Holden Asks Metro Board to Eliminate 710 Tunnel From Extension Options

Assemblymember asks Metro board president to reject draft EIR; remove tunnel from being considered as an option to closing 710 Freeway gap

Published : Monday, May 15, 2017 | 5:32 AM

Following an unsuccessful legislative effort to prohibit building a tunnel to close the 6.2-mile gap of the 710 Freeway Extension between the 10 and 210 freeways, Assemblymember Chris Holden now has set his sights on convincing the Board of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board (Metro) to officially no longer consider the tunnel as a viable alternative.

Metro is one of the two lead agencies, along with Caltrans, in charge of the proposed tunnel. Its Board of Directors meets on May 25.

The proposed freeway tunnel — now the latest in a number resolutions to the missing link which have been considered over the last 30 years — would run through El Sereno, Alhambra, South Pasadena and Pasadena, and has created controversy throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

“It is clear the 710 tunnel project is a misguided and obsolete solution,” Holden, a longtime opponent of the project, said in February as he introduced AB 287.

That bill failed to get out of the Transportation Committee two weeks ago.

“Moving in a different direction is not only good for this community, it is an important step for the entire region,” he said at the time. “The tunnel option puts billions of taxpayer dollars on the line with no hard evidence pointing to traffic relief for the San Gabriel Valley.”

In a May 11 letter obtained by Pasadena Now from a source who asked not to be identified, Holden asked Metro Board chair John Fasana to remove the tunnel from consideration as an alternative for SR 710; to not finalize or certify the Environmental Impact Report; to create a “transparent process for the affected communities to come together and develop consensus on real solutions for the region”; and “immediately begin to allocate Measure R funds to projects in the study areas that “help traffic congestion and benefit the community.”

“Unfortunately,” wrote Holden, “the build alternatives in the SR-710 Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) do not sufficiently balance the transportation and mobility needs of our local communities and the regional area. The deficient DEIR begins with a flawed Purpose and Needs Statement that focuses on how to move cars from point A to point B rather than how to move people in the region.

“Furthermore,” Holden continued, “the DEIR/EIS demonstrated that the Tunnel Alternative would be the worst alternative for the entire region, as described by the Southern California Association of Governments, with respect to potential environmental impacts in the 2016-2040 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.”

“We have endured decades of freeway gridlock debate,” Holden wrote. “Continued assertions to implement a freeway or Tunnel Alternative regardless of citizen opposition will never result in a solution. After taking account of my own history with this project, and evaluating the analysis provided, I decided we need a new way forward…it is clear that the State Route 710 tunnel project is a misguided and obsolete solution.

“The Tunnel Alternative will cause more problems than it solves,” Holden continued. “First, the funding is not available. The cost of $30 billion or more is a price Los Angeles County residents cannot and should not have to pay, especially with the potential for the project to go over budget. Second, it fails to relieve traffic in the region since it only shifts traffic from one area to another. Third, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the conclusions of the EIR do not accurately reflect the analysis in the report; therefore, additional analyses would need to be conducted to ensure the affected areas will not be overly burdened with increased air pollution.”

Noting that the Metro Board will be voting soon on the $45 million State Route 710 North Study EIR, Holden wrote, “Certifying the EIR will set into motion an opposition that cripples the solution-making process. This will divert attention from finding a solution to stopping the EIR process.”

Holden concluded, “Now is the time to focus on solutions that work and can bring the community together to move us closer to our environmental sustainability goals.”

The Metro Board will meet May 25 to consider the North Study Draft EIR.