Cheers of "No Build! No Build!" filled the on Monday evening as more than 300 Northeast Los Angeles residents gathered to make known their opposition to the expansion of State Route 710 through their neighborhood.
The Los Angles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is mulling a dozen options to alleviate traffic along the SR-710. Among the proposed routes are the below ground freeways F2 and F5, which would run beneath Mount Washington and Garvanza, respectively. A surface route, H2, would run along Avenue 64 through the neighborhood of Garvanza.
Tina Gulotta-Miller, of the Garvanza Improvement Association, said the building of any surface route highway or below ground freeway would "decimate" her community.
Other alternatives include the no build option; which would rely on easing traffic by going through with a variety of projects programmed for completion by 2035 in the Regional Transportation Plan, and the bus and rail option. (A .pdf outlining all of the 12 options, as well as projects included in the Regional Transportation Plan, can be downloaded above).
Mary McCormick, a spokesperson for Metro, said the transportation authority would be narrowing down its list of alternatives by "early October," about a month later than community members initially expected.
Monday evening's Community Liaison Council meeting was being held as part of Metro's environmental review process. According to McCormick, the purpose of the meeting was to share feedback received during previous meetings and to outline the next steps in the environmental review process.
But meeting attendees--many of whom expressed outrage over what they perceived as a lack of transparency on Metro's part--demanded more.
Speaking during a prolonged public comment period, Highland Park residents Gretchen Knudsen and Charles Miller said they believed Metro's plans to expand the SR-710 was less an effort to ease traffic for everyday commuters than it was one to move commercial freight trucks more swiftly out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
"It's all coming from the goods movement, and that's where I would encourage us as a whole community and talk about the no-build option or the heavy rail option and that's it," Knudsen said.
Spokespersons for Councilmember José Huizar and Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) who were on hand for Monday's meeting were called upon to make their bosses' stances on the SR-710 extension known.
Nate Hayward, a field deputy for Huizar, said the Councilmember was opposed to any surface route option. However, he said Huizar was still waiting to take a public stance on the proposed tunnels.
"Public comment is the most important thing. When the Councilmember makes his decision, that's what he's looking at," Hayward said. "I don't have an answer for you in terms of what our exact strategy is going to be. However, do know that our office is pursuing things in the next week or two, in terms how to go about this."
Conrado Terraza, spokesman for Cedillo, said the Assemblyman was opposed to any route through Los Angeles, either above ground or below. However, Terraza said he did support a tunnel route beneath the City of South Pasadena.
"That's called NIMBYism," said South Pasadena resident Sam Burgess, in response.