After repeated disruptions by protesters from the Bus Riders Union and two arrests, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Thursday unanimously approved a new round of studies for the proposed 710 Freeway extension, including an analysis of alternatives to a tunnel or highway.
The protest delayed the vote on the controversial issue for several hours until transit police and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies cleared the MTA board room in downtown Los Angeles of dozens of demonstrators who oppose a transit fare increase set to begin July 1.
FOR THE RECORD:
710 Freeway vote: An article in Friday's LATExtra section about the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board's vote to approve a new study of the proposed 710 Freeway extension said that the decision was unanimous. The vote was 7-2, with Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian and Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar voting no. —
The group demanded that directors hold further hearings on the fare hike and take a vote on whether to rescind it. Demonstrators effectively shut down the meeting and interrupted a hearing involving the 710 before authorities ordered union members to clear the room.
Two protesters who refused to leave were removed by officers and cited on misdemeanor charges of disrupting a public meeting. They were later released, MTA officials said.
The study of the 710 extension is the latest development in a decades-long controversy over whether the 4.5-mile freeway gap between Pasadena and Alhambra should be closed with a tunnel, highway or some other alternative.
The 710 now ends in Alhambra just north of the 10 Freeway. Planners originally envisioned that the 710 would be extended through South Pasadena and Pasadena to link up with the 210 Freeway, but the idea has run into intense community and political opposition. There has been some discussion about building a tunnel to complete the link, but that too has become controversial.
"We need to look at all the alternatives, modes and routes," said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who chairs the MTA board and is an opponent of a tunnel. "We want to make sure we are doing things the right way."
The measure approved Thursday calls for the MTA to hire a consultant to study the project and explore "a full range of options" to relieve congestion, improve safety, address community concerns, and supplement future planning efforts.