Last May, the MTA board voted unanimously to withdraw its support and funding for the 6.3-mile tunnel through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena connecting the 710 and 210 freeways. Photo by Kevork Kurdoghlian

Although all indicators point to the fact that the 710 Freeway extension project is dead, one of the project’s leading opponents says it’s “always good” to keep an eye on all future developments to ensure it stays that way.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, whose 25th District includes South Pasadena, San Marino, and Pasadena, among other areas, says the project is not going to happen and people should “rejoice” with that knowledge.

“The 710 is dead,” Portantino said during a telephone interview Tuesday morning. “The good news is grassroots’ activism actually turned the tide on this.”

South Pasadena, though, recently hired an outside attorney to help continue the fight against the 710 Freeway extension.

Portantino said he understood why South Pasadena would do that.

“It’s always important to keep your eye on the prize,” he said.

The debate over the 710 Freeway extension has been going on for nearly 60 years. The project was dependent on a massive tunnel connecter that was originally supported by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. However, last May the board voted unanimously to withdraw its support and funding for the 6.3-mile tunnel through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena connecting the 710 and 210 freeways. The tunnel could cost as much as $5 billion, according to official estimates. The board said the multibillion-dollar price tag was too steep. The freeway extension has been on the state’s master freeway list since 1959.

The MTA board voted to spend $700 million to ease congestion using other solutions and to deal with challenges arising from traffic overflow. There are discussions now that suggest adding bike lanes, synchronizing signals during high traffic flow, and creating new bus routes, among other ideas, will help ease traffic congestion.

Caltrans, the lead agency, has the authority to end the decades-long debate along with the California State Transportation Agency. Caltrans has not yet certified the environmental impact report for the project. Until that occurs, the project’s fate is not official.

Portantino, who has opposed the project since 1998 when he first learned of it, said the EIR will probably be certified sometime this summer, perhaps by July. Portantino also said he hopes the EIR will satisfy those for and against the project. But for him, he’s unequivocal regarding the end result.

“I don’t have a doubt in my mind what the final outcome is going to be,” Portantino said. “The 710 is dead.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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