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Alternative Route for 710 Freeway Has Advantages

June 30, 1991

There is an alternative to the Meridian Variation route, for closing the gap in the Long Beach Freeway, preferred by Caltrans but opposed by South Pasadena and El Sereno.

It could be the alternative to No Build, preferred by the majority on the present South Pasadena City Council, and it could be the alternative to the westerly route, known as the Lockman Line, preferred by earlier South Pasadena city councils.

The alternative is not new. Bill Edmundson of South Pasadena asked Caltrans to study this alternative, known as Dorchester One. It has been studied by Caltrans and is included in the final environmental impact statement, so no additional studies are needed. However, it too has been rejected by Caltrans, along with other viable alternatives studied by Caltrans.

Twenty years ago I proposed this same alternative, under a different name, to then (state) Sen. (John L.) Harmer, who introduced legislation that would have mandated the location over Caltrans' objections. Sen. Harmer withdrew his bill when Caltrans agreed to review the proposal. After a cursory review, they dismissed it in a cavalier manner.

The alternative consists of Dorchester One through El Sereno, connected to the Pasadena Freeway near York Boulevard and the Pasadena Freeway connected 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.

The alternative has many advantages over the Meridian Variation route preferred by Caltrans. It would require only half the 1,400 homes needed for the Meridian Variation route and would displace half as many people. It would avoid most historic places and historic districts now on the National Register.

It would have less of an adverse impact on the environment and the cost would be about two-thirds the cost of the Meridian Variation route. It would not require the taking of park land as the section in the Arroyo Seco would be elevated adjacent to the Pasadena Freeway and permit park use of the space under the freeway.

Caltrans, seemingly, considers advantages of this alternative insufficient and insists on the Meridian Variation route. Perhaps the time has come when "Engineers Need a Wider View," as was editorialized in the February issue of Civil Engineering.

JESS M. REYNOLDS

Pasadena

The writer is a former Caltrans highway engineer.

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