By EGP News
More than half a century ago, transportation officials in the
Southland knew that they would have to do something to relieve the
inevitable traffic congestion that would pile up along the 710 Freeway
headed north. They had plans to build a freeway extension to complete
the 4.5-mile gap between the terminus of the 710 Freeway in Alhambra and
the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.
Fearing disruption to their neighborhoods and the taking of their
homes, residents filed lawsuits, effectively stopping the expansion for
nearly 60 years.
During the ensuing years, traffic has increased dramatically, both in
terms of goods movement and people driving to work, school, shopping or
For large diesel trucks traveling from the Ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach, hauling as much as 40% of all the goods consumed in the
U.S., the 710 Freeway is a key transportation route to distribution
centers and commercial markets to the east and north of Los Angeles
The crush of traffic has pushed more trucks and cars onto local
streets, making it harder for residents to get around, and according to
health experts, increasing their risk of cancer, asthma, learning
disabilities and premature babies due to increased pollution.
In March, Metro released a Draft Impact Report/Environmental Impact
Statement (DIR/EIS) with five proposed alternatives for improving
traffic through the region; a freeway tunnel, a light rail train; a
rapid bus line; a traffic management system and the required “no build”
Several public hearings on the draft report have already been held;
the latest Saturday in East Los Angeles. Some groups are now calling the
alternatives “outdated” for today’s transportation and environmental
needs, and want to start the process over.
The two proposals getting the most attention are the 7-mile tunnel
connecting the two freeways, and a light rail alternative that backers
say will make it easier for people to leave their car behind.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard represents many of the working
class, predominately Latino communities caught in the 710 traffic snarl.
Last week, she issued the strongest statement to date by any public
official on the project:
“The proposed light rail route is an unacceptable alternative. It is
one more example of the environmental racism with which East L.A. and
Southeast citizens are only too familiar … one more example of a
minority community being sacrificed to appease more affluent
neighborhoods.” (See her full statement here ). She supports building the tunnel.
Metro has extended the deadline to comment on the on the Draft EIR
from July 6 to Aug. 5. Comments will be used to create the final report
and recommendation of an alternative to Metro’s Board of Directors.