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Glendale wary of 710 meetings

Officials and residents are concerned transit officials are set on tunnel idea.

February 10, 2011|By Melanie Hicken,

CITY HALL — Los Angeles County transportation officials this week announced a new round of public outreach meetings on the controversial proposal to connect the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways — inviting a fresh round of criticism from foes who say the process has become too bureaucratic and expensive.

They criticized the 18 public meetings as a waste of money and a charade, insisting that transportation officials have already decided to push for an underground tunnel, which La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Glendale and other communities have adamantly opposed.

State and county transportation officials made the rounds among affected communities last year during various stages of a $6-million tunnel technical feasibility study. Officials have earmarked $780 million from the voter-approved Measure R to the connector.


“These are the expenditures that are chewing up the millions of dollars,” said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who has been a vocal opponent of the project during his time on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.

But county transit officials said the public meetings were an essential part of the required environmental review process, and insisted that they were keeping their options open.

“It’s not just a tunnel meeting. It’s not just a tunnel project,” said Doug Failing, executive director of highway programs at Metro. “Everything’s on the table.”

The series of 18 meetings are aimed at gathering community input for a “scoping process” as part of the in-depth environmental studies approved last spring by the MTA.

The meetings will first focus on the history of the issue, then address the environmental process before soliciting the public for input.

“It’s important in the environmental document process that we formally go out and initiate contact … with the public,” Failing said.

Najarian argued that “there is a solid movement in the MTA to basically ignore any alternative and to push forward full speed with the tunnel.”

His efforts to force the MTA to do an updated cost analysis of the tunnel project, which could be used to determine its financial feasibility, have so far been put off, further frustrating opponents.

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