710 freeway meeting draws a crowd at La Cañada High

More than 60 people turned out at La Cañada High School Monday night to speak their minds and get the latest on the proposed extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

Mostly what they heard is that details will be revealed at future meetings as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Caltrans prepare an environmental report for filling the so-called “710 gap” between Alhambra and Pasadena.

The study will consider alternatives from a 4.5-mile freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena — a proposal that is already all but dead politically — to a tunnel under South Pasadena, new transit and rail lines or upgrades to surface streets. The study, which is expected to be complete in 2014, comes about 50 years after highway officials originally unveiled plans to connect the 210 and the 710.

Andy Burghdorf, a spokesman for St. Francis High School, said students at campuses near the 210 would be adversely affected by increased truck traffic.

In La Cañada, he said, “Most of our schools are by the 210 Freeway. This will increase noise, pollution, and heat hazards to our students.”

Metro officials encouraged residents to become members of community liaison councils and distribute information about the study to others.

But La Cañada resident Jan Soohoo said Metro has not offered enough details to share meaningful information with others. SooHoo has expressed concerns about likely increases in truck traffic as well as the cost of constructing a tunnel.

Metro spokesman Vincent Gonzalez said Caltrans and Metro officials will be able to offer more details at meetings beginning this month. Upcoming events include meetings at La Cañada High School at 10 a.m. on May 19 and at 6 p.m. on May 23 at the South Pasadena Library, according to Metro’s 710 Facebook page.

Glendale resident Jose Postachian, 70, was one of the few who spoke in favor of a freeway or tunnel connection.

“People should not bring the ‘no’, we need to bring solutions,” Postachian said. “When did we make it illegal for people to drive to work?”

The question of what to do with the 710 gap has divided local cities, with La Cañada, Glendale and South Pasadena strongly opposing a connection. San Marino, San Gabriel and Alhambra are among the cities supporting the extension, which is seen as a way to more easily get cargo from the Port of Los Angeles to trucking hubs in the Inland Empire.

For more information, Metro has created a Twitter account at @SR710Study, a Facebook page, facebook.com/sr710study, a website, www.metro.net/sr710study and a hotline number: (855) 477-7100.

-- Mercedes Aguilar, Special to Times Community News

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