On Thursday, February 9th, Assemblymember Chris Holden, who represents the 41stt Assembly District introduced, Assembly Bill 287 that he he authored to stop the I-710 Freeway Tunnel, during a coalition of city councilmembers, community leaders, and non-profit organizations who gathered at the Mission Street Metro Station. His AB 287 establishes a local advisory committee and offers a solution to the State Route I-710 corridor gap between the I-710 and I-210 freeways and prohibits the construction of a freeway tunnel. He is presenting an alternative to the I-710 Corridor Gap to improve air quality and public health, improve traffic safety, modernize the freeway design, address projected growth in population, employment and activities related to goods movement.
A portion of his bill reads: “In conducting its study, the advisory committee shall take into consideration the input of residents living in the 710 project Corridor area. The committee shall consider development of open space, light rail options, and traffic calming options, and may consider alternatives not considered in the State Route 710 North Draft Environmental Impact Review. The report to the Legislature shall be submitted pursuant to Section 9795 of the Government Code. The Advisory Committee shall not consider or recommend the freeway tunnel alternative proposed for implementation of the State Route 710 North Draft Environmental Impact Review, and the department shall not proceed with implementation of the alternative.”
Holden said, “With billions of state dollars at stake and no hard evidence pointing to traffic relief for the San Gabriel Valley, it is clear that building a freeway tunnel is not a prudent option. Also In light of California’s landmark climate legislation that mandates the rapid reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions, makes clear that the I-710 North tunnel project is a misguided and obsolete solution”.
Damon Nagami, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Southern California Ecosystems Project said “Instead of spending billions on a flawed project that will put more cars on the road and increase pollution, we should invest in solutions that would actually improve people’s transportation options while also helping the environment.”
In a report by the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Education Fund last year, the proposed multi-billion dollar 710 Tunnel Project made the top 12 list of most wasteful highway expansion projects across the country.
Will Eley, Policy Advocate for CALPIRG said, “Our research tells us that millennials want to live, work, and thrive in walkable, sustainable neighborhoods. They demand transportation options, and another car-centric road or tunnel is just more of the same. A tunnel project would not only be costly for Californians in the short term, but would exacerbate pollution and traffic for decades to come.”
Holden’s Assembly Bill 287 creates the I-710 Gap Corridor Transit Zone Advisory Committee with representation from Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena, South Pasadena, the Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Members of the Legislature representing corridor gap. Their committee will review a wide range of traffic calming, green space and mass transit options for the 6.2-mile gap and recommend a viable, community supported solution to the Department of Transportation. The bill specifically prohibits the Department of Transportation from constructing a freeway tunnel between the I-210 and I-10 freeways.
Holden said, “As our state and cities integrate smart growth, new technologies and transit oriented development into our evolving transportation infrastructure, large freeway projects like the State Route 710 Tunnel are no longer necessary or environmentally sustainable.”
If AB 287 passes as is, it will be good news for communities along the I-210 corridor. Pasadena, La Canada-Flintridge, the Crescenta Valley Town Council and the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council participate in the No 710 Action Committee and formally voted to oppose the tunnel and its proposed routes. They took their stand because of the negative affect an increase in traffic on their portion of the I-210 freeway would have due to the addition of more cars and big trucks and also the negative affect on the environment in their small valley, which is also considered a sanctuary for persons with respiratory disease.
The Executive Committee of METRO Board will be meeting on March 16 at 11:30 am and Metro Board meeting will be held on March 23 at 9 am. Their committee will be discussing Assemblymember Holden’s AB 287. However, the staff is recommending that the Board Oppose it unless it is amended.