South Pasadena lobbies to kill surface 710 Fwy. extension

City Council members in South Pasadena made it clear this week that they want their voices heard in a new study of the proposed Long Beach (710) freeway extension as they push regional transportation officials to kill a possible surface route.

At a meeting Wednesday, city officials were directed to join an advisory committee formed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which just launched an environmental study of plans to bridge the so-called “710 gap” between Alhambra and Pasadena.

“The most important thing we can do is monitor and make sure everything is being done properly,” said Interim South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. “The surface route is not a viable option and it is going against what the environmental process dictates.”

MTA officials have already indicated that they are unlikely to support a surface highway through South Pasadena, but the option remains on the table as the years-long environmental study begins.

The city is also lobbying the California Department of Transportation to unload the more than 500 homes the agency bought decades ago along the proposed route in preparation for building a 710 Freeway extension to connect with the Foothill (210) Freeway.

At the request of Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), a Joint Legislative Audit Committee is conducting an inquiry into Caltrans’ continued ownership of the homes.

The state stands to gain $500 million if it sells the homes in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles, Gonzalez said.

“The state can’t maintain these homes, there’s no reason for them to be landlords,” he said.

The purpose of the technical advisory committee is to provide input as the review moves forward, said MTA spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap.

“Any concerns their city representatives have will be vocalized at these meetings,” she said. “The real benefit is they’ll be given a step-by-step as to where the study is.”

A kickoff meeting is scheduled for Jan. 18.

South Pasadena leaders have in the past pushed for a dedicated rail line for freight traveling from the Port of Los Angeles to the Inland Empire, investment in public transit and other alternatives to a new freeway or tunnel.

“We do not want any environmental harm to come to our city,” said Dennis Woods, South Pasadena’s transportation manager, said. “But at the same time, we want to improve regional mobility in a manner that doesn’t create such a negative impact."


State auditor to probe Caltrans-owned homes near 710 Freeway

-- Adolfo Flores, Times Community News

Twitter: @adolfoflores3

Photo: The 710 Freeway ends at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, on Thursday, January 28, 2010. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News

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