Renegotiate the proposed St. John Vehicle Capacity project for safer, climate-friendly alternatives

In November of 2018, Caltrans officially killed the disastrous 710-N extension project. However, over $1 billion in funding from Measure R that was originally set aside for the 710-N extension is now being made available to cities along the proposed corridor. ActiveSGV explained in 2017 that Metro requested two types of project ideas: “1) Projects to increase automobile traffic throughput (e.g. signal optimization, turn lanes, wider streets) and 2) Projects to reduce driving or replace car trips (e.g. increased/improved transit service, new bicycle facilities, alternative travel incentives)”

The City of Pasadena has submitted a wishlist of projects it could do with some of the Measure R funding, including a grade separation for the Gold Line at California, modification of the 710 “stub,” as well as more sustainable items such as student transit passes, electrification of transit vehicles, and more.

However, on May 27, the Pasadena Planning Commission is reviewing a project for consistency with the City’s adopted General Plan. The St. John/Pasadena Ave. Capacity Project includes adding an additional right-turn lane from California Blvd. on to Pasadena Ave. and adding a second left-turn lane from the freeway exit on to California Blvd. Not only does this project not meet the City’s purported goals, but it will have significant impacts on the safety of Sequoyah students, residents, and the environment, all for the sole intended purpose of moving cars faster (which it likely won’t even do).Intersections with dual/double lanes have more potential conflict points between people driving vehicles and walking. As a result, intersections with these capacity “improvements” have more crashes involving pedestrians. Given the frequency that the existing crosswalks are used by students and families of Sequoyah School, this is of particular concern. Numerous Sequoyah School parents and teachers have been injured in car accidents in and around the intersection, and we have witnessed countless close-calls with students, parents, and teachers crossing the street. Sequoyah School’s junior high students, for example, cross Pasadena Ave for lunch every week, and teachers have to guard them from cars turning right from California Blvd from the existing right turn lane. Adding a second right turn lane will decrease the already limited visibility of students crossing the street and put students in more danger than they are already in.

Sign our petition asking the Pasadena Planning Commission to reject the project and direct City staff to renegotiate this project with Metro as neighboring communities like San Marino, Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County have successfully done to fund safer and more sustainable alternatives.

To: Pasadena Planning Commission

Dear Members of the Pasadena Planning Commission,

As a local stakeholder concerned about the safety, health, well-being, and future of Pasadena, I am opposed to the proposed St. John Vehicle Capacity project that you will formally consider adding to the City’s Capital Improvement Project (CIP) list at an upcoming meeting.

The proposed project is not consistent with the Guiding Principles of the City’s 2014 adopted General Plan. Specifically, the project fails to meet the standards outlined in following principles (via www.ourpasadena.org):

• Pasadena Guiding Principle: Make car-free circulation possible. – Pasadena will be a city where people can circulate without cars. 

• Pasadena Guiding Principle: Balance all areas of sustainability. – Pasadena will be socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. 

• Pasadena Guiding Principle: Welcome community participation. – Community participation will be a permanent part of achieving a greater city. 

• Pasadena Guiding Principle: Be a leader in the region. – Pasadena will be a cultural, scientific, corporate, entertainment, and educational center for the region.

Pasadena needs to set a higher standard for public works and mobility projects planned for the next decade. While we face the current crisis head on, we cannot lose sight of the very real, very serious climate crisis looming in the not-so-distant future that has the potential to be deadlier and harder to contain than the current public health crisis. I urge the Planning Commission to direct City staff to renegotiate this project with Metro as neighboring communities like San Marino, Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County have successfully done. These are Measure R taxpayer dollars that are eligible for projects to “reduce automobile dependency, encourage multi-modal trips, improve traffic operations, and maximize the use of the latest available technologies to enhance performance of the existing transportation system to minimize impacts of the regional traffic on the communities along the SR-710 corridor” (2017 Metro Board of Directors Motion redirecting use of 710-N funds).