The team of Metro staffers working on the 710 gap closure study held a briefing with members of the media this morning and stories are expected to be published in several newspapers.
As we posted on Monday, a round of 18 community meetings begins on Feb. 15 to discuss the history of the area and possible solutions to traffic caused by the gap in SR-710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. The meetings are part of the scoping process which will help define the purpose and need of the project, as well as consider some possible solutions.
Doug Failing, the executive director of Metro’s highway programs, hit on several key points about the meetings and the prospective project:
•The 710 gap is believed to impact traffic not just in the western San Gabriel Valley but as far away as the northern San Fernando Valley because traffic takes detours to avoid the gap.
•”As far as I’m concerned, everything is on the table,” Failing said. “We’re going to have a really robust scoping” process. He also emphasized that nothing has been decided in terms of what the project will be. He added that he takes seriously his responsibility under state and federal environmental law to consider all options.
•As for a possible tunnel to close the gap, Failing said that he expects some members of the public to request that a tunnel be studied. He also said that the Metro Board of Directors had requested a report from Metro staff on the possible costs of tunnels, which is now online. As Failing noted, Measure R provides $780 million for a 710 gap project, but he also reminded the media that Metro is concurrently studying public-private partnerships that could help provide funding to the 710 gap and other road and transit projects.
•Failing also said that he would like the scoping process to end in April and for the Metro Board of Directors to vote over the summer to move the project into its next study phase, an alternatives analysis to consider some of the possible projects from the scoping period. Failing said that he expects the entire environmental study process for a possible project to take about three years to complete.
On a related note, the March 5 public meeting in South Pasadena has been rescheduled for March 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at South Pasadena High School.