Tunnel visions

Tunnel visions

Local congressman calls for an end of 710 tunnel proposal

By André Coleman 09/27/2012

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Less than one week after a letter by Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina expressed support for plans to connect the Foothill (210) and Long Beach (710) freeways with 4.5-mile twin tunnels as a way to decrease air pollution in communities near the 710, US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) challenged those claims in a tersely worded Sept. 20 letter to all five supervisors and members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metro, board of directors.
Using much the same argument as Molina did, Schiff called on the board — which has as members all five county supervisors and other regional elected officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — to drop pans to build tunnels to connect the two freeways, in part because such a plan would increase air pollution in communities along the route of the tunnels.

“Once the tunnel is complete, trucks and other vehicles using the tunnel will discharge harmful emissions for the 4.5-mile length of the tunnel. These emissions, such as hazardous air pollutants, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, will have to be captured and removed from the tunnel through portals and ventilation stacks at select points along the tunnel.” Schiff wrote.

“The emissions will then be pumped into surrounding neighborhoods, reducing local air quality and exposing nearby residents to pollutants that could cause a wide range of health problems,” the congressman continued.

According to Molina, residents living in the area where the 710 Freeway ends at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and communities south and southeast of Pasadena are already exposed to high levels of pollutants emitted by cars either idling in stalled traffic or driving on surface roads. It’s these pollutants that Molina said are responsible for an increase in asthma related illnesses in those communities.

Schiff’s letter came on the heels of a Sept. 18 town hall meeting hosted by Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison. During that meeting, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) also called on Metro to kill the tunnel option.

The plan under consideration involves building the tunnels from the San Bernardino (10) Freeway to Pasadena Avenue, near Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.

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