Schwarzenegger vetoes 710 freeway bill

| 10/13/2009

A bill in California, which is intended to help get a proposed extension of the Interstate 710 Freeway built as a tunnel from Los Angeles to Pasadena, has been vetoed by the governor.

The 710 Freeway is a major north-south interstate running 23 miles through Los Angeles County. The freeway runs from Long Beach to Alhambra, stopping short of the originally planned end in Pasadena.

Caltrans has acquired nearly 500 residential properties along the corridor since the 1950s in anticipation of building the 4.5-mile extension. But opposition and multiple lawsuits have stalled the project.

The bill – SB545 – would have prohibited the Interstate 710 gap closure project linking the Long Beach Freeway to Interstate 210 in Pasadena from being constructed as a surface or above-grade highway.

In his veto statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the bill “unnecessary.”

“There is absolutely no need to enact statutory restrictions that would mandate certain project design options or remove others from potential consideration,” Schwarzenegger said.

Schwarzenegger also rejected the effort because he said it would result in properties owned by Caltrans being sold for less than fair market value, “resulting in the loss to the state of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Instead, he wants Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to continue to work toward a resolution for the best solution to the transportation needs in the 710 corridor.

Advocates for the extension say something needs to get done. They say that failing to complete the 710 Freeway contributes to traffic congestion in northeastern Los Angeles and the northwestern San Gabriel Valley because there is no north-south alternative between the Golden State Freeway and San Gabriel River Freeway.

Owner-operator and OOIDA member Jeff Smith of Littlerock, CA, said he avoids the area because congestion there is so bad. He said it would be nice to someday be able to have the option to take the 710 without the worry of getting caught up in traffic, but he’s not holding his breath.

“If they could ever get it worked out, I think it would help with the congestion and it might actually change my attitude about going into Long Beach,” Smith told Land Line.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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