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A Possible Solution to Freeway Gap

May 17, 1990

There is a solution to the longstanding controversy over closing the gap in the Long Beach Freeway. It is an alternative to the Meridian Variation route preferred by Caltrans and the No Build preferred by South Pasadena.

The alternative is a combination of parts of several routes studied by Caltrans that are included in its soon-to-be-released Final Environmental Impact Statement. No further studies are needed.

This alternative consists of connecting the existing Long Beach Freeway with the Pasadena Freeway near York Boulevard. The Pasadena Freeway would connect to the Foothill Freeway via the adopted Meridian route in Pasadena, leaving the existing freeway around Raymond Hill as a second freeway connection to Pasadena. This plan (developed in the mid-1980s) would:

* Require half the number of homes and half the number of people to be displaced. The route would be located through more open space and less densely populated areas.

* Avoid hauling millions of cubic yards of excess dirt on city streets and congested freeways to the Irwindale gravel pits, a disposal that may not be environmentally acceptable.

* Permit excess dirt to be placed in open space valleys adjacent to the freeway in a manner to create building sites for replacement housing.

* Provide the opportunity for relocating people in the same community. New, three-bedroom manufactured houses can be placed on these newly created building sites for less than $100,000 each. Many displaced people can then qualify for a new home without a subsidy from public funds.

* Avoid most historic districts and historic places now on the National Register.

* Remove the slide area at Monterey Road north of Avenue 60, as was done on the San Bernardino Freeway at Kellogg Hill where new homes have been built.

* Permit construction of two-level structures rather than four-level structures over the Raymond Fault near Orange Grove Boulevard.

* Permit construction in the Arroyo Seco to be either double-decking or side-by-side roadways with park use of the space under the freeway, as was done in San Antonio, Tex.

* Be one-half mile longer for Long Beach Freeway traffic, but one-half mile shorter for Pasadena Freeway traffic.

* Cost much less than the Meridian Variation route.

All that is needed to resolve the problem are a few days for Caltrans to rewrite the "summary and conclusion" sections of the FEIS and to recommend this compromise combination of routes in lieu of the Meridian Variation route through South Pasadena.

JESS M. REYNOLDS

Pasadena

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