The California Department of Transportation released its initial environmental review for the proposed 710 Freeway extension project Friday, causing a flurry of activity among agencies and activists who’ve waited months for the data and their chance to respond.
The public was given 120 days to put forth their comments and concerns on the project, which floats five potential alternatives, including beefing up bus and rail lines as well as a dual-bore tunnel connecting the cities of Alhambra and Pasadena.
The public comment period, required by law to be at least 45 days, was initially extended to 90 days and then, last Wednesday, to 120 days to allow more time and opportunities for groups and individuals to respond.
On the day of the release, local 710 activist Jan Soo Hoo said she’d reviewed the report’s executive summary. The report and its appendices are 2,260 pages in length, but technical studies provided by Caltrans bring the total page count to 26,625.
Soo Hoo said the comment period extension will help, but advised residents to contact Caltrans officials to ask for an extension to 180 days. She also said it would be better if there were more than two public hearings scheduled during the comment period.
“We’re going to press for more public hearings,” Soo Hoo said. “Given the volume of the report, (two) is crazy. It’s just not OK.”
Meanwhile, the city of La Cañada Flintridge will be working as part of the 5 Cities Alliance, a coalition with four other cities — Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre — to examine the environmental, health and safety aspects of the alternatives described in the EIR.
La Cañada Flintridge City Manager Mark Alexander said consultants in each subject area have been lined up and are ready to review various technical aspects of the massive document and attached reports and studies.
“They have their marching orders and are ready to get underway,” Alexander said of the consultants in an email interview. “We look forward to examining what the (draft environmental impact report) has analyzed.”
Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, a vocal opponent of the tunnel option, said Friday he’d completed the executive summary and took objection to the fact that the document’s traffic statistics were provided by the Southern California Association of Governments, a group whose executive director has publicly spoken in favor of the tunnel option.
“Any information that comes out of SCAG should be treated as highly suspect and have very little credibility and validity,” he said.
Najarian encouraged citizens to do what they could to make their voices heard before Caltrans and Metro during the 120-day comment period.
“I’d like them all to try and make sense of a very complicated document and submit their comments, addressing their concerns to Caltrans, so at the end of the period no person says, ‘Gee, I wish I would have issued a concern,’” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story mentioned a forum that was scheduled for Monday, March 9, hosted by the Pasadena League of Women Voters and Cal State Los Angeles’ Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs. The forum was postponed until further notice.
Sara Cardine, email@example.com