The decades-long campaign to close the 4.5-mile gap between Alhambra and Pasadena has faced stiff opposition, none more resolute than the city of South Pasadena, through which the road would have to travel. Senate Bill 545 from Sen. Gil Cedillo was sold as a compromise that would let the freeway be built so long as it tunneled underneath the city's historic homes and tree-lined streets.
Some - including some of the bill's supporters - think the bill would have killed the project given the prohibitive price tag - $3.6 billion for a tunnel versus $850 million for a surface road.
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger called the bill "unnecessary":
There is absolutely no need to enact statutory restrictions that would mandate certain project design options or remove others from potential consideration. In addition, several properties belonging to the state would be subject to sale for less than fair market value as a result of this bill, resulting in the loss to the state of hundreds of millions of dollars.The properties Schwarzenegger refers to are homes, many abandoned and in disrepair, that sit in the freeway's path. Had the bill become law, Caltrans could have sold many of these properties, something South Pasadena and Pasadena would like to see happen. Would the governor have signed the bill if the housing market was in better shape?