710 Freeway Extension
In October 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed State Senator Anthony Portantino's SB-7 ending the threat of freeway construction at both surface level and underground. While the threat of freeway construction has come to an end, there are many unresolved issues related to historic resources.
Prior to SB-7 the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board had voted on May 25, 2017, to abandon plans for the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel.
Through a unanimous vote and broad public support at the meeting, including from the Conservancy, the Board passed a motion stating that Metro ”defers a decision on any other alternative for future consideration by the Board until the community collectively agrees on the value of that investment and funds are identified to implement the project."
In addition, the motion reallocates hundreds of millions of dollars from the tunnel to local transportation and surface-route alternatives.
Without Metro’s support for the tunnel option, it is unclear how the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will respond. While the tunnel option may not proceed, we expect sales of Caltrans-owned properties to continue. We are very encouraged by Caltrans’ intent to release surplus properties and return them to the private housing market, which will strengthen and stabilize neighborhoods long affected by the proposed 710 Freeway extension.
The Conservancy is pressing to ensure that protections are in place for identified historic properties that will ultimately transfer out of Caltrans’ hands into private ownership, which includes single-family homes in Pasadena and South Pasadena, as well as the Maycrest Bungalows in El Sereno.
For more than thirty years, the Conservancy has been involved with issues surrounding the proposed 710 Freeway extension, particularly its impacts on historic resources and San Gabriel Valley communities. We are proud to have worked alongside a range of partners, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Pasadena Heritage, and the No710 Action Committee.
Since 1963, Caltrans has proposed extending the 710 Freeway in order to close a 4.5 mile gap between Alhambra and Pasadena. Though the agency originally planned to build a surface-level route between the two cities, Caltrans, in partnership with Metro, later proposed constructing an eight-lane underground tunnel.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the project, known as SR-710 North Study, was released in March 2015. The Draft EIR/EIS studied the impacts of four "build" alternatives, including the Freeway Tunnel Alternative and a Light Rail Transit Alternative.
Given the scope of the project, it underwent review according to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Additionally, the project was subject to review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) because it was slated to receive federal funding.
The Conservancy submitted comments on the Draft EIR/EIS in August 2015 and raised strong concerns over its flawed methodology, failure to comply with CEQA, and the potential for numerous adverse impacts to historic resources.