710 Proposal Moves Two Steps Closer to Extinction

Photo by Kevork Kurdoghlian

With the state legislature approaching a Friday recess, two bills that would move the long-controversial 710 Freeway proposal closer to its official, final doom advanced this past week in Sacramento.

The bills, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Holden and Sen. Anthony J. Portantino, both cleared committee hurdles, moving a step closer to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. But that final step remains a ways away.

Holden and Portantino both represent South Pasadena.

Holden’s legislation – Assembly Bill 29 – unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Transportation on Tuesday. It next moves on to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which is chaired by Portantino.

Portantino’s bill – Senate Bill 7 – passed the Assembly Transportation Committee.

The Holden bill would officially remove the 710 North Project Area between Interstate 210 and Interstate 10 from the California State Freeway and Expressway code.

“Fixing our state’s highway code to reflect the new reality is the logical next step to bury the tunnel idea once and for all,” Holden said.

According to Holden’s office, the legislation specifies that State Route 710 is from Route 1 to Route 10 – eliminating any future possibility of a freeway tunnel.

The Assemblyman’s office said its aim is to once and for all quell lingering concerns about the 710 project ever making a footprint in South Pasadena, among other places.

“We are at a tipping point with the 60-year project and we couldn’t get to this point without the decades of hard work, passion and leadership of community stakeholders who have also made a direct impact on my views on this issue,” said Holden. 

Meanwhile, Portantino’s legislation would prohibit Caltrans from implementing the tunnel or surface freeway options for the 710 gap closure – and woiuld also allow the purchase of surplus properties occupied by nonprofits at their current use value. Caltrans currently owns the properties.

“The formal end of the 710 has been 60 years in the making, and I am very excited to see it one step closer to happening,’’ Portantino said. 

“I am particularly pleased to be following through on the commitment I made two years ago when negotiating the end to the 710 tunnel threat.  … Today, that reality is within reach.”

The Arlington Garden and the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House are among the nonprofits that would benefit from passage of SB7.

“The Pasadena Ronald McDonald House and Arlington Garden are two nonprofits that are very interested in seeing SB 7 pass.  … SB 7 is critical to the future success of all of us in Caltrans-owned properties,” Megan Foker, board co-chair of the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House, and Michelle Matthews, executive director of the Arlington Garden, said in a joint statement.

The legislature will be on break until Aug. 12, when the bills will begin their next steps.