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Metro board votes to deep-six 710 tunnel option

FILE: The 710 freeway tunnel proposal has been the source of decades-long debate. Today, the Metro board voted to kill it as an option for making improvements in the area.
FILE: The 710 freeway tunnel proposal has been the source of decades-long debate. Today, the Metro board voted to kill it as an option for making improvements in the area.
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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board today unanimously voted to kill the 710 freeway tunnel option that has been a controversial project pitting communities against communities for decades.

Instead, the board decided to redirect funding for the project to other transportation needs, including street improvements in communities like San Gabriel Valley, East L.A., and Northeast L.A.

"I've come to conclusion it's not fundable," John Fasana, Metro board chair and Duarte councilman, said of the proposed tunnel during a packed meeting that drew hundreds of project opponents and supporters. 

The tunnel was one of five options considered by Caltrans and Metro to build a north-south connection between the busy 10 and 210 freeways through the heart of the San Gabriel Valley, extending the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. It had been estimated to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion.

While communities like Alhambra and Rosemead have pushed for a tunnel, saying it would ease cut-through traffic on their streets, cities like Pasadena and South Pasadena fiercely opposed it, arguing it would only create more traffic and destroy their neighborhoods.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti echoed many tunnel critics in saying building freeways is not a 21st century solution to traffic issues. He said officials have had to make tough choices between building freeway connections and destroying communities, and there has been a long history of that in urban areas.

Hilda Solis, Metro board member and L.A. County supervisor, said taking the tunnel option off the table will bring environmental justice to long neglected areas in the San Gabriel Valley and East LA.

"This day will be remembered by many," she said.

This story will be updated.