Najarian opposes possible freeway tunnel in area

By Charles COOPER

Glendale council member Ara Najarian said he will oppose any effort to connect the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Glendale (2) Freeway, and construction of a tunnel to the Foothill (210) Freeway.

“It would turn the 2 into a truck route and we certainly don’t need that,” Najarian, chairman of the MTA Board, told the CV Weekly.

The westerly route for the freeway extension is one of five that will be presented for public discussion next year. Najarian said he believes the freeway planners are leaning toward the use of the Route 2 alignment, though staff has made no recommendation.

The extension would travel west from Alhambra, run through Eagle Rock and connect with Verdugo Road, and run north on Route 2.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) supports the closure of the freeway gap. Construction of a tunnel was proposed when a surface alignment through South Pasadena and Pasadena was stalemated by local opposition.

The tunnel is estimated to cost in excess of $3 billion. The MTA long range transit plan includes $800 million for the project out of sales tax funding.

“That money will end up going to consultant contracts, and we’ll be no closer to having the funds to build the tunnel,” Najarian said. He suggested the money could be reprogrammed for other transit uses and the tunnel project be dropped from the transit plan.

Najarian said the money could be spent on the Gold Line foothill extension. Phase two of the extension is expected to be started next year, but the final phase to the Inland Empire is still in the planning stages.

Najarian said he plans to continue to work toward freeway sound walls for La Crescenta and La Cañada out of the transit funds, and suggested studying a park along the 2 freeway. The city will receive $250 million out of the sales tax money.

If the 710 were extended adjacent to Glendale, it would bring to four the number of freeways impacting the area: the 2, the Ventura (134) Freeway, the Golden State (5) Freeway and the 210.