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.