Forums to focus on 710 tunnel

Representatives from the city of La Cañada Flintidge are gearing up for a series of public information meetings scheduled to begin next week that will focus on the feasibility of the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel extension.

Councilman Steve Del Guercio said his colleagues would attend at least one of the six meetings to voice their opposition. Turnout at a similar forum at the Lanterman Auditorium in May was strong, he noted, adding that he expected much of the same at the upcoming sessions.

“Our residents are very interested,” Del Guercio said. “In the last set of meetings, they asked a lot of questions. I would encourage all residents to attend these meetings and get the information and let people know how they feel about it.”

The forums, sponsored by the California Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are slated to include findings of the draft Geotechnical Summary Report, which takes into account earthquake faults lines, geological composites, hazardous materials and groundwater conditions for the proposed underground tunnel route.

Del Guercio said the geotechnical summary was disappointing, and that it failed to delve into specifics on the geological and safety obstacles, and cost.

“You have got this data, now analyze it and tell us what it means,” he said. “Tell us what it means when you are going [to drill across] these earthquake faults and other geographical features. Is that more expensive? Is there an increased safety risk?”

Proponents of the project, however, said the geotechnical report is quite thorough. Nat Read, who heads the 710 Freeway Coalition, said many of the lingering questions will be answered in the next phase of research.

“I am excited that this process is being completed so that we can go to the next step, the environmental study, where we will get answers to so many of those questions that are coming up in the community meetings,” Read said. “The sooner we get to [the environmental study] to answer those quesitons, the better it is for those who have the questions.”

The first meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at Wilson Middle School in Glendale. Subsequent meetings are scheduled in San Marino, San Gabriel, El Monte and Los Angeles.

The 710 Freeway, which is used heavily by commercial trucks, currently runs from Long Beach to Alhambra. The proposed extension would extend the route 4.5 miles to Pasadena, possibly via a subterranean tunnel, connecting drivers to the Foothill (210) Freeway.

La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena and Glendale have formally opposed the extension.

Robert Silverstein, an attorney representing La Cañada on the issue, said the city continues to pursue legal action that would bar the project for coming to fruition.

“Anyone who has a full picture of this project would not be a supporter of this project,” Silverstein said. “It is a colossal waste of billions of taxpayer dollars that could be spent on alternative projects that would really mitigate traffic impacts.”

Traffic studies have shown that a freeway extension would result in increased traffic and noise on local roads, attracting at many as 1,000 additional trucks to the 210 Freeway during the afternoon peak period.

The SR-710 Tunnel Technical Study meetings are scheduled as follows: Wed., Jan 20, 6 p.m., Wilson Middle School, Glendale; Tues. Jan. 26, 6 p.m. San Marino Center, San Marino; Tues., Feb. 2, 6 p.m. Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles; Wed., Feb. 10, 6 p.m., Jefferson Middle School, San Gabriel; Wed., Feb. 17, 6 p.m., Ramona Hall, Los Angeles; Wed. Feb. 24, 6 p.m., El Monte Community Center, El Monte.

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