Highway tunnels or elevated rail lines? County Supervisor Solis weighs the 710 Freeway alternatives

Twin, double-decker tunnels would close the 710 Freeway gap | Metro

Twin, double-decker tunnels would close the 710 Freeway gap | Metro

Cross section of what an elevated rail line would like on Mednick Avenue at the 60 Freeway | Metro

One of the biggest issues facing new County Supervisor Hilda Solis, whose district includes most of the Eastside, is how to close the 710 Freeway gap between El Sereno and Pasadena.  On Wednesday, Solis, who replaced Gloria Molina as Supervisor of the First District, hinted at her preferences and concerns about the alternatives now being considered.

“I’ve requested more hearings in the unincorporated East Los Angeles,” said Solis during a Wednesday afternoon luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum. “I’m concerned that not enough people in our community really understand the totality of what’s happening.”

In addition to serving as a county supervisor, Solis also sits on the board of Metro,  the county transportation agency that is currently holding hearings on alternatives to close the gap or at least reduce traffic congestion and improve transportation in the area. The options now being reviewed  include building freeway tunnelshigh-speed bus laneslight-rail service between East L.A. and Pasadena  and  street improvements, traffic signal upgrades and enhanced connections to existing bus service.  One of the options is to leave things as they are.

The proposal to build a pair of double-decker freeway tunnels from El Sereno, where the freeway ends, to Pasadena has proven the most controversial.  While she has not rejected the tunnel option,  Solis, a former U.S. Labor Secretary and Congresswoman, noted that it would be the most expensive option.

“If you are talking about using your funds wisely for the best and most public good, I want to look at other alternatives,” she said. “I would like to see other modes of transportation. We can relieve [traffic] pressure in other ways.”

But Solis, who is regarded as a strong ally of labor, said that other large transportation projects across the county would also create jobs if the freeway tunnels were not built.

Solis called for more public hearings after many residents and business owners in East Los Angeles raised concern that an elevated light rail line  would be too disruptive in a community that has been sliced by several freeways. Many have noted that businesses along Third Street struggled and some failed when the Gold Line was constructed through the area.

“Businesses have come forward and have said they don’t want to be displaced,” Solis said. “Let’s make sure we do it right.”

Metro and Caltrans are holding public meetings and accepting public comments on a draft environmental report about the 710 Freeway alternatives being considered.


  1. The light rail alternative is a straw man. Nobody on either side of the tunnel debate supports it.

    • Yup… it seems like they purposefully didn’t study a route into Downtown Pasadena, to ensure ridership projections would be low. Metro is definitely in CalTrans pocket on this one.

      Spending $5-10 billion on a freeway tunnel to maybe shave a minute off commutes is just b*tshit crazy though. My guess is the no-build option wins out in the end… just sux we had to waste $100 million of Measure R studying a project that clearly will never pencil out.

    • Yep, the main issue is moving freight (not people) — hard to see how the light rail furthers that.

  2. After half a century of whining, it’s time for South Pasadena to take one for the team. It’s time to finish the 710 the way it was always intended to be.

    • Bill, South Pasadena took one for the team over 70 years ago with the Pasadena Freeway which goes through our small town. Additionally, we have the Gold Line that goes through town too.

      It’s time NIMBY cities like San Marino, which has neither a freeway or light rail through their town, take one for the team instead of pushing it off on their neighbors. Former Metro CEO Snoble said the tunnels can go anywhere, so reroute it slightly to go under San Marino.

      If anything needs to be “finished”, it’s the debate. The 710 is a toll tunnel project that can never be built. The cities the tunnels goes in and under (Los Angeles, South Pasadena, Pasadena) have official resolutions against it. They will never sign agreements nor will the property owners sign over their subsurface rights.

      • Yeah, It should be rerouted towards San Marino, or Alhambra specifically, because they seem like the ones thirsty for this freeway extension. Let them deal with the pollution.

        • Bye Bye San Marino

          Actually, YES indeed that could happen! The DEIR has a loophole in it stating that the tunnel could go under San Marino or ANYWHERE if they need to: “preliminary interpretations based on LIMITED geotechnical data” “the tunnel alignments ” “would be optimized as the study progresses” These alignments will be “reassessed when additional data becomes available.”

  3. Hell NO on the 710 tunnel. I don’t think people consider how much fine pollution particles will be spewing into the neighborhoods from the tunnel’s air vents. I mean, the tunnel has to have some sort of ventilation system, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be expelled into El Sereno and S Pasedena.

  4. Finish the Beverly Hills Freeway first! And don’t see how light rail is straw man option, it’s not my favorite option but you have to start a network somewhere. Let’s just drop a billion on sidewalk repairs countywide, that’s more important but not sexy enough for a ribbon-cutting.

  5. Don’t play the game under their rules…I-710 came up with their own alternative – Community Alternative…Elevated in the south half to stir up opposition and different turning and row spaces in the south vs north of I-10 – MTA’s game plan – Make you own – tell H that you want a better alternative – people in El Sereno did this four years ago and then MTA’s consultant started confusing the situation to get into ElSereno with the biggest hole in the whole project….200ft wide x 200ft deep, 400ft long -all in ElSereno and next to Grifols – one of our new job centers here….so go beyond the MTA rules and tell them we will send you our community alternative including BRT and LRT and tunnels….OBTW assume you have $4,000,000,000….equal to lowest tunnel alternative – WHAT DO WE/YOU WANT – GET A FB PAGE OR ANY GROUP SO THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER…..Elsewise we deserve what ever THEY wish to burden us with…..in ElSereno we have saved 250 homes and still fighting to save them for our residents…Caltrans Tenant – they have a change with what we did 3-4 years ago… Power to The People, yeah I wa in Berkeley…67-76….

  6. A person would have to be NUTS to use a tunnel in California. Even if you are not concerned about earthquakes and cave-ins, think about the many claustrophobic folks. But then, it’s a lesson to see public funds squandered.

  7. No 710. Ever. The 710 will never happen. Never. This is the year 2015. Time to look at alternative ways of moving cargo. No 710! Ever!

  8. look at all the money they spent “widening” the 405 fwy only to find out it is MORE congested now that it is finished than before. “If they build it they will use it”… more traffic will simply negate the money spent on the project. best bet is leave it alone.

  9. The 710 South and North need to be revised and reflect what SELA/ELA/NELA want and need – better transit from the basics – say a bus line within three block -1500ft of any residential area of 500 people or place of employment of 50+…. In El Sereno/Lincoln Height/BoyleHeight, we provide the ridership for Buses 70,71,76, 78, 79, 378 and others that serve Monterey Park-Elmonte-Alhambra-Arcadia and others – We need buses, rapid buses, trolley amd light rail and we need betters..than the S…. they present in their DEIR. SR710 tunnel stops our only real industrial employer Grifols, we tried to protect their future expansion area for the BioMedical Corridor…CSULA-USC/LACoMedCenter. Then MTA, Gloria and others allowed Caltrans to use the expansion area for their largest hole for Tunneling, 200ftEW, 800ftNS, and 200ft deep…. We have gotten Sierra Club support to reequest that the whole SR-710 be withdrawn, revised with what WE Want/Need, and then recircculated for real comments…as they had to do in I-710…

  10. Just for the record (and in spite of what Alhambra wants to believe):

    The true purpose of the 710 extension has NOTHING to do with commuter traffic. It’s ultimate goal is to connect the port of Los Angeles/San Pedro, by bypassing downtown, with the trucking hubs off of the 5 and 15.

  11. Another discussion without a price tag for that underground tunnel.

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