Politics

Labor Unions Take A Stand In California Tunnel Controversy

Labor unions from across California are advocating for the construction of a massive tunnel to close a six-mile gap between the 10 and the 210 freeways in Pasadena, Calif.

Proponents of the tunnel, who say it is the most feasible solution to major traffic congestion, can count on the support of 16 labor unions, who joined a coalition in support of the project.

State Assemblyman Chris Holden introduced a bill that would kill the tunnel idea in February, saying that the, “710 tunnel project is a misguided and obsolete solution.”

The project would extend the 710 Freeway from Valley Boulevard under El Sereno, a mostly Latino neighborhood of Los Angeles, and pass under South Pasadena and into Pasadena, where the 4.5-mile tunnel would connect above-ground at the 210/134 freeway interchange near the Pasadena convention center.

A national consumer watchdog group listed the 710 tunnel extension project as one of 12 highway “boondoggles,” representing a waste of taxpayer dollars in 2016. The report criticizes the project for being a misplaced priority and part of “outdated thinking.”

“We will not stand for unnecessary attempts to disrupt the process,” Ron Miller, executive secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, said in a statement. Miller asserts that the project would create 40,000 jobs and “has broad community support.”

“A lot of that would go away. It would be a lot of hours for our members,” Miller said. The unions that support the tunnel range from sheet-metal workers, to operating engineers.

“Its doable,” Messina told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune in 2016. “It was doable when they tunneled under the English Channel. Plus, look at all the subway tunnels (in L.A.) we’ve built successfully,” she added.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been tunneling under the city over the past year, constructing a new series of underground rail stations that will connect existing tunnels to new routes under downtown Los Angeles.

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