Getting to the core of the Eastside

Eastside transportation nerds have been fixated on this year’s opening of the Gold Line extension through Boyle Heights. But there’s also work being conducted on what may turn out to be an even more ambitious and costly transportation project: a miles long tunnel to complete the 710 Freeway.

Two large drills will start boring hundreds of feet into the ground in El Sereno and Eagle Rock this week as engineers study the feasibility of finally filling the 4.5-mile-long gap between the northern tip of the 710 Freeway in El Sereno with the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. After facing decades of opposition from South Pasadena and other freeway opponents, transportation officials decided that perhaps going underground might be the path of least resistance to complete the highway.

But the drilling near Klamath Street and Lombardy Boulevard in El Sereno and Eagle Rock Boulevard near Verdugo Road on the Eagle Rock-Glassell Park border does not necesarily mean the tunnel will pass underneath those sites, said Enrique Gasca with the 710 Tunnel Technical Study Office. The drilling, which began last week in Alhambra, is part of an effort to get a more accurate picture of the geology under a broad swath of the area, he said. In El Sereno and Eagle Rock, the drills will penetrate between 250-feet and 450-feet of earth.

“They are trying to find areas where they can’t go,” he said.

Geologic and seismic information from 33 drilling sites will help eventually determine a proposed tunnel route. When is that day coming? That’s not clear but I’m sure you won’t be hearing about a Sig-Alert underneath El Sereno for many years go come.

Photo of Alhambra core drilling from Fox 11.

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