If transportation officials opt to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway with a tunnel, La Cañada Flintridge leaders are prepared to fight the project, which they say could have a serious environmental impact on the city.
The City Council on Monday night approved setting aside $500,000 for litigation and other costs related to protecting the city from the project. The designation does not affect the city's budget and no money will be spent until the council approves the amount at a future meeting.
"[Such a fund] prepares the cities who both support the tunnel and prepares the cities who oppose the tunnel," said Councilman Donald Voss, who initiated a motion to earmark the funds.
Connecting the 710 with the Foothill (210) Freeway is one of five options currently being studied by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Other options to alleviate traffic in the region include a light rail system or bus lanes. La Cañada officials are worried that extending the freeway would negatively affect traffic and air quality in the city, as well as increase noise levels.
City Manager Mark Alexander said that the designation of funds to prepare for the project shows the city's commitment to assessing the project. Glendale, Pasadena, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena have shown an interest in working with La Cañada to study the possible impacts of the project and potentially share costs, he added.
The city's $11.2-million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year is supported by about $13.6 million in reserves.
"Our reserves are there for emergencies," said Voss, "and should this come true, and a freeway tunnel is the option selected by [the MTA], and our worst fears of that tunnel, heavy trucks …spilling poisons in La Cañada Flintridge, is part of that. If that's not an emergency, then I don't know what is."