Bill to Stymie 710 Tunnel Is Stymied by Asm Transportation Committee

Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) tried to bring an end to a long-stewing controversy over what to do about the 710 freeway through his district, but his efforts to have the state legislature weigh in seem to be falling short.

He introduced a bill, A.B. 287, that would have created an advisory committee to come up with solutions–and at the same time would have prohibited that committee from considering two proposals that have been the source of decades of dispute and study: a tunnel and a surface freeway through Pasadena.

A.B. 287 won a 3-1 vote in the Assembly Transportation Committee hearing on Monday, but that wasn’t enough for it to move ahead. Too many committee members, including chair Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), declined to vote on it, which prevented the bill from moving forward.

Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), told Holden why he would refrain from voting. “This is a local bill,” he said. “I would like to see locals come together on it.”

“That’s the spirit of the bill,” responded Holden. “To bring the communities together to come up with a solution.”

Both a surface freeway and a tunnel have been proposed, and both have been fought by local residents “for a very long time,” said Holden. The tunnel has been repeatedly condemned as a terrible idea. Nevertheless Caltrans is basically finished with an environmental review of its current proposals for the 710, which it will soon present to L.A. Metro for consideration. The tunnel is one of those proposals, even though heavy community opposition forced Metro to specifically exclude the North 710 tunnel project from the expenditure plan in its recent, successful, Measure M sales tax proposition.

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Currently, the 710 freeway ends before it goes through Pasadena. 

“Caltrans is not listening to the community,” said Holden. “We need something in line with future transportation needs.”

“Extending our freeways only adds cars to our roads,” he added. “And there is no justifiable source of funds for the tunnel. It’s way too expensive. A tunnel would put billions of taxpayer money on the line, with no hard evidence [that it would provide] traffic relief in the San Gabriel Valley.”

Labor unions spoke in opposition to the bill; they see the tunnel as a job creator. Also opposed were representatives from nearby cities, including Rosemead and Alhambra, who have long sought a freeway connection northward, under the misguided assumption that it will reduce congestion.

Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach), said that the original intention of building the 710 was to solve traffic problems by connecting the Long Beach Port north to the 210 freeway, “so that traffic can go around downtown.” He complained that because it was never completed, “the entire L.A. area gums up when the freeway has an accident.”

“That’s the reason we need to move in another direction,” said Holden. “Under the best of circumstances, [a tunnel] doesn’t even address that. Trucks would not be allowed into the tunnel,” he said.

A tunnel would be like squeezing a balloon on one side, and having it popping up on the other side. And who wants to be stuck in traffic in a tunnel?

We need a different approach: a holistic, realistic approach.

In addition, amidst other state efforts to fight climate change by reducing driving, he said, “It would be hypocritical of me to push a solution that is part of the problem.” Transit like light rail, he said, would be a smart use of funds.

We made a commitment to the voters of L.A. County that we would find the most cost effective way to provide transportation, and digging this tunnel is not it.

This [bill] is an effort to bring harmony in communities that have been fighting forever.

Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) represents nearby communities that would be affected by whatever choice is made along the 710.

“Let me be clear: doing nothing is absolutely not a solution,” she said. “People who live in the area at the termination of the 710 are extremely affected by that freeway. But a tunnel is a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem.”

“It could cost $5 billion at least” for the tunnel, she added. “Imagine what that would do for a rail system for L.A. County and this area.”

“If cars terminating in an area is an issue, then the last thing we should do is . . .  invite more cars into the system,” she said. “What we should be doing is investing in solutions that take cars off the road,” like mass transit and rail and alternative transportation.

Holden asked committee members to move his bill forward so he could keep the conversation going. If they passed it, legislative procedures would put it in the “suspense” file of the Appropriations Committee, where it would sit for the moment.

That would give L.A. Metro time to consider the issue at its May meeting, when the EIR on the tunnel is scheduled to be discussed.

“I’m up against a deadline,” he told committee members. “If I don’t get this bill out of this committee, the opportunity to have more conversations [about a solution] goes away. It could be a very successful tool in moving to consensus,” he added.

But committee members were not swayed. They backed away, and the bill, for now, is stalled. Read original article here.

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Labor Organizations Oppose Stifling Progress Toward Completion of the 710 Freeway

Labor Organizations Oppose Stifling Progress Toward Completion of the 710 Freeway


March 14, 2017 
– In a strong showing of solidarity, sixteen labor organizations joined forces to express their deep opposition to Assemblymember Chris Holden’s legislation aimed at stifling progress toward closing the 6.2-mile gap between Interstate 10 and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena and completing the 710 freeway.

“This issue has been debated since 1959,” said Ron Miller, Executive Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. “Countless agencies have spent more than 50 years studying and restudying completion of this last critical link of the Los Angeles County freeway system. Metro and Caltrans have made significant strides toward completion of the 710 freeway.  This project is critical to the health, safety and livelihood of many in this region, including our members.”

Miller further added, “The opposition is disregarding years of public input.  Hundreds of project related meetings and hearings were held over the last five years and our members were active participants.  We will not stand for unnecessary attempts to disrupt the process.” Click here to read the letter.  

Background:

In 2012, LA Metro released a list of five alternatives to be studied as part of the SR-710 North Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR.)  A freeway tunnel was among the proposals.    

 The 710 Coalition continues to support the tunnel as the best alternative for completing the freeway.  A freeway tunnel will reduce congestion and air pollution in local neighborhoods, provide a missing link to the gap in a regional freeway system, reduce emissions and decrease cut-through traffic in surrounding communities.  The tunnel reduces emissions and local street vehicle miles traveled: by 9% in Pasadena, by 12% in South Pasadena, by 7% in San Gabriel and by 14% in Alhambra.

 The Coalition was formed in 1982 and represents communities united to see the 710 freeway completed. It is made up of businesses, school districts, cities, and individuals united under a common umbrella of action and information.  Labor organizations have played a significant role in supporting the project.  The 710 Coalition's member organizations represent millions of people in Southern California.  The member cities are: Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, and San Marino.  For a complete list of supporters and more information about the 710 Coalition please visit us at our website: http://www.710coalition.com/.

Contacts: 

Celine Cordero (562) 673-7979 celine@ekapr.com

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710 Coalition Reacts to Proposed Legislation to Stifle Progress of 710 Freeway Tunnel

Earlier this month, the 710 Coalition reacted to proposed legislation aimed at stalling the ongoing process to complete the 710 freeway.  “This legislation is an audacious maneuver by 710 tunnel opponents to thwart years of progress toward completion of the freeway,” said the 710 Coalition in response to Assemblymember Chris Holden’s proposed legislation that would stifle progress toward completion of the 710 freeway. 

The Coalition which is made up of San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County cities, residents, organizations, school districts, and businesses determined to see the 710 Freeway completed and a tunnel built as soon as possible added, “The opposition is disregarding years of public input.  Hundreds of project related meetings and hearings have occurred over the last five years.  To disrupt the process is unconscionable and disrespectful to all involved.   The tunnel is the best way to close the gap – it provides reductions in traffic and the biggest job boost to the local and regional economy.”  Coalition cities were quick to confirm their opposition of the bill.  See cities' letters of opposition below:

 

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Elon Musk dishes more dirt on his tunneling plans

Elon Musk dishes more dirt on his tunneling plans

Have boring machine, will tunnel

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Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena introduces bill to kill 710 Freeway tunnel project

Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena introduces bill to kill 710 Freeway tunnel project

 

POSTED: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 - 4:10 p.m. 
UPDATED: A DAY AGO 

 

Assemblyman Chris Holden answers questions from the media at a press conference at the South Pasadena Metro Gold Line Station on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. (Photo by Walt Mancini, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

SOUTH PASADENA >> Assemblyman Chris Holden introduced legislation that would prohibit building a tunnel to close the 6.2-mile gap of the 710 Freeway between the 10 and 210 freeways, the assemblyman announced Thursday.

This is the first time a piece of legislation would aim to kill the controversial project proposed by Caltrans. The freeway tunnel project would run through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena and has divided communities in the San Gabriel Valley.

"It is clear the 710 tunnel project is a misguided and obsolete solution," Holden said. The Democratic lawmaker from Pasadena, who represents the 41st District, had been a supporter of allowing the freeway tunnel project to play out at Caltrans. This marks the first time Holden has come out against building the freeway tunnel in his career, which started on the Pasadena City Council when he supported Measure A in 2001, a local ballot measure approved by Pasadena voters to support a surface route.

In an oblique reference to cities in support, such as Monterey Park, Alhambra, Rosemead and San Marino, Holden intimated on Thursday during remarks made at a park in South Pasadena that his new stance doesn't just favor those cities opposed, including Pasadena, South Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge.

"Moving in a different direction is not only good for this community, it is an important step for the entire region," he said. "The tunnel option puts billions of taxpayer dollars on the line with no hard evidence pointing to traffic relief for the San Gabriel Valley."

Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who leads the 710 Coalition of cities and labor unions in support of constructing the gap-tunnel, took Holden's announcement personally. She said she and Holden were in lock-step on the freeway completion for decades and had been friends since the early 1980s. 

"This really upsets me. I feel betrayed by him," Messina said. She predicted the bill would fail to get enough votes for passage.

Assembly Bill 287 would put the 710 Freeway project in the hands of an advisory committee that would recommend an alternative, such as light-rail routes, dedicated busways, roadways and bike lanes. The committee would be made up of three people from Caltrans, two from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), two representatives each from Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena appointed by those cities; two members of the Assembly as appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly and two members of the Senate as appointed by the Senate Rules Committee.

Holden said the committee should consider alternatives to the tunnel included in an EIR released by Caltrans and Metro, as well as new ideas. A group called Beyond the 710 proposed $705 million in immediate traffic fixes as opposed to a $5.6-billion Alhambra-to-Pasadena freeway tunnel. The plan would include building a two-lane "Golden Eagle Boulevard" from the south stub at Valley Boulevard just north of the 10 Freeway to Mission Road that would serve Cal State Los Angeles.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said Holden switching to the anti-freeway tunnel side may be the death knell for the project. He advocated that about $700 million set aside for the tunnel in Measure R, a county transit tax, be released for immediate roadway and possibly bus and rail projects, instead of the tunnel "to create real jobs that can happen before (union members) retire."

Holden wanted to see a light-rail system that would connect East Los Angeles, where the Gold Line eastside ends, with cities beyond the San Gabriel Valley, such as Downey and Whittier. He said the committee would prepare a report by January 2019 for Caltrans and Metro. The report would be an advisory document, one that Caltrans and Metro could ignore, but Holden said that would be unlikely.

"They cannot overlook what could be constructive options," Holden said.

Messina argues the tunnel is the best regional option connecting Long Beach with Pasadena. The tunnel would not allow trucks as currently proposed and would be a toll road. 

"Caltrans and LAMetro are the deciding factor. Their job is to do regional projects and this is a top priority regional project. I don't see them caving in to Chris Holden," Messina said.

However, others see the tunnel project as losing favor. Funding for the project was taken out of the recent L.A. Metro transit tax, Measure M. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ensured the measure would be neutral on the sticky political topic.

Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison said Holden's bill is another brick in the wall of opposition that could pay political dividends even if it is not approved.

"Look at our major leaders: Gov. Brown, Brian Kelly, his transportation secretary and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. My take is all of them are looking for that one final nudge to kill this thing," Madison said.

 

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It's Official: Elon Musk Will Start Digging a Tunnel Under Los Angeles

It's Official: Elon Musk Will Start Digging a Tunnel Under Los Angeles

Written by Ben Sullivan, Motherboard Staff Writer, UK

January 25, 2017 // 07:45 AM EST

More boring news from Elon Musk today. The SpaceX CEO’s recently-revealed plan to dig a tunnel under Los Angeles to ease traffic congestion has apparently been given the go ahead, according to Musk himself, who tweeted this morning, “Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.”

Not one to hang around, it seems. We only learned of Musk’s tunnelling ambitions last December when the mogul mused about LA’s traffic problems on Twitter.

“It shall be called 'The Boring Company',” he wrote. “Borings, it’s what we do.”

But just over a month later, following a high profile meeting with Trump, Musk has confirmed work on a tunnel, which will be carved out by Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), presumably beginning next month across the road from SpaceX’s LA office in Crenshaw, near the 105 Freeway, “5 mins from LAX”.

Musk has had a vocal interest in tunnels for some time now, stating in a March 2015 interview with scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson that more car tunnels would "alleviate congestion completely" and negate the need for flying cars.

Motherboard has contacted SpaceX and Tesla by email to get more information about the project, but has yet to receive a response.

The announcement comes two days after Musk, along with several other business leaders including Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, met with President Trump at the White House to discuss manufacturing issues.

Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken about infrastructure, and even specifically mentioned tunnels in his inauguration speech. "We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation,” he declared last Friday.

It's unclear if Musk and Trump have spoken about The Boring Company in any seriousness. But with Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan appearing to rely heavily on private investment, it would seem Musk is the perfect guy for the job to shake up America’s roads with tunnels.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/its-official-elon-musk-will-start-digging-a-tunnel-under-los-angeles

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Elon Musk may actually be serious about tunneling under L.A.

, USA TODAY Published 8:08 a.m. ET Jan. 25, 2017 | Updated 9:16 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2017

Billionaire Elon Musk announced on twitter his latest project to dig holes through the ground in order to avoid traffic. USA TODAY

One of the few people who is just rich, powerful and inventive enough to actually do something about the legendary traffic congestion in Los Angeles is finally fed up. And he has a plan.

Billionaire innovator Elon Musk declared early Wednesday that he's ready to move ahead with his recently formulated ambitions to bore holes, possibly under the city.

"Exciting progress on the tunnel front," Musk tweeted. "Plan to start digging in a month or so."

Digging just where and how, no one knows. Coming from anyone else, such a declaration might brushed off as a joke.

But given that Musk is the entrepreneur who, with a team, reshaped mobile payments (PayPal), sent rockets into space (Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX) and launched an electric-car company (Tesla Motors), the tweets are unlikely to be dismissed. He is, after all, being taken seriously about a possible Mars mission.

And the tunneling industry is shoveling up a lot of work these days with expectations of growing revenue at an annualized rate of 7.3% from 2016 through 2021, rising to $5.6 billion, according to research firm IBISWorld.

Government investments are key drivers of the growth, representing about 69.5% of industry revenue. In Los Angeles, for instance, there are plenty of tunneling projects are part of an expansion of subway and light rail lines. Major companies in the tunneling business include San Francisco-based Bechtel Group and Omaha, Neb.-based Kiewit Corp., with market share of 4.1% and 2.4%, respectively, according to IBISWorld.

Musk first mentioned his boring plans in December. "Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging," he tweeted at the time, adding, "it shall be called 'The Boring Company.'"

"Boring," he said, apparently coining a catchphrase, "it's what we do."

To remove all doubt — OK, to remove some doubt — he added, "I am actually going to do this."

In classic Musk fashion, on Wednesday he teased the forthcoming announcement with just enough detail to make you ponder the possibilities.

"Where will your tunnel be?" a Twitter user asked.

"Starting across from my desk at SpaceX," he responded. "Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway, which is 5 mins from LAX." Crenshaw Boulevard is a major north-south street in greater Los Angeles, not far from SpaceX's headquarters in the suburb of Hawthorne.

Musk's tunnel plans face a few, shall we say, bureaucratic hurdles, however.

For starters, the permitting process alone can be nightmare. A spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works did not respond to requests seeking comment. A spokesman for the nearby Los Angeles International Airport declined to comment.

The consumer watchdog organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group last year dubbed the longstanding attempt at an underground extension of the Long Beach Freeway through San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County one of the biggest transportation "boondoggles" in the country. The $3.2 billion to $5.6 billion project is the "most expensive, most polluting and least effective option for addressing the area’s transportation problems," the group said.

Make no mistake, though: Musk has good timing. After meeting with President Trump on Monday to promote American manufacturing and praising Trump's secretary of State nominee Tuesday, he renewed speculation about his tunnel ambitions just in time for the president's infrastructure spending push.

A "large investment tunneling project" like Musk's or the Hudson River rail tunnel project connecting New Jersey to New York "could be considered" as part of the Trump administration's infrastructure spending, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association communications director Bill Cramer said in an email.

"In general, the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling," Cramer said. "There simply is not enough federal, state and local government funding to address all of the nation’s infrastructure needs. Private investors, working with state and local government and policymakers can be effective and efficient."

 

Read the full story here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/01/25/elon-musk-the-boring-company-tunnels/97030778/

 

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How to beat gridlock? Dig, says SpaceX CEO Musk

How to beat gridlock? Dig, says SpaceX CEO Musk

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has championed self-driving cars, solar- and battery-powered homes and businesses, humans colonizing Mars, and long-distance trains zooming through vacuum tubes at 600 MPH.

But one problem isn’t being solved swiftly enough for Musk, CEO of Hawthorne-based SpaceX and electric car-maker Tesla, which has a design center in the city. 

“Traffic is driving me nuts,” Musk tweeted early Saturday morning. “Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging. ... It shall be called ‘The Boring Company.’” 

And it turns out the idea of boring tunnels for new highways in traffic-prone areas isn’t all that far-fetched. 

“The tunnel business worldwide is booming now,” said Thom Neff, president of OckhamKonsult, an infrastructure management consulting firm based in Boston. Neff performed a risk assessment for the Highway 99 Deep Tunnel Project in Seattle.

Big Bertha, a giant tunnel-boring machine is now powering through 2 miles of underground Seattle, building a roadway tunnel that will replace the structurally challenged Alaskan Way Viaduct.

 As populations move toward such densely populated cities as Seattle, traffic worsens. With little surface space, city planners look underground for ways to move traffic, said Neff, who is a fan of Musk’s but wary of the high costs of extensive tunnel-boring projects.

“The problem is tunneling is very expensive,” Neff said. “To build (roadway) tunnels in an urban area is not cheap.”

With vehicle-trafficked tunnels, size matters, he said. Musk would have to buy massive, expensive tunnel-boring machines to bring his latest dream to life. 

Big Bertha stalled and caught fire two years ago, only resuming work in March. The performance interruption wasn’t cheap. Cost overruns are in the millions of dollars, and are largely a result of Bertha’s record massive 57-foot, 4-inch diameter, Neff said.

Also, a tunnel for cars must be ventilated for fumes and fire protection must be added, both of which add to the cost.

But Musk is never one to be swayed by price tags or the thinking of others. As he explained in a TED talk interview last year:

“A good framework for thinking is physics. Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there,” Musk said. 

Ater his initial tunnel-embracing tweets, Musk followed up with a tongue-in-cheek mission statement for his proposed new company: “Boring, it’s what we do.”

After another 2 hours: “I am actually going to do this.” Then, as if to seal the deal, he changed his Twitter biography to: “Tesla, SpaceX, Tunnels (yes, tunnels) & OpenAI.”

A SpaceX representative declined to be interviewed about this new venture, calling the tweets self-explanatory.

Southern California’s earthquake-prone topography wouldn’t preclude a network of traveled tunnels, said seismologist Lucy Jones.

“Tunnels are some of the safest structures,” Jones said. “We don’t see collapse of tunnels as a result of earthquakes. The shaking underground is less than above ground. At the surface, you get twice as much shaking as you get below the surface.”

President-Elect Donald Trump, who has promised to double the county’s spending on infrastructure improvements, snagged Musk to be on his economic advisory team last week. It’s unclear if Musk and Trump have discussed tunnels, but they met together last week with other high-profile tech-industry leaders. 

This isn’t the first time Musk has advocated for tunnels. During a January design competition for the Hyperloop, a passenger train he envisions will speed through a vacuum tube at hundreds of miles per hour, Musk said:

“It’s a really simple and obvious idea and I wish more people would do it: build more tunnels. Tunnels are great. It’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not that hard. But if you have tunnels in cities you would massively alleviate congestion and you could have tunnels at all different levels; you could probably have 30 layers of tunnels and completely fix the congestion problem in high-density cities.” 

In Los Angeles County, three tunneling projects are in the works. A tunnel-boring machine has been carving out the underground Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project light-rail system since February and should finish in the spring. 

Tunneling in downtown Los Angeles to complete the Regional Connector rail line will begin early next year. And tunneling for the heavy rail Purple Line extension in at Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue will commence by the end of 2017, said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.

However, train-tunnel boring machines are smaller than roadway tunnel machines, Sotero said. The train tunnel machines used in the Metro rail projects measure 22 feet in diameter.

A possible, 6.3-mile tunnel to close the gap of the 710 Freeway from Valley Boulevard through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena connecting cars from where the freeway ends at the 10 to the 210/134 freeway junction would require a 58.5-feet diameter machine, according to the Environmental Impact Report.

The EIR puts the price at between $3 billion and $5 billion, and opponents say the price will be much higher. The project was not on the list of projects in the voter-approved Measure M in November.

 

Read story here: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20161219/how-to-beat-gridlock-dig-says-spacex-ceo-musk

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Mayor Barbara Messina Says YES to Measure M

On October 13th, City of Alhambra Mayor, Barbara Messina, declared her official support of The Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan also known as Measure M. In her support letter addressed to Director Fasana, Mayor Garcetti and CEO Washington, Mayor Messina states, " as a member of the 710 Coalition, I understand the importance of supporting projects to improve traffic flow, and create safe, drivable streets for our communities and commuters." Read more of her letter here:

 

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 To learn more about Measure M click here.  Join us and support the completion of the missing link in our Freeway system by signing up for updates here. Together we can stop gridlock, create jobs, and improve the quality of life in our communities. 

 

 

 

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Cali Teamsters of Public Affairs Council says YES to the 710 Tunnel

Earlier this week, the California Teamsters of Public Affairs Council declared their official support to the 710 tunnel. Please see their letter here: 

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