South Pasadena City Councilmember Dr. Marina Khubesrian called it “a step in the right direction” as the two sides of the 710 Freeway issue met last week to address transportation issues through the corridor in wake of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s unanimous 12-0 vote to pursue strategic, sustainable, multi-modal projects over a tunnel under El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena.

L.A. County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis, and John Fasana, a former LA Metro Board chairman and current mayor pro tem for the City of Duarte, scheduled the meeting in downtown Los Angeles.  Key officials in the 710 Freeway corridor, which includes the cities of South Pasadena, Pasadena, Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel and San Marino, were present.

Mayor Michael Cacciotti and Khubesrian, who stressed that all parties involved set a tone of cooperation for working toward consensus, represented South Pasadena.   “What came out of the meeting was an opportunity for the cities that have been on opposite sides of the freeway issue to sit down together,” explained Khubesrian. “We talked about how we could work together to use the available resources to solve mobility problems and address traffic flow in the region.”

Much of the meeting addressed moving people to their destinations in the region and ceasing traffic congestion during rush hour between the 710 Freeway terminus at Valley Boulevard, just outside the Alhambra border, and the 134/210 interchange in Pasadena. Currently, vehicles are backed up, bumper-to-bumper, early morning and late afternoons on weekdays, causing major congestion at various bottlenecks.

Khubesrian said both parties agree, “There are traffic issues created by the current configuration of the 710 Freeway ending at Valley Boulevard.  The Beyond the 710 proposal lists some projects we can fund now and looks at the corridor communities from a modern transportation and land use perspective to not only address rush hour flow and bottlenecks but to provide economic growth and other opportunities. ”

Beyond the 710 includes organizations that have come together to find solutions to relieve traffic, connect communities, promote smart growth, and help individuals get to their jobs, schools, shopping, and recreation destinations.  The councilmember stressed, “We need to take a really good look at how we can improve mobility for all modes, reduce demand for vehicle miles and use modern transportation consultants to look at better ways to use our funds. We look forward to working with all the corridor cities to develop a list of projects that will better serve the needs of our communities and the region, to relieve traffic and provide more options for people to travel to their homes, jobs, schools, and doctors’ appointments.”

The freeway fight has been going on for more than 60 years and a meeting between adversaries was a historic first. Over the years, the City of South Pasadena has spent millions in court costs, taking on proponents of the proposed 4.5-mile surface route. The South Pasadena City Council has aggressively fought a tunnel route, estimated at $5 billion, which Fasana also recognized was not viable, saying the huge amount of money should be put to better use.

To ease local congestion, the South Pasadena City Council hopes to improve traffic around the heavily congested 110 corridor on Fair Oaks Avenue by adding a “hook ramp.” The ramp would allow vehicles to turn right at State Street into 110 Freeway southbound traffic. The new configuration would eliminate cars making a left hand turn in its current form.

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