Zocalo Public Square to host forum pondering the 710 gap and regional mobility

Photo: Zocalo Public Square

Photo: Zocalo Public Square

Here’s something different: Zocalo Public Square is holding a forum next Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at MOCA on the 710 freeway gap and regional mobility issues.

Of course, the ongoing SR-710 project is looking at the same issue with five alternatives under consideration: a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic signal and intersection improvements and the legally-required no-build option. The project is funded with $780 million from the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 — a lot of money but not enough for some of the more expensive options.

Here is a description on the forum from the Zocalo website:

The 710 is one of the most important freeways in Southern California. It’s also shorter than originally planned: For nearly 50 years, legal and environmental challenges have stalled the freeway in Alhambra, 4.5 miles short of its intended destination, Pasadena. Over the decades, discussions about extending the freeway have cast its future as a local issue. But the 710 causes traffic, produces pollution, and affects commerce across Los Angeles and even beyond. How broad are these impacts, and what role might the stalled extension play in them? What would the five options now being debated for dealing with the Alhambra-to-Pasadena gap–implementing new surface traffic technology and strategies, new rapid bus transit, light rail transit, a freeway tunnel, or building nothing at all–mean for our region? UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies directorBrian Taylor, Clean Tech Advocates senior advisor and former California Environment Secretary Linda S. Adams, L.A. Chamber of Commerce president Gary Toebben, and Southern California Association of Governments executive director Hasan Ikhrata visit Zócalo to discuss what these proposals mean for all of us.


The forum is hosted by NBC-4 reporter Conan Nolan.

The forum is free. Click here to make a reservation. MOCA is located at 250 S. Grand Street and is a short walk (although uphill) from the Metro Red/Purple Line’s Civic Center station or via numerous Metro bus lines, including the Silver Line and Lines 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96 and 378. For those driving, there are numerous lots in the area and parking is $9 at Disney Hall.

Metro is expected to soon announce the release date of the draft environment study for the project. Click here to visit the project’s home page on the Metro website.


9 replies

  1. Bobtatfore, Zocalo is focusing on the 710 because the event is a collaboration with Metro (see Metro logo on event page) and Metro wanted a PR push to try and sway public opinion on this boondoggle. If you go to the Zocalo website, you can watch the event video. It was less than informative and only 2 of the panelists lent anything substantive to the discussion.

  2. Why is this event at the MOCA? when the 710 freeway is nowhere near this!? If they want residents to go to this, how are they supposed to go when its not in the area where the construction is supposed to be built?

  3. I would hope that at Wednesday’s forum that Zócalo would stop, take a step back, and ask itself, “Why are we focusing on the 710 Freeway?” There are several freeways that have gaps, many of a long-standing nature, so why are we focusing on the 710 Freeway? I can think of at least four examples:
    • The Glendale Freeway at its south end comes to an abrupt halt. It was once supposed to follow California Route 2 along Santa Monica Blvd. through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
    • The 91 Freeway at its western end was supposed to continue west and link up with the 405 Freeway.
    • The 105 Freeway at its eastern end stops at the 605 Freeway instead of continuing on to I-5.
    • The 90 Freeway stops just beyond the 405 Freeway; it was once proposed to continue along Slauson Ave. to at least the Harbor Freeway (110) and probably beyond.

    In addition, if you look back at early freeway map proposals there are several freeways that never even got off the ground. Again, I can think of two:
    • There was once a proposal to build a freeway along or near Pacific Coast Highway in the South Bay.
    • The San Fernando Valley had at least one other east-west freeway proposed between the Ventura Freeway (101) and the 118 Freeway.

    There are undoubtedly others. All of these gaps or non-starters remain for the same reason that the so-called “710 Gap” does: the people in the affected areas in particular came to the realization that disrupting their life quality wasn’t worth the tradeoff. I don’t hear anyone clamoring to finish the “2 Freeway Gap” although the traffic on the west side is certainly worse than exists in the Alhambra/El Sereno/Pasadena area. The bottom line is the same as with the 710. The costs — economic and human — aren’t worth the effort.

    Incidentally, one could make the same case about the way we have built mass transit:
    • The Purple Line is only now going under construction and it’s not going all the way to Santa Monica.
    • Neither the Green Line nor the Century Freeway go into LAX (actually, I could build a logical argument against this but won’t in this letter).
    • If the Green Line went a mile further east, it could connect with the Amtrak/Metrolink line to and from OC and San Diego.
    • If the Red Line went a mile further north, it could connect with the Bob Hope Airport.
    • The Regional Connector project is, in reality, just a different route for how the Blue Line was originally supposed to run into Pasadena.
    • The Crenshaw Line wasn’t designed to hook up with the Purple Line.

    And this doesn’t even consider spending money to significantly upgrade the railroad lines in the area. If Metrolink were running trains every half hour or hour and every 15-20 minutes in rush hour the way things are in Europe, the number of riders would skyrocket, which would be a significant improvement in our transportation picture.

    So, rather than focus on the 710 Freeway, how about looking at the broad picture? If you want to argue for transit improvements such as signal synchronization, one-way streets and elimination of street parking to provide for more lanes to be used with by bus rapid transit or cars, I’m with you 100%. If you’re going to lobby for a tunnel or some extension of the freeway, I believe you’re wasting everyone’s time.

  4. Since the Long Beach Freeway is heavily used by trucks originating at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach it should be completed. While the S. F. Valley seems to get every freeway they ask for plus the never ending improvements those in Metro Los Angeles are plagued by freeways that end abruptly never to be completed it seems.

    A tunnel is the best choice if it can be completed without disrupting the surface that it passes under. I’m thinking of the Red Line tunnel under Hollywood Bl. Many places on Hollywood Bl. sank after tunneling was completed. Right there are rebuilding projects underway. Plus who can forget the cave in on Hollywood and Vermont which resulted in Hollywood Bl. being closed for over a year.

  5. Anyone that wants to dump more traffic on the 210 clearly doesn’t live off of it as it is already maxed out. Put the cargo on rail like it should be and use improved surface solutions for the rest. Or better yet, commuters should move closer to where they are going rather than asking the rest of us to subsidize their McMansions. I love the reference to “legally required no build option”. Good to see that is being given real consideration.

  6. This is tough. How is surface street driving a better option for the overused and unmaintained streets of South Pasadena? Fremont is pothole city. Unfortunately we’d be looking at a 134/210/710 bottleneck in Pasadena. I say tunnel it with one off ramp-Huntington.

  7. Actually, there IS a gap of the 710 Freeway when you consider it with the 210 Freeway. The problem never really was just getting to Pasadena, but also getting around Downtown LA for points beyond, which is just not possible right now unless you’re savvy enough to go on Fremont Avenue. Currently, all north-south travel must go on either the 5 or 101 Freeways, even if you could decidedly take the 110 Freeway north to Pasadena right now. That is why I support the tunnel itself as a solution to a regional gap of travel that is simply unavailable at the moment and be

    I wish I could come to the forum, but alas I had over plans that night.

  8. There is NO GAP in the 710 Freeway, it ends at Alhambra. If Caltrans simply stated that on its freeway signs as far away as Orange County instead of “To Pasadena” thousand of clueless drivers would not be misdirected on to the streets of Alhambra.
    If you want to go to Pasadena take I-5 to I-110 North–the Pasadena Freeway–no trucks, no tolls–not yet.

  9. New surface traffic technology and strategies, new rapid bus transit, light rail transit doesn’t address the movement of commerce issue from and to the Ports of LA and LB. The only option that address the movement of commerce is the freeway tunnel.

    The tunnel needs to be built!