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Pasadena City Council opposes three new freeway proposals

Opponents of proposed freeway alternatives for the San Gabriel Valley hold up their signs as Michelle Smith, project manager of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, stands at the podium.
(Mike Mullen)

The Pasadena City Council slammed new freeway proposals for the San Gabriel Valley as a crowd of more than 550 cheered members on at a special meeting with regional transportation officials.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials are weighing 12 alternatives to ease congestion near the end of the 710 Freeway in Alhambra. The options range from transit improvements to the hotly contested 4.5-mile extension of the 710 to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

Three recently unveiled alternatives drew fire Monday night: A tunnel under Avenue 64 that would connect the 710 to the 134 Freeway, a highway replacing Avenue 64 and a highway that would start at the 710 and run through Huntington Drive and Fair Oaks Avenue to the 210 in Pasadena.

The Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to oppose the new proposals.

“If someone were trying to fail more miserably, they couldn’t have done it,” Pasadena City Councilman Victor Gordo told transportation planners.

The meeting room at the Pasadena Convention Center was overflowing, with many residents wearing shirts or waving signs opposing the 710 extension. Residents often jeered MTA planners as they made their presentation.

Councilman Steve Madison, who represents the West Pasadena area that would be most affected by the proposals, said the city should go further than opposing the new routes. He said it should overturn a voter-approved 2001 moratorium favoring a proposed 710 connector.

Madison drew a standing ovation when he said surface or tunnel routes connecting the 710 and 210 “are non-starters and they should be suspended from further study.”

Nearby cities including South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale have long made clear their opposition to a 710 extension; Alhambra and other cities favor it.

Pasadena remained on the sidelines last year as MTA launched an environmental study because Measure A, approved by city voters in 2001, stated a formal policy that favored an extension of the 710 between the 210 and 10 freeways. The resolution can be changed or repealed only by voters.

City officials suggested Monday they may try to get a repeal measure on the March 2013 ballot.

City Council members repeatedly asked if MTA could accelerate the review process and take some of the alternatives off the table before the study wraps up in 2014.

Michelle Smith, a project manager for MTA, said the alternatives would be winnowed down this fall, with a hearing scheduled before the agency’s board of directors on Oct. 25.

“We’re already on a very accelerated calendar,” Smith said. “We don’t start withdrawing proposals from the table before completing our studies.”

adolfo.flores@latimes.com


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