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 the State Route 710 North Project, Caltrans and Metro have been working in partnership to alleviate mobility constraints and traffic congestion throughout the 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 agreed to extend the public comment period beyond the standard 45 days. The comment period (approximately 150 days) ended on August 5, 2015, allowing ample time for stakeholders to review the Draft EIR/EIS.
In addition, Caltrans agreed to conduct five public hearings to solicit input from stakeholders on the following five alternatives that were advanced to the Draft EIR/EIS for further study:
- No Build
- Transportation Systems Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) operational improvements
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
- Light Rail Transit (LRT)
- Freeway Tunnel (with design and operational variations)
Approximately, 8000 comments including written comments, formal letters, emails, speaker/comment cards, verbal testimonies, and online submittals were received on the Draft EIR/EIS by Caltrans prior to the close of the public comment period. More than 300 meetings and/or briefings with community groups/organizations, members of the public and elected officials have been held.
After comparing and weighing the benefits and impacts of the alternatives, reviewing the comments received and completing the performance evaluation for each of the five alternatives considered in the Draft EIR/EIS, the alternative that best addresses the Project’s purpose and need and delivers the best transportation performance and benefits is the multi-billion dollar Single Bore Freeway Tunnel, with tolls and truck restrictions.
Given the funding constraints, in May 2017, the Metro Board of Directors introduced a motion 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 defer making 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 .