Want to Add 30,000 Cars to the I-210? Then Dig the 710 Tunnel

A traffic analysis published by the City of Glendale projects that the "completion" of the I-710  by building a tunnel under South Pasadena would cause an increase of 30,000 vehicles daily on the I-210 north of SR-134.  The report was included as part of a packet to Glendale City Council Members with a resolution affirming the town’s traditional opposition to the project.  In one of the non-surprises of the year, the Council, which includes Metro Board Chair Ara Najarian, voted to oppose the project.

So, how does the state propose to deal with all of these new vehicles, less than 10% of which would be trucks?  The report quotes the Draft Traffic Study for the plan that stating:

"Consider additional capacity on 1-210 between SR-134 and SR-2, if the Missing Link is constructed, to preserve the operation conditions on this freeway segment. Construction of the fifth lane in each direction may he considered."

If widening of the I-210 is going to be needed after the completion of the tunnel, Caltrans shouldn’t study the environmental impacts of the two road projects separately but together.  If the 710 Tunnel is going to necessitate the I-210 widening we shouldn’t treat them as separate studies.  If the studies are done separately, we’re going to hear from Caltrans officials about all of the increased traffic "requiring" a widening of the I-210 and this second project would end up being a foregone conclusion.  Thus, the sprawling wheel of highway capacity enhancements would continue to turn.

Glendale joins the towns of La Cañada Flintridge in opposing the project.

  • Spokker

    Why is the official reason why I-5 was never widened through LA County? That’s one of the few widenings I would tentatively support. However, widening a freeway beyond what Orange County has done seems kind of futile to me.

  • Most likely, the 5 was never widened through the Norwalk Narrows due to right of way issues. When the Santa Ana Freeway was originally built, it was always three lanes in each direction (you can see how they shoehorned an additional lane at the railroad bridge near the Commerce Casino). Orange County had tons of money through the Measure Ms and used it to buy up the property.

    As far as the 710 extension goes, the northern section of the 210 freeway is currently operating under capacity right now. If the 710 were congestion priced (at the Expresslane rate of $1 a mile during rush hour), if trucks were banned on the tunnel (which would also reduce the clearance required to 12 feet, to accommodate transit buses at 10 feet high, allowing for a three lane in each direction double deck tunnel), if they put metering lights at each entrance in the tunnel so traffic would move freely once in the tunnel, and if they got the ventilation system to such that the air coming out of the exhaust shafts would be cleaner than the ambient air, then I could support it.

  • If it’s not trains, it’s a waste of money.

    I kid, buses are cool too.

  • MTA is a master at what is known as “segmentation,” which is basically looking at phases of a large project in isolation. CEQA clearly considers this illegal. From the Cal Supreme Court:

    CEQA “mandates . . . that environmental considerations do not become submerged by chopping a large project into many little ones, each with a potential impact on the environment, which cumulatively may have disastrous consequences.”

    The purpose of course is to build projects cheaply without adequate mitigation. Mitigation that is well known as necessary, but is less obvious when a project is broken into smaller phases.

    Nonetheless, here’s my question: where are those 30K cars now?

  • limit

    calwatch the I-5 from the Orange County line to at least Route 605 will be done. Currently right of way work is progressing slowly because of the significant amounts of hazardous waste found in properties adjacent to the freeway. Basically, CalTrans cannot acquire contaminated property at uncontaminated prices thus property owners force condemnation to capture an unmitigated settlement amount for the property.

    Example: A property by in Santa Fe Springs is heavily contaminated with hazardous waste stemming from their business activities. The property is appraised at $6,000,000 with the assumption or hypothetical that it is free of contamination. A hazardous waste assessment is performed noting that the cost of mitigation is $8,000,000. The property owner would not be penalized $2,000,000 but would have to sign the property over with no compensation for land (there are other monetary benefits but expansion of though benefits are too deep into the topic). The property owners all claim that dirty properties all trade for full price on the open market (no diminished utility by contamination). The owners then reject CalTrans offer forcing condemation. At the condemnation trial or a pretrial settlement the property owner gets a percentage bellow or above the uncontaminated fair market value. CalTrans secures one more of a great number of properties needed to modernize that segment of the I-5.

    I am a rail fellow but often speak with the folks at CalTrans. They seems to just have one battle after another.

  • DJB

    MTA’s cost estimate for the 710 gap closure is $3.7 BILLION dollars (http://www.metro.net/measurer/images/expenditure_plan.pdf, p. 3). The tunnel would have to be ventilated, wasting a bunch of electricity. We’d be adding capacity for cars with our scarce resources instead of adding capacity for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. The neighbors don’t want the project. It would induce auto-dependent development and fill up again in no time.

    In short, the 710 tunnel would be a disaster: a TEMPORARY reduction in traffic congestion at the expense of the environment, and fiscal sanity.

  • VK

    it takes 15 min to drive from San Fernando to Pasadena on 210 on rush hour. it takes at least 30 min of aggressive driving through the streets of Pasadena, South Pasadena and Alhambra to get from 210 to 710. I live in S.Pasadena and obviously enjoy the absence of the link, but I can feel the hatred of thousands of drivers passing by every day.

  • The key here is getting goods from the ports in Long Beach and San Pedro to the great American heartland. And the bottleneck for all those trucks filled with cheaply made and colorful plastic ware is right around South Pasadena. So in order to better facilitate bringing imports to market do we:
    1) Turn the San Gabriel Valley into a truck ridden polluted hell?
    2) Put freight on trains and take it inland that way?
    Seems like a no-brainer to me. I thought Sacramento and organizations like SCAG were all about being “Green” these days. Or is that just when there is money to be made ..

  • limit

    Eric Maundry, freight trains are only an imperfect option in comparison to trucks in a mutually exclusive sense, particularly in Southern California where rail is limited by shared use and right of way expansion.

    As a rail worker I would put forth that a 710 connection should be made by either surface route or tunnel plus an inter-modal hub at the end of the 210 in San Bernardino to transition to rail; so that the heart land can be reached.

  • I think Calwatch has the right idea here. First, I-210 was built with the assumption that I-710 would feed into it so it is way overbuilt and under utilized now. Second, if we toll the tunnel, we can control the flow quite effectively. And third, despite all the talks of trucks being able to use the tunnel, I see this being primarily a commute route for people living in Glendale, LaCanada, and Tujunga. And of course having the tunnel means most of the cars that drive through Alhambra right now will stay on the toll road… the environmental impact of those idling cars must be pretty significant.

  • Tim Buchheim

    I imagine that most of the people who would use the tunnel in the future are currently using surface streets. The tunnel would just move them off of surface streets.

    Getting them to the 210 faster wouldn’t suddenly add traffic to the 210.. it would just get it there more efficiently. Even if it did result in more vehicles making it to the 210, the 210 going north from that interchange could definitely handle a lot more traffic than it does currently. It was built with the 710 in mind (which is why there’s a tiny stub of the 710 already there) and I’ve never seen traffic there (except on the ramps going to/from the 134 and the eastbound part of the 210)

    This is one of the few remaining places in LA County (they only one I can think of off the top of my head, actually) where new freeway construction makes sense. It will certainly be expensive (now that any hope of an above-ground route has been thoroughly squashed) but I think it makes a lot of sense. But I’d put it at a lower priority than a lot of other projects in that area (gold line extension, fixing the 10/605 interchange, etc.)

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