Lawmakers Encourage Governor To Sign Bill Ending 50 Year Battle Between the North and South over 710 Freeway

State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (left) (D-Los Angeles) joins hands with Assemblyman Mike Eng (R), Mayor Steve Placido of Alhambra and Mayor David Sifuentes of South Pasadena at news conference downtown to urge the Governor to sign SB 545. (photos by George Mc Quade)

State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (left) (D-Los Angeles) joins hands with Assemblyman Mike Eng (R), Mayor Steve Placido of Alhambra and Mayor David Sifuentes of South Pasadena at news conference downtown to urge the Governor to sign SB 545. (photos by George Mc Quade)

The Pasadena City Council voted to support the controversial measure that has become an emotion community and political fight for the last several decades between Alhambra and Pasadena

Los Angeles, CA – Standing on the Northwest steps of Cal-Trans in downtown Los Angeles today (Tuesday 8-22-09) lawmakers on both sides of the isle and controversy shook hands and expressed harmony over a bill that erases a decades old gap in the 710 Freeway between Pasadena and Alhambra. Both the opposition and proponents are urging the governor’s signature.

State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles)  SB 545 Author

State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) SB 545 Author

“This is a historic compromise and growing up with all these interconnected freeways, this one part we failed to complete,” said State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), who authored the Senate version of the measure SB 545, which passed the Senate. It allows the state to continue a 4.5 mile tunnel option to complete the freeway. Most of the debate has been on a surface freeway that would have eliminated homes and trees. The measure removes the surface route from the Regional Transportation Plan. State transit officials have been favored a tunnel option most recently.

“When we were shaking and holding hands on stage, we didn’t want to let go, because it took so long to get here,” Senator Cedillo said. “After 50 years of battle, now is the time for us to come together as a community.  Now is the time to have improved transportation outcomes, to create jobs, to clean the air and improve the quality of life.

“When we see 40 percent of the goods movement coming from ports all over the world through the 710 freeway to LA and Long Beach ports, it’s like water rush to the top of hose, and being pinched at the top,” said Mayor Steve T. Placido of the city of Alhambra. “When many people said that communities could not get together, you said, ‘why not’, and they did. When they said, ‘republicans and democrats could not get together’ you (public) gave us the message that ‘we need jobs,”’ explained Mayor Placido.

Mayor Steven Placido, City of Alhambra
Mayor Steven Placido, City of Alhambra

“And when you think about the fact that for every billion dollars in infrastructure,18,000 new jobs come to the region with high unemployment rates and forclosures, Senator Cedillo’s bill solves those problems. And when you say can the governor signs this bill, you say, ‘why not.’ Placido said.

“When my wife and I moved to Monterey Park 25 years ago we were asked will the 710 Freeway ever be built in our lifetime, and I’m happy to say that it’s within reach,” said 49th District Assemblyman

Assemblyman Mike Eng
Mike Eng

Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park). “Earlier this month we took a historic step in which the city of South Pasadena agreed to the ‘Gap’ that will complete the town will be underground. The project will cost several billion dollars and we hope it is one of the first public private partnerships (PPP) that can happen under the latest legislation. We have until 2017 to get this PPP going.  For every $billion dollars of infrastructure, we create 18,000 jobs, which equals 50-60,000 new jobs in this area and many of them will be permanent jobs.”

“This goes back to 1949 and 50 years ago the state of California came up with a highway plan, which included a system from Long Beach through Pasadena,” said Pasadena City Councilman Mike Ten. Since then cities have been fighting over a proposed surface route in that corridor.  This is hopefully the first step urging the governor to sign the death of a surface freeway.”

710 Freeway N.C.

710 Freeway N.C.

For the past 50 years South Pasadena has been fighting a surface freeway, because “of the devastating effects a surface street would do to a very small community,” explained Ten. “We’re only three and a half square miles, which means you would cut out about one-sixth of all the homes in our city and completely dividing it in half. It was unacceptable to carve up the city.”

Construction jobs are some of the best paid jobs in California, and it is a project that voters of LA County have already approved with the so-called “Measure R” imposing a half-cent sales tax on themselves for transportation. The tunnel project has received a $780-million financial commitment from Measure R tax fund money. Councilman Ten believes there is hope that it could be the beginning of a new public private partnership.

David Sifuentes South Pasadena Mayor

Mayor David Sifuentes of South Padadena was elated over SB 545 harmony among cities.

Mayor David Sifuentes of South Pasadena agrees. “I was born in El Sereno, which 40 years ago I marched with my older sister for this fight to prevent a surface route destroying, not only El Sereno, but South Pasadena, Pasadena and Alhambra.”

Mayor Sifuentes also said today’s event is unprecedented. “We have joined together, which we have not done in many years to fight for the same effort to get this bill passed. “Once the governor signs this bill, it will provide up to $500 million to the state budget by selling those Cal-Trans homes that’s on that corridor. That alone would add millions to help balance the state budget.”

In terms of California going green it takes thousands of idling cars off the side streets of the cities on the corridor and cleans up the polluted air.

Many of the concerns have been over removal of homes and trees, but a tunnel idea resolves those hurdles. There will be many jobs created in engineering to construction and the cost is estimated from $3.6 billion dollars and up.  It’s also estimated to take about eight or nine years to plan and about that long to dig the tunnel.

Assemblyman Mike Eng, Mayor Steve Placido of Alhambra, Mayor David Sifuentes of South Pasadena, Caltrans Reps. and reps. from the community of El Sereno are all urging the Governor to sign into law  SB 545. This measure also has the support of Southern California Assn. of Governments (SCAG), which is the the clearing house for federal transportion funds.


2 responses to “Lawmakers Encourage Governor To Sign Bill Ending 50 Year Battle Between the North and South over 710 Freeway

  1. Pingback: Streetsblog Los Angeles » Today’s Headlines/Personal Note

  2. Statement by
    South Pasadena Mayor David Sifuentes
    RE: Urging Governor to Sign SB 545, a historic legislation to End SR 710 Freeway Debate Once and for All
    South Pasadena, Calif. – The Governor has an historic once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring to an end a 45-year-old dispute among the federal and state governments, and San Gabriel Valley communities: whether the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, and the El Sereno community of Los Angeles would be divided by a surface route 710 freeway.

    Senate Bill 545 represents a consensus among the California Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Southern California Association of Governments, and the affected corridor cities that because a surface freeway has been deemed unacceptable to affected residents for more than a generation, the State should move forward with a different solution to our traffic problems.

    By signing Senate Bill 545, the Governor will take the 710 surface freeway off the books, and promote a collaborative and cooperative examination of other alternatives by the transportation agencies and corridor cities. The MTA is presently conducting a feasibility study of a proposed bored tunnel northward from the present terminus of the 710 in Alhambra and Los Angeles.

    The Governor’s signature will also bring an end to the litigation that has been pending since 1972 in the Los Angeles federal court, so that the affected parties can turn their full attention toward cooperative solutions.

    Senate Bill 545 protects the corridor cities by forbidding a 710 surface route. The bill also allows for construction of a tunnel as an alternative.

    The bill does not address the terms under which any surplus state properties will be disposed, which is a separate issue from the present reality and consensus that the surface route should be deleted.

    If the Legislature wishes to change the terms under which state surplus properties will be disposed, it can address that question in the coming session next year. Resolution of that question does not diminish the need to bring prompt and welcome end to the 710 dispute that has until now divided communities for so many years.

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