California bill takes 710 extension underground

| 7/16/2009

A bill on the move in the California Assembly is intended to help get a proposed extension of the Interstate 710 freeway built from Los Angeles to Pasadena.

Caltrans has acquired more than 500 residential properties along the corridor since the 1950s in anticipation of building the 4.5-mile extension. But community opposition and multiple lawsuits have stalled the project, and the agency essentially became a long-term property manager.

Sponsored by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, the bill would prohibit 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.

The bill – SB545 – has advanced from the Assembly Transportation Committee to the Appropriations Committee on its way to the full Assembly. If approved there, it would move back to the Senate for approval of changes before advancing to the governor’s desk.

Advocates for the extension 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.

Despite the legislative effort to help spur the project along, truck driver and OOIDA member Paul Schwanke of Acton, CA, said he doesn’t foresee the work ever being completed.

“It should have been addressed a long time ago. But of course now the state is broke so I can’t see anything getting done,” Schwanke told Land Line.

If something were done to ease congestion, Schwanke said it would make more sense to open up the Los Angeles River to truck traffic.

“(The river) is already there. I don’t think it would take half the cost of going through there as it would through Pasadena,” he said. “It goes from LA harbor all the way to the San Fernando Valley. It is perfect for what they need.”

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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