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GUSD joins coalition of school districts against proposed 710 Freeway tunnel extension project

The terminus of the Long Beach (710) Freeway at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, pictured on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Glendale Unified School District on Tuesday came out against an existing proposal to build a tunnel extension that would connect the freeway to Pasadena.

The terminus of the Long Beach (710) Freeway at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, pictured on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Glendale Unified School District on Tuesday came out against an existing proposal to build a tunnel extension that would connect the freeway to Pasadena.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The Glendale Unified School Board took an opposing stance to a potential tunnel extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway on Tuesday, siding with concerns from neighboring districts over possible adverse impacts to student health.

The unanimous vote by the local board is aimed at aligning Glendale Unified with the Pasadena, South Pasadena, Burbank and La Cañada school districts within a group called the 5-Star Education Coalition.

The collective will then vote to pass along its concerns to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office in hopes the state government will intervene and compel Caltrans and Metro — the key principals on the potential tunnel project — to refine their proposal. The tunnel itself may end up being as long as 4.5 miles and would connect the 710 Freeway to Pasadena.

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In the adopted resolution, Glendale Unified is challenging the findings of a draft environmental impact report conducted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“The [coalition] finds that the [report] does not adequately address the adverse health and potential cancer impacts and risks to school students, staff and parents given a potential route’s close proximity as proposed in the study,” the resolution states.

Increased traffic was also raised as a possible negative quality-of life-impact.

“The [coalition] does not agree with the [report’s] findings that the building of a tunnel and the expansion of State Route 710 will not bring additional traffic,” according to the resolution.

The draft environmental impact report was released last year, and more than 2,500 public comments about it were submitted. Metro officials are currently working to respond to all the comments.

The root of the concerns is over an increased number of trucks passing through the Crescenta Valley, bringing additional pollution to schools along the Foothill (210) Freeway in La Crescenta and La Cañada.

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“We are part of the impact, there’s no question about it … I think it does help the Crescenta Valley community to go shoulder to shoulder with them on this issue,” said board member Greg Krikorian.

The city of Glendale is part of a five-city alliance that has already spoken out against the 710 tunnel extension. Other nearby groups have also expressed concerns.

“I’ve gone to the Crescenta Valley Town Council, and they talked about the health issue and the impact and all that,” said board member Armina Gharpetian.

The coalition — made up of representatives from each school district — will vote Friday whether to adopt a final resolution to forward to Brown’s office.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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