by Winston Chua
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY – The 710 “extension” or “gap closure”…whatever you want to call it, is gaining momentum as 42 alternatives have now become 11. And those 11 will by the fall become three or four. And once the eliminated alternatives are gone, they are gone. Here are some things that are not only driving this discussion, but also accelerating it.
The link between the 710 and 210 freeways has been an idea floating around for some 50 years now. The stalling of cars at the end of the 710 north has caused Alhambrans much concern for many years now, especially as the end of the freeway lies in close proximity to schoolchildren in the area. If a link were to be established, whether by surface route, freeway, highway, rail line or light rail, more traffic could potentially move from north to south and vice versa in a way that some promise can alleviate not only congestion, but air pollution. (doing nothing is also one alternative)
But the public opinion for a closure is far from unanimous. Many in West SGV areas are expressing that they are being blindsided by a lack of community outreach, hearing now for just the first time that this project is gaining some steam. This resurfacing issue is for some coming to the surface for just the first time. Nearby residents are also casting doubt as to the amount of traffic alleviation that could take place and wonder if the air would be cleaner at all if any change takes place. There are also hydrology issues and fears of groundwater contamination.
Doug Failing of Metro and Alhambra Councilman Steve Placido say a link between the freeways would be huge in relieving congestion. Placido contends this is the number one transportation issue in all of Southern California.
Nevertheless, there are opposition groups like the No On 710 Action Committee, who cast doubt upon claims of traffic alleviation, who do not believe it will solve traffic issues and are instead looking to alternatives like rail, light rail or multimodal options.
Right now, Metro is looking for alternatives. The most likely earliest date for any sort of groundbreaking would most likely not be before 2016. What must take place include the following procedures: alternative analysis, public hearings and final environmental documents. Failing says the improved air quality would be worth the cost of the project. Opponents say they have been kept in the dark far too long.
Should the project cost $5-$7 billion, Measure R monies would be used and possibly public-private partnerships. There will undoubtedly be some creativity involved in helping fund whatever alternative is chosen.
(4 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)