710 Report Looms w/ Rose Parade, Old Town Impacts – Shakeups at Caltrans & Metro – Garcetti at Occidental

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JoeCanoVideo2TunnelsFrameThe SR-710 Environmental Impact Report is scheduled for release this spring, and Metro could recommend a tunnel connecting the 710 to the 210. Pasadena, Glendale and surrounding cities are mobilizing to fight a huge freeway/tunnel project built near and surfacing at the 134/210 interchange. Council member Steve Madison said at a recent meeting that the Rose Parade makes Pasadena the “epicenter of the globe on New Year’s Day.” He warned that if a tunnel was constructed, it “would absolutely destroy that. This is like a dystopian nightmare.”

Madison said “People are terrified” of the possibility that a tunnel will be built alongside Old Town Pasadena. His comments, and the threat to the community’s quality of life, economy, streets and especially to the Rose Parade, are highlighted in this recent video by Joe from El Sereno:

Opponents of the tunnel project insist more freeway building is the wrong solution to Southern California’s traffic congestion. They want multi-modal, fiscally and environmentally responsible projects that give people travel options. “Construction of additional roadway lanes has traditionally been the most common congestion relief strategy used by transportation authorities. However, decades of research has demonstrated that expanding highways does not relieve congestion,” says the No 710 Action Committee petition to Governor Jerry Brown, which has now collected more than 1900 signatures.

Caltrans is “significantly out of step with best practice in the transportation field and with the state of California’s policy expectations,” according to a just-released independent review Governor Brown commissioned in May 2013. From SFGate, February 2:

…a highway department, rather than a transportation department, is exactly what Caltrans is right now, according to the report. The review calls for Caltrans to overhaul its mission and goals to align with the state’s changing demands. “Too many in the department understand the word (mobility) to mean “moving cars faster,” says the report, urging the department to focus more on the state’s interconnectivity and different systems of transportation for freight.

Shortly after this direct shot at an agency that is working somewhat behind the scenes with Metro on the 710 freeway extension, Metropolitan Transportation Agency senior staff associated with the 710 were summarily let go in a dramatic reshuffling. Streetsblog Los Angeles credits Glendale City Council member / MTA Board member Ara Najarian for getting the MTA Board to commission a review of the agency. The post goes on to say:

Questions about the future of the controversial 710 expansion project, which Metro refers to as the “710 Gap Closure” project and Streetsblog the “710 Big Dig”, has dominated the discussion of the shakeup. Three of the key figures in pushing the highway expansion project project despite its questionable value and political controversy, were among those let go: Failing, Moliere, and Metro Public Affairs Director Lynda Bybee.

The whole post, Reorganization or Shakeup? Change in Metro Staff Has Some Wondering About Highway Projects, is worth reading as major transportation projects are the talk of the region – from the 405 to the subway to the sea to the LAX People Mover to the 710…

Finally, those pushing to build more freeways in this region should take notes when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti talks. At Occidental College February 13 to discuss the future of transportation and development in Los Angeles, Garcetti said, “The old way of navigating the city no longer works.”

I certainly hope that the old way of pushing highway projects through neighborhoods that will be destroyed by them no longer works.

Joe from El Sereno taped the entire presentation, viewable here:

Takeaways: Garcetti mentioned that there are 27 levels of regional government and instead of a “separation of powers” it ends up as the “obliteration of power” – He mentioned the Los Angeles library system’s design program as a major success story while discussing Metro’s new architecture initiative. He lauded Atwater Village for its revitalized pedestrian street scene, and he discussed the LA River’s past and possible future. Worth watching, or if you just want to listen, Occidental College’s web feature Mayor’s Designs on the City has an audio recording.