We’re having the wrong debate about the 710 Freeway.
To put it another way: The debate we’re having about the 710 Freeway should be a whole lot broader and more imaginative than it’s been so far.
State and local transportation planners announced last year that they were finally abandoning the controversial idea of building an aboveground extension of the 710 through Pasadena and South Pasadena. In its place they presented five options, including adding new transit lines or building the roadway as a five-mile, $5.6-billion tunnel.
The discussion that’s followed has focused largely on the tunnel. Opponents have called it staggeringly expensive and suggested building it would produce years of disruption. Supporters have identified it as a key missing north-south link in the Southern California transportation network, filling a gap between the 10 and the 210 freeways and offering overdue relief to Alhambra and other cities overrun with traffic pouring off the truncated 710.
But as those arguments have raged, we’ve let one big question slip from the agenda: What should Caltrans do with the property it has been stockpiling on the aboveground 710 corridor for more than four decades? […]