Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard called the delay of the State Route 710 North Study draft environmental impact report a â€œsignificant setback for the proposed SR-710 Tunnelâ€ and said the computer model used to predict traffic demand for the report may show there is a lessening need to build the gap-closing section at all.
Metro reported Tuesday that the release of the draft environmental impact report â€œwill be delayedâ€ because more time is needed to calibrate a complex computer model being used to predict â€œregional travel demand.â€
The new software, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) regional travel demand computer model, was not completed until last year, Metro said.
Metro and CalTrans have for decades targeted the missing 4-1/2 mile gap between the northern end of the 710 freeway and the 210 freeway to complete a freeway route for commercial trucking to better circulate between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the rest of the county.
Bogaard suggested the traffic demand computer model Metro and CalTrans are now using will show trucks have already found efficient alternative routes and the need to â€œclose the gapâ€ has lessened over the years.
â€œIâ€™ve seen informal reports and comments that truck traffic emanating from the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach are no longer using the 710 South in the same way as in prior years,â€ Bogaard said. â€œThe trucks are finding a better way to circulate and the one-time notion that the 710 project was needed to accommodate truck traffic is not justified.â€
â€œThat will be a game-changer in this project,â€ Bogaard said.
Bogaard also used the occasion to focus on the tunnel’s â€œextreme costâ€ as a major obstacle to moving the project forward.
Metro and CalTrans’s highest priority option now is a tunnel to funnel traffic between the freeways, but Bogaard said the high cost of the tunnel option could make it impractical.
â€œI think that the extreme cost of the 710 Tunnel â€“ something like $6 to $10 billion dollars â€“ is coming into focus as a major obstacle to moving this project forward when resources for a new transportation projects are extremely limited and there are so many transit projects in the Los Angeles region that need attention,â€ Bogaard said.
In announcing the delayed release of the draft environmental impact report, Metro said it could not predict when the report might be released.
In spite of the delay, Bogaard said â€œit would be premature for anyone to conclude that the project is not still under serious consideration.â€