A proposed 6.3-mile tunnel that would connect the Long Beach (710) Freeway with the Foothill (210) Freeway was rejected Thursday with a unanimous vote by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.
“I welcome today’s vote as it moves us closer to implementing 21st century transportation solutions to relieve traffic congestion, connect communities, and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena).
Caltrans, on the other hand, still believes the tunnel option is the best way to improve traffic in the region, but acknowledges the project is not financially feasible. According to current estimates, the tunnel would have cost $5 billion. Critics of the project placed the price tag closer to $12 billion. Caltrans will wait for completion of a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) next year before deciding on the state transit agency’s position.
More than 50 years ago, Caltrans seized more than 500 homes in Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno through eminent domain to build a surface extension of the 710 Freeway. Residents living in those communities, most notably South Pasadena, fiercely opposed that idea throughout the decades.
Two years ago, Caltrans announced intentions to build a four-lane highway along Avenue 64 which would have led to the destruction of dozens of homes in West Pasadena.
After that idea was dropped, Caltrans began pushing the tunnel. But not only was funding for the tunnel unavailable for the foreseeable future, the project never gained public acceptance.
“The Metro board made the right decision to drop the 710 tunnel option and instead focus on funding alternative transportation options that can bring traffic relief now,” said Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank).
Instead of a tunnel, the Metro board has proposed that $730 million be spent on street improvements in Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, La Cañada Flintridge, El Sereno and East Los Angeles.
Officials in the eastern San Gabriel Valley favor the tunnel, saying it would alleviate noise and air pollution in their communities.
Holden called for officials across the valley to come together.
“The 710 North corridor cities will have the opportunity to implement solutions that work for their respective communities, but it is vital now more than ever to come together and implement a regional solution that benefits everyone,” Holden said.