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New state bill would block a 710 Freeway tunnel

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A tunnel is only the latest of many proposals to close the 710 gap

A new bill would prohibit building a tunnel to close the 6.2-mile gap in the 710 between the 10 and 210 freeways.
Ken Lund / Flickr creative commons

The chorus of opponents to a proposed 710 Freeway tunnel has a new soloist: New state Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, who reversed his longstanding position to introduce a bill that would kill the Caltrans project.

Holden—a former Pasadena city councilman who previously supported a surface extension of the 710—announced Thursday that he’s sponsoring a bill that would prohibit building a tunnel to close the 6.2-mile gap in the 710 between the 10 and 210 freeways, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

"Our time should really be spent giving evaluations to alternatives that are more environmentally correct, that are not quite as expensive," Holden said in announcing the bill on Thursday, according to KPCC.

Assembly Bill 287 would create an advisory committee of interested agencies to recommend alternatives to the $5.6 billion tunnel extension, such as light rail, busways, or roadways and bike lanes, according to the Daily News.

A tunnel is only the latest of many proposals that have emerged over the decades to close the gap in the 710 Freeway. The cities of Monterey Park, Alhambra, Rosemead and San Marino—which bear the brunt of street traffic—have long supported some kind of extension. Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina leads the 710 Coalition of cities and labor unions that support building a tunnel.

But opponents—including the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge, as well as Gov. Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti—favor other solutions, including improved mass transit. A group calling itself “Beyond the 710” offered a list of $705 million in immediate traffic fixes it said would improve traffic flow at a fraction of the cost of a tunnel.

The committee would be made up of three people from Caltrans, two from Metro, two representatives each from Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena, and South Pasadena appointed by those cities; two members of the Assembly as appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly and two members of the Senate as appointed by the Senate Rules Committee.

Holden said the committee should consider alternatives to the tunnel included in an EIR released by Caltrans and Metro, as well as new ideas. A group called Beyond the 710 proposed $705 million in immediate traffic fixes as opposed to a $5.6-billion Alhambra-to-Pasadena freeway tunnel. The plan would include building a two-lane “Golden Eagle Boulevard” from the south stub at Valley Boulevard just north of the 10 Freeway to Mission Road that would serve Cal State Los Angeles.