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Caltrans Agrees to Ban Trucks on I-710 Link : Transportation: State also recommends building four tunnels to minimize noise and preserve historic areas along proposed Long Beach Freeway expansion.


WEST SAN GABRIEL VALLEY — Caltrans agreed, in a report released Wednesday, to ban trucks from the proposed Long Beach Freeway expansion and to try to protect many of the dozens of historic properties along the 6.2-mile route.

The state transportation agency's report also recommended building four tunnels to minimize noise and air pollution, particularly in historic neighborhoods of Pasadena and South Pasadena. The ban on trucks and the protection of historic areas are in keeping with an advisory panel's recommendations on the proposed extension, but the panel had advised building six tunnels.

The state Department of Transportation also backed away from the advisory panel's recommendation to compensate school districts, particularly South Pasadena's, $4.1 million for any financial losses that might result from the construction.

A pro-freeway group Wednesday staged a press conference to assert that if the roadway were built, it would create 26,000 to 29,000 jobs for the region.

Jerry B. Baxter, Caltrans director for the agency's regional headquarters in Los Angeles, said most of the advisory panel's recommendations were endorsed.

The panel was created last year at the behest of federal highway officials as part of an attempt to minimize trouble caused by the proposed roadway.

In rejecting several steps advocated by the advisory panel, Caltrans officials say they shaved $58 million from the proposed project. It would cost $651 million to build, under the Caltrans plan.

A large portion of the savings would come from the elimination of two tunnels that had been proposed, one in South Pasadena at Orange Grove Park and one in Pasadena in the Markham Place district.

The state highway officials did agree with constructing tunnels proposed for Templeton Street in the El Sereno section of Los Angeles, at South Pasadena High School on Fremont Avenue, at Prospect Circle in South Pasadena and at Westridge School, on Madeline Drive in Pasadena.

In supporting the ban on trucks, Caltrans said such a ban would somewhat lessen the noise generated by traffic and help to reduce accidents that trucks might cause.

Both opponents and proponents of the freeway said they were unable to comment on the Caltrans recommendation because they had not seen the report.

The public has until Oct. 15 to comment on the Caltrans proposals.

The California Transportation Commission has scheduled a hearing on the controversial freeway issue for Sept. 27, starting at 9 a.m. at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 300 E. Green St.

One of the groups planning to be at the hearing is the 710 Freeway Coalition, advocates of the freeway extension, who held a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, touting a study they financed.

The study was done by former Occidental College economics department head Joseph E. Haring of the Pasadena Research Institute, an economic development think-tank.

Haring, along with construction industry union leaders, said the extension project would result in a tremendous boon in temporary construction jobs and permanent ones at new office buildings and factories that would spring up along the road.

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