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Governor vetoes freeway tunneling bill

October 11, 2009 | 10:27 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have eliminated the possibility of constructing a surface route for Interstate 710 to complete the "missing link" of L.A.'s highway system. If he had signed it, a tunnel route would have been the only way to finish that controversial freeway.

Interstate 710 ends at Valley Boulevard at the edge of Alhambra. It doesn't connect to the interchange of the 134 and 210 freeways.

Construction on the 710 began in 1951 but stopped short of completion in 1965 because of South Pasadena residents' assertions that the freeway would divide their community.

As a compromise, transportation officials in recent years introduced the idea of a tunnel -- at least 4 1/2 miles long -- to connect the route. The tunnel bill, SB 545, was written by state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D -Los Angeles).

But in his veto letter, the governor called the bill unnecessary and said Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority should be allowed to study various ideas without the restrictions in the bill.

"There is absolutely no need to enact statutory restrictions that would mandate certain project design options or remove others from potential consideration," he said. "In addition, several properties belonging to the state would be subject to sale for less than fair market value as a result of this bill, resulting in the loss to the state of hundreds of millions of dollars."

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz