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The spin is on about 710

April 22, 2004|By Charles Cooper

The 710 spin doctors are at it again, debating the future of the 710 freeway extension from Alhambra to Pasadena.

The freeway project that has pitted San Gabriel cities against each other for four decades has been active lately at the state and federal level, though no one can agree on what the activity means.

South Pasadena, which has battled the freeway in courts, withdrew its lawsuit, saying there was no project left to fight.

The city took the action after the California Transportation Commission followed the Federal Highway Works Administra-tion and decertified the project.

Nat Read, chair of the 710 Freeway coalition, said both steps were tactical moves to get the freeway issue out of court. He predicted Caltrans will proceed with a new environmental impact statement, and the project will be back on the board.

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The La Cañada Flintridge City Council sided with South Pasadena a few years ago, saying it feared the completion of the 710 would harm this community as well.

La Cañada Councilman Steve Del Guercio said this week he keeps hearing speculation about the future of the project. "I personally don't want to see it built," he said. "I think we'd be better off with a really great transit system like the Gold Line."

Del Guercio, who has been active on transit issues with the Arroyo Verdugo cities, said he was happy that at the very least, the current impact of the route will be studied in a new environmental impact statement. "I don't know if it'll be a new route, with a full study, or a supplemental report," he said.

Del Guercio said he feels the state has an obligation to do with the current impact of the 210 Freeway, including noise issues in La Canada.

Some signs of life for the 710 include Congressman Adam Schiff securing $3 million in the House transportation budget to study a tunnel route for the freeway. In another move, the Southern California Association of Governments included the freeway in its 25-year transit plan, despite objections from member cities Glendale and La Cañada.

Apparently the 710 isn't entirely a dead issue in South Pasadena's view, after all. According to Read, "South Pasadena just hired [former Congressman] Jim Rogan to lobby against the project in Congress. They're paying him $375 an hour." City officials confirmed the hiring step.

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