History of the 710
in a quick timeline
Maps & Graphs
1958 Master Plan
of Freeways (PDF)
This map was adopted by the State of California in 1958 showing the plan for Route 7, now the I-710 and SR-710.
1964 South Pasadena
Review Map (PDF)
This map shows the original Meridian Route and the homes that would be affected in South Pasadena.
2006 Meridian Route Map (PDF
Map from Parsons Brinckerhoff report
Shows side view drawing of the Meridian Route plan. The Route 710 Feasibility Assessment determined that more effective study was needed.
2010 Metro Study
Zone Map (PDF)
Map from Final Geotechnical Report. Conclusion: All zones are viable options for tunneling. No zones eliminated. Surface route not eliminated.
Metro Topo Base (PDF)
Topography base map of the
Metro Study Zones
Metro Zone Summary (PDF)
This graphic shows the zones
& length of tunnels for
the individual routes.
Metro Results of
Zone Comparison (PDF)
This graphic shows the viability of each tunnel route based on the boring tests that were conducted. It lists Ground Conditions, Unstable Soils, Fault Line crossings, Groundwater, Gas, & Contaminated Soil/Groundwater.
Record Of Decision 1998 (PDF)
This Record of Decision (ROD) documents the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) decision to approve the selected alternative for the California State Route 710 Freeway (surface route.)
Against the Project(PDF)
Legal decision by U.S District
Judge Dean Pregerson, granting an
injunction against the
Meridian Route, 7/19/1999
ROD Rescission Letters (PDF)
Federal Highway Administration letters informing Caltrans of the Environmental Re-evaluation
determination and that the Final Environmental Impact Project must be supplemented before the project can
Financial Charrette (PDF)
USC Keston Institute, Financial Planning Charrette 710/210 Tunnel Connection report outlining the need to close a critical gap in the 710 Freeway, to complete the goods-movement corridor from the Ports, 12/5/2007
SR-710 EPA Scoping Letter (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency
letter submitted during the
Scoping process, 4/15/2012
Southern California Association of Governments, Regional Transportation Plan that specifically names the SR-710 as a $5.636 billion tunnel with revenue assumed from tolls, 4/2012
In 1958 a Master Plan of Freeways was adopted by the State of California. The Long Beach Freeway was outlined in that plan. In 1964 a 23-mile portion of the freeway was constructed, which is now called Interstate 710 (I-710.) It runs from Ocean Boulevard west of downtown Long Beach and northward to Valley Boulevard in El Sereno (City of Los Angeles), near the Alhambra border. The unfinished corridor now called the State Route 710 (SR-710 ) was not built at that time but it was planned for the near future.
1960 - 2000
In the 1960s, in preparation for eventual excavation of the new SR-710 section, 500 houses were purchased to clear a surface route. They were located in El Sereno (220), South Pasadena (112), Pasadena (143) and Alhambra (25.) At the time, it was estimated that a total of 976 houses would be needed for the project. The 500 houses are still owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) today. Some have been rented back to residents on a month -to -month basis for decades. Some are vacant; most are in disrepair. Caltrans may allow transfer of some of these homes through their new Affordable Sales Program.
Following the purchase of the homes in the 1960s and for the next forty years, the SR-710 portion of the freeway was not completed, largely due to intense community opposition and judicial injunctions that are still in place. Many freeway "gaps" remain in the region's original master plan as only 60% of the projects have ever been finished. One example is the SR-2 Freeway that terminates on the south at Glendale Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles, instead of connecting with the I-405 through Beverly Hills as planned.
First Decade of 2000s
Between 2003 and 2009, Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA or Metro) began to look at whether it was feasible to construct a bored tunnel rather than a surface route to extend the SR-710 Freeway and connect it to the I-210. Ultimately, five zones were examined through boring, seismic reflection, and surface wave testing in a geotechnical feasibility study. Upon completion of the study in the fall of 2009, Caltrans reported that it is "technically feasible" to construct a tunnel in any of the five zones which roughly spanned from the I-5 & SR-2 interchange to the I-210 & I-605 interchange. They added that no single route had been chosen. However, based on geologic and financial considerations and actions by the MTA Board and staff, many community members speculated that Zone 3, the original Meridian route through El Sereno, South Pasadena, and Pasadena would be chosen. The final geotechnical report presented in March 2010, indicated that no conditions exist that would stop, prohibit, or otherwise preclude tunneling through any of the five zones, even though seismic faults and contaminants exist throughout. With no accurate project definitions (purpose & need), no true feasibility studies, no examination of alternative transportation modes, or cost-benefit analyses conducted, the project was pushed forward to the scoping and environmental analysis stages.
The proposed tunnel would be comprised of two 58.5-foot deep bored holes, up to a depth of 280 feet underground and would require 200-foot wide concrete portals for entrances, exits, toll plazas and ramps. The bored tunnels themselves would measure 4.2 miles in length and would be the longest road tunnels ever built in the U.S. The portal ends would have about a half a mile of "cut & cover" excavation where the dirt is removed then filled back in. The total project is currently designed to be 6.3 miles in length. (4.2 bores + 0.7 cut & cover + 1.4 other) Ventilation towers and other structures may need to be built at surface level along the route to vent concentrated exhaust or it may just be blown out of the ends and/or vented further down the road.
The plan is to build the south portal in the City of El Sereno, near Valley Boulevard and CSULA where hundreds of Caltrans-owned homes would be destroyed. The north portal will surface at Del Mar Blvd in Pasadena, right next to Huntington Memorial Hospital and several schools. On the north end, the tunnel will only be accessible by the I-210 and SR-134 freeways and will not serve the community of Pasadena. On the south end, drivers must already be driving on the I-710 in order to access the tunnel. Lanes there will likely narrow from 10 to 8 or from 10 to 4, depending whether there are two tunnels or just one, which will cause a funnel effect. There will be no access ramps at any point along the 4.9 mile route which will increase the number of vehicles exiting the freeway just prior to reaching the tunnel portals. Based on comparable projects, construction is expected to take more than 10 years and involve 10 million cubic yards – 294,000 truckloads -- of dirt. That is, if the project does not encounter any problems such as those occurring during excavation of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel in Seattle, which is costing millions of dollars in cost overruns and legal fees since boring stopped on December 6, 2013. Caltrans' plan for the SR-710 tunnels, involves four separate tunnel boring machines churnng from four different locations and an estimated time frame of 5 years. Which begs the question: How on earth do these massive machines get transported to the job sites from the Port of LA or Long Beach?
Tunnel Cost Makes the Tolls Exorbitant
The cost of the project has been estimated by various sources to range from $1 billion and $14 billion and is expected be funded through a public-private partnership (PPP) and $780 million in Measure R funds with possible Federal assistance and/or a new State ballot measure (R2) in 2016. MTA is currently using the figures of $5.65 billion for dual-bore tunnels and $3.15 for a single-bore tunnel in their projections. It is predicted that the tunnel toll would be between $5 and $15 to use each way—a prohibitive expense for most commuters but not necessarily for trucking companies who could pass the cost on to consumers through increased prices. The resulting jobs created by the extension, would be primarily for expert tunnel builders from outside the State or Country, not for local citizens.
A Toll Tunnel Increases Congestion
Building a new freeway will not relieve congestion in the region and will actually exacerbate current conditions. Commuters will, almost certainly, continue to use local surface roads to avoid paying tunnel tolls. InfraConsult, Metro's financial consultant, projects that 35% of vehicles will exit the freeway due to tolls. The Alternatives Analysis report by Caltrans (released in 2012 ) estimates that 180,000 vehicles will use the twin tunnels every day. Since there are only 44,000 vehicles moving through the area now, that amounts to a more than 4-fold increase over current traffic numbers. In fact, the toll diversion rate will add approximately 19,000 vehicles to local streets each day. Clearly, this massive development would present issues of traffic congestion and noise, health consequences due to poor air quality, enormous costs and years of disruption due to construction as well as introduce risk from earthquake, fire, flood, and terrorist attacks in the tunnel. Quality of life would change dramatically for all the communities surrounding this area, especially the small towns that would be in the crosshairs of "big city" developers who want to bring so-called "progress" to the area.
Who is For and Who Opposes?
Completion of the SR-710 Extension is being moved forward by Caltrans, MTA, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and the Cities of Alhambra, San Marino, San Gabriel, Monterey Park, Rosemead and more. It is officially opposed by the Cities of South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, and by countless community groups in El Sereno, Hermon, Mt. Washington, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Alhambra, Pasadena, La Crescenta, and Sunland-Tujunga. In addition, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution against portal construction in Zones 1 & 2, reflecting its opposition to building a tunnel within the boundary of the City of Los Angeles. Metro and Caltrans have disregarded this resolution in their current plan.
The SR-710 Extension, whether by surface route or tunnel, will primarily benefit freight-transport vehicles that cross through these communities. Per a report conducted by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), there are currently 34,000 vehicles that leave the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach every day; 70% are trucks carrying cargo to locations outside the City. By 2020, it is estimated that the number will climb to 92,000 or more. By 2030, shipment by containers is expected to triple and miles driven by trucks will almost double from the year 2005 levels. Metro and Caltrans are ignoring the fact that I-710 is a major truck freight corridor that, when expanded, will bring this traffic to the SR-710. The environmental study is not addressing the cumulative effect of both the widening and extension projects.
Traffic congestion is a problem in Los Angeles County but there are many other alternatives to building more freeways. One potential 21st-century solution being successfully implemented throughout the United States is the development of intermodal distribution logistics centers. These "inland ports" use rail lines to move goods from seaports to outlying areas where the cargo is then loaded on trucks for distribution across the country. This would dramatically reduce the number of container trucks on our local streets and highways. And—for the same price as building large tunnels, the State can do 1,000 neighborhood upgrades at $5 million each, with much shorter timelines. Updating the existing transportation system through "multi-mode, low build" projects will create jobs for local workers and reduce long-term disruption in our communities. It's the smarter, more responsible way to go.
Please join us and say NO to the extension of the 710 Freeway.
Compiled by Susan Bolan, La Crescenta and Jan SooHoo, La Cañada Flintridge
Members of the No 710 Action Committee, email@example.com