Language Matters: Mind the Gap

As long time Streetsblog readers are well aware, our editorial team believes that language matters.  It’s why there’s a slew of stories arguing that using the word “accident” as a synonym for “crash” is both incorrect and insidious.  Last week, a reader pointed out to me that Metro, in both press materials and on The Source, continually refer to the I-710 Extension project as the “I-710 Gap Project.”

A “gap” is something that needs to be filled.  It’s a nuisance.  A problem.  By referring to the project as a “gap” project, you’re already pointing the debate towards, “what is the best way to fill it.”

Well, if proponents of the project can have their own language for the program, so can Streetsblog.  On Friday I sent out an email to opponents of extending the 710 freeway so it connects to the 210 through either above ground highway expansion or a tunnel, asking them to name the project.  If you have a better name than any of the people I reached out to, leave it in the comments section.  On Friday, we’ll have a poll asking readers to choose their favorite name for the I 710 project, and Streetsblog will use that name in our coverage for the rest of the debate.

Glendale Mayor, and former Metro Board Chair Ara Najaraian was the first person to respond, simply emailing “The 710 (money)PIT.”  In a similar vein, La Crescenta resident Susan Bolen noted that if the final project is indeed a tunnel project it would be between .9 miles and 1.9 miles longer than Boston’s disastrous Big Dig when she proposed the Even Bigger Dig.  She later noted the dangerous conditions that can be created if there’s ever a fire in a tunnel and went for the much less subtle, Tunnel from Hell.

Following up on the “Big Dig” theme was Joanne Nuckols from NO710, who added SR 710 LA’s Big Dig, 710-The Toll Tunnel to Nowhere, 710 Gap-Don’t fall into it, The SR 710-The Ultimate Boondoggle, and of course, SR 710-Big Dig West

She also added a collaborative naming effort with Janet Ervin, the 710 Gasp Closure.

If “Tunnel from Hell” was too subtle a potential title for the project, then Judy Bergstresser, with the 710 Coalition, may have the best name for you.  Her three proposed names are: 710 Crap Project,  710 Freight Truck Corridor, and 710-Year Old Bad Idea.  Meanwhile, long time Streetsblog reader Carlton Glub apparently is taking Metro at its word that everything is on the table and proposes The Alhambra Corridor Freight Toll Tunnel Project (or maybe a freeway or transit).

But the MVP for the “suggest a name” portion of the program has to go to Occidental College Professor (and Streetsblog Contributor) Mark Vallianatos who found a couple of moments to suggest seventeen quick ideas: Zombie Freeway, Post Freeway Zone, Freeway Free Zone, The 1951 (or whatever year it was first planned), Road to the Past, 7-20th century, the 710 Trap, 710 crap. Tarnish the Gold Line, The Tarnish Line, Blast from the Past,  Shaft from the Past, Soot Alley in the Valley, The Middle Finger (middle option of 5 is preferred), Billions per Mile, Platinum Gap, Ivory Plated Freeway, and The Cole Hole.

Remember, you have until Thursday to suggest your own name.  Then, be sure to come back on Friday and vote for your favorite.


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