Najarian on 710: Before We Pay for EIR, Let’s Know the Cost

This isn't the first time Board Member Najarian has tried to hold up the 710 Tunnel Project.  This photo is from a ## article## on an attempt from last May.
This isn't the first time Board Member Najarian has tried to hold up the 710 Tunnel Project. This photo is from a ## article## on an attempt from last May.
For a full sized copy of the route map, click ##
For a full sized copy of the route map, click ##

Now that the full agenda for this week’s meeting of the Metro Board Meeting is finally online, we can focus on issues beyond the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes.

Another highlight of the meeting is an attempt by Glendale Mayor and Metro Board Member Ara Najarian to slow down the momentum that the I-710 Tunnel Project has had since the passage of Measure R. The proposed “gap closure” of the 710 and the 210 freeways would cost somewhere between $1 billion and $11.4 billion depending what estimate you believe.

Najarian’s ask, that the Board require a cost estimate for the tunnel before tens of millions of dollars are spent on environmental studies, is reasonable; but may not get a sympathetic hearing from the Board.  Even the “No on 710” coalition understands that so far, only L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar has supported the resolution in public.  That means they need at least five more votes to have a majority on the thirteen person Board.

Giving more momentum to the opponents of the tunnel was a new ranking of infrastructure projects that listed the I-710 expansion project as one of the most wasteful in the country.  “Green Scissors” ranking pulled no punches while calling for the road to be removed from the national network so no federal dollars are wasted on the tunnel.

Federal taxpayers should not be asked to pay for a project with a flawed EIS, nationwide opposition and a $10 billion shortfall in the local transportation funding agency. At $311 million per mile, this project is more expensive per mile than most urban freeways and the Los Angeles subway system.

The “No on 710” coalition is also sending letters to Board Members asking for support for Najarian’s motion, and they have different letters for different Board Members.  For example, Mayor Villaraigosa will be reminded that:

In December 2009 your own City Council unanimously passed a resolution against allowing any form of the 710 North Extension to be built within city limits. That resolution CLEARLY stated No 710 in any form, be it  tunnels below ground, on ground, or in the air.

While County Supervisor Gloria Molina will be challenged on her claims that she is a champion of the poor:

Supervisor Molina, your actions on this controversial 710 North Extension tunnels, may well be seen by your constituents as a litmus test on whether you mean what you say about helping the underprivileged rather than the privileged. Because that’s what the 710 North Extension  is all about: serving the interests of a few and sacrificing those of Northeast LA.

For copies of all the “No on 710” letters to the Metro Board, click here.  We’ll be live tweeting the meeting and will have a story up as soon as it’s over.

  • Erik G.

    But, if I-710 is never hooked up to I-210, then trucks carrying containers from/to the ports have no alternative route to I-5 in order to get to the Grapevine.

    (Of course I’d love to see an Alameda Corridor North and a rail tunnel under the Grapevine someday!)

    And, if I-710 is never completed, the opponents of Measure R will be able to pounce on the “lack” of road completion projects as compared to the “boondoggle” of transit projects, which hurts our cause in any future elections.

    Unless, of course, we decide to finish the SR2 freeway through Beverly Hills in lieu of the Westside Subway Extension.

  • Erik G.

    To clarify what I said above “…no alternative route through the urban area to get to the Grapevine, apart from I-5 itself.”

  • Jay

    That map is very out-of-date, as it shows cut-and-cover tunnels and surface segments, which would indeed be very disruptive to the neighborhoods through which it would be routed.

    However, for over a decade the proposal has been to build one long tunnel using European-style tunnel-boring machines that would not disturb the surface, basically a larger-scale technology of what is currently used to tunnel for subways. This is the only option permitted under state legislation.

    Frankly, what are the alternatives here? The 5 cannot really be expanded, and those communities already suffer from terrible air quality as well as a lot of truck traffic on an extremely old freeway that wasn’t really designed for such. Safety and pollution are major issues here. A 710 connection would help ease congestion and therefore improve air quality along the 5 while also improving safety. Would a 710 connection lead to pollution in the new neighborhoods? Of course, but simultaneously I think Boyle Heights, East LA, Los Feliz, Glendale, Burbank, and the Valley shouldn’t have to absorb ALL of the negative impacts of truck traffic which frankly serves the entire region. The Ports are one of the few jobs centers in the area that aren’t suffering immensely right now, and like it or not, they’re here to stay. With the ongoing litigation that seems to be favoring the City/State, look for increased pollution controls to be required for all truck traffic at the Ports. This should help too.

  • Bob Zwolinski

    I surmise it’s OK that the people who reside at the Los Angeles-Alhambra border at the freeway’s northern terminus have suffered greatly for the past 56 years since the freeway opened and probably can easily continue to do so. THEIR quality of life doesn’t matter.
    I lived in South Pasadena during the 80s and was also very much against an above-ground solution that would have destroyed priceless historic homes in its path. [Sadly, some people of wealth and no brains have already done that; bulldozing beautiful historic homes in lieu of ugly, tasteless McMansions].
    I believe the tunnel solution is the perfect solution! Tunnels of this sort are commonplace in European and Scandinavian countries. The pollution can be mitigated. We have the technology, if we would only engage it…
    But then again, our current political system must yield to all NIMBYs, keeping our transportation infrastructure decades behind our Asian & European counterparts.