By Steve Scauzillo, June 18, 2015
The end of the 710 Freeway at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra on Friday,
March 6, 2015. Caltrans and Metro released an environmental study
examining a tunnel, a light-rail train, or a bus line to connect from
After nearly three hours of debate, the San Gabriel Valley Council of
Governments voted to support the 710 Freeway tunnel Thursday night.
31-member group’s governing board voted 16-7 to endorse building a
tunnel to connect the gap in the freeway, running under Alhambra, South
Pasadena and Pasadena and connecting to the 210/134 freeway interchange.
recommendation will be sent to Caltrans and the Los Angeles County
Metropolitan Transportation Agency for inclusion in their joint
environmental impact report, ahead of the July 6 cutoff date for
The SGVCOG’s governing board rejected suggestions by delegates
from Pasadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre and La Canada Flintridge to
take no position on this controversial project.
In one of his
first appearances since leaving the position of mayor, Bill Bogaard of
Pasadena suggested SGVCOG would be taking a premature action and urged
the agency to wait until the final EIR is completed.
been going on for decades. It blows my mind for you to say it is
premature,” retorted Alhambra City Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who
introduced the successful motion.
Messina said the support for a tolled tunnel is in line with the
Southern California Association of Governments, which put the tunnel
option into its Regional Transportation Plan in 2012.
the (710) tunnel in their RTP. It meets requirements of the federal
government on air quality, mobility and congestion,” Messina told the
board. Dissenters said the vote in support of a freeway tunnel would
break the SGVCOG in half. Some urged a no position to preserve a unified
voice in the region on transportation matters.
“I feel this is like the Middle East. Either we are damned if we
do or do not. We are just splitting the cities,” said Sam Pedroza,
Claremont City Councilman and SGVCOG member who did not attend
Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek lost an argument to stay neutral on the politically hot 710 Freeway tunnel.
advocacy position would have a detrimental affect on this organization.
This is a knock-down, drag-out fight. It is a project that composes an
existential threat to communities,” Tornek said.
Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation
Authority (Metro) spent four years at a cost of $40 million studying
different ways to move traffic from one freeway stub — at Valley
Boulevard in Alhambra — to the other near Del Mar Avenue in Pasadena,
where the freeway would connect to the 210/134 interchange.
resulting Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact
Statement looks at five options: a no-build option; a traffic management
system that would upgrade streets and sync traffic signals at local
intersections to move traffic more quickly; a dedicated busway with
high-frequency service and few stops; a 7.5-mile light-rail line that
would stretch from East Los Angeles to Pasadena and a 6.3-mile freeway
tunnel, of which 4.2 miles would be completely underground.
While Caltrans has proposed “closing the 710 gap” for nearly 60
years, mostly as a surface route, the tunnel route has gained momentum
since the release of the $40 million draft EIR/EIS. The 26,000-page
report concluded building a freeway tunnel would provide the greatest
amount of traffic relief and the fewest impacts of the five alternatives
After years of opposition, Caltrans and Metro abandoned
plans for a surface route and instead have proposed either a single-bore
tunnel, with two lanes of traffic in each direction, or double-bore,
twin tunnels with four lanes in each direction, as well as the other
non-freeway alternatives. Neither agency has stated a preferred option.
Alhambra is a leading force in the 710 Coalition, which calls for
“closing the gap” of the freeway that starts in Long Beach and is
considered the missing link in the 14 Southern California freeways.
Caltrans first proposed the extension in 1959. Other cities in the group
include San Marino, Monterey Park, Rosemead and San Gabriel.
include the cities of South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale,
Sierra Madre and Pasadena, members of the “5-Cities Alliance.”
month, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, for the first time came out against
the tunnel project. He joined with those from the 5-Cities Alliance and
national preservation groups to support a combination of street
widening, bike paths and bus and rail improvements worth $705 million.
These improvements can be done immediately.
Metro will wait until the comment period ends July 6, and for
Caltrans to issue a final EIR before it votes on the project. That won’t
happen until the middle of 2016, said Paul Gonzales, Metro spokesman.