On Nov. 28, State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge) and California Secretary of Transportation Brian Annis held a press conference to present the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 710 Freeway Corridor to the public. Spanning 60 years, the completion of the 710 Freeway from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena has been one of the most complex transportation projects in California history.
It is hoped that the final EIR release will end the six decade conflict. The signed and adopted EIR formally adopts a local street improvement alternative to the multibillion dollar 8-lane tunnel proposed 15 years ago to replace the originally proposed surface freeway route. The initial freeway proposal triggered debate on this issue going back to the Eisenhower administration.
“I’m ecstatic that the EIR was finally signed bringing closure to this six decade 710 fight. Generations of neighbors on both sides of this issue passionately pushed their perspectives and now we can all turn our attentions to collaboratively solving local transportation needs. This removes the threat of the freeway and allows Caltrans to sell the balance of properties acquired to facilitate its construction. No matter what side you were on, every activist should feel proud of their work through the years and of this final resolution,” commented Senator Portantino.
Caltrans has long sought to complete the 710 Freeway, first above ground, and then via a tunnel. For 60 years, South Pasadena and Alhambra were on opposite sides of the freeway dispute. Today, mayors from both cities were on hand to welcome the singing of the EIR and have been working collaboratively to solve local transportation needs in both cities.
Over the past 20 years, coalitions of cities lined up supporting both sides of the dispute but ultimately the opposition and substantial costs to complete the tunnel with limited environmental benefit sunk the tunnel. In 2017, the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority voted to pursue a local alternative to the tunnel. Today’s EIR, formalizes that recommendation. Senator Portantino has been one of strongest voices opposing the freeway, first bringing the City of La Cañada on board with South Pasadena and then working to negotiate the peaceful and dignified end to the tunnel finalized today.
“Completion of this environmental document allows important local road and transit improvements to move forward, and for Caltrans to proceed to expeditiously sell the residential properties the State has owned for many decades. I commend Senator Portantino for his strong leadership on this issue and I look forward to collaborating with his office and local leaders on facilitating next steps,” added Secretary Annis.
In addition to presenting the EIR, Senator Portantino unveiled his plan to introduce legislation to formally remove the tunnel from the streets and highways code and to help facilitate the sale of Caltrans owned properties currently in the hands of non-profits. In addition to the Senator and the Secretary today’s event was attended by LA Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Alhambra Mayor Jeff Maloney, South Pasadena Mayor Richard Schneider, MTA Board Member John Fasana and many community leaders and interested parties.
“This is a historic day for Pasadena and our region. We are grateful to our Senator for his work to bring an end to the threat of the tunnel, Caltrans for finishing this document and Supervisor Barger for shepherding the interests of all the local cities in a productive way. This allows all of us to work productively on our local transportation needs and land use opportunities,” concluded Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek.