No 710 Action Committee member Joanne Nuckols says more than $170 million has been spent since the 80s on 710 freeway extension studies and consultants. Watching the livestream of Metro’s “710 Conversations” Series 1 Glendale meeting struck this editor as a waste of time and money. People already know Southern California has a traffic problem, and anyone who gets from place to place in the region has absorbed plenty of transportation history.
Consultants have completed Series 2 on the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Protection Act (the Star-News published this report on the South Pasadena meeting) and are now proceeding through Series 3 while Caltrans solicits input on scoping issues. Why continue to drain public time and money, when the project isn’t even clearly defined and cost estimates that exist range from $3 billion to $14 billion? How can such expense be worth it when the state has so many pressing needs?
At Glendale High School Saturday, state legislators and Congressman Adam Schiff met with stakeholders to discuss state education funding. The meeting was open to the public, but most attendees were school board members, administrators, and teachers. Field Elementary School Principal Ana Maria Apodaca said her school library is closed because it can’t afford a librarian; Rowland High School senior Henna Idrees said a class preparing students for academic competition has been canceled; and Clark Magnet High School Senior Lyova Zalyan said Clark no longer holds 7th period classes, and has seven fewer teachers than last year.
Legislators commented after the presentations: State Senator Carol Liu said Governor Brown has taken a bold step by proposing to eliminate redevelopment agencies; State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino emphasized “We have to get our priorities straight and our priority should be educating our kids.” The Glendale News-Press covered the event further in its Sunday edition.
Back to digging ourselves out of a hole: Governor Brown should consider cutting off all state funding for 710 freeway extension studies, starting now. Billions of dollars could be better spent. A 6-mile tunnel, through a known earthquake zone, facilitating more vehicle traffic and pollution, likely to rack up egregious cost overruns well past its incredibly expensive low-ball estimates, is a project California should stop now, and it should be a top target for legislators looking for funds to reallocate.