One of L.A.'s great communal imbroglios is the extension of the Long Beach Freeway, also known as State Route 710. Years ago construction ended at its Alhambra terminus, so that it currently connects Long Beach directly to — Valley Boulevard. Caltrans wants to complete it so that the highway will continue on through El Sereno, South Pasadena and to the Foothill Freeway in Pasadena. Residents along the route have fought it for nearly half a century, citing all the reasons familiar to students of the damage freeways cause old neighborhoods. One novel — and ultra-expensive — counterproposal, now embraced by Caltrans, is to sink the route's last 6.2 miles underground.
There are two schools of thought about this. One says that it's a legitimate idea. The other holds it's a bogus proposal insincerely embraced by no-freeway advocates who know that its huge price tag will doom the project forever. Which is why, perhaps, earliler this month a committee of the state assembly approved Gil Cedillo's state senate bill mandating the tunnel idea, while providing no money for its construction.
Tuesday, reports the L.A. Times, Glendale's city council declared its opposition to even a tunnel because, of course, of all the extra traffic that would somehow be diverted to its fair borders during construction. A city report drew an apocalyptic vision of more than 30,000 cars hurtling along the 210 Freeway through Glendale's northern fringes, all because of the dig way over in Alhambra. (The study also notes that traffic along stretches of I-5 and Route 2 will actually decrease during construction.)
La Canada Flintridge has also gotten into the act and piled on to
oppose the freeway tunnel because, somehow, all that digging 11 miles
away would make parking at the Sports Chalet simply unbearable. In
other words, the first foot of dirt hasn't yet been dug on the 710
extension but a raw nerve of NIMBYism has been exposed, just as surely as
if some new airport had been proposed next door to the local Trader Joe's.
Looking over the Glendale white paper, you suspect that probably every
town and neighborhood council has a similar Doomsday file full of dire
traffic predictions and staggering statistics to preserve the status quo. Everyone can sympathize with South Pasadena and El Sereno, but the squawking of the outer burbs is enough to make one say, “Dig the thing now, put it on top — and make it extra wide!”