In 2008, two -thirds of Los Angeles County voters approved the local sales tax Measure R which mandated transportation upgrades throughout the County. Measure R specifically allocated $780 million for SR 710 North traffic congestion relief efforts.
Since the inception of project, Caltrans and Metro have been working in partnership to alleviate mobility constraints and traffic congestion in this study area that encompasses western San Gabriel Valley and the east/northeast area of Los Angeles.
Caltrans, the lead agency responsible for compliance with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, released the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/EIS) on March 6, 2015 and a Focused Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement [Focused RDEIR/SDEIS] in May 2018.
Five alternatives were studied:
- No Build – includes projects/planned improvements already programmed
- Transportation Systems Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) – includes operational improvements throughout the study area
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – 12 mile corridor between East Los Angeles and Pasadena
- Light Rail Transit (LRT) – 7.5 mile corridor between East Los Angele and Pasadena
- Freeway Tunnel (with design and operational variations) – 6.3 mile route to connect existing 710 freeway stubs
More than 300 meetings and/or briefings with community groups/organizations, members of the public and elected officials were held for the project. Caltrans received more than 8,000 comments about the project, including written comments, formal letters, emails, speaker/comment cards, verbal testimonies and online submittals.
Given the funding constraints, the Metro Board of Directors introduced a motion in May 2017 to bring immediate relief to corridor cities affected by the gap in the 710 freeway by implementing mobility improvements that could be funded with existing resources. Through the motion, the Metro Board approved:
- Adopting the TSM/TDM Alternative as the Locally Preferred Alternative and deferring a decision on any other alternative for future consideration until the communities are in agreement on the alternative and funding is identified
- Reallocating the remaining Measure R funds to mobility improvement projects that will relieve congestion resulting from the SR 710 gap in the transportation system within the SR 710 North Study Area, with priority given to projects that are proximate to Interstate 10.
- Allocating other state and federal funds dedicated for the project for mobility improvement projects in the Central sub-region, including Unincorporated East Los Angeles.
- Initiating the identification of projects to be funded through the SR 710 Rehabilitation Account (derived from the sale of Caltrans-owned homes along the corridor), as prescribed in Government Code 54237.7.
Caltrans concurred with the Metro Board of Directors by selecting the TSM/TDM Alternative as the Preferred Alternative for the Project.