SR-710 North Study: what's on the table and what's off the table

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I’d like to take a few minutes for an update on the SR-710 North Study, Metro’s effort to improve transportation in the area around the 710 freeway in the San Gabriel Valley. The video above is new from the project team and describes the project.

Original state plans called for completing the 710 from Long Beach to Pasadena. That never happened. As a result, the 710 runs between Long Beach and Alhambra and there’s a very short segment of what was intended to the 710 that extends south of the 210 freeway in Pasadena.

As I’m very sure you’re aware, this is a very contentious issue . While I completely understand and appreciate there are a variety of opinions on what, if anything, needs to be done to improve traffic in the western San Gabriel Valley and beyond, I also believe and hope there are certain facts about Metro’s ongoing study that can be agreed upon:

•A project alternative to widen Avenue 64 was dropped from the study last August, largely because it wouldn’t have improved traffic much according to Metro’s analysis and because of the environmental impacts it would cause to surrounding communities. Reinstating it to the ongoing study would be legally difficult at this stage and, besides, I’m unaware of anyone on Planet Earth who wants it reinstated.

Why was it studied in the first place? Because Metro wanted to review every possible option in order to determine the very best ones for further study. Let’s be honest here. On the one hand, studying a wide spectrum of alternatives gives credibility to Metro’s studies — it’s a way of ensuring the best alternatives are truly the best. On the other hand, it’s also fair to say that Metro’s credibility among some community members took a hit for proposing an alternative that was so unpopular.

•Despite what some people may be saying, Metro has no current plans to take homes, nor does the agency know the precise location of facilities that would go along with some of the alternatives. I can’t emphasize this point enough: Metro is studying a potential project. No decision has yet been made to build anything and nothing has yet been designed.

•There are only five alternatives that will continue to be studied as part of the legally-required Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement (DEIR/DEIS) for the project: a no-build option, an alternative to improve traffic signals and intersections in the study area, bus rapid transit between East Los Angeles and Pasadena, two light rail routes between East L.A. and Pasadena (the routes are similar) and a freeway tunnel that would directly link the 710 between where it currently ends at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and between the stub of the 710 that ends between Del Mar and California Boulevards in Pasadena.

Metro recently released an Alternatives Analysis (pdf) that explains why those five alternatives were chosen over the dozens of other options studied. Here’s an earlier post on The Source that includes maps of the project alternatives and here’s the Alternative Analysis’ Executive Summary (pdf).

•Metro staff will be briefing the Metro Board of Directors — the ultimate decision-makers at Metro — on the project’s Alternatives Analysis at the Board’s February meeting. No votes are required by the Board to move the project to its DEIS/R phase.

•The DEIR/DEIS will be followed by a Final Environmental Impact Report/Statement. The entire process is expected to take at least two years. Metro staff will likely make a recommendation on which alternative to build as part of these reports.

•The final decision on what, if anything, gets built will be made by the Metro Board. The Board could choose to build nothing, could choose to build a single alternative or could choose to build a combination of the alternatives.

Appendix X of the Alternatives Analysis (pdf) has the current cost estimates for the alternatives still under study — keep in mind these will be refined as each alternative is better defined. The estimates: traffic system management improvements ($120 million), bus rapid transit alternative 6 ($50 million), light rail alternatives 4a and 4b ($2.425 billion and $2.6 billion) and freeway tunnel alternative 7 ($5.425 billion).

The Measure R sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 allocates $780 million for the SR-710 project. Funding would need to be secured for any costs above that amount.

•Finally, I’ve spoken several times about the project recently with Frank Quon, Executive Officer for Highway Programs at Metro. A phrase he frequently used was “state of the art” — i.e., if Metro builds anything, the agency will build a project that actually improves transportation in the region — and does so using the latest, safest technology designed to minimize any impacts on the community. As he said, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to do anything but the best possible work.

83 replies

  1. I do not have much confidence in your source of information, because there are some things that are factually incorrect.

    Number one, the stub of fwy in Pasadena is not a stub of the 710, but part of 210, therefor not a gap in the fwy. (Check the court document in the 70’s pertaining to this section of fwy.)

    Second, the cost estimate for the tunnel alternative 7 of $5.425 billion is incomplete. That cost is only for the bored segment and does not include the portal entrances and bridge replacement, scrubbers, etc. Another $1 billion, at least must be added.

    There are many more, but the report at 1,560 pages takes a while to digest so back to you later. Hopefully you have more accurate information in your next post.

  2. Steve, I’ve posted about this before, but your insistence on calling it a gap is also not particularly helpful. There’s also a gap/stub between the SR-2 and the 101, which was supposed to be built and extended to the 405, or the stub of the 90, which was supposed to go to the 110. Stubs don’t equal gaps, and if you’re going to talk about planned freeways that were never built, there’s a ton of those. Why are we not studying those instead?

    One really does have to wonder about Metro’s credibility in all this, insisting that truck traffic won’t be taking a new freeway to reach the 210… why not built all the other planned freeways then? Why this focus on the 710 corridor, both north and south segments? Hmm.

    • Hi Yu-Han;

      With all due respect, we disagree.

      The Alternatives Analysis also says that the issue of whether trucks will be permitted to use a tunnel should be further evaluated. Please see page 25 of the Executive Summary.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. There are signs along the Fwy from California Bl. to the underpass of the 134/210 exchange that denotes that segment of the FWY is the 710.

  4. Stop wasting taxpayers hard earned money by studying dual tunnels that are too expensive. You must think we are fools.

    Seattle’s cost for construction of a 1.7 mile tunnel is $1.09 billion, which only includes the tunnel portion of the project . I think Metro multiplied $1.09 billion by 5 = $5.45 billion (5 x 1.7 miles = 8.5 miles). This does not add up close to the cost in my book. Did METRO include the cost for the following: The 710 dual tunnels will use 4 boring machines, have several vehicle crossovers connecting the two tunnels (can’t use the 4 boring machines for this process), scrubbers, bridge replacements in Pasadena (Union, Colorado & Green St.), bridge removal (Del Mar), permanent removal of the Del Mar and California off/on ramps, new bridge at Valley, train issues at Mission, both ends will need ramps and interchanges, costs for design and overhead. And consider that the tunnels will not get built for more than 10 years from now, inflation show be added.

    The full Seattle tunnel budget, including design and overhead, is $2 billion (includes $1.09 billion contract for construction of tunnel). The entire Highway 99 corridor cost is $3.1 billion, counting ramps and interchanges at each end.
    Something does not add up METRO.

    • Hi Sylvia;

      Metro is studying the tunnel and other project alternatives because 67.9 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008 approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase and the list of projects it would help fund. I certainly don’t consider voters to be fools.

      The project in Seattle is different than the tunnel alternative in the Alternatives Analysis — in Seattle they are tearing down a viaduct and replacing it with a tunnel, among other roadway project. The tunnel alternative here has yet to be completely studied, approved, designed or fully funded. More information on the Alaskan Way tunnel project here.

      Metro’s estimate for alternative F7 (the tunnel alternative) is based on costs for the tunnel (including cross passages and fire life safety systems), roadways, structures and rights of way (ROW). The estimate is also based on utilizing four tunnel boring machines. At this point, it’s an “estimate,” as Metro has said.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, I suggest you check your source (no pun intended) on cost comparisons of 710 toll-tunnels. Metro EIR consultants as well as Metro’s Infraconsult have been using the Seattle tunnel estimated costs to determine possible costs for the last few years.

        Sylvia’s information is correct, because she did her homework months ago using the Alaskan Way website. Additionally, because of continued conflicts with the consultants reported numbers and the website, I recently talked to Washington DOT to confirm our information, which is correct.

        Since 2003, when former CEO Snoble stated a cost estimate of $1 BILLION (clearly inaccurate) for the dual toll-tunnels, the public and board members have been requesting an accurate cost estimate. None has been put forth.

        With wildly variable cost estimates ranging from Metro’s $1 BILLION to SCAG’s $11.8 BILLION, none are valid. Taxpayers of Los Angeles County deserve better stewardship of our Measure R money.

        To conclude, the Alternative Analysis Report cost estimate of $5.35 for the toll-tunnels is clearly off. The math just doesn’t add up.

  5. At 0.29 minutes into the video, you show a photo of the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and you indicate that people don’t stop at the stores along the way because traffic is so congested. Who wrote the lines for this video? Someone, obviously, who doesn’t know the South Pasadena shopping area along Fair Oaks Blvd. Very easy to stop at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy at any time of the day–turn right or left at Mission, depending on what direction you are coming from on Fair Oaks, and there is plenty of free parking on the side streets. Drivers also easily stop at any time of the day at OSH, Vons, Bristol Farms, Baskin Robbins, etc., etc. And because it is a major shopping street, that is, with many drivers on the way to the stores on that street, it will always be heavily traveled, which, by the way, is good for the businesses there as they are attracting customers.

  6. Additionally, re: my comment above, it is really a disservice to the Fair Oaks Pharmacy that you are indicating in the video that people can’t easily stop there to shop.

  7. Thanks, Steve. I can appreciate you trying to engage the opposition to 710 expansion/extension/tunneling/rerouting. Who do we talk to about removing those “stubs” as you call them and returning that land to open space? If you live in Pasadena and walk around that area I’m sure you can envision, like I do, a nice open place to gather and relax. The light is beautiful and the trees plentiful. What a healing it could be.

    I’d like to see Metro come up with a State of the Art way to feed the 710 into the Huntington or Valley and deemphasis the whole project. At this point, there is little faith in the Highways Division. Measure R funds being used to pay lobbyists and not used for transportation. Measure R was never put to the voters as sales tax increase for the 710 Project exclusively anyway.

    To just say, trust me it will be the “latest, safest technology designed” and then to bring these lame 1960s type ideas is not convincing enough. I still roll my eyes when I hear advertising that emulates the old Smuckers jelly campaign… With a name like Metro, it has to be good— doesn’t cut it for the kind of jam you’ve put us in.

  8. To say that no decision has been made is laughable. Barbara Messina (Mayor of Alhambra) and John Fasana (Metro Board) Michael Antonovich (Metro Board) and others in San Gabriel Valley politics are falling all over themselves pushing the tunnel option through. Doug Failing is shopping the tunnel option to China. The price tag for the tunnel is a low ball figure (as Joanne points out) and no one is mentioning the hefty tolls that will be charged with the Public Private Partnership arrangements.

    • Hi Jane;

      There are 13 members on the Metro Board of Directors and a majority is needed to decide most matters. It’s hard to predict the make-up of the Board — guessing the future is always tricky business — by the time the SR-710 Study comes up for a vote in the two to three years that it’s estimated it will take to complete the final EIR/S.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. The only option is No Build. The financial projections are horribly incorrect, the timeline is horribly incorrect, the whole idea is horribly incorrect. If something as simple as the Rose Bowl remodel can go incredibly off budget, why would anyone think that Metro can even begin to project the cost of a tunnel which would accomplish nothing. It goes through aquifers, it goes through 5 known earthquake faults (what about the faults that haven’t been charted), it should not be built or considered!

  10. Very good summary. Thank you for the information. I think the concerned residents in southwest Pasadena will need to pay close attention to the EIR.

  11. I watched the attached video and agree that there is a lot of surface street traffic in the Freement Ave. corridor. But no where in the video was the discussion of increased truck traffic coming from the port that will be a reality in the coming years or how this traffic will be handled on the 210 Freeway that is packed morning and night with traffic. As long as Metro ignores references to the elephant in the corner (i.e., port truck traffic), it compromises its credibility and leaves the public feeling that we are being hoodwinked.

    • Hi Ann;

      Please see page 25 of the AA’s Executive Summary: it says the issue of restrictions on the use of trucks should be further evaluated (it also says tolls should be evaluated as potential financing option). I think it’s too big an issue to ignore and will be studied.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  12. My question is how is a segment of underground freeway that might cost $15 to drive on going to help local traffic? I’m guessing not a lot. If anything people will take to the streets to avoid this segment of tunnel causing even more traffic on local streets. Not to mention that the tunnel in Japan that his tunnel is modeled on collapsed recently killing many people.

    • Hi Jessica;

      At this point, there is only the possibility that there will be tolls as a way to raise money to build a tunnel project — if, and it’s a big ‘if’ — the Metro Board decides to go ahead with a tunnel following completion of the environmental studies. There is no agreement in place with any private firm to build a project and the $15 toll you cite isn’t grounded in reality. Also, a tunnel hasn’t been designed yet, therefore it’s not based on any particular existing tunnel. The tunnel collapse west of Tokyo in December was certainly tragic, but there are many hundreds of highway and train tunnels throughout the world, including one under the English Channel, tunnels under both the Hudson and East rivers in NYC, many tunnels through the Alps and tunnels in our national parks (Yosemite and Zion).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  13. This tunnel alternative benefits NONE OF THE RESIDENTS and BUSINESSES that are situated paralell to its 5- mile course, yet these are the very folks, and they alone, who must bear the brunt (MANY “BRUNTS”) of all of the negative impacts associated with this costly project. Moreover, Metro/Caltrans have demonstrated time and again that neither can be trusted to tell the whole truth or give definitive numbers (e.g. COST!) or act as competent overseers of this Big Dig as shown by the audit of their performance as “landlords” of the Pasadena Ave. section conducted last August. They and Caltrans have either denied or evaded the clear evidence (from their own publications) that this tunnel is primarily intended for the “movement of goods” (via TRUCKS AND TOLLS) from the ports of LA & Long Beach. Moreover, one of the “Ps” in the PPP “partnership” contemplates ownership by China or some other national investor who will collect the tolls to recoup their investment – something Metro has said very little (nothing!) about. Enough smoke and mirrors! We’re already in the hole for millions of $ and it’s time to stop digging before millions/billlions more are spent in pursuit of this really hairbrained notion.

  14. I have been watching the process of the Metro decision to expand the 710 freeway and understand awl routes must be considered. What is disappointing is that the comment that they should not have included the Avenue 64 route because it is not popular, yet no one has yet admitted tha one of the biggest reasons for this expansion is due to the expansion of the LA Harbour, or that it is also because of the expansion of the Panama Canal. It is also doesn’t address the fact that the monies for this 710 project are being borrowed from projected revenues, and that doesn’t even include the cost of up- keep on these roads. I think of this every time I drive the beat up lanes of the 210 freeway and wonder how we keep borrowing but can’t keep up with the repairs. The risk Metro runs is tax fatigue. CA just keeps adding to the tax burden of its citizens without a clear path and without any transparency. At some point Metro needs to treat the people they are addressing like intelligent adults, rather than like simple minded children. The attitude is so patronizing and less than honest.

    • Hi Kathleen;

      No decision has been made about a possible public-private partnership. If such a deal is pursued, I think the terms of an agreement with any possible financer(s) will hopefully be heavily scrutinized. Also, while I certainly agree that the ports of L.A. and L.B. have seen a big jump in freight traffic in recent years, I don’t think that is the only thing driving the SR-710 Study – while some communities don’t see north-south traffic in the western SGV as a problem, others do. I do think the lack of the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena results in a lot of extra traffic on surface streets. What, if anything, should be done about it is obviously a disputed matter.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  15. Why does Metro hide the obvious truth that the main beneficiaries of a 710 extension are Long Beach freight carriers? You lose credibility when you avoid this issue.

    • Hi David;

      I think it’s certainly fair to study and question the impacts of truck traffic. But I think it’s also fair to say that many cars — not trucks — are using surface streets to travel between Pasadena and Alhambra when otherwise they might use a freeway.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Hi folks;

        This is a cut-and-paste from one of the fact sheets for the SR-710 project about truck traffic. I thought it may provide useful context for readers going through the many comments about why the project isn’t targeted directly at truck traffic from the Port. Also, keep in mind there is a concurrent study on the south 710 that is looking to widen the freeway and possibly create a truck corridor to handle port traffic. From the SR-710 study team:

        Multiple studies have shown that the primary destinations of trucks on I-710 from the Ports are the rail
        yards south of I-5 and the distribution centers and warehouses to the east of the study area via SR 60
        and I-10. Other studies have shown that the majority of the land most suited to future warehouse
        development (large, open, and flat) is also located in the Inland Empire. Additionally, while the Ports
        are a large generator of trucks, less than 10 percent of the trucks in LA County are from the Port, and
        less than 10 percent of the overall traffic is from trucks. Based on these data, less than 1 percent of LA
        County traffic is Port trucks, and that estimate is even lower in the Study Area. The project need is
        focused on regional and local street congestion, and goods movement alternatives addressing that
        small component of the transportation system do not address that need.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

  16. What’s off the table is, apparently, any opposition to the SR-710 project from Ara Najarian.

    That’s been taken care of by Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who first removed Najarian from the Metrolink Board after 6 years of service, and replaced him with LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who Antonovich’s staff claim “share his vision for regional rail.” There is no Metrolink service in Ridley-Thomas’ supervisorial district, so it makes perfect sense that he should be on the board.

    And now more recently the LA County City Selection Committee refused to confirm Najarian’s nomination to the Metro Board in spite of the fact that he was supported by the North County cities. Vocal proponents of the SR-710 project are on record saying they withheld their support because Najarian’s opposition to the project is “not right.”

    Exploiting political leverage is nothing new for Antonovich; he also launched a campaign to remove Erwin Chemerinsky, a prominent constitutional scholar, from the faculty at UCI because of differences in political views. Chermerinsky was later reinstated and is founding dean and distinguished professor of law at UCI. Nice try, Antonovich.

    And that is why Metro has no credibility, because political operatives at all levels are working feverishly to remove people they dislike rather than work with them.

  17. Get Real. This has nothing to do with “improv[ing] traffic in the western San Gabriel Valley and beyond.” It’s all about truck traffic from the harbor connecting from the 710 directly to the 210 and then the Grapevine while bypassing downtown LA.

    Thanks, Metro, for waking up west Pasadena and Highland Park – we’re all No Build advocates now.

    • Hi David;

      I disagree. As I’ve replied to other posters, I think there are traffic impacts in the western SGV because of traffic traveling between the 710 exit in Alhambra and Pasadena and the 134 and 210. The best fix and its impacts? I don’t know. But I think it deserves to be studied — in fact, 67.9 percent of the voters approved the package of projects that includes this study.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  18. Steve, you totally missed the point of my comment. If Doug Failing (Metro Highway Exec) is shopping the tunnel option to Chinese investors (meeting Oct. 2012), then he has already determined that the tunnel is the best alternative EVEN BEFORE THE EIR HAS BEEN DONE. If the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments is pushing for the tunnel option, then the EIR (which will be done by consultants paid by Metro) will state those outcomes which support Doug Failings, Metro’s and SGVCG’s previously-determined agenda to build the tunnel. This study has nothing to do with reducing traffic congestion. The point is this process is flawed and the residents of this region and surrounding areas are speaking out to point out those flaws.

    • Hi Jane;

      No, I understood your comment. I don’t think the process is flawed, nor do I believe Metro staff is acting unseemly. Public-private partnerships are being studied for this and other projects. That’s not a secret.

      Every project that Metro studies has people and groups that are advocates of a particular alternative or mode. I don’t think that corrupts the process, nor do I think the process should be conducted in a room sealed from public sentiment. I think it’s great that you’re interested enough in the project to take the time to comment here, but I also think that if it’s okay for you to be against a particular alternative, it’s okay for someone else to be for it. That’s democracy, right?

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  19. “Ara Najarian is still on the Metro Board of Directors.”

    He keeps the seat until he is replaced… That’s a technicality because of course it’s the same voting body who determines who takes that seat next. I have a hunch it won’t be Najarian.

  20. Kudos to Steve for wading into this hornet’s nest. You don’t have to post this comment if you feel it doesn’t fit the tone.

  21. Steve, my concern is not whether people are for or against this project. My concern is the REASON they are for or against this project. Information provided to the public by Metro has been highly misinformed and misleading. THAT is what concerns me. Metro is using taxpayer funds to “study” this so-called gap, and is providing information to the public that is contradictory and misleading. Public Private Partnerships must be included in the study because the allocated $780 million is being eaten up by consultants “studying” the so-called 710 gap. So outside investors are necessary, and investors need revenue in the form of tolling. To continually repeat the mantra that “no decision has been made regarding tolling” is untrue. Tolls will be necessary under the Public Private Partnership financial arrangements. Metro is not informing the public that tolls will be a necessary component of the proposed F7 tunnel.

    • Hi Jane;

      With all due respect, I disagree. I think the Alternatives Analysis doesn’t pull punches — there are pros and cons for the various alternatives in the different charts. I think that’s pretty clear. In my view, there’s no “so-called” in front of the gap, missing section, hole or whatever you want to call it. It’s there, like it or not. Arguing about whether a gap exists, in my view, is about as useful as arguing about whether the sky is blue. It’s a diversionary tactic intended to shut down the conversation about traffic impacts from the 710 and what, if anything, could be done about it.

      I live in Pasadena. I frequent South Pas on my bike and in my car and via the Gold Line. I use the 710 by cutting through Alhambra. I personally do not have any idea what the best alternative is in the SR-710 study. I want to see the draft report when it’s ready to consider the benefits of the various alternatives, the impacts and the proposed mitigations. I also want to see it studied because county residents voted for it and I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason why the will of the people should be ignored.

      As for tolls, I disagree. The agency has told the public that there is not enough money to build some of the alternatives and that tolling is one way to possibly raise money for a tunnel — if that’s the project the agency decides on. A decision could also be made to not pursue a toll and try to find other funds, although we all know that is difficult in the current funding landscape.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, I realize you are getting paid to do a job and you have to support your employer, but you really must study what Metro’s been putting out there for the last 10 years in writing, statements and studies. The 710 tunnels will, without a doubt, be a tolled facility. There is no other way to build it as stated by former CEO Snoble, former SCAG head Pisano and Metro’s own Failing.

        Metro has spent millions of dollars on PPP studies to support tolling as a funding concept. SR 710 North is a good candidate for tolling along with the High Desert Corridor, I 710 South. So, what you say the agency says and what they have actually said, which is documented, doesn’t compute. The agency is losing credibility daily because of their lack of honesty with the public.

        And, people that voted for Measure R were voting for transit mainly and some highway projects. Check out the asterisk by the SR 710 North on that list. That asterisk means that the A project will be determined at the end of an environmental process, not that there had to be A project. If voters in the San Gabriel Valley had a choice between extension of the Gold Line to Claremont (that’s not funded) and the SR 710 toll-tunnels, I’m confident that the the vote would be overwhelmingly for the extension of the Gold Line.

        Again, the public wants accountability from YOUR agency on how they spend OUR Measure R tax dollars. Unfortunately, it may be a long time coming.

        • Hi Joanne;

          I’ll repeat what’s been said and I’m not repeating it just because it’s my job and I have to do it (I could just as easily not respond to comments–it’s my discretion whether to respond as the benevolent dictator of this blog). The agency has said it could be a tolled facility. There’s no secret or hidden agenda. It’s out there. But no decision has been made yet, no deal has yet been struck and to say it has would be wrong. Sorry.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  22. Hello Steve,

    Thank you for being forthcoming in answering these questions brought upon by those commenting on this post. You’re doing as best a job as you can, especially since much of the information requested (though cretainly not all of it) is now readily available in the Alternatives Analysis.

    As for those who don’t like the project simply because, then that is your problem, but at least there is time to send in questons. However, if you continue to rail on the same points despite concrete answers demonstrating the contrary (like what most commenting against the project show here), then that is to the ruin of your efforts. Other projects here and elsewhere have used similar counterpoints to no avail. If you oppose any of the proposed gap projects, then at least do it for informed reasons.

    One other thing: It should be noted that LA already has two deep-bore tunnels of our own: The entirety of the Red and Purple Lines, which cross or will cross several fault lines; and part of the Eastside Gold Line. And yes: State law defines Route 710 from Route 1 in Long Beach to Route 210 in Pasadena. Various overpass signs on the Pasadena stub confirm this intent.

  23. The cost of the bored portion of the 1.8 mile Alaskan Way Tunnel is listed as $2.034 billion on the project website. This does not include the $290 million cost for removing the old Viaduct. That cost is included in the total of $3.144.4 billion. Second, the Alaskan Way Tunnel project has definite relevance to the 710 tunnel proposal — in fact, Infraconsult, a company hired by Metro to come up with an estimate, made arguments that the Alaskan Way tunnel was an appropriate model to derive the cost for the 710 tunnel, that their estimate of $4.09 billion was based on the cost per linear mile for the bored portion of the tunnel, and this estimating process and result was reported at a Metro Board meeting. Both tunnels are the same diameter, but the two, 4.5-mile 710 tunnels have a combined length 5 times that of the the single Alaskan Way tunnel (9 miles as opposed to 1.8 miles). The cost per linear mile for the Alaskan Way tunnel is $1.13 billion. Using this cost per linear mile, neither the Infraconsult estimate nor the $5.425 billion estimate stated in the recently-released Alternatives Analysis report make any sense at all. The $4.09 billion and $5.425 billion estimates pencil out to $0.455 billion and $0.603 billion per linear mile respectively, neither of which aligns with the $1.113 billion for Alaskan Way. Using the Alaskan Way cost per linear mile, the 710 tunnel estimate should be $10.17 billion, a factor of 2 greater than the $5.425 billion stated in the Alternatives Analysis report.

    The $1.09 billion mentioned by Mr. Hymon and also by Yoga Chandran at a recent Open House is just the contract award to Seattle Tunnel Partners, a joint venture of Dragados USA and Tudor Perini Corp. That contract does not cover the full cost of the bored tunnel itself. Washington has other sources for the balance of the $2.034 bored tunnel cost as well as the additional $1.111 billion necessary for the rest of the project.

    Things like this just contribute to the lack of credibility for Metro in the eyes of the taxpayers.

  24. All of the dissenters of this massive subsidy to the trucking/freight industry are COMPLETELY CORRECT, and it saddens me that Steve has to actually defend this most-corrupt process. I do not blame him at all. We all realize the benefit of actually having a job and fear losing them and I don’t think anyone should be attacking HIM – always look to the very highest of the ranks to see where the actual problems are. Metro is run completely by a political Board of Directors, who, even when presented with basic facts/knowledge from EXPERTS in their field, can and often WILL choose to completely DISSENT (or at least make sure the experts “say what they want”, instead of where the facts point them, BEFORE it comes to them “officially/publicly” with a force greater than one can imagine) and just vote based on their own current/in-the-heat-of-the- moment political gain, even when it means causing harm to the region as a whole and/or not benefiting themselves nor their constituents in the long run.

    No one is fooled by the fact that this has, and always will be, praised and advanced as a HIGHWAY project and nothing else or less! Unfortunately, the 710 issue just gives more fuel to the anti-Metro crowd and prevents other actually beneficial Metro projects from ever coming to fruition.

  25. I highly doubt that anyone really believes this extremely low-ball and misleading figure of $5 billion – this project, if it actually goes through as a BORED HIGHWAY TUNNEL, will definitely cost, at a BARE MINIMUM, and under the BEST SCENARIOS possible, AT LEAST $10 BILLION, if not much, much more.

    • Hi Civil Engineer;

      When throwing out your own cost estimates, it would be great if you could include a source. As I’ve said before, I’m not crazy about apples-to-apples comparisons — each tunnel project is different. I can tell you that for those interested in reading more about tunneling, Metro’s Westside Subway Extension project will build a single tunnel about nine miles long from Wilshire/Western to the VA Hospital in Westwood, including seven new stations. The project is expected to cost $6.3 billion if built in three phases, with the third phase opening in the mid-2030s.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  26. It’s utterly insulting, both to the general population of LA and those that are educated and engaged enough to be following this more closely, to assume this is anything but a HIGHWAY PROJECT. After all, just look at which department is in charge of this entire study, from cradle to, hopefully, gave! Yes, you all guessed right: the HIGHWAYS DEPARTMENT! Is anyone seriously foolish enough not to think the agenda of the “Highways Department” is anything BUT highways, highways, and more highways?! I wish it was a joke that Metro even has such an active/vociferous Highways Department, but it’s the sad reality we live in (and look no further than to the POLITICIANS behind this project to make the point crystal clear).

    Until the masses actually stand up to these Politicians, nothing will change. We’ll keep building highways, until we finally sit back and realize: We spent all this money to “solve congestion” but we’re still choking on it, worse than ever before…

    What’s the famous quote re: Pure Insanity?? Something about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well, we’ve laid out incredible amounts of asphalt since WW II and just look at the end result surrounding you?

    Enjoying the exhaust fumes and smog, LA? The keep on pushing for insane projects like this, while you “greenwash”/sugar coat all of the adverse effects!

  27. And this entire “dance” Metro is playing now (i.e. studying Light Rail – lol, don’t believe for a second that this is given any serious thought by anyone who actually makes decisions!) is all simply to appease some of the “common folk” who dared to stand up to the “Highway or no way” mantra that preceded it.

    No one’s buying it, Metro.

    Please start concentrating on the beneficial projects that actually provide an ALTERNATIVE to all this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into – It’s an extremely tough job to “un-do” and address the mistakes of the past and you only waste people’s time and insult their intelligence with projects like these, which refuse to die.

    Has anyone there even familiarized themselves SOMEWHAT with the concept of INDUCED DEMAND????!!

    Just remember, every AUTO “improvement” you make only negates any investment you’ve made in MASS TRANSIT, encouraging more Single Occupancy Vehicle use and users, including future users that will decide which means of travel makes most sense based on the choices given to them by YOU, almighty Metro…

  28. Is there a detailed list of what has been spent so far of the $750,000 allocated to the 710 project, that is, how much money has been paid to various individuals, organizations, and companies? Additionally, is there an accounting of how much money has been paid to Metro staff in regard to the project and is this amount coming out of the $750,000? Moreover, how much more money out of the $750,000 is anticipated being paid for staff time and to individuals, organizations, and companies?

  29. You wrote: “Finally, I’ve spoken several times about the project recently with Frank Quon, Executive Officer for Highway Programs at Metro. A phrase he frequently used was “state of the art” — i.e., if Metro builds anything, the agency will build a project that actually improves transportation in the region — and does so using the latest, safest technology designed to minimize any impacts on the community. As he said, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to do anything but the best possible work.” Mr. Quon may be saying the above, but there is no way to make a tunnel earthquake proof, only theoretically earthquake safe, meaning a tunnel will hopefully experience only limited damage from an earthquake. This hopeful scenario also applies to the tunnels built for our subways. In the 710 Study Geotechnical Analysis, no mention was made of the 5.0 Pasadena Earthquake in 1988 on the Raymond Fault over which the 710 tunnels will be built or was there any mention of the fears of Ken Hudnut, Cal Tech geophysicist, of what can happen to tunnels during an earthquake. Didn’t we go through 10 plus years of devastating quakes in our immediate area not too long ago? How quickly we forget what we don’t want to remember or should be, quite rationally, frightened of. Metro should present all their “earthquake safety” data to our earthquake experts at Cal Tech and ask them to evaluate it.

    • Hi Peggy;

      There is considerable information about earthquake safety and tunneling as part of the Westside Subway Extension’s environmental studies. A lot of the work specifically looks at the Century City area, but there’s also information in there speaking to the general issue of tunnels in earthquake country. Tunnels have generally speaking performed very well in earthquakes around the world, including Southern California and the Bay Area.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  30. I did not see any discussion in any part of the Alternate Analysis about the possibility of terrorist attacks in the 710 tunnels. What precautions can be in place to prevent any such attacks? Or is Metro saying, because terrorist attacks were not discussed, that there is such a small likelihood of them occurring they are not worth discussing, even though a tunnel under part of LA would be quite a dramatic place for terrorists to bomb? I would have probably felt that way if I hadn’t been in London on July 7, 2005, the day of the bombing of the London underground and a bus, resulting in numerous deaths and a city in panic. My first reaction was, “How did I end up in a city being attacked by terrorists?” I would hate anyone having to say, “How did I end up in a tunnel being attacked by terrorists?” Metro, at the very least, please discuss such a possibility and don’t gloss over it.

  31. Re: My comment at 9:26 p.m. Corrected: Is there a detailed list of what has been spent so far of the $750 million allocated to the 710 project, that is, how much money has been paid to various individuals, organizations, and companies? Additionally, is there an accounting of how much money has been paid to Metro staff in regard to the project and is this amount coming out of the $750 million? Moreover, how much more money out of the $750 million is anticipated being paid for staff time and to individuals, organizations, and companies?

    • Hi Peggy;

      I don’t have such a list but I believe most of the expenses incurred have come through contracts for the environmental studies and for public outreach. That is a typical arrangement at Metro for a project.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  32. Another concern about a 710 tunnel and something that should have been a deciding factor against the tunnel before the final EIR chose it for further study was the ability of emergency personnel to transport tunnel accident victims quickly to an emergency room for treatment. There will be accidents in the tunnel! No one should believe that there won’t be and also some quite bad ones. California drivers are accident-prone. As the only exits from the tunnel at the Pasadena side are at Mountain on the 210 North, Lake on the 210 East, and San Rafael on the 134, there is no quick route from the tunnel to Huntington Hospital, the only trauma hospital in the area. The extra time needed to transport accident victims could mean one’s life. The same problem exists at the Alhambra end of the tunnel–no quick route from there to the Alhambra Hospital on Main Street. Also, the removal of both the Del Mar and California exits on the present part of the 710 will also increase the travel time of people in West Pasadena to reach the hospital in emergencies.

  33. This is what you wrote at 9:39 a.m. on Feb. 11: “Multiple studies have shown that the primary destinations of trucks on I-710 from the Ports are the rail
    yards south of I-5 and the distribution centers and warehouses to the east of the study area via SR 60
    and I-10. Other studies have shown that the majority of the land most suited to future warehouse
    development (large, open, and flat) is also located in the Inland Empire. Additionally, while the Ports
    are a large generator of trucks, less than 10 percent of the trucks in LA County are from the Port, and
    less than 10 percent of the overall traffic is from trucks. Based on these data, less than 1 percent of LA
    County traffic is Port trucks, and that estimate is even lower in the Study Area. The project need is
    focused on regional and local street congestion, and goods movement alternatives addressing that
    small component of the transportation system do not address that need.” What is questionable is why the new inland port in Victorville is not mentioned or why a possible additional inland port in Palmdale also is not mentioned. Add to this the lack of mention of the High Desert Corridor and also the anticipated increase in port traffic, that is trucks, in future years. The increase in truck port traffic will put great strain on the 60 and 10 routes to the 15 to Victorville, but with the 710 tunnel, we then have a secondary route up the 210 to the 14 to the High Desert Corridor to the Victorville Inland Port and a direct route up the 210 to the 14 to Palmdale. So we are should not be talking about present truck traffic but about future truck traffic and this is not being discussed. There should also be great concern that there could be three public-private partnerships along the 710 to the 14 to the High Desert Corridor to Victorville, essentially privatizing a good portion of the California freeway system.

  34. Steve, you didn’t answer my question: Has Cal Tech commented on the advisability of building the 710 tunnel in regard to its safety in an earthquake? I know they commented on at least one of the subway tunnels but I haven’t read of anything about their comments on the 710 tunnel except for what Ken Hudnut has said. If they are your experts on one project, then what about them on the 710 project?

    • Hi Peggy;

      I did not see Cal Tech mentioned in your many previous comments in the past day — perhaps I overlooked it. I am unaware of Cal Tech weighing in one way or the other on the SR-710 Study tunnel alternative, although it’s still early in the process. As you likely know, there was a technical report done by Caltrans and the engineering firm CH2M Hill that was released in April 2010 which addresses geotechnical issues and a tunnel, including seismic issues. For those interesting in reading it, here’s the link: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/710study/geotech.php.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  35. Steve, you only seem to answer questions that you have a crib sheet for. Someone uses the word “tunnel,” and you go to “tunnel” on your crib sheet for an answer–all questions answered in advance for you to follow. This is why so many people, the stakeholders, aren’t going along with Metro’s answers.

    • Hi Peggy;

      I do not have a crib sheet; I try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  36. Steve,
    I’m reading the Westside Extension Tunnel Project pdf you’ve linked to in comments. Is the 710 Tunnel planned to be of a larger diameter (60ft) than the Purple Line train tunnel because of all of the active earthquake faults in the Pasadena area?

    ref. “Various special engineering techniques are employed in fault zones to reduce risk, limit any damage that may occur, and allow for a swift return to regular operations should a seismic event take place. This can include constructing larger diameter tunnels with secondary linings or the use of enhanced tunnel linings and other measures to accommodate ground movement in fault zones. No transit agency in North America has knowingly built a subway station within a known active fault zone.” http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/Westside_FAQs_2012.pdf

    • Hi Princess;

      I believe the diameter of the tunnels is mostly to due with the need to accommodate two traffic lanes (on each level) with a shoulder and emergency walkway.

      As for earthquake faults, here’s an excellent map by the California Geological Survey, a state agency, showing faults throughout the state. There is faulting in Pasadena, as there is in many other parts of the state.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  37. Tunnel diameter is related to Trucks or not – trucks require 16.5ft clearances, while passenger vehicle tunnels in Europe and for SR-110/ArroyoSecoPkwy only require 12-14ft clearance therefore by this total tunnel diameters could be reduce say by >10ft to say 48-50ft diameters.

    The map shows “active faults” and does not identify “ancient” or inactive or potentially active faults which need to be identified. Such zones may not be the source of shear movement but can be the source of fulid movements which may impact the TBM and suitability above the TBM.

    MTA/CTs & 710 Consultants actually purposefully located the north portal structure of the F-2 alternative in the Raymond Fault Zone and then discarded the alternative as being seismically inappropriate. They disregarded Scoping proposals which located the north portal of F-2 about 530ft east of the SR2Ramps/Verdugo Rd which was proposed to avoid seismic features and allow easier access to the elevated portions of SR-2 for both South/North bound lanes.

    • Hi Peggy;

      Your frequent comments are very predictable, too. I’m doing my best to answer your questions with the information that I have.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  38. Comments in reply to Steve Hymon on February 12, 2013 at 9:09 AM said: There is considerable information about earthquake safety and tunneling…BE VERY CAREFUL about seismic:structural responses…
    1. Road tunnels are very different from rail tunnels
    2. 50+ft diam tunnels react very different from 20-24ft diam.
    3. 50fters fully submerged react different from 50ft dry
    4. Seismic vs Shear Moves on a 50ft vs 22ft – very different

    Round empty spaces react very differently from larger reinforced/cross-braced, and earlier tunnel sections were not good compared to current less stiffen designs
    BUT now the tunnel design includes frequent cross-passages and some very big cross-passages really changes the seismic responses of the 710Tunnel compared to the transit tunnels. OBTW I was in the construction management of RedLine Phase 1 so I do know some things about tunnels.
    Get the Tunneling Panel specialists to reply to some questions.

  39. The April 2010 Geotechnical Report mentions the Pasadena Earthquake in 1988 along the Raymond Fault. But it is not mentioned in the Appendix T Geotechnical Study Technical Memorandum of the SR710 Alternatives Analysis Report. Why not? When a quake along that fault has occurred in the recent memory of many of the people now living in Pasadena, you do wonder why it has been left out.

  40. ONLY HIGHWAYS!…OR ELSE!!! wrote : “No one is fooled by the fact that this has, and always will be, praised and advanced as a HIGHWAY project and nothing else or less! Unfortunately, the 710 issue just gives more fuel to the anti-Metro crowd and prevents other actually beneficial Metro projects from ever coming to fruition.” I hope that the writer doesn’t think that the people who are against the 710 tunnel are all anti-Metro. I’m not. I like many of their projects and I follow the news about them. But in following that news, I think Metro is schizophrenic: On the one hand, it is trying to get us out of our cars and onto public transportation, which will relieve some of the strain on our congested freeways. But on the other hand, it is talking new highways, expanding existing highways, and building the 710 tunnel, all which will encourage more people to keep driving their cars–that is, making it easier for them to do so.

    • Hi Peggy;

      For the sake of others reading this, no decision has been made to build a 710 tunnel by Metro or the Metro Board of Directors. It is one of five alternatives under study as part of the SR-710 Study.

      The no-build option is one alternative. The other three — which have inspired zero conversation on this comment board — are bus rapid transit (East LA to Pas), light rail (East LA to Pas) and traffic signal and intersection improvements between Alhambra and Pasadena in the corridors often used by motorists traveling between the 134, 210, Pasadena and the 710 in Alhambra.

      Those are interesting alternatives in their own right and I would be interested if some of the people who do not like one alternative perhaps support another.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  41. Yes, my comments and those of many others are predictable. And guess why we keep asking them: because we keep getting incomplete or incorrect answers to our questions or no answers at all, so we ask them over and over again in the great hope of finally getting an intelligent and complete answer to them.

    • Hi Peggy;

      No, you keep asking them so that you can answer them with your own version of what you have decided is right and wrong. I’m doing my best to provide answers to the questions that I can answer.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • No, I and others do not keep asking questions so that we can answer them with our own version of what we have decided is right or wrong. We wish to know if our “versions” are correct ones or not. Metro seems to wish that we take every study, every fact, every statement, every analysis, etc., made or presented by them as the absolute truth that should not be questioned or argued with. They appear to want to be the sole arbitrators. I believe we had hoped that your would present our questions to someone who could more adequately answer them if you thought you didn’t have the knowledge to answer them yourself. There is much literature that is in conflict with some of Metro’s “assumptions.” Is Metro always correct (right) and other studies and opinions always incorrect (wrong)?

  42. For the sake of conversation: Bus rapid transit (East LA to Pas), light rail (East LA to Pas) and traffic signal and intersection improvements between Alhambra and Pasadena all sound better than a tunnel. Maybe there should be more promotion of those things? Is there an explainer page I can go to without the offensive tunnel thing on it to distract me? Or a simple disclaimer exclaimer explainer that says something like, A,B,C –Have all three of these alternatives or have this bloody stinking tunnel which was sold to certain mayors by a single-modal traveling salesman in 1972. He’s dead now. He was run over by a truck.Let’s move on.

  43. I’m a former and, I hope, a future Pasadena resident. From a few thousand miles away the tunnel option looks like the best solution to a very old problem. It’s the equivalent of the Regional Connector for highway traffic. If it’s tolled, all the better: those who want to can continue to take the long way ’round, or the slow way on surface streets, and they’ll have a bit less competition from those who use the tunnel.

  44. To Richard Schumacher: If you are thousands of miles away, then I would imagine you are kind of out of the loop at the moment. Sure, it might look good on the surface (no pun intended), but there are some pretty ugly things lurking. Since you are miles away and it appears you value your Pasadena quality of life, go visit no710.com for some eye-opening issues.

  45. The one issue with the transit alternatives is that they seem ham handed and disconnected. The train alternative, because it is all grade separated, is ridiculously gold plated, and has track connections with absolutely nothing else… although I did suggest that if this is the case, to evaluate automated rail transit technology with shorter cars which might cut back on the cost and right of way take. The BRT alternative forces existing passengers on the 762 to transfer in East LA, for marginal benefit. The bus only lanes could be implemented right now for little more than striping and concrete pads. Ultimately the BRT and LRT just seem there to check boxes and do not perceived to be developed to the same detail that the tunnel is.

  46. Wow, there are so many mis-statements on this piece that it is hard to know where to begin. I think it is interesting to note that Caltrans & Metro were willing to dump the Avenue 64 alternatives within months of creating them due to fierce public opposition but are still advocating the tunnel after 60 years of protest. Let’s be clear here; the stated Purpose and Need cites traffic congestion and everyone can agree we have that. But historical data and public statements by transportation officials, paint a much different picture. It’s all about goods movement. We know it, they know it, we have proof at no710.com. Those who oppose the tunnel are interested in ANY alternative rather that the worse most expensive one. Let’s do TSM/TDM and be done! Light rail, busways, sure! The problem with the public component part of this process is that we never got the opportunity to sit down and discuss the narrowing of options. They put the rail and bus options in the wrong place. And Steve, your comment above that you don’t have any designs yet? What? The final Alternative Analysis report has pretty specific designs on all the options. I would just say, if you are new to this project, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and learn all you can. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.