Caltrans on the 710 Tunnel Project: Trust Us, We Know What We’re Doing

Last week, community forums were held in Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge on the proposed project that would construct a tunnel connecting the I-710 and I-210 freeways in Pasadena.  The Glendale News Press reported, in two separate stories, that opposition to the project is as strong as ever and that Caltrans isn't happy that the opposition is speaking up now.

Joining residents in voicing his displeasure was Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who claims that the project would cause "tremendous damage" to his constituent's quality of life.  Najarian also sits on the Metro Board and is scheduled to Chair the Metro Board for the 2010 Fiscal year, beginning in 29 days.  Nearly 250 people attended the two hearings, and most of those in who spoke raised questions about the project's impacts on their lives or opposed it altogether.

The main concern voiced was that completing a connection between the two highways will not only increase traffic on the roads, but also push some of that traffic onto local streets.  In other words, while it may temporarily provide some relief on the highway, it would do so by permanently congesting their local streets.

Caltrans wasn't impressed.  The next day a second article appeared in the News Press with District Director Doug Failing urging those in opposition to what Environmental Defense has called one of the worst highway projects in America, to hold their opposition until Caltrans can complete it's study that will tell it whether or not to proceed with an environmental study.  Basically, Caltrans wants those in opposition should trust Caltrans to do what's best for everyone.

Failings call for opponents to cease fire would carry a little more weight if he were calling it for both sides.  Oddly, while Najarian is urged to hold his fire while Caltrans does its studies, the same calls weren't made when speeding traffic advocate Asm. Mike Eng taunted Smart Growth advocates that the 710 would be extended "whether they liked it or not."  When government agencies are asking opponents to calm down and not doing the same for proponents, it creates the image that the decision has already been made.

Of course, once the decision's announced, then I'm sure opponents can voice whatever opinions they like.