Regarding the I-710 gap, a few thoughts:
* I was under the impression that Caltrans had already acquired most of the houses that would need to be demolished in order to build the length of freeway required to close the gap. Thus, most of those likely to be displaced by the freeway would be renters, not homeowners. Renters do have interests that need to be considered, but in general they know up front that they have neither equity nor security of tenure in the properties they inhabit, and this is the tradeoff for not having to carry a mortgage or accept responsibility for upkeep and repairs.
* Caltrans has been criticized by the BSA on a number of occasions for failing to keep the 710 corridor properties in good repair.
* The main obstacle is that South Pasadena will not sign a freeway agreement. Caltrans has had since 1982, continuously except for a brief period in the early 1990's, the legal authority to build the freeway without a freeway agreement with South Pasadena. It is my intuition that Caltrans did not seek this authority and regards the exercise of it as a major poison pill, and that South Pasadena has been exploiting this for years (decades?) to obstruct the freeway by refusing to sign a freeway agreement.
* Since the southern stub of I-710 is a good bit east of the northern stub of I-710, the surface street routings between the two are far from obvious to stranger drivers, including so-called "local stranger" drivers who do not have commutes in the I-710 corridor.
* Personally I think the I-710 gap should be closed, but not because this would reduce congestion overall. It is my belief that the elasticity of traffic volume with respect to available roadspace is so high in the Los Angeles basin generally that the gap closure would rapidly become as congested as any other freeway in LA. Rather, it should be built to improve access to the freeway network in the areas through which it would pass, and also to supply added redundancy for I-5 and other north-south freeways. It is unrealistic to remove congestion altogether from LA freeways, but maintaining and improving journey time reliability is certainly a reasonable goal.
* I am very skeptical of the tunnel plan. Caltrans has said that sale of the properties already acquired for the surface routing would suffice to pay the state share of the tunnel's construction costs, but this claim was made before the real-estate bust, and I am not aware that it has been affirmed since. Moreover, I think Caltrans underestimates the cost of a tunnel facility having the lane count originally projected for the surface routing. On the other hand, I think the cost of the tunnel and the likely proceeds of the house sales are at least within the same order of magnitude. My suspicion is that the tunnel plan is part of a Caltrans gambit to get South Pasadena to relax its opposition to a freeway agreement, and that Caltrans envisions a series of landscaped deck lids rather than a long bored tunnel along the lines of A86 Versailles.
* Has anyone given any thought to the fact that the I-710 gap closure will cross the Arroyo Seco Parkway (SR 110) corridor and what connections, if any, should be provided to it? The Arroyo Seco these days is more a historic resource than a transportation corridor, so I think it would be perfectly acceptable for I-710 to pass under it without any connections, but I can see the roadgeeks of the future yammering about the I-710/SR 110 "missing ramps."