What they were hoping for was that the hardy few who actually attended this little fiesta of planning fun would read the 20 or so massive boards they had stacked up around the library where this event took place, absorb a lot of very dry information about "process" (a word that got used about 150 times, it seems to have a magical or religious power for them), "scoping" (a term I'd previously always associated with prostate exams), "multi-modal" (still mulling that one over) and, of course, "alternatives." Alternatives to what they didn't seem too willing to say, though many of the attending civilians did seem eager to inform them that it had something to do with a 4.5 mile tunnel.
And that was the problem Metrotrans (my new shorthand combined term for these two government entities) was having. Few people attending this get-together really believed that Caltro (the other shorthand term, though I prefer Metrotrans for obscure reasons) was really interested in alternatives at all. Instead they suspected the obvious, that this exhibit really was about the 710 Tunnel. And this whole event was staged as a way of creating the illusion that alternatives were being seriously considered, but in the end the conclusion would be they have to build a tunnel under South Pas and turn the 210 into a corollary of the God awful and quite toxic 710 corridor.
All in the name of getting colorful Asian made plasticware from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to Wal*Mart's inland warehouses more efficiently. Apparently complaints from the far east have been heard in Sacramento and Washington. Holding a few trillion dollars in American debt does tend to get your concerns heard.
Here is how the Pasadena Sun described the difficulties Metrotrans was having with the likes of me (click here):
Metro officials meet with skeptical South Pasadena residents over 710 study - Metro officials said they will look at all alternatives in the early stages of an environmental study
Digging a 4.5 mile-long freeway tunnel may not be easy, but convincing South Pasadena residents that all ideas for easing congestion near the Long Beach (710) Freeway are getting a fair shake might be just as difficult.
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials met with the public at the South Pasadena Library Community Room on Wednesday, part of a series of open house meetings on the ongoing 710 environmental study.
Metro officials say they are looking at 12 options - including extending the 710 to the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena and adding light rail and bus routes.
But South Pasadenans have years of battle scars from lawsuits, federal injunctions and more than 40 city council resolutions fighting a proposed freeway extension, which they say would increase congestion, traffic and health hazards.
South Pasadena City Councilman Richard Schneider said he doesn't believe Metro is looking at all 12 alternatives equally. "That's for public consumption," he said. "I'm sure they have their preferred routes."
Metro project manager Michelle Smith acknowledged she and her colleagues have faced skepticism.
I can only wonder why.
I actually got to meet Michelle at this get-together, and after some cheerful conviviality on the absurdity of the roles we play in life, and how we really are all just one people striving together in the dream of a far better world, I asked her why there was so little about the 710 Tunnel on all of those densely lettered 8 foot high boards looming about us.
That is when she started pulling my leg about multi-modals, "the process," scoping, alternatives, and all the rest of that rhythm. When she was finally done, I asked her how exactly would you get a semi-trailer filled with imported plasticware fresh out of the Port of Long Beach onto something like a bus or a light rail car. Put it on the roof, perhaps?
Other people walked up however, interrupting our conversation. I never did get an answer. Not that I really expected one. It was probably too early in the process for that.
It almost always is.