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Freeway issue still stews

Many feel that jettisoned options were no more than window dressing.

August 25, 2012|By Adolfo Flores and Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

La Cañada Flintridge residents and leaders said that they were disappointed but not surprised by regional transportation planners' decision Thursday to keep alive the prospect of a tunnel from the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena, even as they eliminated several other alternatives.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency “knows what they want to do, they're hell-bent on doing it,” said Jan SooHoo, a La Cañada resident and member of the No 710 Action Committee.

On Thursday MTA staffers jettisoned seven of 12 alternatives for improving traffic in the so-called 710 gap.

They knocked out a long-contested surface highway connecting the 710 in Alhambra to the 210 in Pasadena, as well as other highway proposals through Pasadena and a variety of transit alternatives they said were costly and environmentally unsound.

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The five remaining alternatives include a 4.5-mile tunnel under South Pasadena and Pasadena to connect the 710 and 210, transit upgrades, improvements to local streets and the “no-build” alternative planners must consider in their environmental study.

The study is slated to wrap up in 2014. MTA officials have said repeatedly they don't favor one option over another.

But foes believe the tunnel is the likeliest plan, since it would provide a new route over which trucks from the Port of Los Angeles could move cargo inland.

La Cañada City Councilman Donald Voss, who sits on two MTA committees advising on the project, said planners should realize local cities will remain implacably opposed to MTA's plans for a 710 extension.

La Cañada, Glendale and South Pasadena oppose an extension, citing concerns about noise, pollution and truck traffic.

“No one wants the negative effect of a northern extension of the 710 as a highway or freeway or roadway in their neighborhood,” Voss said.

“At some point Metro and Caltrans have to realize that the affected communities don't want this.”

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), said he opposes an extension of the 710, above ground or below. While the surface route appears to be dead, he added, his constituents have heard that before.

“Like a bad-horror-movie vampire, these alternatives keep popping up and I think it's time for all of us who care about these neighborhoods to finally find the silver bullet and put the proposal to bed,” he said.

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