Fasana Metro Motion Could Kill 710 North Freeway Tunnel

Metro passed the Fasana motion effectively killing the SR-710 North freewau tunnel. Map via Metro
Metro passed the Fasana motion effectively killing the SR-710 North freewau tunnel. Map via Metro

At this morning’s Metro board Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee, board chair John Fasana introduced a motion that, if approved by the full board next week, could spell the end of efforts to extend the 710 freeway north via a $6 billion tunnel.

The 710 freeway extension has been pushed, and pushed back against, since the 1970s. That it has not been built is a testament to community freeway fighters’ ceaseless efforts. The project was partially funded in Measure R in 2008. Opposition to the 710 was sufficiently strong to have Metro leave it out of the subsequent 2016 Measure M, and even to include a proviso in M to restrict funds from going to the project.

Today’s committee item appeared to be a routine “receive and file” action. Metro staff reported that they were expecting to complete the project’s $50 million Environmental Impact Report (EIR) by the end of 2017, with Caltrans expected to select a preferred alternative in early 2018. Staff reported that only about twenty percent of the project is funded, about $1 billion of $5.8 billion. Staff projected about 50 percent of the funding to come from future tolls.

The public comment was lengthy, with more than a dozen commenters on each side. Proponents continue to assert that building the $6 billion tunnel would reduce congestion and improve air quality, though, of course, no freeway project has ever delivered these results.

After some board discussion, chair Fasana, who has been supportive of the 710 in the past, said that “the path has run out to get this thing built,” and he introduced a motion that would effectively kill the freeway tunnel. Fasana’s motion would put Metro on record as supporting a Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). According to the motion, this would bring “timely implementation of cost-effective transportation improvements,” essentially focusing the remaining 710 North funds on smaller-scale improvements such as soundwalls, resurfacing, transit, signals, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, La Cañada Flintridge, and the 90032 zip code (largely the L.A. City neighborhood of El Sereno).

The motion was opposed by County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who said she found it troubling to “break promises” to voters. Boardmember Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker pushed to have the decision go to the full board. Ultimately it was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Fasana, Ara Najarian, and Kathryn Barger in favor, and Hahn and Dupont-Walker against.

This sets up a big showdown for the full board’s decision on the motion at its May 25 meeting.

  • antiqueshopper

    The important word in your headline is “could,” but it doesn’t. It’s still not dead and buried but in animated suspension in anticipation of being brought back to life at a later date with a PPP. It must be removed from the LRTP for Metro to actually kill it.

  • J. SooHoo

    Just what “promises to the voters” does Janice Hahn believe have been broken? It’s apparent that she does not understand that Measure R did not commit Metro to funding a tunnel. There is a very clear legal determination of that fact that includes admissions by Metro’s own attorneys to that effect.

  • Red Line Reader

    Hahn is definitely playing catch up WRT local transportation issues. Maybe a side effect of her time in DC.

  • ctwilliams2012@yahoo.com

    Yes maybe….Not Over Til it is OVER… FOLLOW THE MONEY
    Fasana and other in San Gabriel supporters…realized that it’s the $$$$ that count and produce jobs for the construction unions…and others…. Fasana and the SGCOG want the $700M NOW before someone else (LACity) grabs the money for 2018-2021…and F&etal know that the $$$ were under SGCouncilOfGovts…and want it NOW…as = Local Returns to 8-11 San Gabriel towns including Duarte….Alhambra, MOnterey Park, Rosemead…SoPas and Pasadena
    The $$$ GAME IS ON…Who get $$$$ anad who does not
    Remember lo the townie Dpt.Public Works would be in control and going to their favored Contractors and Favored Unions
    AND
    They don’t want LACity = El Sereno = ZIP 90032 to get ANY == 0000$$$$

  • Vooch

    rather than lengthen the 710 it should be shortened

  • Joe Linton

    Hahn is saying that the 710 freeway funding (about $80M) included in the 2008 Measure R is a promise to build the tunnel.

  • J. SooHoo

    Joe, I do understand that is what she thinks. However, it is a common misconception that passage of Measure R committed Metro to funding and constructing any particular project in the expenditure plan. Metro’s own attorneys made formal representations to a California appellate court in City of South Pasadena, et al. v. Metro, et al., Case No. B221118 that Metro had made NO IRREVOCABLE COMMITMENT to the 710 extension at that time. As we also know, the Measure R expenditure plan may be amended by a vote of at least 2/3 of the Metro Board of Directors. This issue has been brought up and clarified at several Metro Board meetings.

  • Joe Linton

    Glad you understand. I was trying to answer your question “just what promises to the voters does Hahn believer have been broken?”

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