We’ve Got Issues: Closing the 710 Freeway gap

What do First District City Council candidates think about extending the 710 Freeway to close a gap between El Sereno and Pasadena that has jammed traffic on  surface streets? The most recent ideas – including a tunnel and busway now under consideration would not necessarily have a direct impact on Council District 1.  But these and other alternatives being considered would certainly have an impact traffic and transportation across Northeast L.A. The topic came up at a recent Highland Park candidate forum.  Three of the four candidates voiced their opposition to any extension, but State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo said he would support a tunnel that would run beneath El Sereno and emerge in Pasadena.

Here’s how they responded:

Gill Cedillo, State Assemblyman

“I’m the only person who has authored legislation to block any surface route to the 710, and I did that by negotiating with the city of South Pasadena, the city of Alhambra, talking to the mayor of Pasadena, working with communities along the corridor …  I oppose all routes other than the direct route that goes north. It goes under, south of Valley [Boulevard], and will not emerge until it gets to into Pasadena.”

Jose Gardea, Chief of Staff to Councilman Ed Reyes

“I am against the 710. Many of us in this room have done transportation planning over the years. We have done good neighborhood planning over the years. And the 710 under any scenario is neither. So as residents and neighbors of South Pasadena and neighbors of El Sereno, we cannot support a project like that. Because as much as we can talk about the tunnel going through their neighborhood, I don’t trust Caltrans, and I don’t think many of you trust Caltrans. I don’t trust the MTA …  It’s not going to happen in my administration. I will work on your behalf. “

Jesse Rosas, business owner 

I am against any proposals for the 710 because it will destroy any community it goes through: El Sereno, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Highland Park, Mount Washington, Cypress… Absolutely not, I’m not going to support the 710 Freeway.  Not today, not tomorrow but in the long run, there will be sinking in that area [where the tunneling is proposed]…”

William Morrison, write-in candidate

“I’m against the 710 Freeway. There are many reasons why I’m against it. They’re not going to be able to build it in this area or in District 1. The only way they’re ever going to make a freeway is away from here … The 710 is a dead issue and I’m against it.”
We’ve Got Issues is a look at how City Council candidates in the March 5 election stand on specific issues. Responses are compiled from candidate forums and direct questions submitted to candidates.
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  1. Anyone who lives in Pasadena and has to regularly go to Long Beach, or want to shop in Alhambra or simply work in those cities should be incensed that this project is 50 years old. The city of South Pasadena has battled this plan for that long making it thier city’s life’s work. There is NO freeway solution that they will ever agree to. Thier feeling is the freeway will destroy thier city. (Right, like the 210 freeway destroyed La Canada) Fortunately I dont work down that way so I just avoid shopping in those cities especially if i need to travel during rush hour. It is a nightmare drive using Fremont or Atlantic blvd. from Valley blvd. up to Pasadena. the cities seem to only make it harder with thier “Traffic Calming” techniques two lanes merging into one unnecessary four way stop signs, landscaped traffic circles, and un-timed traffic signals. Quite frankly this 710 extension is a dead issue, too many shyster lawyers are much too eager to fight any proposal, and the cities seem only too happy to spend out tax dollars to pay them. The politicians only pander to the popular anti freeway pro environment minds what do they care, they sit in thier state paid for cars and let thier drivers do the work. And all you people here seem to think that mass transit and bicycle lanes will solve all our problems although i dont understand how i am suposed to shop and work 40 miles away using a bike or a bus, and expect not to make a 4 hour daily commute both ways. Got any answers?

    • The genius of Patton’s rant is that he answers his own gripes. Why would a city in its right mind want to slap a giant wall through the middle of its city to facilitate 40 mile trips to other cities to spend money elsewhere??

      Stay in Pasadena and buy local by bike.

      • Amen Bloch. I don’t think people realize what they are saying with these rants….I guess Patton thinks for some reason that the cares of the people of South Pasadena should by nature be subservient to his own? – that their homes and lives should take a back seat to the ease of his commute or his shopping trips? Not very convincing. Anyway, the region has managed all these years to survive (even Patton) without an extension so I’d say save the crazy cost of money and leave as it is…it would just immediately clog up as all freeways do so why waste the money to exchange one congestion for another? Use the money to expand light rail or give the money back to tax payers as a rebate.

  2. The 710 gap needs to be closed and the best solution is the direct route north between the two stubs.

    The NIMBY ladies from South Pasadena and their lawyer/judge husbands have made the task of finishing the LA County freeway system a neanderthal “us versus them” issue for years.

    South Pasadena does not respect the people of El Sereno, but they manipulated a few people from that area to file a frivolous discrimination lawsuit. Their multi-mode transportation report, that made stupid assumptions like the Blue Line (Gold Line) trains could completely replace the need for the freeway is laughable — they assumed that every train car would be filled to capacity with people from 5 in the morning to 1:30 am at night every day. Yeah, real credible from the South Pasadena disinformation club.

    I believe that the 710 Freeway should be built with a combination of surface route in a trench (like the existing 110 Freeway through South Pasadena that in no way “impaired” South Pasadena) and short drilled or cut/cover tunnels. In the areas where the most sensitive historic homes exist, I think tunneling under is the best option. This would include the Pasadena Ave historic district, the Crescent historic district and one other district I cannot name now. The reality is that most of homes along the El Sereno route are not historic. In fact, some have been crack and meth houses. So why would tunneling under this blight be required? It would not, but I support a cut and cover tunnel in El Sereno in order to clear the way for a recreation facility on top of the tunnel lid as part of ample community mitigation of impacts. A similar treatment should also occur at S Pasadena High School where the athletic fields could be expanded on top of another cut and cover tunnel lid.

    In sum, it makes more sense to use a portion of the surface route, tunnel lids in some places, and shorter drilled tunnels only under the most sensitive historic houses without a need to vent auto fumes. Generous mitigation with lush landscaping and sound walls in some locations would be important to mitigate community impacts. The existing long tunnel under the white people’s houses is cost prohibitive, fails to connect the transportation system at Huntington Drive and 110 freeway, and would be a serious terrorist target.

    Sweeping all the hysteria aside, the 710 is the most important unfinished project in LA County. It could be done with some common sense — something that is sucked out of the air inside the boundaries of the South Pasadena enclave by hyperventilating and overly-entitled people.

  3. The part of the 110 that goes through South Pas was completed in 1940, wasn’t it?
    The area was probably a lot less populated at the time. How do you know South Pasadena wasn’t “impaired” — have talked with people who lived there before and after it’s completion?
    The “blighted” area of El Sereno you refer to actually does have a lot of historic homes.
    Have you ever been there? It’s known as The Short Line Villa Tract (or more recently) Berkshire Craftsman and Revival Bungalow Village. It is on the National Registry of historic districts. They are currently applying for HPOZ status.
    I sympathize with wanting to create an easier commute, but when you talk about tearing people’s homes down or building a freeway through their community of course they’re going to fight it. So the 210 hasn’t hurt La Canada (if you say so), I’ve heard of freeway construction seriously impacting areas like Tujunga and Pomona in a bad way.

  4. If freeways are such a benefit to us, why was CA-2 never completed? Freeways destroy communities and we don’t need anymore in this smog-filled area.

    I live right by where the 710 ends, and I regularly drive to Pasadena. I never hit traffic – there is little to no “jamming” of traffic. There is far worse congestion in other areas of this city so this is not the real problem.

    You two sound like shills employed by the shipping companies trying to make it look like there is community support for a freeway that is needed by no-one except the freight industry.

    • You couldn’t be more wrong. During rush hour, Fair Oaks and Freemont are bumper to bumper, traffic choked nightmares. I don’t see freight trucks in this daily traffic, just commuters trying to get from the end of the 710 to Pasadena.

      For the sake of argument, though, let’s say you’re right and the 710 is only used by the freight industry. In that case, everyone would benefit, because trucks wouldn’t have to clog up the 5 and 10 freeways and drive through downtown. All of the extra truck traffic would leave those heavily crowded roads, thus making traffic way better for everyone else.

  5. Reggie hit it on the head regarding the current long tunnel option. It makes no sense as a transportation facility because it makes no connection to Huntington and at least parts of the 110 freeway. Why spend that much money to drill past key east/west routes that help spread traffic over the entire transportation network (and reducing congestion everywhere)? I grimace at Cedillo’s effort to foreclose the surface route. Some interesting ideas above about compromising by combining the best of the surface and tunneling concepts. Why isn’t this option studied by Metro and Caltrans?

  6. The proposed SR 710 is a toll tunnel. Would you pay $8-12 for a one way trip?

    Once you are in the tunnel, there are no exits. To exit you will have to go to one of the exits on the 210 North which is Mountain or 210 East which is Lake, or West on the 134 at San Rafael. Would this influence you view on the usefulness of the project estimated at over $5 dollars?

    Do you know of any freeway extension that has relieved congestion? Think of the 210 east. Has the congestion improved? Are there more or less trucks?

    We are at a crossroads. There are other solutions to building more highways.

  7. Preservation Patriot

    The tunnel is a financial boondoggle for taxpayers. Metro, will lie to your face about where the money will come from to construct this thing,(PPP’s) but ultimately, it’s you and I that will foot the bill. Just ask Boston about their tunnel. The stats are
    When every modern 21st century transit alternative has been thoroughly exhausted, then come back at me with this ludicrous proposition of the worlds largest tunnel through :
    A: Faultlines (Japan just had one of these things collapse. It was tweaked from seismic activity, it turns out. Metro will tell you that won’t happen here. Are we better builders than the Japanese? Really? What do you think?
    B: Watersheds. Digging a tunnel through aquafirs, which supply much of the San Gabriel valley, rendering them toxic, is disasterous, as well as reckless thinking, on the part of Metro.
    On a much lighter note: PAY ATTENTION SAN MARINO. Actually, the shortest, most direct route for the tunnel is right underneath YOU, and the foundations of YOUR homes. You more than likely won’t care that your home’s structural integrity will be compromised for the years of vibrations caused from the world’s largest boring machines. Why don’t you ask the folks in Inglewood what they think of fracking, and how it is affecting their homes.

  8. EagleRock Route 66

    A history lesson I think is germaine,as those who forget history are often doomed to repeat mistakes, much of the debate is based on urban legend that has grown up understandably during a fifty years war much like the Lincoln County wars villans have now become heroes and the reverse. Examine the site for a footnote of significance to the arguments which need to be sharpened or they are just shrill.

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