By Lauren Gold, July 10, 2014
"All these people are lobbyists. It's not right. It's too much money," says El Sereno resident Jesse Granados, who was part of the original lawsuit against Caltrans as Rose Agajanian, left, and Roxanne Lozano, of Alhambra, run past him during Alhambra's "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014
Kristie Sham, 16, of Alhambra, takes part in Alhambra's "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 in support of the "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena.
Ron Miller, executive secretary of local Building and Construction Trades Council, says building the 710 tunnel will bring jobs to the area during Alhambra's "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 in support of the "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena.
The City of Alhambra hosts their second annual "710 Day" celebration Thursday, July 10, 2014 to support "Close the Gap," campaign, which advocates for the completion of the long fought-over 710 freeway extension to Pasadena.
ALHAMBRA >> Advocates for the long debated 710 Freeway north extension project gathered on one of the city’s busiest streets Thursday to rally in support of building a freeway tunnel to Pasadena.
The event, dubbed “710 Day” featured food trucks, live music, kids games and information booths about the freeway tunnel proposal. Officials said the purpose of the event was to advocate for an underground tunnel to connect the two freeway stubs in Alhambra and Pasadena, as well as educate the public about the project.
“Our streets are flooded with traffic every single day. Cars cut through our communities to connect from one freeway to another, and it’s not just the streets of Alhambra, it’s the streets of all our communities,” Monterey Park Councilwoman Teresa Real Sebastian said to a crowd of sign waving supporters. “Congestion ... affects the entire L.A. region, and enough is enough.”
The street fair closed down three blocks of Fremont Avenue, which is one of the major north/south routes for commuters, from 1-9 p.m., causing traffic to back up during evening rush hour. Some residents complained on social media about the inconvenience.
The event itself lasted from 4-7 p.m.
Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who has advocated for the freeway extension for decades, said the traffic was a standard occurrence on Alhambra surface streets. She said the congestion could be reduced if the freeway tunnel is finally constructed.
“We are calling attention to a nightmare that we’ve been living,” Messina said.
Last year, Alhambra reported that it spent $16,641 on the inaugural 710 Day festivities. This year’s event included extra costs from a series of pro-tunnel banners that have been installed over Fremont Avenue and will remain until construction begins. The cost of this year’s event was not immediately available.
A group of protesters attended Thursday’s event, donning red “No 710” T-shirts and waving signs with messages against the proposed tunnel option. “They are spending our taxpayer money and they are not telling us what this will do to not only Alhambra but the San Gabriel Valley,” said protester Mike Rozsa of Highland Park. “They could do a lot of things to address the problem. This (the tunnel) would be a step backward.”
Rozsa, whose son lives in Alhambra, said he supports light rail or bus routes to ease congestion in the region.
Debate about what to do with the so-called freeway “gap” has spanned more than 50 years, since transportation officials initially proposed a surface freeway through South Pasadena. In the latest iteration, the surface route has been ruled out and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is studying five alternatives to replace it.
The options on the table this time are: “no build,” traffic management solutions, bus, light rail and the freeway tunnel. The draft environmental impact report is due to be released in February, delayed from its initially scheduled release date this past spring.
With the draft report’s release imminent, cities across the region have begun to amp up their efforts — and open up their wallets — to fight for their preferred project.
The cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Rosemead and San Marino have banded together to form the 710 Coalition in support of the tunnel. On the other side, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre have formed the “5-Cities Alliance” to fight against the tunnel and advocate for one of the other options.
For more information on Metro’s SR-710 study, visit metro.net/sr710study.