Over the past half century, people have proposed a central route, a westerly route, a park route … for one brief unsteady moment, people actually thought they could build through San Marino. Every route was blocked by the tough pioneers of South Pasadena, who managed to battle the state and the contractors to a standstill.
Then, somebody came up with a new idea, possibly after too many rounds of drinks at a Sacramento watering hole. "Let's dig a hole and build it under South Pasadena." Unfortunately, no one sobered up and the idea is still being pursued.
Tunnels are very popular these days, possibly because they cost a lot and take forever.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a big fan of Frankie and Annette, wants to dig a subway from the Valley to the beach; and the good folks of Palmdale want to tunnel under the Angeles Forest to connect up with the 210 Freeway.
But the proposed 710 tunnel is a bit different. We're talking about a distance of about four miles, or slightly more than two freeway stops.
The latest cost figure is $3 billion. Since preliminary cost figures are always wrong, the tunnel will cost about a billion dollars a mile.
There is a coalition of people who want to build the freeway link.
The coalition consists mainly of labor unions and contractors, and has as its public face a Pasadena PR man named Nat Read. Nat is a friend of mine (or was until he reads this) and can come up with no limit on reasons to build it.
One of the rationales is to take traffic off the streets of South Pasadena and Alhambra, where the freeway currently dumps its loads. I drive a lot in both cities; traffic isn't all that bad.