Cities take different routes on 710 Freeway

San Marino renews support for extension while its neighbors grapple with tunnel option.

  • The 710 Freeway ends at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra.
The 710 Freeway ends at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer )
September 14, 2012|By Joe Piasecki and Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

The San Marino City Council on Wednesday reaffirmed its support for an extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway, even as its neighbors to the west grow increasingly restive about the proposal.

In recent weeks Pasadena officials have raised questions about tentative plans to build a 4.5-mile tunnel from the end of the 710 to the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering the tunnel as one of five alternatives to improve traffic in the so-called 710 gap.

The Los Angeles, South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale city councils all oppose a 710 connector.

San Marino last weighed in on the topic in July 2006 with a resolution backing freeway construction. On Wednesday the council voted 4 to 0 to reiterate its support. Councilman Richard Ward was absent.

The vote came even though 18 members of the No 710 Freeway Coalition pressed the council to reconsider.

San Marino resident Miriam Nakamura-Quan said truck emissions from tunnel vents would increase pollution in and around the city.

But Stephanie Johnson, a San Marino resident in support of the freeway, said traffic on residential streets was a bigger problem.

The proposed tunnel underneath South Pasadena and parts of Pasadena and Los Angeles would run about a mile west of San Marino, according to Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap.

While cities around it take sides, Pasadena leaders are trying to determine whether they can weigh in.

In 2001, 58% of Pasadena voters approved Measure A, declaring Pasadena to be in favor of a 710 extension that would connect the Santa Monica (10) Freeway with the 210. At the time, MTA was proposing a route that would prohibit truck traffic.

But last month Pasadena council members and residents opposed the project after MTA officials unveiled possible new routes along Avenue 64 and Fair Oaks Avenue. The MTA has since abandoned those routes.

Pasadena City Council members have said they would like to effectively erase Measure A, but they have only a few options with a voter-approved measure: take up the matter as a council and risk being sued by 710 extension proponents, ask a court for a preliminary ruling on whether the measure is binding, send the issue back to the voters, or wait until MTA completes its environmental study in 2014 to do anything.

The city discussed the 710 in closed session on Monday but did not reach a decision, said Mayor Bill Bogaard.

“My hope is, in retrospect, as impatient as many persons are for action … that the council will be viewed as having approached this in a responsible and circumspect way,” Bogaard said. “This is a complicated matter.”

Pasadena Councilman Steve Madison will host a public forum about the 710 at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the ballroom of the Pasadena Convention Center.

South Pasadena officials host a meeting at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 at South Pasadena High School.

La Cañada City Councilman Donald Voss praised Pasadena leaders for weighing in.

“I think they are evaluating or trying to evaluate a more modern position than the one in Measure A … but I don’t know if that’s going to translate into any action on the part of Pasadena.”

“There certainly is a lot of unrest in Pasadena. More than there has been in recent years,” he added.

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