For half a century we have been debating if or how the I-710 should be extended to connect to the 210 Freeway. And for 50 years the opponents for the most part had not changed, they were the communities populating the corridor between the two freeways; El Sereno, Alhambra, Monterey Park, and South Pasadena.
But a change in the scope of the possible expansion to include a much wider area then previously proposed, adding in the communities where the 5, 134 and 2 freeways meet, now also has Northeast Los Angeles area residents in an uproar.
Caltrans and Metro have complicated matters even more by including possible routes through the neighborhoods of Highland Park and Garvanza among the alternatives under consideration. For decades the project focused on filling the gap between the 710 and the 210 freeways, with the most direct route always thought to be from El Sereno to So. Pasadena. That has not changed.
But now, according to Caltrans and Metro, the project is no longer just about filling that gap, but the “best way to alleviate traffic in the region.”
Years of environmental studies have been completed, dozens of properties bought for the original proposed extension, which today still remains the most direct route. The legislative maneuvering to require that a tunnel be built if that route is used has caused the price to soar, perhaps causing the transportation agencies to look elsewhere, even if it means a circuitous route.
While there is still a ways to go in the planning and decision process, we are having a hard time coming up with a reason not to stick to the original route or forget the whole thing.
After all, aren’t the residents of Alhambra and nearby El Sereno already use to choking on the pollution caused by idling cars, and the traffic jams they cause? And don’t the residents of the more affluent communities of So. Pasadena and San Marino deserve to be spared from the disruption that a freeway through their community would cause?
The truth is that no matter how you look at it, air pollution refuses to be confined to one area, and affects people not in the direct path of cause.
And while keeping communities in tact is a worthwhile goal — let’s face it, no one wants it to be there home or business that is taken to make way for a new freeway — every major freeway built has caused people to be displaced.
It’s easy to say people should use public transportation more, carpool, or that we should change how are consumer products are transported. What’s hard is accepting that none of those suggestions represent the entire solution to our transportation and traffic woes.