Metro votes to block 710 Freeway extension project, studies continue

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week voted to block fast-track funding for the Long Beach (710) Freeway extension over the next 10 years.

While the proposal to extend the 710 Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway will be prevented from getting a share of the $9.4 billion in accelerated funding, studies on five alternatives for closing the gap, including a controversial proposal for a tunnel, will continue.

The studies are expected to be completed in 2015, but money to move forward after that has not been identified. Officials are using money generated by Measure R, a county-wide half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008, to pay for the studies.

"The motion that was made … does not stop the process to complete the study," said MTA spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstraph.

The tunnel option to connect the 710 and Foothill (210) Freeways has been opposed by Glendale, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and others, but supported by Alhambra and other cities.

Other options include increasing light rail and doing nothing at all.

Among the nine Metro board members who voted Thursday to block the 710 Freeway extension project from the accelerated funding was Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who has been a staunch opponent of the tunnel. Although Najarian promised to pare back his anti-710 rhetoric in order to secure the votes he needed to stay on the MTA board in March, he has continued to assert his position.

"I didn't feel it was proper to assign money to a project that has not been defined yet," Najarian said.

Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina, a proponent of the tunnel, was unfazed by the board's move.

"This really doesn't affect anything we're working on," she said.

The projects that did stay on the fast-track list are all transit work, such as extending the Gold Line. Before getting on the list, some of the projects weren't scheduled to be completed for another 10 or 20 years.

MTA officials plan to borrow money from a variety of sources, including the federal government, to pay for the accelerated projects.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


Heat wave: Cooling centers to open across tri-city area

Religious leaders react to U.S. Supreme Court DOMA rulingGlendale Police Department gets grant 

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World