South Pasadena has made it onto the front page of a leading national business newspaper. The controversy about the proposed State Route-710 (SR-710) freeway north extension was featured on page 1 of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Feb. 13.
Joanne Nuckols, a prominent South Pasadena anti-SR-710 activist, was also quoted and pictured in the article. In the print article “Speed Limits Await Infrastructure Spree,” writer David Harrison describes how environmental reviews and lawsuits have delayed construction projects nationwide.
The online version of the article is titled “Speed Limits on Trump’s Infrastructure Drive: Federal Laws, Rare Species and Nimbys.” “Environmental regulations and neighborhood opposition routinely bog down projects,” its writer states, “and will likely constrain the [Trump] administration’s plan to spend $1 trillion” on infrastructure.
Harrison includes as his first example the SR-710 north extension. “The project remains under review,” he says, 60 years after it was proposed.
He describes major infrastructure work in Georgia, Maryland and other states that had also been delayed. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama faced such delays in completing needed improvements, the writer says. He indicates President Donald Trump will likely encounter the same obstacles.
“The article is a bit misleading,” said City Manager Sergio Gonzalez, “stating that the SR-710 extension has been prevented due to a NIMBY [not in my back yard] stance by our city.”
“The freeway extension above ground or as a tunnel would not do anything to fix the congestion issues between the 10 and 210 freeways,” he said. Nuckols said she was interviewed for the article in October 2016.
However, its publication was then postponed. She said a few weeks ago Harrison contacted her for an update and to arrange for photographs.
Nuckols appears in a picture accompanying the article. She is shown seated on the front porch of her 1909 Craftsman home. Prominently featured next to her is an American flag, which hangs from her porch roof. A small sign displaying the No-710 symbol can be seen on a window behind her.
Harrison describes Nuckols as a “board member of a local preservation group [South Pasadena Preservation Foundation] who has been fighting the road for 30 years.”
A second photograph shows the traffic-congested SR-710 near Alhambra. No other photos appear in the story.
Several paragraphs address the SR-710. The writer says opponents reject the current tunnel proposal alternative. This, he says, is due to concerns about weakening the ground under the city’s historic Craftsman homes. He cites Nuckols as saying, “This is something that can never be built.”
Harrison ends with a statement made by Barbara Messina, an Alhambra councilmember. She has long supported the project.
Referring to Nuckols, Messina is quoted as saying, “God forbid we had people like that when we had our major infrastructure projects done. We would never have gotten anything done.”
In response, Nuckols told the South Pasadena Review, “Thankfully we had those environmental laws. That was what saved South Pasadena and was the foundation of the legal case that we won.”