Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard on Wednesday, Sept. 26, said he opposes an extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway. Regional transportation officials are studying a 4.5-mile tunnel connecting the 710 and the 210.
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard on Wednesday, Sept. 26, said he opposes an extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway. Regional transportation officials are studying a 4.5-mile tunnel connecting the 710 and the 210. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / September 26, 2012)

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard has joined the chorus of local elected leaders calling on transportation officials to drop plans for a tunnel that would extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway through the city.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, Bogaard slams the proposed 710 tunnel as “no less detrimental to Pasadena and the entire region” than previous plans for a surface route.

“In the end, the tunnel option deserves no further consideration. It is too expensive, it is disruptive during construction and subsequent operation, it would open at an already congested traffic level, it does not solve the problem of truck traffic, and it would divert funding from many worthy transportation projects that have broad-based public support,” Bogaard wrote.

The Pasadena City Council, which recently opposed surface-route options that have since been eliminated, has not weighed in on the tunnel.

Measure A, a 2001 city ballot initiative in support of extending the freeway, may prevent the city from formally opposing a tunnel. Bogaard said the letter reflected his personal views.

In the past seven days, Rep. Adam Schiff (D- Burbank) and state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) have also issued statements calling on Metro to end consideration of a 710 tunnel extension.

Assemblyman Mike Eng (D- Monterey Park), who represents Alhambra, San Marino and other cities in support of extending the 710, issued a letter late last week urging continued study of the tunnel option.

Bogaard said he will join Schiff, Liu, state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and other local leaders opposed to the extension at a Thursday press conference at Metro headquarters.

South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti, Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Stephen Del Guercio and Glendale Councilman Ara Narajian, a member of the Metro board, are also expected to attend.

In his letter to Metro, Bogaard criticizes the tunnel’s projected $6 billion cost and its proximity to Huntington Memorial Hospital and local schools. He said current MTA plans clash with a commitment transportation officials made prior to the passage of Measure A that a 710 connector would not accommodate truck traffic.

The tunnel would “substantially increase the amount of traffic, noise and pollution and will impose on this area environmental burdens that are simply unacceptable,” Bogaard wrote. “The public opposition to the tunnel is tremendous and is growing as more persons become aware of the proposal.”--Joe Piasecki, Times Community News