(Mod: Several of the fine people who comment on this blog asked me to write a column for the Pasadena Star News regarding my theories about the God forsaken 710 Tunnel. So, agreeable person that I am, I did just that. The following is in today's paper edition and on their website as well. You can access this article on the PSN site by clicking here. When you are there be sure to read the Anthony Portantino interview on the 710 Tunnel. It is hard hitting and, in my opinion, he'd make one hell of a blogger.)
I want you to know just how fond I am of conspiracy theories. And not just because they are invariably more interesting than the more pedestrian forms of information available to the common man, but often they turn out to be correct as well.
I know it is the wont of local government types to proclaim that their detractors amongst the blogging and open government advocacy set are concocting conspiracy theories when they attempt to uncover what exactly is being done with such inconsequential things as the taxpayers' hard earned cash and civil rights. But isn't that just a symptom of the problem? When local government agencies are more concerned with how they are going to appear to Sacramento and L.A. County bureaucrats, along with government employee unions and large special interest lobbyists, the public that funds them becomes less the people they answer to and more a marketing problem.
A fine example of a conspiracy theory that could be far more reality-based than anything put out lately by Caltrans or Metro (or, as we have chosen to call them here, Metrotrans), is the suspected tactic being used to coerce the building of the 710 so-called connector tunnel. Something that has been about as locally popular as the various respiratory illnesses it would enable amongst those residing within the Pasadenas.
You may recall that a few months back Metrotrans began to hold various dog and pony shows throughout the area touting their openness to all sorts of possibilities for 710/210 connector routes. The happy notion they hoped to convey was that they weren't married to the 710 Tunnel, and wide open to all sorts of alternative route ideas as well. And they wanted to hear all about your thoughts on the matter.
Of course, once the alternative routes were put down on paper and circulated throughout the Pasadena Archipelago, people literally freaked out. How could anyone even dream of putting an 8 (or is that 10) lane freeway through my neighborhood? And how could you even think of bulldozing my house to build so horrible a thing? That is what people said.
And history was made. Local community organizations were formed, meetings held and, once the opportunity was presented to the people, the appropriate City Council meeting was flooded with hundreds upon hundreds of angry citizens. The result being that hero Pasadena City Councilpersons unanimously proclaimed their opposition to the 710 Extension going through whatever neighborhoods were represented at that evening's meeting.
But was this really an unintended consequence for Metrotrans? I have a few doubts. By allowing each of these neighborhoods to individually fear the 710 reaper, their original intent, putting the tunnel through South Pas and out onto the 210 Freeway, can now potentially be seen as a more acceptable possibility. To cite a quote from Anthony Portantino to the Star News, "I don't like pitting neighborhood against neighborhood." Which is exactly what was done here. And for very specific marketing purposes.
Look, I don't want the ecologically vile 710 "Cancer" Corridor connected to the 210. I don't want the air quality here in Sierra Madre reduced to that of Bell or Cudahy. And I certainly don't want this done so that cheaply made imported goods trucked out of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles can get to the shelves of big box discount retailers just a little more efficiently.
Which is actually my favorite conspiracy theory. You really have to wonder who is calling the shots here. Is it our government, or those faraway folks who are lending them all of that money?