California bill advances to take 710 extension underground

| Thursday, September 03, 2009

A California Assembly panel has advanced a bill that is intended to help get a proposed extension of the Interstate 710 freeway built from Los Angeles to Pasadena.

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

The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 13-4 to advance to the full Assembly a bill that 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. If approved there, the bill – SB545 – would move back to the Senate for approval of changes before advancing to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, said the bill fulfills “a commitment made to the city of South Pasadena that would ensure that there would never be a surface-route solution for 710 corridor.”

Advocates for getting the extension done 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, told Land Line in July that he doesn’t foresee the work ever being completed. This week, Schwanke said he hadn’t changed his mind.

“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 said.

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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