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Caltrans Relinquishes 710 Stub to Pasadena

Mayor said Wednesday became 'Independence Day' from the 710 Freeway for Pasadena

Published on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | 8:30 pm

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo seen appearing before the California Transportation Commission in Sacramento on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. To Gordo’s left is Commissioner Tony Tavares. [Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Office]
After decades, Caltrans voted unanimously to approve relinquishment of the 710 stub back to Pasadena on Wednesday.

The vote came after decades of uncertainty regarding the future of the 710 extension, and marked a historic moment in the City’s long-sought goal of re-envisioning and rebuilding what was once an integral and vibrant part of Pasadena.

Mayor Victor Gordo testified at a hearing of the California Transportation Commission in Sacramento Wednesday.

Councilmember Steve Madison, in whose district the proposed freeway extension would have run, also spoke to the commission.

The vote by the CTC will return approximately 50 acres of property to the City of Pasadena and as well as provide a one-time payment of $5 million.

After the decision, Gordo spoke to Pasadena Now from Sacramento.

“Today’s action is a first and very important step in being able to re-imagine the corridor, rebuild the City, reconnect neighborhoods and look to the future of mobility and community,” Gordo said.

“With today’s action, Pasadena can now move forward with planning efforts and working closely with its residents on identifying future transportation connections and land uses for the stub.”

An aerial view of the 710 Freeway extension in Pasadena nicknamed variously “The Stub” and “The Ditch.” [Image courtesy Connect Pasadena via Facebook]
Last year the city completed its feasibility study. The assessment did not assume any land use considerations for the project area, but rather focused on demonstrating that eliminating the freeway to freeway ramps would not impact the operations or safety of the 134 and 210 freeways.

The city will undertake a multidisciplinary community-led process to determine the future land use, transportation network, and utility infrastructure network needed to reconnect Pasadena.

More than 50 years ago, Caltrans seized hundreds of homes in southwestern Pasadena, the city of South Pasadena and the Los Angeles neighborhood of El Sereno through eminent domain in what ultimately became a failed effort to connect the Long Beach 710 and Foothill 210 freeways.

Caltrans demolished dozens of homes owned by African-Americans in western Pasadena for the project.

According to National Public Radio, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 routed some highways directly through Black and Brown communities and, like Caltrans, took homes from families via eminent domain.

“Today’s the culmination of just hard work of thousands of Pasadenans over a few generations,” Gordo said. “Today, the 710 stub was returned to its right owners — the people of Pasadena. And all who have had a hand in getting to this point should be applauded. Now [the] complex and hard work of reimagining and restitching our great city begins, and I encourage all of us to undertake this opportunity together.”

State Senator Anthony J. Portantino issued a supportive statement saying he was “ecstatic with the CTC action today.”

Portantino also said he was grateful to “the hundreds of activists who spent 60 years fighting the 710 Freeway and to the city of Pasadena for a proposing a positive, modern vision for the stub. I was honored to have authored SB 7 that ended the freeway tunnel threat and authorized Caltrans to negotiate this important property transfer back to Pasadena. The city is rightfully back in control of this important land.”

The state transit agency held the land for years, and over the past decade the 710 stub just a few miles from Old Pasadena, served as little more than a dropoff point for drivers heading south and a rock quarry for Caltrans.

Last year staff said public outreach will be conducted “to rework the stub back into the fabric of the city.”

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