Pasadena threatens to oppose 710 Freeway tunnel, cites concerns


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Pasadena City Council members say they will go on record with a host of questions and concerns about drilling a 4.5-mile tunnel that would connect the 710 and 210 freeways.

But city leaders stopped short of formally opposing the plan.


After a resolution against the 710 Freeway tunnel failed to garner five votes required for passage Monday, the council voted 7-0 to threaten regional transportation planners with future opposition if the tunnel would be open to truck traffic, increase air pollution or push some drivers to detour into neighborhoods to avoid tolls, the Pasadena Sun reported.

The statement by Mayor Bill Bogaard to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will also raise questions about the estimated $5.5 billion cost of the project, seismic and other safety concerns, impacts of tunnel construction and the future of Caltrans-owned homes in the freeway extension corridor.

Officials also called for a city-funded study, separate from the environmental review being conducted by the MTA, about the tunnel’s potentially harmful effects on the city.

MTA is expected to release a draft of its review in February 2014 and make a decision on the project no earlier than 2015. Other options under consideration include expanding bus and light rail service, local street improvements or doing nothing.

Some 150 people gathered for Monday’s meeting at the Pasadena Convention Center. More than 30 spoke, all but three asking city leaders to oppose the plan. Councilmen Steve Madison, Gene Masuda and Victor Gordo and Mayor Bill Bogaard voted to oppose the tunnel outright.

Councilmembers Terry Tornek, Jacque Robinson and Margaret McAustin said they did not support the tunnel but felt ruling on a project prior to completion of environmental review would set dangerous legal precedent.

McAustin also said she hesitated to contradict a 2001 citywide vote in favor of a ballot measure stating the city’s policy would be to support completion of the 710 Freeway.

Council members and others complained that Metro has not been clear about whether the tunnel would accommodate truck traffic or operate as a toll road.


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-- Joe Piasecki, TImes Community News