The California Department of Transportation’s SR-710 North Study Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) misrepresents data in favor of the tunnel alternative and fails to address substantial environmental and community impacts, a Pasadena residents group said Friday.
These and other findings were delivered to Caltrans this week as part of the West Pasadena Residents’ Association’s formal comments on the DEIR. The comments have also been published online at www.wpra.net.
“After careful analysis, it is clear that the SR710 DEIR is report is grossly inadequate and should not be adopted,” said Geoffrey Baum, president of the West Pasadena Residents’ Association (WPRA).
WPRA said it assembled a team of experts who worked for the better part of a year to address and comment on Caltrans’ massive, 50,000+ page environmental impact document. More than two dozen expert scientists, environmentalists, attorneys, university professors, engineers, planners, policy experts, legal experts, transportation experts, CEQA/NEPA experts, and historic preservation activists from USC, JPL, and other institutions helped draft the WPRA’S 430+ page comment document, the group said.
These experts found inadequacies in almost all of the DEIR’s sections, including growth, tunnel boring machine failure, land use, community impacts, traffic, transportation, air quality, noise, hydrology, water quality, geology, energy, and more.
The team found that, from its inception, the SR-710 Study environmental process has been improperly conducted in a manner to justify and sustain a decision already made: the freeway tunnel as the preferred alternative.
Caltrans and Metro’s bias in favor of the tunnel continues in the DEIR with “the selection of the Study Area boundaries and alternatives, the bundling of options, the deferral or complete failure to address large environmental impacts for the tunnel alternative, data averaging, and the selective presentation and manipulation of data,” Baum and WPRA vice president and 710 Team lead Sarah Gavit wrote in a letter to Caltrans.
The SR-710 Analysis of the Alternatives is also grossly deficient, the group said. For example, the SR-710 Study fails to consider a multimodal alternative, despite numerous community inputs to do so during the scoping process. This is egregious particularly in light of the 1999 injunction prohibiting a 710 surface freeway extension due to Caltrans’ failure to consider a multimodal low build alternative. Remnants of historic 710 extension aspirations, these transportation and safety nightmares have divided and plagued these communities for more than a half century. Moreover, the Draft EIR/EIS proposes several tunnel alternative options that are not credible. This includes the ‘no truck’ option, which is not enforceable either in the near term or future, and the single-bore tunnel option, which is not reasonable because it exceeds margins of safety and passes unacceptable fire and accident risks onto tunnel users.
WPRA expects Caltrans to respond in full to these and other comments before issuing a Final Environmental Impact Report.
Founded in 1962, the West Pasadena Residents’ Association (WPRA) is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the character of southwest Pasadena and the quality of life throughout Pasadena.