Interstate 710 is the Long Beach Freeway, which roughly parallels Atlantic Boulevard and the Los Angeles River from Long Beach north to Los Angeles near Alhambra. This a heavy trucking corridor that carries traffic from the busy ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles north to east of Downtown Los Angeles. Interstate 710 connects to Interstate 10 (San Bernardino Freeway) at Alhambra.

The southern terminus of Interstate 710 separates three separate prongs: the Terminal Island Spur (this is the official continuation of I-710 south), the Downtown Long Beach Spur, and the Queen Mary Spur. The Long Beach Freeway splits into these spurs south of Anaheim Street (Exit 1). Caltrans Postmiles originate at the diamond interchange joining the Terminal Island Spur with California 47 (Terminal Island Freeway). This stretch was previously maintained by the city of Long Beach, but switched to Caltrans during the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.

California 710

The northern terminus of Interstate 710 at I-10 and Valley Boulevard in Alhambra was meant to be temporary. Plans since 19591 called for extending I-710 north from Alhambra to the unmarked Route 710 spur linking Del Mar Boulevard with Interstate 210 in Pasadena. Construction on closing the 4.5-mile gap between the two segments never started due to litigation and ongoing controversy of the selected route of the freeway.

Route 710 runs north along South Pasadena Avenue from Columbia Street (postmile T30.953) to California Boulevard (postmile T31.764). The remainder of Route 710 follows the northern stub of the Long Beach Freeway to the systems interchange with SR 134 (Ventura Freeway) and I-210 (Foothill Freeway) at postmile R32.717.

Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project

A through steel arch bridge, the Gerald Desmond Bridge carries Interstate 710 over the Back Channel, which separates the Port of Long Beach on the mainland from the berths on Terminal Island. The span opened to traffic on June 5, 1968, on the evening after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.2 Improvements to the bridge totaling $14 million were completed in 2002, including adding a climbing lane and moving sidewalks to the exterior of the truss to allow for the extra lane. Despite that work, the bridge was considered deficient, with early 1990s plans for a replacement advancing.3

The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project broke ground in 2013. The $1.47 billion project constructs the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the United States (only the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado surpasses it). Providing 205 feet of vertical clearance, 50 feet more than the predecessor bridge, the higher span will provide adequate clearance for the tallest container ships to and from the port. The 2,000 main span will be supported by a pair of 515 foot tall towers. Measuring 8,800 feet from end to end, the new bridge will link the south end of SR 47 & 103 with Ocean Boulevard leading into Downtown Long Beach.3

The flyover from the Gerald Desmond Bridge east end to Interstate 710 north permanently closed on June 9, 2018. The closure allows crews to demolish the old ramp to make way for its replacement from the new Gerald Desmond Bridge. Work continues though summer 2019,4 with dismantling of the 1968-span following.3

710 Freeway Gap - Pasadena

The Long Beach Freeway was designated as California 15 and then subsequently renumbered to California 7 in 1964. Interstate 710 was established in place of California 7, from California 1 in Long Beach northward as approved by AASHTO on May 23, 1984. The southern extent from California 1 to Ocean Boulevard was approved by AASHTO on December 7, 1984.

Origins for the Long Beach Freeway date to the 1930s, when state transportation officials started mapping out the future freeway network. Included was Legislative Route 167 from Monterey Park to Long Beach. The route was extended further north into South Pasadena via legislation signed by then-Governor Earl Warren in 1949.5

Construction on the freeway commenced in 1951 within the vicinity of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the south. Further north, the California Highway Commission selected the Meridian Route, which paralleled Meridian Avenue in South Pasadena, for the eventual I-710 in 1964. Right of way acquisition followed, with homes along the planned route in El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena purchased. Completion of the freeway culminated in 1965 with the opening of a 1.3 section north from I-10 to Valley Boulevard in Alhambra.5

Further work through South Pasadena was delayed due to protests from area residents over the planned route. Lawsuits arose in 1973, following the enactment of more stringent federal environmental legislation. Work was halted following a judge's injunction until more rigid environmental studies could be conducted. The state conducted a new environmental study, issuing it in 1977. It recommended a four-lane freeway, but federal officials were unwilling to accept it. Subsequent events led to additional environmental study in 1985, with the original Meridian Avenue route approved by state officials in 1987.5

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials approved the environmental study in 1992, and the administration of then-Governor Pete Wilson ordered the freeway to be completed. However, lawsuits again were filed in 1995, delaying progress until April 1998, when the FHWA approved the record of decision (ROD) for a 6.2-mile extension of the 710 freeway. South Pasadena then filed suit soon thereafter, citing that the latest environmental document did not adequately protect the environment and historic homes and businesses. A U.S. District Judge ruled in 1999 that environmental impact reports were inadequate and that insufficient low-build alternatives, including improvements to surface streets, were not considered in lieu of the new freeway. Pasadena City County joined South Pasadena officials in opposing the 710 project in 2000.5

The FHWA rescinded approval for the project in 2003, due to the length of time transpired from completion of the previous environmental impact study. The I-710 freeway was not yet dead, as Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2008, included $780 million for potential improvements to the freeway corridor. A new draft environmental report prepared by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTC) and Caltrans in March 2015 examined four alternatives. This included constructing an underground freeway with single or twin-bore tunnels over a five year period.5

The MTC initially endorsed a 4.9-mile tunnel as the most effective way to link the north end of I-710 with I-210 at SR 710. Estimated to cost $3.2 billion, the tunnel would have been the longest in the state.5 The MTC eventually indicated that the price tag up to $5 billion was prohibitive, voting uninamously on May 25, 2017 to not build the tunnel. Instead the funds would be allocated to a preferred local alternative that adds capacity to local streets, new bus lines, bike lanes and synchronizes traffic lights along congested portions of Fremont, Garfield and Fair Oaks Avenues.1


Interstate 710 scenes
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Trailblazers for Interstate 710 directed traffic onto the Seaside Freeway on-ramp at the south end of SR 47 & 103 (Terminal Island Freeway). Postmiles for Route 710 originate at this exchange. This area changed significantly during the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project. Photos taken 11/08/08.
Atlantic Boulevard intersects Bandini Boulevard at the Bell and Vernon city line within the parclo interchange (Exit 17) at Interstate 710. A flyover connects the boulevard northbound with Long Beach Freeway north. There is no freeway access between I-710 north and I-5 south, so motorists are directed to continue along Atlantic Boulevard east for the Santa Ana Freeway south. Photo taken 05/02/10.
Southbound Atlantic Boulevard approaches a complicated intersection with Bandini Boulevard and Interstate 710. A concrete barrier separates oncoming traffic from I-710 north and right turn movements to Bandini Boulevard west. Photo taken 05/02/10.
Bandini Boulevard travels west from I-710 and Atlantic Boulevard as a six-lane boulevard through Vernon and east as a divided arterial to I-5 through industrial areas in the city of Commerce. Photo taken 05/02/10.
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A loop ramp joins Interstate 710 south from Atlantic Boulevard southbound beyond the Long Beach Freeway over crossing in Vernon. Photos taken 05/02/10.
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Atlantic Boulevard crosses the Los Angeles River on this 1931 closed spandrel, concrete arch bridge, located to the immediate west of I-710 in the city of Vernon.6 Photos taken 05/02/10.
An I-710 trailblazer precedes the Atlantic Boulevard southbound intersection with Florence Avenue in the city of Bell. Florence Avenue meets the freeway 1.1 miles to the east. Photo taken 05/02/10.
Atlantic Boulevard switches sides with Interstate 710 from Compton to northern reaches of Long Beach. The on-ramp for SR 91 west from Atlantic includes access to I-710 north. Photo taken 05/02/10.
Artesia Boulevard leads west from Atlantic Avenue across the parallel Los Angeles River to a half diamond interchange with Interstate 710 south. Photo taken 05/02/10.
Westbound Bandini Boulevard crosses the Vernon city line through an industrial area ahead of Atlantic Boulevard and Interstate 710 (Long Beach Freeway). Photo taken 05/02/10.
Succeeding right turns link Bandini Boulevard west with Atlantic Boulevard north to the city of Commerce and a flyover ramp for Interstate 710 north to East Los Angeles. Photo taken 05/02/10.
Overheads along Bandini Boulevard west at Atlantic Boulevard predate the 1984 conversion of SR 7 to Interstate 710. Photo taken 05/02/10.

Sources:

  1. "10 months after Metro killed 710 tunnel, a nervous South Pasadena hires outside attorney to bring the fight to Caltrans." Pasadena Star-News (CA), March 7, 2018.
  2. "Terminal Island Cargo Has Outgrown Old Bridge." Los Angeles Times (CA), March 25, 2004.
  3. "Gerald Desmond Replacement bridge enters crucial phase with construction of main span." Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA), April 25, 2018.
  4. "Connector from Gerald Desmond Bridge to northbound 710 Freeway to close permanently June 9." Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA), June 6, 2018.
  5. "The epic and ugly battle over what to do about the 710 Freeway." Los Angeles Times (CA), May 24, 2017.
  6. Bridgehunter: Atlantic Boulevard Bridge - Los Angeles County, California.


Photo Credits:

11/08/08, 05/02/10 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 5
Interstate 10
Interstate 105
Interstate 210
Interstate 405

Page Updated 06-25-2018.