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710 Expansion Update

Oliver Ordonez

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Our campus is what we consider to be a commuter school; a campus that possibly spends more time in traffic than actually in class. We live in Los Angeles, so we know the daily struggles of transportation and the unmentionable idea of “traffic”. Why are their so many people living in our communities? Why does everyone have a car? Why, why, why!

The real question everyone has been asking for the past few years is, what is our solution to decreasing the traffic? Just this past year, Metro began a pilot program called ExpressLane that used existing carpool lanes on parts of the I-10 and the I-110 freeways into toll lanes to improve traffic flow. This basically means, that now drivers can have the option to drive bumper to bumper or pay the toll to drive in the ExpressLane for a couple of miles until they get back to the real world. 

Although Metro’s ExpressLane can potentially help us students and staff coming from the south of campus, what is anyone doing about coming north of campus? This question has been on the minds of Metro, Caltrans, government offices and concerned residents living in surrounding cities that are affected by the traffic of not only college students who attend CSULA, but overall commuters coming from the north of L.A. to the south. 

According to Stop the 710.org, it was in the late 1950’s when the State of California adopted the plan to construct massive highways and extend route 7, which is now called SR-710 and I-710. It was at this time that Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena residents voiced their concerns about this project. 

Throughout the years the 710-expansion project has changed. From the early 1960’s up to 2002 the discussion of an alternate route was on the agenda. The cities of Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena opposed all the alternative routes that the California Highway Commission (CHC) proposed. It was now 2002, when Caltrans consulted with the Freeways Highway Administration (FHWA) and proposed to connect the 710 to the 210 freeways via tunnel. The local cities were interested in the proposal and wanted to see if the tunnel project was environmental friendly as well as technically, operationally, and financially feasible. The main city that opposed the 710-expansion was South Pasadena who was not satisfied with the results of the study that took two years to make. So, Caltrans conducted another study in 2007 and another study by Metro that will be completed in the next eight months. 

The 710 discussions have been going on for decades, it seems that neither side will concede with one another until now. The city of Alhambra that is impacted by the traffic on a daily basis due to the unfinished freeway ending within its borders started the campaign for “Closing the Gap”. 

On July 10th the Alhambra Mayor Steven Placido called for the 710 Day event which closed a section of Fremont Avenue, using the space to educate the local residents about the magnificent things the 710-expanision project would do once it was completed. 

Alhambra, San Marino, Monterey Park, San Gabriel and Rosemead city leaders have decided that the 710-expanision project would help the city’s congested streets. According to an interview by the South Pasadena Patch with Alhambra’s City Councilman Luis Ayala, he saying the 710-expansion project will help all communities surrounding the tunnel. 

“Based on their study, Metro’s study of the completion of the 710 gap…a tunnel is by far the most effective in terms of reducing congestion. I like facts to speak for themselves. I’ve looked at all the facts. This seems to be the most practical solution,” Ayala said.

At the event last week, you could see blue shirts everywhere that read, “Closing the Gap” with the 710-freeway icon on it. Everyone and their momma had that T-shirt except for the few that had red T-shirts displaying the 710-freeway icon with a slash going across it. Among the 710-expansion opposition that attended the event was Joe Cano. Cano said with an interview from the Alhambra Source that although representatives from other cities support the project, the other cities (Pasadena, South Pasadena, El Sereno, Highland Park, San Rafael and parts of Los Angeles) that the tunnel will route under were not represented in the event. Cano said. “They’re not here because they are the ones in the path of the tunnel.”

Although the opposition believes it would cut down 20% percent of street traffic, according to www.no710.com they believe that this tunnel is not commuter friendly and its real purpose to benefit the port of Long Beach. They go on to say in the website that if the tunnel was completed there would be no on or off ramps; pollution would be horrible in the tunnels; and the automobile increases two times more than open stretch highways, the list goes on. 

When asked around the campus about the 710-expansion project, there was a split decision among my peers who had knowledge about the project until I showed them both sides to the argument; the side than leaned more against the project due to the questions that had risen during the interview, questions that have not been answered by Metro because they are still doing studies for the tunnel project. 

Some students believe that this would help traffic tremendously, enhancing the commute from north to south and vice versa. 

Junior John Mitchell said, “we are not making any significant profit for historical landmarks, Pasadena…[and other cities]…will acquire more surplus from the extension”. He also included how it would make his drive time faster traveling from Pasadena to CSULA.

Other students like Senior Elmer Hernandez said constructing a tunnel would be unnecessary because there are many ways to get from Alhambra to Pasadena; people just choose to take the same one. He also raised the question about local homeowners saying, “houses, businesses would be in the way of construction”. 

Almuni Aavan Amin brought up a whole new idea of racial boundaries that might be in play. The student is for the 710-expansion because it would “make less traffic on Fremont and other alternative routes. And then I would not have to take the two to the five to the ten.” Amin said if the 710 were extended it would take her ten minutes to her forty-five minutes on a good day.

What was more mind opening was when Amin brought up racial tensions as the hidden excuse of opposing the expansion. I guess that’s what happens when you think on your own and take race and ethnic study classes. 

Despite what side you choose to support, expect to hear this discussion throughout the next couple of months. If you would like to know more about the 710-expansion go to www.cityofalhambra.org, no710.com, Stop the 710.org.

Links

http://www.sgvtribune.com/breakingnews/ci_22700005/technical-work-begin-710-extension-eir-next-week

http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/07/04/38051/among-the-bands-and-athletic-grous-freeway-expansi/

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2013/02/community-fought-710-expansion

http://southpasadena.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/tunnel-opponents-swarm-alhambras-pro710-event

http://www.glendalenewspress.com/photos/tn-gnp-me-0711-710day-pg,0,5655495.photogallery

http://southpasadena.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/local-social-media-on-the-proposed-710-tunnel-extension

http://stopthe710.org/history/

http://www.no710.com

http://www.alhambrasource.org/news/710-day-sends-loud-message-close-gap
 

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710 Expansion Update