Do not yield in 710 fight

Get a move on, those of you La Cañadans who hope to put the brakes on completion of the 710 Freeway. A key deadline is looming for you to make known any worries you may have — environmental or otherwise — about the state going forward with completing the so-called “gap” by constructing a multi-billion dollar, 4.5-mile tunnel connecting the 710 to the 210 Freeway.

Specifically, your comments must be received by next Thursday, April 14. Address them to: Ron Kosinski, Deputy District Director, Caltrans District 7, 100 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

A series of public meetings dubbed “SR-710 Conversations” has been held in the region by Metropolitan Transit Authority (“Metro”)/Caltrans, with one drawing a respectable-sized crowd, including yours truly, to the cafeteria at La Cañada High School Tuesday night.

These “conversations” have provided the opportunity for people to step up to the mike and state their concerns and wishes for specific potential impacts of the 710’s completion to be studied during the environmental impact report stage.

About two dozen area residents spoke up at Tuesday’s meeting. Only one of the speakers, Nat Read, a Glendale resident who is paid to chair the 710 Freeway Coalition, was not opposed to closing the gap.

Understandably, too, since his group comprises a host of entities that stand to financially gain from the construction of a massive tunnel (or any other method chosen to extend the 710), including Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen Local 4; Boilermakers Local 92; Los Angeles/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Council; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12; Carpenters Contractors Cooperation Committee; Heat & Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers Local 5; Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 108; Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association locals 200 and 600; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental Iron Workers, Riggers, Heavy Machinery Movers, and Sheeters locals 416 and 433; and the list goes on. The following cities are also members of the group: Arcadia, Long Beach, Monrovia, Commerce, San Marino, Monterey Park, Alhambra, Azusa, Pico Rivera and San Gabriel.

Some of the other people who spoke at the La Cañada meeting wondered out loud who’s benefiting from the project. I think we have the answer above, taken from the coalition website’s list of members. You can see the complete list for yourself at 710gap.com.

We do have an entity working on behalf of those who believe better solutions can be found to resolve regional traffic issues — the No 710 Action Committee. And La Cañadan Jan SooHoo represents our city on this committee, whose stated mission is “to oppose the extension of the 710 Freeway northward in any form” and “to work with community and political leaders to promote environmentally and financially responsible transportation development within the Los Angeles County region.”

I spoke to Jan on Wednesday morning, and she assures me that the No 710 Action Committee will keep a close watch on all developments as the EIR is underway. They will be watching for the official report and giving it a thorough review. Committee members are dedicated to monitoring everything in the report to make sure it is an honest study of all the concerns raised by citizens.

“Don’t worry, our work won’t stop,” she said. “We can’t stop the EIR, but when they’re done with it, we’ll be looking at it to see if it’s flawed.”

If it is flawed, lawsuits can be filed that would at least stall the project. Maybe then the state transportation czars would focus on other options, such as undertaking a light-rail project to move goods from the ports instead of using the already overburdened freeway system.

The No 710 Action Committee maintains a Facebook presence, Jan reminded me, so you can interface with like-minded citizens there. The committee also has a Yahoo group called “stopthe710.” A comprehensive Web page is under development. If you’d like your email address added to a distribution list, send your name, email address and phone number to Jan SooHoo at jan@soohoos.org.

She also welcomes phone calls from anyone who wants to learn more about the No 710 Action Committee. She can be reached at (818) 952-4103.

Back to your earlier assignment: It’s recognized by transportation officials that not everyone can get out and attend a public meeting, therefore written comments are also welcome. But they must meet the April 14 deadline, so pick up your pen today. You can also go online to www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/commentquestion-form.

We were hoping for so long that this foolhardy 710 extension would be abandoned. But it won’t. So those of us who think the state can do better in its desire to improve regional transportation issues need to speak up today — or choke on the particulate matter tomorrow.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. She can be reached via email at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.
 
 

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