The 710 Freeway: It’s Closer Than You Think!

Frank Pasker

When I first heard about test-drilling on possible routes for the proposed 710 freeway tunnel, I didn’t give it much thought. The freeway starts at the Port of Los Angeles and now ends just north of the 10 freeway. Who would think that this could have an impact on Mount Washington?
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

 Caltrans has been trying to connect the 710 to the existing stub at the 210 for over 40 years now, and a defiant City of South Pasadena has been prevailing the conflict. Caltrans and Metro got hung up in a myriad of lawsuits and the issue didn’t seem to be moving in any direction at all – until congressman Adam Schiff initiated a “Route-Neutral Study” to look for the best way to connect the 710 to another freeway by the means of a tunnel.
At the Caltrans presentation at Ramona Hall on June 16, Caltrans explained that out of the five originally proposed routes:

  • Two turned out to be heavily contaminated and have been pretty much ruled out.
  • One is contaminated but cleanup is in progress.
  • The two remaining alternatives are the current favorites.

One of the two favorites is the original route through South Pasadena (Route #3). The other currently favored route (Route #2) cuts through Northeast Los Angeles to connect to the SR-2 near the Fresh and Easy, while the less favored alternative route with contamination cleanup in progress (Route #1) would connect to the SR-2 near Interstate 5.

 These latter two routes would have devastating effects on Mount Washington.

 Route #1 would affect the western part of Mount Washington. The freeway would come out of the mountain in the vicinity of Isabel Drive to lead through the already congested LA River valley and destroy all the efforts that have been made in the past to make this stretch of the river a part of the recreational potential for residents again.

 Route #2 would cut through the northern flank of Mount Washing¬ton and terminate in a new freeway interchange in Glassell Park (where Fresh & Easy is now) with freeway extending along the surface until the grade drops low enough to go into a tunnel – roughly at the corner of Cleland and El Paso.

 In either of these two scenarios, a significant part of our community will be wiped off the map and truck traffic on the freeway will dramatically lower property values, raise levels of pollution, and increase traffic noise in our community.

 The Glassell Park Improvement Association has already issued a statement paper to oppose the extension of the freeway, and at the Caltrans presentation Assembly member Portantino’s office issued a statement to oppose any extension of the 710.

 Now it is up to our locally elected officials (who all had their representatives at the presentation) to tell us how they will protect their constituents from this imminent threat. With the new freeway affecting Council Districts 1,13, and 14, and with Jose Huizar being on the Metro transportation board as well, the community needs to take action now!

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