Caltrans can't be trusted with 710

This week I sent a formal request demanding that the California Department of Transportation end all efforts to further the 710 Freeway extension. Since my days as La Cañada Flintridge mayor and councilman, I have been given false and misleading information from tunnel proponents bent on building the 710 tunnel at all costs. The public’s trust is too high a price to pay for any project.

Last week I received the results for an audit of Caltrans that I had requested last year. I was outraged to learn that Caltrans has been spending millions of dollars every year without any clear scope of work or accountability. It was the last straw, proving that Caltrans cannot be trusted with this project.

The facts are clear on the 710: It doesn’t solve a transportation problem, violates Caltrans’ own internal traffic protocols and fails to comply with the suggestions of the Federal Highway Administration.

Thus far, Metro has spent tens of millions of dollars on a flawed process promoting an even more flawed project. Highway or freeway options for the 710 are based on 1950s planning, not contemporary 21st century goods- and people-movement initiatives. The impact to Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and the Cañada-Crescenta Valley would be devastating.

This project could potentially be of historic magnitude. It continues to be an outrage that Caltrans refuses to disclose to the public the cost, use and benefit of this project, but continues to move it forward. Not one downtown planner would approve an addition on their home without first knowing how much the addition would cost and how many square feet were proposed to be built. Unfortunately for the California taxpayer and the affected neighborhoods, Caltrans has no problem moving this project forward absent this basic information.

It’s time for our transportation leaders to step up and pull the plug on the 710 extension. It’s rare that policy makers have the potential to avoid a tragedy of this size and scope. We can avoid Los Angeles’ own version of the “Big Dig” in Boston. Caltrans needs to do the right thing and stop this horrendous project. There are tremendous needs in our state — let’s attend to them and take this boondoggle off the books.

Anthony J. Portantino
La Cañada Flintridge

Editor's note: The writer represents the 44th District in the state Assembly.

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