Local politicians join new Beyond the 710 coalition, except Congresswoman Judy Chu
By Andre Coleman, June 11, 2015
If you are from cities north of the Long Beach (710) Freeway, you would be hard-pressed to find a politician who supports plans to build tunnels from Alhambra to Pasadena to connect that freeway with the Foothill (210) Freeway.
In fact, many of those local leaders showed up last week to show their support for Beyond the 710, a coalition spearheaded by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff to advocate alternatives to the region’s traffic needs without construction of the tunnels.
But just as Pasadena and its neighbors South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale are against tunneling, leaders in communities south of there, which for many years have been seeking to a solution to polluted air and chronic traffic congestion caused by the 710 ending at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, say those tunnels cannot be built fast enough.
This is an issue that cuts across political lines. And in the middle stands US Rep. Judy Chu, a Democrat and former mayor of Monterey Park who gained a portion of Pasadena three years after she was first elected to Congress following reapportionment in 2012. Chu also represents South Pasadena.
Although Chu would normally stand shoulder to shoulder on most issues with Schiff, formerly of Pasadena who is now based in Burbank but retained portions of West Pasadena following reapportionment, she was nowhere to be seen when the senior legislator and a host of other dignitaries marked the formation of the Beyond the 710 group.
That’s probably because just as there is a No 710 Action Committee, there is also a 710 Coalition, which supports the tunnels and consists of the cities of San Gabriel, Rosemead, San Marino and Monterey Park, Chu’s hometown. And, through her congressional duties, Chu also represents those cities and Alhambra, which is foursquare behind the tunnel plans, led by its outspoken Vice Mayor Barbara Messina.
Chu was unavailable to speak with the Pasadena Weekly earlier this week. However, in 2014 Chu told the Alhambra Source online news site that she had not taken a position on the tunnels and had a responsibility to listen to both Alhambra and South Pasadena.
At that time, Chu said she was waiting to see the environmental impact report on the tunnels so she could take a serious look at the impacts of the project.
Instead of taking sides, Chu now says only that she supports a “solution” to the 710 freeway issue.
According to Chu spokesman Coby King, the Beyond the 710 coalition is encouraging Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority (Metro) to formally study its proposals and a number of its alternatives to the tunnels.
“The purpose is to seek an alternative to the proposed 710 tunnel that will avoid the main problems associated with the extension and effectively deal with the congestion in Alhambra and the surrounding communities that is caused by the current 710 configuration,” said King.