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Fight over 710 Freeway extension heads for court (again)

September 5, 2008 |  3:45 pm


The surprise in the latest legal maneuvering about the oft-proposed and long-resisted extension of the 710 Freeway through South Pasadena isn't that a lawsuit has been filed by two of the affected cities, but that it took this long to get started.

South Pasadena and La Canada Flintridge both filed suits against the the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week to try to block $780 million in funding, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

The latest version of the 710 Freeway extension calls for a tunnel to run beneath South Pasadena, a plan the city has both supported and opposed in recent months.

"You can't fund a project before it goes through an environmental review," said South Pasadena Councilman Richard Schneider, a vocal opponent of the 710 extension. "The lawsuit's goal is to knock out the funding for this project."

The 4.5-mile tunnel, which would connect the 710 and 210 freeways, does not have a proposed route. A preliminary feasibility study on the project was completed in 2006, but a follow-up study has not been done.

The project would receive $780 million from a proposed half-cent sales tax measure, if a state bill authorizing the measure is signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and if the measure is passed by two-thirds of county voters in November.   

If either of those things does not happen, the lawsuits would be withdrawn, according to city officials.

What city officials really fear is that, despite promises to move the reviled freeway extension underground, MTA officials will use the tax fund to build an overland route. Stay tuned for more 710 Freeway news to come.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times