Amid intense public opposition, transportation planners with Metro have recommended against digging a tunnel under Mt. Washington and building highway lanes up Avenue 64 through Garvanza as alternatives to extend the 710 Freeway to Pasadena. However, the transportation agency said that five other proposed alternatives–including a freeway tunnel under South Pasadena and increasing bus and rail service–will remain under study during the environmental review process.
“Among alternatives that would not continue are surface route options for Avenue 64 and San Rafael, or underground in the Mount Washington area or any surface highway options in those corridors,” Metro said in a press release.
The county transportation agency and Caltrans have faced a large amount of public criticism about a dozen potential alternatives and routes to extend the northern terminus of the 710 Freeway, which currently stops on the border of El Sereno and Alhambra, are studied. One of those alternatives is not to build anything. Efforts to close the gap, which is blamed for clogging streets in Alhambra and other communities, have been successfully opposed for decades by South Pasadena and other community groups. Last week, Councilman Jose Huizar introduced a motion asking the Los Angeles City Council to oppose most of the above and underground routes being studied.
Metro staff decided to drop the Mt. Washington tunnel and Avenue 64 surface routes because they were among “the low performing and/or most environmentally damaging alternatives,” according to an agency report. Among the options still to be reviewed is a freeway tunnel that would start near the tip of the 710 Freeway and run north along the border of Alhambra and El Sereno and under South Pasadena and Pasadena before connecting with the 210 Freeway.
As the environmental study goes forward, staff would consider only five alternatives to close the gap instead of the dozen now on the table, according to Metro staff recommendations. That recommendation will be reviewed at a committee meeting on Aug 29.
“At the meeting the performance criteria for culling the list of alternatives for further environmental study will be reviewed,” said Metro. “The four alternatives plus the no build option will be further refined through the environmental phase, which should be completed by winter 2014.”