710 Freeway Extension
In 2019, Governor Newsom signed SB-7 officially ending the decades-long effort to close the gap in the 710 Freeway, which threatened historic neighborhoods in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.
Issues that may have resulted in imperfect outcomes, but still display significant progress
Development Approval Process
In October 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB-7 officially ending the proposed 710 Extension. With the threat of freeway construction ended, Caltrans will work with community stakeholders and the cities of Los Angeles, South Pasadena, and Pasadena to release the significant number of properties in its possession. The Conservancy and a series of community-based organizations, including the 710 Coalition, and Pasadena Heritage, pressed Caltrans to reject and end this long-proposed project.
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 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 was unclear how the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) would respond. Despite uncertainty, it was expected sales of Caltrans-owned properties to continue. We were very encouraged by Caltrans’ intent to release surplus properties and return them to the private housing market, which strengthens and stabilizes neighborhoods long affected by the proposed 710 Freeway extension.
The Conservancy continues to press 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, South Pasadena, and the Maycrest Bungalows in El Sereno.
For more than thirty years, the Conservancy was involved with issues surrounding the once 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.
About This Issue
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.
- Draft Environmental Impact Report, Vol. 1 & 2
- Pasadena Heritage
- National Trust for Historic Preservation
- No 710 Action Committee
- Metro website
- "Portantino’s Comprehensive 710 Corridor Bill Signed by Governor Final End of Freeway Threat"
- "Metro board drops support for controversial 710 Freeway tunnel," Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2017
- "Metro board squashes 710 freeway tunnel," LA Curbed, May 25, 2017
- "Opponents of 710 Freeway extension offer alternatives to tunneling," Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2015
- "Pasadena City Council opposes 710 Freeway tunnel," Pasadena Star News, April 14, 2015