A proposal to drill a pair of highway tunnels is the most expensive, most polluting, least effective option for solving the San Gabriel Valley’s transportation problems.
A highway linking I-710 from Alhambra to I-210/ SR-710 in Pasadena was first proposed in the late 1950s. Ever since, efforts to build the highway have run into obstacles including insufficient funding, high environmental impact, and community objections.
In 1998, a proposal to build an eight-lane highway got so far as to receive final federal approval. That, too, was halted by concerns about environmental protection and historic preservation. The project saw renewed life in 2008 when Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase over the next 30 years, slated to raise $40 billion to be spent on a wide range of transportation projects. The majority — 65 percent — of that money was dedicated to improve the region’s transit system, including expanding bus and rail service Among the projects included in the plan was a “SR 710 Gap Closure” project to connect the northern and southern spurs of the 710, which was allocated $780 million.
A study released in March 2015 by the California Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) identified four problems with the local area’s transportation system: it is inefficient, freeways are congested, local streets are also congested, and the area is poorly served by transit.
The report studied four major options for addressing these problems: