Expansion of I-710, One of Worst Highway Projects in the Country


As activists continue to make the case that any infrastructure-based stimulus package has to promote green and alternative technologies or it will do more harm than good in the long term; a 2004 report, Road to Ruin, by the Friends of the Earth is getting some new attention.  In addition to detailing the amount of money that governments spend subsidizing our highway system every year, the report also analyzes what it calls 27 "Roads to Ruin" or the worst highway projects in the country.

Not surprisingly, the I-710 expansion project, before tunneling was even mentioned as an alternative, was high on the list. Click here and go to page 10 to see the full listing for the project, but in short:

Though SR 710 supporters claim that the highway would improve air quality, the South Coast Air Quality Management District criticized Caltrans’ use of an obsolete air pollutant emission model, and the EPA has criticized numerous flaws in Caltrans’ analysis of SR 710’s impact on air quality and communities. A federal district court based its 1999 injunction against the project partly upon fl aws in Caltrans’ emissions analysis.

SR 710 is projected to double the number of vehicle trips through the corridor—to 200,000 per day—and many of those vehicles would be diesel trucks. The Air Quality Management District’s 2002 Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study II found that air pollution-related cancer risk was elevated across the Los Angeles Basin; that cars, trucks and other vehicles were primary sources of some carcinogenic air pollutants; and that the highest risk often occurred near major roads.

Now there is some good news and bad news for opponents of the I-710 project, which now would most likely be a tunnel underneath the I-710 to double capacity and give L.A. County our own Big Dig.  The good news is that there is absolutely no way that the project will be "shovels in the ground" ready in the next couple of months or even the next couple of years.

The bad news is that with the passage of Measure R, the project is moving forward again.  Traffic consulting company Iteris bragged earlier this month that:

Iteris is performing traffic analysis and truck
forecasting for these projects that will upgrade the freeway and
improve truck and traffic flows between the Ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach and the SR-60 freeway, as well as complete the I-710
freeway with a tunnel below South Pasadena and Pasadena.

Thus, the battle over the I-710, one of America’s worst highway projects, moves forward.

Photo: Big Mike Lakers/Flickr

  • Sadly South Pasadena has eased its historic fight against the project as long as it is in a tunnel.


    I still think the staggering cost will kill this stupid project. Despite the ongoing campaign of Alhambra and Pasadena on its behalf.

  • Chris

    I imagine people living near I-5 will be happy to have a lot of the diesel trucks going by their homes move to the 710.

  • The “air quality will improve with vehicle speeds” argument is so frustratingly stupid it makes my blood boil.

    Yes, on a given highway, faster cars mean less air pollution BUT if there is no highway, there are no cars! If there are no cars, there is even less pollution! I think we should take proponents of the 710 and force them to dig the tunnel themselves if they like the idea so much. I’ve got a shovel in my garage you yahoos can use.

  • This is an ugly project, in my opinion. Not just the tunnel, but also the expansion planned for the lower 710 – if that goes through it’s going to be massive – 10 regular lanes and 4 truck lanes. Groan. It’s going to be hell for the LA River, too, which runs along it.

  • On the other hand, you could run a tunnel for cars and buses only quite easily. Congestion price the hell out of it and it could pay for itself. Let’s see if this tunnel, and the Palmdale-La Crescenta tunnel, can at least pay for operating and construction costs (excluding externalities) from user fees. I think it could, but the only way to find out is through a study.

  • When is the new Metro Charcoal Line Extension of the Interstate 710 Freeway Projects from Cal State L.A. to Long Beach Transit Mall?

  • Chilly8

    I say build it and tell the environmentalists to go to hell.

  • Chilly8

    It will also make the drive to Disneyland easier as well. No need to go through that confusing maze of freeways in downtown LA, where one can easily get on the wrong road, just take the 210 to the 710, and get back on the 5 and avoid all that mess. It is something that is much needed



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