A recent article ("Leader: Stop 710-gap plans," Aug. 23) implied my support of the 710 extension. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been, and continue to be, opposed to the extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway in any form. In fact, one of the reasons I co-authored SB 204 is that it would finally end the speculation about an above-ground route and also distribute needed alternative transit resources to surrounding communities.
SB 204 would force Caltrans to sell the homes along the old proposed 710 route and use the proceeds for good things in the surrounding communities, in consultation with local leaders.
I try to be a problem-solver and it is my hope that this proposal would solve three problems. It would end a state transportation agency's foray into local real estate and thus end any mismanagement there. Second, as noted above, it would finally and conclusively end any speculation about an above-ground 710 route. Finally, it would use the proceeds — millions of dollars — to do some good locally, like improving those hair-raising exits along the Pasadena (110) Freeway and erecting much-needed sound walls along the Foothill (210) Freeway.
Unfortunately, the article on SB 204 contained a very misleading juxtaposition that led some to misinterpret my position on the 710 itself. Although the newspaper has taken steps to try to clear things up, I have received many emails and phone calls from my friends in our neighborhoods who are wondering if I have changed my long-held position of being against the 710 extension in any form.
The answer is, of course, "no." I remain against tearing up our neighborhoods.
I also believe that we need deeds, not just words. The bill I co-authored, which would start using Caltrans funds for positive local projects, is the first such deed. As always, I welcome your ideas and thoughts for others.
Assemblymember Mike Gatto