Council to debate 710 Tunnel

Councilman John Drayman joined colleague Ara Najarian Tuesday night in asking for council deliberation on the proposal to build a tunnel to connect the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways.

The council heard a report from state and county planners with technical details on how such a tunnel would be built, but with limited information on the local impact of such as project.

Chief planner Abil Seghafi said such information would come during environmental impact proceedings; but Najarian said that would be too late. “We can’t wait for two years,” he said. “We need to talk about it now.”

A public meeting on the study will take place next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Glendale main library; but Najarian said residents will still be limited to hearing technical data. Najarian’s position on the project is especially critical because of his leadership position on the MTA board.

La Crescenta resident David Meyers spoke Tuesday in opposition to the project, calling it an effort to provide a truck route to the north for traffic from L.A. Harbor. He estimated the cost of the project at $6 billion to $9 billion, most of it not yet committed.

Pasadena public relations man Nat Read, chief public spokesman for a coalition of construction and trucking interests fighting to complete the project, said funding was available, but did not specify where. In the past, proponents have said the tunnel might be privately funded.

Meyers said proponents maintain no decision has been made as to whether trucks would be allowed in the tunnel, but said it was intended as a truck route all along.

Planners have identified eight different potential routes for the tunnel, ranging from an alignment near the San Gabriel River Freeway (60) Freeway on the east to the Golden State (5) Freeway on the west. The most likely alignment is along the Glendale (2) Freeway, connecting to the 210 near La Cañada and La Crescenta.

Najarian said the project should really be called the 210 tunnel and will bring more traffic to that overburdened freeway.

Council members were skeptical about an assertion by Read that the project will lessen traffic on local freeways, though it will carry 200,000 more cars from the south to the north.

Drayman joined in the call for a council hearing and possible action, and the position drew support elsewhere on the council. Mayor Frank Quintero said, “I believe freight should be carried on railroads” rather than truck routes.

The battle over completion of the 710 Freeway has been going on for half a century. The tunnel plan is the most recent tactic by proponents.

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