(Dec. 31, 2003) -- The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says it is suspending its support for extending the 710 freeway through South Pasadena to connect with the 210 and 134 freeways 4.5 miles to the north unless and until Caltrans completes a comprehensive new environmental study.
The federally backed project -- contemtemplated for roughly 40 years to end the current dead-ending of the 710 at Valley Blvd. in Alhambra -- is effectively ended...for now.
LB City Hall was on record as supporting the project which would have sliced through South Pasadena as well as El Sereno and Pasadena neighborhoods...and eaten nearly 1,000 homes.
The FHWA said a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (the federal version of an EIR), followed by a new federal review process, will be required to advance the project as a Federal aid highway project.
In a South Pasadena City Hall written release, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti said, "This is a huge victory for the community and we are particularly indebted to the dedicated and determined residents, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other organizations that have spent decades fighting this ill-advised project. We commend the Federal Highway Administration for taking this action." He added, "We will continue to work with Caltrans, local agencies and corridor cities to build transportation improvements supported by all."
South Pasadena indicated Caltrans apparently participated in the feds' reevaluation and received official word of the FHWA decision in a Dec.17, 2003 letter from FHWA Division Administrator Gary N. Hamby.
FHWA's letter cited "important new developments not adequately addressed" in FHWA’s 1998 approval such as the Gold Line and Alameda Corridor completion and new air quality and historic preservation impacts. The agency's decision also noted the need to implement interim transportation improvements and the lack of state funding for the project.
Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which also listed the freeway corridor on America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list from 1989-1993, said in the release, "This highway would have cut through the heart of South Pasadena and caused irreparable damage to six historic districts in its path. We and others have actively opposed this highway project for 15 years. This decision is the stake in the heart of the 710 that we’ve been hoping for. We applaud this action, which virtually assures that the 710 extension will never be built and that the communities in the corridor will be preserved intact."
Antonio Rossmann, special counsel to South Pasadena, said the FHWA decision "probably amounts to a defacto killing of the 710. "The federal decision now is of no legal effect. We are grateful that the government now supports virtually every position that South Pasadena and our allies advanced in court. To its credit, FHWA now embraces Judge Dean Pregerson’s leadership in his 1999 preliminary injunction against the freeway."