The Pasadena Unified School District is once again wading into the ongoing battle over the 710 Freeway Tunnel extension plan. The proposed plan by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) would build a 4.5 mile tunnel to connect the freeway from its terminus at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the “stub” of the 210 freeway in Pasadena.
In February, an organization known as the 5-Star Education Coalition (5-SC), consisting of representatives from Pasadena Unified, South Pasadena Unified, Glendale Unified, Burbank Unified, and La Canada Unified, drafted a joint resolution opposing the tunnel extension of State Route 710 North.
The coalition represents 70,000 K-12 students in those five school districts.
The coalition took issue with METRO’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), saying “The 5SC finds that the DEIR does not adequately address the potential health impact on our students and staff whose daily school and work environment would be impacted because of our schools’ proximity to a route proposed in the study for State Route 710.”
The 5SC also did not agree with METRO’s findings that the building of a tunnel to extend State Route 710 will not bring additional traffic to the area.
The coalition had hoped for a united front to oppose the tunnel project, as a number of local city governments, including Pasadena, had already.
Pasadena Unified School Board member Larry Torres quashed that hope when he went on record to decide against supporting the resolution.
“I’m of the opinion, probably where most folks are, that something needs to happen,” Torres told the PUSD board in March during its monthly meeting. “I’m not sold that a tunnel is the answer,” added Torres, a former LAUSD teacher, “but I’m also questioning whether or not for me, as a school board member, this is a child-related issue.”
But PUSD board member Scott Phelps wants the matter revisited at tonight’s monthly board meeting and voted on again.
At least one Pasadena Unified board member also agreed with Torres.
”I am personally opposed to the 710 tunnel, but I kind of agree with Larry,” said Board Member Patrick Cahalan. “I don’t see this is an area of governance that we should be weighing in on as a school board. I also don’t think there’s a clear impact here that has to do with education.”
The matter will be once again on the agenda at the PUSD School Board meeting tonight, as the F-SC needs a unanimous vote by all school districts to formally adopt the resolution.