heard’, and how!

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Click on the pic to read about Gridlock Day 2015 (aka: “Close the Gap” 6/10 day brought to you by City of Alhambra)

Read the two recent letters to the Press from Alhambrans, which appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribute, June 12, 2015:

With all due respect to Ms. Messina, who clings to her 40-year pro-freeway stance, the current Draft Environmental Impact Report clearly states that air pollution will show no measurable improvement if a tunnel is built. It also states that traffic congestion on Alhambra streets would actually increase because drivers will chose to avoid paying the tunnel tolls. That’s right, Ms. Messina; it’s not a freeway. It’s a toll road.

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What’s it for? Freight traffic!

No doubt about it: the 710 freeway is a truck route to move goods from Long Beach through our city. It’s not for Alhambrans (since there are no exits along the route and the toll charge per car one way will divert 60,000 cars/day per CalTrans/Metro’s estimate onto city streets, and 85% of the traffic getting off at Valley are headed to local destinations and would not even need to take the tunnel if it were there, according to Beyond the 710 ), and it’s not for Los Angeles commuters (since it may only save a total of 13 of 100 drivers in the region 2.5 minutes from their commute, according to CalTrans/Metro). What’s it for?  Freight traffic.

Read more here: KCET: The 710 Freeway: A History of America’s Most Important Freeway

“This means that public monies were utilized for projects that would greatly enhance private companies, at the cost of public resources that could be utilized for community housing, parks, and other items that were diminished due to freeway- and port-related activities in Long Beach.”

Alt_truck_route

 

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A REAL Alternative has arrived!

There’s a new proposal in town, and Alhambra’s City Council are scrambling.

Here is the latest on what Alhambra Councilmember Placido is telling the public on Air Talk “Opponents of the 710 Freeway Extension Offer New Alternative to Freeway” and at the Metro public hearing in El Sereno this month  Metro/CalTrans Public Hearing on D-EIR, El Sereno (May 7, 2015), where he misinforms the public about the 710 tunnel, offering no facts or data to support his claims and where local Alhambran residents tell it like it is.

Here is what Councilmember Messina told the LA Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-710-freeway-alternatives-20150527-story.html and K-ABC news https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WKz043J77Y in response to the “Beyond the 710” alternative proposal.

For more information on the alternatives to Metro’s 5 “alternatives”, go to Beyond the 710 Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/beyondthe710?fref=ts or read the article in the San Gabriel Valley News.

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May 7, 2015: Public Hearing on D-EIR in El Sereno, Los Angeles:

  • Approximately 300 people attended
  • Map/Chart viewing with Metro/Caltrans Staff with Consultant Outreach Groups MBI and ConsensusInc taking names at the door.
  • 40 Public Speakers – 12 pro 710 Tunnel/ 28 anti 710 tunnel and for re-evaluation of EIR with true community input
  • Political/Org Attendees to Note:
    • South Pasadena City Council Member Richard Schneider
    • Rep from Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez’s Office
    • Rep from Assemblyman Ed Chau’s Office
    • Rep from Congress Woman Lucille Roybal-Allard’s Office
    • Chief of Staff Paul Habib from LA City Council Member Jose Huizar’s Office
    • Rep from LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ Office
    • Chris Morris, National Trust for Historic Preservation 
    • Damon Nagami, National Resource Defense Council
    • Labor Union 300
    • Iron Workers Union 433
    • Eddie Torres, East LA Chamber of Commerce President
  • Public Comments to Note, Anti 710 Tunnel:
    • Chief of Staff, Paul Habib, from Huizar’s Office criticized tunnel options as “falling short”, wants more inclusive process on LRT and the Cost Benefit Analysis.
    • Various No 710 Action Committee Reps
    • South Pasadena Councilman Schneider, highlighted new “Beyond the 710” coalition
    • Sierra Club Transportation Committee Rep
    • Chris Morris from the National Trust for Historic Preservation
    • Professor Rico from USC Keck Medical School, USC’s Children’s Environmental Director McConnell & Professor Diaz of Cal State University LA all highlighting EIR failure in accurately conveying air pollutants.
    • Nagami from the National Resource Defense Council
  • Eddie Torres from East LA Chamber of Commerce spoke against the EIR
  • Dona Hernandez, Chair of East LA Advisory Community spoke against EIR
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Sample letter sent to CalTrans-Metro Opposing the 710 Freeway Tunnel

To:

Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7,

Division of Environmental Planning,

100 S. Main St., MS-16

Los Angeles, CA 90012

 State Clearinghouse Number: (SCH#) 1982092310

File number: 07-LA-710 (SR 710)

Caltrans Project No.: EFIS 0700000191 (EA: 187900)

Title: State Route 710 North Study

Cc: Responsible Alhambrans Against 710, No710Action Committee, Alhambra City Council

April 20, 2015

Dear Metro Board:

I am an Alhambra resident, and I am against all options in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (D-EIR), but most of all, the 710 tunnel.

The tunnel going through Alhambra, South Pasadena and Pasadena would be built for harbor freight traffic, not for local Alhambrans. I am pasting a photo of the 710 freeway. It is not called an “Alternate Truck Route” for nothing. The ‘option’ in the D-EIR that trucks may not be allowed in the tunnel should be struck immediately because that simply is not a reality. Are you planning to direct that freight traffic from Long Beach if that really were the case?

Alt_truck_route

I live in Alhambra and work in Pasadena and would not benefit at all because of the prohibitive toll, because of the lack of exits and because I take city streets to work in Pasadena. Also, I would not be caught dead in that dangerous underground tunnel, especially with the impending bottle neck of traffic up at the 210/134 connector, which is already bad during peak times, as anyone who drives there can attest. Adding one more freeway there would be a terrible idea.

The D-EIR Chart titled “Employment/Fiscal Impacts” shows that the light rail option would offer the most long-term operation and maintenance jobs, and their annual earnings are highest with the light rail. In addition to the jobs provided for actual construction of a light rail, the area will benefit from steady, long-term salaried jobs, which would not be the case with a 710 tunnel.

D-EIR Table 4-8 demonstrates that if the tunnel is built, VMT and C02 emissions would actually increase, and at Metro’s informational meeting on March 12, 2015, the CalTrans/Metro consultant explained that there would be no significant improvement to air pollution. Scrubbers in the El Sereno and Pasadena stacks would not be able to clean out fine particulate matter, which is found in diesel fuel, and what air that does come out of the stacks, in the morning will not dissipate because it is cold and the air molecules are heavier, but rather the exhaust will linger above where the air stacks are built: at the Huntington Hospital and in Alhambra and El Sereno.

Table 4-9 in the D-EIR demonstrates that only 7-13% of all motorists in the study area will save (a whopping) 2.5 minutes should the tunnel be built, in other words 87-95% of all traffic in the San Gabriel area will not benefit at all! Street traffic will get worse in Alhambra with drivers avoiding the toll for a diversion rate of 60,000 cars a day per Cal Trans/Metro’s figures. Couple this with the concept of induced demand (that if you build it, they will come), I do not want this tunnel because traffic will become worse on surface streets in Alhambra and such a costly “solution” will apparently not even help.

What I do want is a more sensible solution for the milieu we live in now. A freeway tunnel is not it, and I hope you carefully consider feasibility, cost, benefits and dangers. If this board for some reason chooses the 710 freeway tunnel as an alternative to a 710 surface freeway, please know that the record will show that decision will have gone against facts and data that you yourselves have provided the public, and would be based on nothing but insignificant, unsubstantiated claims of traffic or air quality “improving”, voters supposedly “wanting” the tunnel, that it would supposedly only take 5 years to build for “only” $5 billion, or that it would be a worthy option for employment in the area. It is obvious this is NOT the case, and you will be doing so at the expense of the public’s best interest.

Please send me a written response to your comments prior to certification of the Final EIR, and put me on the mailing list to receive notification on future public meetings for this project, and answer these questions:

  1. What is the plan to direct freight traffic if the 710 freeway tunnel does not allow for trucks?
  2. How many trucks per day leave the port of Los Angeles, take the 710 northbound up to the 5 freeway, and continue going north on the 5 freeway?
  3. What is the cost-benefit analysis for this project?
  4. How many years will I expect noise and disruption during construction?
  5. Currently, how much traffic coming from the northbound 710 actually heads straight up to and goes all the way to Pasadena @ cross-street of California, both on Fremont Avenue and on Atlantic Avenue.
  6. What is the variable diversion rate of traffic for people avoiding the tolls depending on toll cost, and what direction / streets will they divert to? (Please provide an analysis of tolls in the context of what it will take to provide sufficient revenues for a private investor or to keep people using the tunnel; in other words, what various pricing of tolls will result in different traffic diversion rates.)
  7. What is the contingency plan if the Tunnel Boring Machine breaks down like it did in Seattle?
  8. Why was Los Angeles County as a whole used to determine air quality impacts instead of tunnel adjacent communities like El Sereno, Alhambra and Pasadena?
  9. How much will the tolls be?

Sincerely,

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Pasadena City Council formally OPPOSE 710 tunnel – now it’s Alhambra’s turn!

Pasadena Star News, April 14, 2015: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20150414/pasadena-city-council-opposes-710-freeway-tunnel

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Info Guide to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Check out this pdf. Navigating 710 EIR_presentation to help you write your public comment.

Slide04

CalTrans/Metro is taking public comment until July 2015. After that point, they will make the decision about what to do with the 710-extension. Make sure you have your voice heard!

Find out more about the EIR, how to write an effective public comment, and how to get your comments to them. 

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Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina’s “virgin air” comment

Say what!?!?

On March 9, 2015 on the air, Barbara Messina (again) claimed if CalTrans builds the toll freeway tunnel, all the pollution accumulated from the port trucks and cars would be purified from the scrubbers, releasing ‘virgin air’ into the atmosphere.

Check out what she’s been up to here and listen to “AirTalk” to hear for yourself.

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Still not satisfied with the “alternatives” to a surface freeway?

Mon. April 13, 6:30 pm (tentative date) Pasadena City Council will meet at the Pasadena Convention Center to discuss and vote on a 6th Alternative – a people’s alternative.

  • Pasadena’s local preference as an Alternative for the SR-710 project
  • Resolution opposing the SR-710 Tunnel(s)
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