Federal Panel Urges New Study of Freeway Extension

A federal advisory panel has asked President Clinton to direct the transportation secretary to conduct another environmental study of the proposed Long Beach Freeway extension before approving construction.

In a letter sent Friday, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also asked for an independent analysis of improvements to surface streets as a traffic alternative. The letter comes soon after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised similar concerns about the $1.4-billion roadway.

Council Chairman Cathryn Buford Slater wrote that the project through Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno is "one of most important historic preservation issues ever to come before the council." She said the council had "serious concerns" about the extension and it impacts.

The council, consisting of federal agency representatives and preservation officials, decided to send the letter because the roadway would destroy 6,000 trees and several hundred homes, while adversely affecting dozens of historic properties. In a companion letter to the secretary of transportation, Slater called those losses "unconscionable."

U.S. Department of Transportation officials say they do not see the need for another study. Freeway supporters said any surface street alternative would force 8,000 motorists daily into family neighborhoods.

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