One of the largest infrastructure projects in the nation is taking shape in Los Angeles, and communities want their voices to be heard.
On Wednesday morning residents from Bell, Commerce, Huntington Park, Long Beach, and other neighborhoods, along with local elected officials, rallied along the 710 freeway to urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB811, which will require CalTrans, Metro, and its partners to consider the community-preferred alternative, known as Community Alternative 7 (CA7), for the 710 Corridor Project.
The 710 Corridor Project will expand the I-710 Freeway to address congestion and safety issues related to increased traffic volumes, between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Pomona Freeway. Plans include widening of the freeway from eight to as many as 14 lanes, including a "Freight Corridor" with four dedicated lanes, with options for zero-emission "e-highways," that would be designed for trucks only. Construction is set to begin in 2020.
The project also seeks to break new ground by involving community members and stakeholders as part of the project development process. It provides stakeholders "the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the technical team throughout the life of the project," according to Metro's project website.
The Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice (CEHAJ), a group of organizations, associations, and community groups working to achieve environmental justice for residents living along the 710 Corridor, created Community Alternative 7 to address the needs of residents while accommodating the project's main goals. Some of the components of this alternative include:
- No widening of the general-purpose lanes
- A comprehensive public transit element
- Mandatory Zero Emission Corridor (ZEC)
- Comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle element
Community Alternative 7 also includes suggestions for improvements along the 18-mile stretch of the L.A. River, which runs along the entire length of the 710 Corridor. These include providing a more comprehensive walk and bike trail network, treatment of polluted run-off, and protecting the river from being used as a right of way to house power infrastructure.
Some of these suggestions are addressed in the alternatives outlined in the 2012 Environmental Impact Report (EIR), such as Zero Emission Corridor (see image above); bicycle paths ("710 Corridor Project will provide facilities for bicycles and pedestrians in locations where local streets are affected by the construction); and stormwater runoff ("Although all build alternatives will result in increased surface water runoff due to the increase in paved surface area, the project design includes features to capture and treat runoff before it enters the Los Angeles River.")
SB811, authored by State Senator Ricardo Lara, will ensure that Community Alternative 7 will be considered as a new EIR is drafted. Supporters are urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill before the October 13 deadline.