Off-Ramp

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Mt Washington 710 Tunnel For Real?

(Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp!)

Walk around bucolic Mt Washington, as we do with the dogs most evenings, and you can’t miss the tunnel petitions posted everywhere. They ask for help fighting a plan to dig a tunnel under Mount Washington to connect the north end of the 710 to the 134/210. I don’t blame citizens here and in other possibly affected areas for being worried.

If you need to get up to speed, Ari Bloomekatz’s latest longer story includes a good summary of the situation, and the Times posted a map of the five zones a tunnel might go through.

Governor Schwarzenegger just vetoed a bill that would have made a tunnel the only option left on the table for resolving the 40+ year debate over “finishing” the 710, but given the history of this project, the tunnel idea isn’t dead.

I’m not going to touch the issue of whether a tunnel should be built.

But I do have two questions about this project, which, as Ari writes, is a tunnel that would be almost 5 miles long, would cost at least $3.6 billion, and would be “the largest tunnel undertaken in the history of the California Department of Transportation.”

1. Do any seasoned politicians or political consultants or transportation officials really seriously believe a tunnel will or could ever be built?

2. How much money are consultants, government employees, and attorneys on all sides getting during this ongoing exploration of all the various scenarios involved in connecting the 710 to the 134/210?

3. Could one make it a career?

For more info, KPCC Senior News Editor Nick Roman just did an interview about the feasibility of the tunnel with USC’s Richard Little, Director of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy.

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