Molina, Venti say they want tunnels to connect 710 and 210 freeways
By André Coleman 09/20/2012
While most Pasadena-area politicians have condemned plans to build twin 4.5-mile long tunnels to finally connect the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and former Monterey Park Mayor Frank Venti apparently like the idea.
In a letter written earlier this month to a resident of Highland Park opposed to tunneling under her neighborhood just south of Pasadena, Molina — who, along with the four other supervisors serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metro, board of directors — said tunnels connecting the two freeways would benefit her constituents.
By reducing car exhaust from people idling in stalled traffic for long periods where the 710 now ends at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, the health of people, especially children, living in communities south and southeast of Pasadena would improve if an underground extension connected the two highways.
“If the 710 Freeway extension is built underground and it can be constructed safely with minor environmental impacts, I am open to it,” Molina wrote. “I will not support 710 Freeway construction if it cannot be accomplished safely, nor will I support it if it requires mass demolition of homes — as was required when freeways throughout Los Angeles County were constructed in decades past,” she wrote
“However,” Molina continued, “an incomplete 710 Freeway further pollutes the already dirty air breathed by millions of children living south of Alhambra along the highway route, and their health matters too much for us to do nothing.”
Venti, a longtime realtor who served on the Monterey Park council from 1999 to 2011, agrees. In a letter that appeared recently in the Pasadena Star-News, Venti argues that the tunnels would help reduce air pollution by 1.1 tons a day and reduce the use of fossil fuels by 35,700 gallons per day. Further, completion of the tunnel will alleviate traffic on other freeways by about 100,000 cars a day and take hundreds of thousands of cars off other freeways and surface roads streets in the region, wrote Venti, who served three terms as mayor of Monterey Park.
So far, HYPERLINK "http://www.alhambrasource.org/news/pasadena-neighborhood-enters-710-battle" Los Angeles, South Pasadena, Glendale, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge formally oppose the tunnel idea.
However, along with Molina and Venti, the connector route has other powerful supporters, including Congresswoman Judy Chu, also a former mayor of Monterey Park, and former Congresswoman Hilda Solis of El Monte, who is now US Secretary of Labor.
A community forum on the 710 will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of South Pasadena High School, 1401 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison and other officials are scheduled to speak. For more information, call (626) 403-7200 or visit ci.south-pasadena.ca.us
The tunnel plan is one of five options currently being considered by Metro and Caltrans, which originally wanted to explore the feasibility of 12 different options,
In August, angry West Pasadena residents opposed two proposed routes which would have decimated hundreds of homes in that area. One proposal called for the creation of two 4.5-mile tunnels, approximately 200 feet blow the surface of Avenue 64, a two-lane street that provides a southern route from Pasadena to Highland Park, Garvanza and other neighborhoods in northeastern Los Angeles. The other plan opposed by residents called for turning the largely residential street into a six-lane highway from the 710 terminus in Alhambra to the Ventura (134) Freeway. After public outcry, both of those plans were shelved. The remaining tunnel plan calls for boring from just north of the San Bernardino (10) Freeway to Pasadena Avenue, near Huntington Hospital — along the path of the original overland freeway connector route. After buying up hundreds of homes in that area of Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhood of El Serena beginning in the mid 1950s, Caltrans decided to put a halt to plans for above-ground route several years ago.
“During the past several weeks, one might have mistaken the noise of a vocal minority for the silent will of the majority,” Venti wrote. However, “Polls show overwhelming support for the 710’s completion.”
In her letter, Molina points out that some of her constituents living in El Sereno, Lincoln Heights and parts of unincorporated East Los Angeles are unhappy with the incomplete freeway because it turns those neighborhoods into “de facto freeway off ramps.”
“Given my experience, a 710 Freeway tunnel appears to be a reasonable compromise —one that will relieve freeway congestion and, thus, decrease air pollution while simultaneously preserving some of Los Angeles County’s prettiest residential neighborhoods,” she wrote.