The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, decided Friday to send a letter to President Clinton questioning federal transportation officials' plans to approve construction of the Long Beach Freeway extension, officials said.
Opponents of the Interstate 710 extension through Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno praised the decision, which was made by the agency's board. They noted that the letter would ask for further environmental review of the project and examination of an alternative route using surface streets, proposed by South Pasadena.
"This is an unprecedented move by the council," said Elizabeth Merritt, legal counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The U.S. Transportation Department has given preliminary approval to the project but cannot formally sign off on it until the advisory council has commented.
A department spokesman said considerable effort had been made to address the environmental concerns, including new mitigation measures that have sharply reduced the freeway's impact. "We are pleased the process continues to move forward. . . . We view this project as a benefit to the region."