Final End of Freeway Threat, Stub Development Help for Pasadena, Relief for Tenants, Non-Profits & Post Freeway Actions All Included

For Immediate Release

Portantino’s Comprehensive 710 Corridor Bill Signed by Governor

                                                                                                 Oct 13, 2019

Sacramento, California Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D- La Cañada Flintridge) has proudly announced that SB 7 has been signed by Governor Newsom.  This final legislative outcome is the culmination of over 20 years of dedication the Senator brought to fighting the 710 freeway and to helping stakeholders in the 710 corridor.  It follows through on a promise that Senator Portantino made to activists, non-profits, and tenants in the 710 region when he negotiated the end of the 710 tunnel threat in December of 2016. Today, the Senator can confidently say that he kept his promise and all threat of a 710 freeway has been silenced.  The Governor appropriately signed SB 7 after other bills dealing with the corridor.  Under California law, the last bill signed by the Governor supersedes other legislative actions on the same specific issues in the same section of the government code.  SB 7 is cemented in law as the final and definitive action on the 710 freeway.

 Timing became a critical conclusion because in the final week of the legislative session, amendments were proposed that would dramatically interfere with the City of Pasadena’s plans to develop the left-over freeway stubs.  Senator Portantino subsequently negotiated with Caltrans language that solved the Pasadena issue, inserted these amendments into SB 7, making it the only complete and comprehensive fix for the 710 corridor on the Governor’s desk. Not only does SB 7 remove the threat of the 710 freeway from ever being built it helps facilitate solutions and alternatives in the corridor, including Pasadena’s plans to develop the leftover stubs and legislative help for the nonprofits and low-income tenants.

“I am very grateful to the Brown and Newsom Administrations for helping to define our three-year plan to terminate the 710 freeway and for negotiating the final amendments to make it happen. Generations who have been fighting this freeway can now rest in peace knowing that they made this day happen and that the 710 freeway will never be completed.  Many people worked collaboratively to get us to this place, giving moral support for those of us in office and providing the runway to let this 60-year-old plane land,” commented Senator Portantino.

For decades, many political leaders shied away from the 710 issue or ardently worked to complete this misguided transportation and financial boondoggle, but not Senator Portantino.  In 1998, at the very beginning of his political career he has been a consistent and strong opponent of the freeway’s completion.  Senator Portantino promised residents that upon his election to the State Senate he would make ending the tunnel threat a top priority and he followed through on that commitment. 

“We are extremely grateful to our Senator for putting the final nail in the 710 tunnel’s coffin.  He has been by our side for two decades; he kept our group calm over these last three years, and he followed through on his promise to have a legislative solution to compliment Metro’s action and the certified EIR.  Now that SB 7 is signed we can all finally sigh in relief,” commented Claire Bogaard, No 710 Action Committee.

In addition to ending the tunnel threat, SB 7 helps the non-profit tenants in the 710 corridor purchase their properties in a fiscally prudent manner; something long sought by the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House, Arlington Gardens, Cottage Co-op Nursery and Sequoyah School.  During the legislative session, multiple representatives from the non-profits traveled to Sacramento several times offering testimony in support of SB 7.

“We are over the moon that we now have the ability to purchase our properties and to keep them serving our community.  Our Senator heard our needs and responded in earnest to help us.  We join in the celebration now that this important bill has been signed,” commented Megan Foker, Pasadena Ronald McDonald House.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek participated in the final negotiations ensuring that SB 7 had strong provisions for ending the freeway threat and that Pasadena has the flexibility in the future to negotiate for the freeway stubs not needed by the obsolete freeway plan. 

“It is a new day in Pasadena now that the 710 freeway is history.  SB 7 ensures that outcome and helps all of us turn our attention to solving local traffic needs, raising the funding necessary to purchase the non-profit properties, and brings some relief to tenants in Caltrans’ affordable rent program.  For as long as I can remember, Senator Portantino has been dogged in his efforts to fight the 710-tunnel threat and he fulfilled his promise,” added Mayor Tornek.

The 710 corridor has been a long-time divisive issue for the region. While the freeway’s formal demise has garnered the most attention, SB7 does much more. It protects non-profits, low-income tenants, and is the only bill that actually helps Pasadena develop the no longer needed freeway stubs.

 “I am so grateful to the freeway fighters from South Pasadena who in 1998 took me on a tour of the 710 corridor and shared their struggle with me. The Avenue 64 & El Sereno activists and leaders from Pasadena, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge and Sierra Madre broadened the coalition to create an immovable force to pull the San Gabriel Valley into a new and positive direction.  In the end, many of those who supported the 710 for decades also worked collaboratively to bring us to this point in time to help solve local transportation needs.  I am also very grateful for the timing of the Governor’s action so Pasadena can develop the freeway stubs in the city.  I’m glad that Pasadena brought its significant concerns to the forefront and I was able amend SB 7 to help this great city,” concluded Senator Portantino.



Website of Senator Anthony J. Portantino:



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Historic moment: Alhambra works with South Pasadena and Pasadena to say goodbye to the 710 freeway connection – and request money!

Now that Metro/Caltrans has chosen #4 out of the 5 possibilities for the 710 freeway, it’s time to dole out some of the tax monies set aside from Measure R (approximately $25/year per LA County resident since 2009). to synchronize lights, widen streets and do other street improvement projects. Alhambra has jumped in on the request with South Pasadena and Pasadena to get additional money; in particular, in a letter signed by the three mayors, Alhambra is requesting $100M to do something with the 710 stub  Valley and the 10 freeway. (Tri-Cities Early Action Projects Letter – 11-26-18)

Unlike Pasadena and other cities, that for several years have been  considering solutions and design plans for its stub, Alhambra officials have not publicly discussed alternatives to the freeway tunnel they had their hearts set on for 60 years.  The current Mayor of Alhambra Jeff Maloney told the Alhambra Source, “We need to do a lot of research and studying of the issue,” (Nov. 29, 2018, Alhambra Source “The 710 Tunnel is Officially Off the Table”), but is considering a green belt in place of the asphalt on- and offramps  leading from and to the 10 freeway from Valley Boulevard.  Alhambra is requesting $100M from Metro/CalTrans to  help fund such a project.

November 28, 2018 

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority 

One Gateway Plaza 

Los Angeles, CA 90012-2952 

RE: State Route 710 Early Action Projects Funding Allocation 

Dear Chair Kuehl and Metro Board of Directors, 

The cities of Alhambra, Pasadena, and South Pasadena (Cities) commend the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors’ decision to allocate the remaining Measure R funding dedicated to the State Route 710 (SR-710) towards the implementation of “corrective measures to contain the regional traffic on the freeway system and minimize impacts on the local street network.” In anticipation of the Metro Board approving the initial list of State Route 710 (SR-710) Early Action Projects (EAPs) on December 6, 2018, the Cities would like to demonstrate their united support for three cross-jurisdictional projects that will provide significant benefits to the San Gabriel Valley. These projects include: 

1. Removal of the SR-710 freeway stub in Alhambra between the I-10 and Valley Boulevard; 

2. Completion of the SR-110 Hookramp Project in the City of South Pasadena; and 

3. Removal of the SR-710 freeway stub in Pasadena between the I-210 and California Boulevard. 

During the November 15, 2018, Metro Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway, and Roads Committee Meeting, the Committee recommended funding for the SR-110 Hookramp Project ($38 million) and SR-710 North of I-10 Termination Project ($100 million). In order to optimize the success of these two projects funding for the Pasadena I-210 Ramp Modifications Project should also be provided. It is through the combination of these three projects that we can effectively divert regional traffic away from the corridor and minimize traffic congestion on local streets. 

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact Margaret Lin, Principal Management Analyst, at or (626)403-7236. 


Alhambra Mayor Pasadena Mayor South Pasadena Mayor

Jeffrey K. Maloney, Terry Tornek, Richard D. Schneider 

CC: Alhambra City Council 

Pasadena City Council 

South Pasadena City Council 

To see the letter: Tri-Cities Early Action Projects Letter – 11-26-18




Some of the Alhambran group on 7-10-2014 at the City-sponsored “Close the Gap” day (when the City closed off Fremont for 1/2 day to push for the 710 freeway tunnel, causing major traffic on Fremont.)











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No more 710 Freeway or Tunnel!

Caltrans Officially Kills 710 Extension Project After Decades Of Debate

PASADENA (CBSLA) — The 710 Freeway extension project is officially dead after six decades of debate over lengthening the busy interstate route from Alhambra to Pasadena. Caltrans announced Wednesday that it had finalized a report endorsing local street improvements instead of a freeway tunnel.

“After many years of discussion, the greater Pasadena, South Pasadena and Alhambra community can move forward with important local road and transit improvements to help more people get to where they’re going while keeping communities connected,” Caltrans Secretary Brian Annis said.

Annis joined a host of local officials in Pasadena to announce the certification of the final environmental impact report on the freeway gap, adopting the local street improvements in lieu of a tunnel that would have connected the Long Beach (710) Freeway with the Foothill (210) Freeway at a cost of more than $3 billion.

The adoption of the local-street alternative became all-but-inevitable last year when the Metro Board of Directors diverted $700 million in funding away from the tunnel proposal and applied it to area road projects. Other options that had been considered to close the freeway gap included a rapid-transit bus line, a light-rail line and a “no-build” option.

“I’m ecstatic that the EIR was finally signed, bringing closure to this six-decade 710 fight,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge. “Generations of neighbors on both sides of this issue passionately pushed their perspectives and now we can all turn our attentions to collaboratively solving local transportation needs. This removes the threat of the freeway and allows Caltrans to sell the balance of properties acquired to facilitate its construction.”

The possibility of a 710 extension has been on the table for decades, but has been thwarted by generations of opposition from some of the communities in its path, including South Pasadena. Caltrans began in the 1950s and 1960s buying empty lots, houses and apartments along the planned route of the surface freeway extension. But a series of lawsuits and opposition from some communities and activists has kept the project in perpetual limbo for decades.

Two years ago, Caltrans began the process of selling off the houses and apartments it owns along the corridor as part of its shift away from a surface freeway extension and toward a tunnel or other options.

The tunnel received a wave of momentum after county voters approved Measure R in 2008, a half-cent sales tax that raised $780 million for improvements along the 710 corridor, some of which has already been spent on studies and reports.

Some leaders of communities along the corridor, including Alhambra, had been in support of the tunnel as a viable alterative to relieve the extra congestion and air pollution caused by freeway traffic cutting through the surface streets. But other communities opposed it out of safety concerns over building the tunnel and with doubts that it would relieve congestion or reduce
air pollution in the area.

A Metro study concluded the tunnel would have carried 90,000 vehicles and removed 42,000 vehicles a day from local streets.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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Would a dual-bored tunnel under Emery Park’s 100 year old homes been damaged, too, with a 710 tunnel construction. Here’s indication based on what’s happening in Seattle.


Bertha may have dealt a blow to Seattle’s police museum

by Knute Berger

The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, one of the historic gems of Pioneer Square, has announced that it is closing and moving its collection due to safety concerns.

The museum, located near Third Avenue South and Jackson Street, is devoted to the history of the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Department.

The man in charge and the museum’s guiding spirit is SPD Officer Jim Ritter. He says he believes the building has become untenable for his museum due to ground settling and visible cracks that he suspects are due to Bertha and the waterfront tunnel project.

Ground settlement has been a big issue in Pioneer Square, much of which is built on landfill and former mudflats. The city had to contend with replacing a major sewer line on First Avenue due to settlement. Buildings near the Bertha tunnel boring machine rescue pit were also at risk. Other property owners have filed claims with the state over tunnel project-related damage.

SPD Officer Jim Ritter, head of the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum.

Ritter says some of the building’s floorboards have rotted due to damage from a steam tunnel break. One of the museum board members put her high heel right through the rotten floorboards, he says. Some of the damage is very visible: The sidewalk outside is sloping. Cracks have appeared in the original 1909 plaster walls of the building, but also in newer drywall. One of the original brick walls appears to be bowing. Many of the doors that Ritter installed himself can no longer be closed properly.

All of this damage, he says, has occurred in the last 18 months to two years. Ritter emphasizes that he’s no engineer, but from a layperson’s perspective, he’s very concerned.

The building has survived several major earthquakes and Ritter can point to some old scars from the 1965 and 1949 Seattle earthquakes. Also, part of the facade collapsed during the 2001 Nisqually quake, but that was repaired and the building was deemed sound after that. Since there hasn’t been a major quake in the last 18 months, but tunnel and seawall work has taken place, “when you start looking, you can make a circumstantial case” for Bertha, he says.

The building is owned by the Samis Land Company, which owns 11 properties in Pioneer Square, according to Adam Hasson Samis’ director of real estate. Hasson says Samis has seen some damage at its other properties, but mostly cosmetic damage — some drywall cracking or stick door jams, “not anything dangerous,” he says. Samis has not yet filed any claims with WSDOT for tunnel-related damage. An engineer will inspect the museum’s space this week to determine whether there’s a true safety risk.

Ritter says Samis has been very good to the museum and gave them a break on rent that enabled them to afford the space. The museum was facing a rent increase, but Ritter says that’s not the main reason for the move. He wants to ensure the safety of the museum’s one-of-a-kind-collection and its patrons. All of SPD’s history could be gone if there were a major problem or collapse in a quake, he says. His opinion is informed by experience: The museum only has one document on exhibit dating from before 1889 because virtually all of the city’s police records were destroyed in the Great Seattle Fire.

Ritter says the extensive collection, which includes uniforms, records, photographs, badges, weapons and other artifacts, will be placed in storage, but that won’t be the end of the museum. He hopes to also put much of the collection online for researchers, and the museum has an extensive collection of police vehicles from the 1940s on that are shown off at public events and parades. The museum is financed through a payroll deduction plan of law enforcement officers at the city and county.

Whatever the reasons for the museum’s closure, it is not a happy occasion for local historians or police personnel. Ritter says the museum is valuable for new recruits who come to the city without any sense of local history. With the issues of police reform having taken center stage in recent years, the need to study and understand the history of law enforcement in Seattle is more important than ever. The closure of the museum and putting its collection into storage makes that a little harder.

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Alhambra might have dodged a bullet!

Tolls or not, Seattle tunnel will push vehicles onto surface streets 

OCTOBER 27, 2017 AT 1:40 PM

Once the Alaskan Way Viaduct is no more, drivers will have to choose between and tunnel and surface streets. (WSDOT)

Punishing drivers who divert to Seattle’s surface streets once the new tunnel is in place would be a disservice to people who do so out of necessity.

RELATED: Tunneling machine completely disassembled

Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien proposed spending $200,000 in the next budget to study tolling Seattle’s surface streets. His reasoning is that drivers are going to avoid the tunnel to avoid the toll associated with it.

“Folks that are on 99 that are going to try to divert to get out of the tunnel, because they don’t want to pay that toll, do we have some sort of toll that says, ‘You are going to pay a toll one way or the other’? So if you are going to use the tunnel, just use it,” he said.

Downtown, and really all of Seattle, doesn’t have the capacity for additional cars. The director of Seattle Department of Transportation said so himself when he said the city couldn’t handle more vehicles. A toll to use surface streets, like congestion pricing in London, would be a method to keep the number of vehicles down.

But O’Brien’s comments are directed at people avoiding tolls. The proposal to make drivers pay “one way or the other” ignores the fact that many people use the Alaskan Way Viaduct to get in and out of downtown and Belltown, not just to avoid the area.

A study estimated that between 20,000 and 25,000 additional vehicles will be pushed onto I-5 and surface streets once the tunnel is open, depending on the toll “scenarios.” The Washington State Transportation Commission has not set toll rates for the tunnel. However, those estimates include all drivers diverting around the tunnel; not just the ones expected to avoid paying a few dollars. A spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Transportation confirmed as much.

Once the tunnel is in place and the viaduct is gone, drivers will not have mid-town exits, according to WSDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson. The tunnel will no longer have ramps to/from Seneca Street, Columbia Street, Western Avenue, or Elliott Avenue.

Demolition of the aging viaduct is expected to occur in early 2019. The tunnel is expected to open in the same time period.

The tunnel is more like an express lane through downtown, rather than into it. That means drivers who currently use the viaduct to get closer to their destination in downtown or Belltown will be forced to find an alternate route.

That alternative route will likely be an expanded Alaskan Way surface street, which will have more lanes and better access along the waterfront, Bergerson points out.

“The new tunnel will be just one of several transportation investments to the Seattle waterfront over the next several years, including the new Alaskan Way surface street with improved capacity and connections to downtown Seattle,” Bergerson wrote.

O’Brien says “places around the country” are having the difficult conversations about tolling congested areas. He reportedly said, “there aren’t very many tools that have been proven to work around the world, and I think it’s important that this be part of the conversation.”

But should we toll drivers who were forced to change their routes? Maybe the city council should keep digging through that toolbox.

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Gov. Jerry Brown gets our signatures

In May, the Metropolitan Transit Authority voted to recommend to the California Department of Transportation a different alternative than building a tunnel to complete the 710 freeway. The unanimous vote essentially kills the 710 freeway project after a 60-year fight that divided the region. County Supervisors and local city leaders have begun in earnest to develop common interest projects that will meet local traffic issues, tapping into Measure R resources previously dedicated to the tunnel.

Senator Anthony Portantino is moving things right along, and met Governor Jerry Brown to deliver signatures in opposition to the 710 Freeway Tunnel.

“The demise of the 710 tunnel is a testament to grassroots activism in its finest form. I am so pleased to have seen MTA respond to these local efforts, first in stopping the threat of the tunnel, and now through the engagement of our local cities in moving into the future. Our region is certainly better served by this collaborative planning approach now that the tunnel threat is behind us,” concluded Portantino.

Read the press release here: Portantino Meets with Governor Brown Talks 710 Tunnel (Final)


Meanwhile, here’s what Barbara Messina has to say on the fate of her 710 pet project: Alhambra Source: The 710 Tunnel’s Fiercest Advocate Reckons with its Defeat. 


Portantino and Governor (3).jpg

Anthony Portantino delivered the scroll along with a book of additional
signatures to Governor Brown in his office last week.











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Let’s take a Victory Lap at 4th of July Festival of Balloons Parade

Calling all No-710’ers in Alhambra!

This is the victory lap for the No 710 Fight. It’s time to honor all the freeway fighters from 1947 to 2017.

When: Tues. July 4, 2017  10am-1pm

Where: 806 Meridian Ave (1 block north of Mission.) Pick up balloons, signs, water and free t-shirts.

About parade: You can walk, bike, skateboard along this approx. 1 mile long parade route.  We will all walk together to celebrate the amazing work of the No 710 freeway fighters and the community.

Post-parade lunch celebration: El Super Burrito is a hosting taco lunch, and there will be margaritas and cold drinks.  Meet back at 806 Meridian Avenue.

Don't tunnel our town

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Metro puts a nail in the freeway coffin

On May 25, 2017, by a 12-0 vote, the Metro Board of Directors approved directing the SR-710 project funds to local operational improvement projects to address traffic congestion caused by the 4.5-mile gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.

Under the motion approved by the Board, $105 million from Measure R would be used for local improvements listed in the Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) option in the environmental document including: traffic signal upgrades and synchronization, local street and intersection improvements, improved connections to existing bus service and the promotion of rideshare in the area. The remaining Measure R funds could be used for other mobility improvement projects that can alleviate congestion on local streets along the SR-710 corridor.
The SR 710 North Study undertaken in 2011 explored solutions to traffic congestion caused by the freeway gap. The project’s environmental study looked at five alternatives: a “no build” option, a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit and TSM/TDM.  The Study results indicate that the alternative that best addresses the project’s purpose and need is the Single Bore Freeway Tunnel.

While the Metro Board adopted the TSM/TDM as the Locally Preferred Alternative, the decision on a Preferred Alternative will be made by Caltrans later this year.


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Front Page News: The 710 Tunnel is Dead!

On May 25 the Metro Board voted unanimously in favor of using existing funds to fix local transportation issues, and have decided a freeway tunnel is NOT the way to go. Not surprisingly, Alhambra’s legislators are still clinging on to the antiquated pie in the sky.

Front page news in the LA Times today!

But Alhambra’s City Council is still clinging on:

“Supporting the tunnel should be a no-brainer for the board. Our goal is to relieve congestion in our neighborhoods,” Alhambra Mayor David Mejia said.  Pasadena Patch


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Assemblymember Chris Holden Announces Legislation to Kill 710 Freeway Tunnel


Pasadena Star News, Feb. 9, 2017: Chris Holden Introduces Bill to Kill 710 Freeway Tunnel:

Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who leads the 710 Coalition of cities and labor unions in support of constructing the gap-tunnel, took Holden’s announcement personally. She said she and Holden were in lock-step on the freeway completion for decades and had been friends since the early 1980s. “This really upsets me. I feel betrayed by him,” Messina said

Assembly Bill 287 establishes a local advisory committee to recommend a definitive solution for the State Route 710 corridor between the 10 and 210, but would prohibit this advisory committee from considering or recommending a freeway tunnel alternative.

·        Chris Holden, Assemblymember, 41st Assembly District
·        Terry Tornek, Mayor, Pasadena
·        Michael Cacciotti, Mayor, South Pasadena
·        Damon Nagami, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
·        Will Eley, Policy Advocate, California Public Interest Research Group

Thursday, February 9, 2017
10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Mission Street Metro Station
901 Meridian Ave
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Read the bill here:20170ab287holdensr-710-advisory-committee_99

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