Slow down, East LA Chamber says, on light rail line to Whittier’s environmental report – Daily News

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The East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce wants more time to study the envivronmental impact report on a proposed  light rail line from East Los Angeles to Whittier, its advisor said at the first of four community meetings held on Thursday, July 21  on the 1,012 page report.

Three more meetings are planned on the report, which was released on June 30, about the  nine-mile line that will go underground from Pomona Freeway and Atlantic Boulevard station to Commerce, and then above ground on Washington Boulevard through Montebello, Pico Rivera and Santa Fe Springs, ending at PIH Health.

The deadline for comment is Aug. 29. Only about 15 people were present.

“Sixty days is too short,” said Eddie Torres, an East Los Angeles businessman, who added in an interview that he was representing the chamber.

“We have residents trying to figure this out,” Torres said, referring to the report. “Cities have city councils and city managers to do that.”

Torres criticized the report for not looking at the impact of loss of parking or businesses that will be hurt by the construction.

Dolores Roybal, deputy executive officer, said the 60-day deadline for comment actually is generous.

“Normally, we give 30 days and then in the past incrementally increased to 45 days,” Roybal said.

Roybal said Metro just decided to give the extra days up front, in part because it’s summer.

The report analyzed four alternatives:

  • Build nothing;
  • Build a route from East Los Angeles to the Citadel in Commerce;
  • Build a route from East L.A. to Greenwood Avenue in Montebello; roBuild a route from East L.A.  PIH Health and Lambert Road in Whittier.

The EIR found two significant and unavoidable impacts, Jaime Guzman, senior project manager for AECOM that with CDM Smith prepared  the report,t said at the meeting at Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices, in outlining the report.

One is a historic significant Pacific Metals Company Building in Commerce, which would have to be demolished if the maintenance building is built in Commerce.

A second could be that tunnel boring under Atlantic Boulevard  will make it difficult to discover paleontological resources, Guzman said.

The environmentally superior alternative was the line from East Los Angeles to Greenwood with a material and supply facility located in Montebello, not Commerce.

Guzman also outlined some other impacts, such as the need to reconstruct bridges over the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers that would need mitigation measures to ensure water quality.

Also, there are potential impacts on traffic on Washington Boulevard but a traffic management  plan will enure access is provided throughout construction, Guzman said.

Noise is another concern, especially for homes, hospitals and parks but again that can be minimized, he said.

Several speakers also criticized the plan for a light rail.

Denise Hagopian, a property owner at Washington Boulevard and Fourth Street, said she is concerned about the potential negative effect on business.

“Our businesses will be put out of business, property values will be degraded and pollution level will be increased,” Hagopian said.

Mike Martinez, an East Los Angeles resident, predicted that no one will use the light rail.

City council members from the cities the line will go though have predicted it will bring economic opportunities to their communities.

Three more meetings remain to be held. However, Metro added an in-person segment from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 11 in the Pico Rivera City Council chambers, 6615 Passons Blvd. to the virtual meeting already scheduled.

Meetings are planned for:

  • July 30: 10 a.m. to noon at Applied Technology Center High School, 1200 W. Mines Ave., Montebello; and
  • Aug. 17: 6 to 8 p.m. at Whittier Community Center, 7630 Washington Ave.,  Whittier.
  • And a virtual meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 11. The link is tinyurl.com/3k8pms7f, call-in number: is 213-.338.-8477 and  meeting ID: is 814 9183 9547. The Spanish language call-in number is 646-749-3122. The Spanish access code is 610 706 301.

 

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