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710 Fwy extension opposition still rages

October 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The governor's veto of a tunnel option for the 710 Freeway is adding fuel to already heated debates regarding the freeway's extension.For more than 40 years, the 710 Freeway has spilled out into an Alhambra intersection well short of its intended rendezvous with the 210 and the 134 freeways. For most of that time, residents of South Pasadena have banded together to fight any kind of 710 extension through their city.

"South Pas already has one freeway running through the middle of it, and we probably don't need another one. So I guess I'm pretty against it," said Adam Fratto of South Pasadena.

Caltrans has already bought up 487 homes along the proposed route, but in recent years the agency has proposed the idea of tunneling an extension underneath South Pasadena, which is an expensive option that would cost well over $3 billion, more than four times what a surface route would cost.

"For us, you know, with all the pollution that we have in Alhambra, I think we somehow need to get the extension," said Rico Dindag of Alhambra.

The governor had a chance to put much of the dispute permanently to bed with a bill that would've banned any kind of 710 extension using a surface route. But yesterday, the governor vetoed that bill keeping open the decades-long battle that pits Caltrans and motorists looking for convenience against concerned residents and preservationists.

"I would like to see the 710 extended so that you don't have to get off of the freeway," said Dave Branum of South Pasadena.

"For me personally, anything that's going to interfere with the beauty of South Pasadena or Pasadena and, you know, the history of it then I'm not okay with that," said Suzie Pilmer of Pasadena.

A 710 extension could affect several foothill communities but in South Pasadena, it has sparked a battle rife with irony. A project that could physically split a community is figuratively bringing it together.

"It seems to be the thing that everybody here defines themselves. I'm South Pasadena, I'm against the 710, you know, it's the great cause of the town," said Fratto.

If the 710 extension is ever built using a tunnel, that tunnel would be 4.5 miles long, making it the longest tunnel in the state.

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