Answers to Your Questions

See below for answers to questions that we have been asked, ask on our Facebook page, or contact us to ask your own question. 

Why should we extend the 710 freeway and close the gap with a tunnel?

A:

The plan to complete the 710 has been on the books since the 210 and 710 freeways were built.  Originally planned as a freeway that would have cut through the heart of South Pasadena, new technology now allows for a tunnel to be built under the City, thereby protecting residents and preserving South Pasadena neighborhoods.

Closing the 710 Gap with a tunnel will:

  • Reduce traffic and gridlock, especially cut through traffic in our cities
  • Create good quality jobs
  • Respect the decision of the community and the voters who approved the tunnel project and Measure R

What can I do to help close the 710 gap?

A:

Stay connected and let your local policy makers and the Metro Board know how you feel.  When you join, the 710 Coalition will keep you apprised of meetings, happenings and information as the process continues.

Why is this a freeway project and not a public transit project?

A:

The project was approved as a freeway tunnel by Los Angeles County voters, including San Gabriel Valley voters (64% support) as part of Measure R in 2008.

Is a tunnel the best option?

A:

Yes. It provides the greatest relief from traffic congestion, completes a missing link in our freeway system, creates good-paying jobs, and avoids negative community impacts associated with a surface freeway.

What about public transit solutions?

A:

Public transit alternatives are being studied as part of the planning and environmental process.  While public transportation is an important part of our regional transit plan, the transit-focused proposed Metro alternatives will simply not divert enough traffic, not provide access where it’s most needed, and not solve the problem.

Why don't we do nothing?

A:

Traffic will get much worse in the future if we do nothing.  We believe it is better to build new infrastructure to deal with traffic in our community.

Why aren't alternatives other than the tunnel being considered?

A:

Both past and current studies include other alternatives.  The current non-tunnel options include doing nothing (called "no build), transportation system management, bus rapid transit, and light rail.

What is the next step in moving the SR-710 Tunnel project forward?

A:

The Draft EIR will be revised, finalized and the Metro Board will vote on which option to adopt.

How will the tunnel relieve congestion?

A:

By providing a direct connection between existing freeways, drivers will not have to take longer indirect freeway routes or cut through local streets.

Who will build the project?

A:

Metro will be the lead public agency and will hire a contractor to design and build the project.

How long will construction take?

A:

A precise schedule will not be developed until a contractor (builder) is selected, but large projects like this can take five or more years.

How much will it cost to build the tunnel?

A:

The current cost estimate is $5.5 billion.

How will the project be funded?

A:

The project includes $780 million in voter-approved Measure R funds.  Metro currently is exploring a public private partnership (P3) where the remaining funding would be provided by the private sector.  This private funding would be paid back through tolls.  Metro also can seek state and federal grants.

 

What is a toll?

A:

A toll is a voluntary payment you can make to use the tunnel.

How would tolls work?

A:

The exact technology has not been determined yet, however it is likely to work like other freeways in Southern California.  Vehicles would have a small transponder that remotely detects when a vehicle is using the tunnel and automatically deducts the payment from a customer’s account.

How much will I have to pay for a toll to drive through the tunnel?

A:

This hasn't been decided yet, but it will likely work the new high occupancy toll lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways, which have variable pricing.  Tolls are lowest when traffic is light and highest when there is heavy traffic congestion.

What if I don't want to pay a toll?

A:

You can continue to take an alternative freeway or arterial route (surface streets) for free.

Doesn't a toll tunnel just benefit the rich who can afford to pay?

A:

No, the tunnel benefits everyone by giving people a choice.  For example, a parent hurrying to pick up a child from day care can choose to pay a voluntary toll to use the tunnel instead of paying a higher penalty for being late.

Is a tunnel safe? What fire-life safety components will be in place?

A:

Yes.  Modern tunnels are safe and designed and built with numerous safety features.  These include: advanced communications and surveillance systems, fire suppression systems, ventilation systems, and air scrubbers.

Will the tunnel cross any earthquake faults?

A:

A comprehensive geotechnical study, prepared by qualified experts, that a tunnel can be safely built and operated as proposed.  Construction techniques successfully used on other tunnels in Los Angeles and across the world will be incorporated into this project.

Which communities will be affected by the building of the tunnel?

A:

The entire Region of Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley will benefit.  A tunnel would have positive impacts on traffic in the region from downtown Los Angeles stretching east to the 605, as well as further south along the 710 freeway.

Is Metro conducting the EIR/EIS study?

A:

Yes.  The Draft Environmental Impact Report is available at here.

Is Metro a tunnel advocate?

A:

Currently, Metro is responding to comments received during the public comment period, and when they are finished a preferred alternative will be presented to the Metro Board for a vote.

Will the Draft Environmental Impact Report consider multiple freeway alternatives?

A:

The team looked at multiple freeway alternatives, but is now evaluating ONE freeway tunnel alternative with operational variations (all evaluated with and without trucks):

1) No tolls (dual bore tunnel)

2) Tolls (2 or 4 lanes each direction requiring single or dual bore tunnels)

3) Tolls with Express Bus service (2 or 4 lanes each direction, requiring single or dual bore tunnels)

Will the Draft Environmental Impact Report focus on the Freeway tunnel alternative?

A:

No. All alternatives are being studied with the same level of detail. They include:

1) No build

2) Transportation System Management

3) Bus Rapid Transit

4) Light Rail Transit

5) Freeway Tunnel

What will happen to the houses that were taken via eminent domain?

A:

Legislation was passed in Sacramento relative to the status of the hundreds of houses which were acquired via eminent domain by Caltrans.  The surface route is no longer an alternative and Caltrans is currently working to determine the best course of action to determine a sale process for the homes.

How does the tunnel impact those that live in the area?

How does the tunnel impact those that live in the area? What streets will be closed? How many current homes will need to be vacated?

A:

We won't know if any streets will need to be closed until a construction plan is prepared, which happens after a builder is selected.  Any potential property acquisitions will be identified in the final environmental impact report/statement (FEIR/FEIS).

Does the 710 North Study evaluate health risks?

A:

Yes, the EIR/EIS includes a full air quality / health risk assessment. Cancer risk is lower everywhere in the future because of cleaner cars and trucks. But only the Tunnel reduces current gap between higher cancer risk in areas where the I-710 ends (e.g., Alhambra and El Sereno) and lower cancer risk in areas to the north (e.g., South Pasadena through La Canada / Flintridge)

Will the 710 freeway tunnel invite more trucks to travel through the area?

A:

The vast majority of the trucks that already travel within the Study area are local trucks that are delivering merchandise to local businesses Cargo trucks traveling to and from the ports typically begin/end in the area south of State Route 60 or distribution centers in the Inland Empire. The tunnel alternative looks at the variation of allowing or prohibiting truck travel. Nothing has been decided.