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L.A. joins list of cities opposing 710 Freeway extension

Activist says city should have waited for environmental impact report.

August 28, 2012|By Adolfo Flores and Mark Kellam, Times Community News
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday joined several othercities in voting unanimously to oppose a tunnel extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway through Pasadena.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials last week narrowed the scope of possible routes for closing the so-called 710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena from 12 to just five — one of them an extension of the 710 Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway.

MTA officials have maintained that they have not settled on any one option, but critics say the agency favors the tunnel because it could better accommodate truck traffic carrying cargo up from local Southland ports.

Unlike the MTA and California Department of Transportation, “we as a city and any other public agency should not take for granted the communities that would be impacted the most,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Highland Park and other Los Angeles areas that the project would affect.

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South Pasadena, Glendale, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge have also opposed some of the alternative routes on the grounds that they would add to air pollution and traffic. Alhambra and San Marino have come out in favor of extending the freeway as a way to ease spillover traffic from the 710 Freeway terminus.

The 4.5-mile tunnel is one of five alternatives environmental surveyors are looking at. An environmental impact report is expected to be released in the winter of 2014.

In addition to the tunnel transportation, officials will continue to study a light-rail line from the East Los Angeles Civic Center to the Gold Line's Fillmore Station; a rapid bus route from Alhambra to Pasadena; improvements such as ride-sharing, traffic signal coordination and increasing transit services; and a “no-build” alternative.

Moments after the vote, residents clad in red shirts who opposed the tunnel shouted “hip hip hooray” as they clamored out of City Council Chambers.

One of them, Marie Salas, of El Sereno, said she lives in one of the homes purchased by the state and owned by Caltrans in anticipation of the freeway's extension. In the past she has been outspoken about the state's management of the rental properties.

A recent state audit revealed Caltrans failed to collect $22 million in potential rental income in the last 4 1/2years, overspent millions in repairs, and improperly allowed state workers to live in 15 homes at reduced rental rates.

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