Garnering cheers from the standing-room-only crowd, the I-710 Project Committee voted 11-5 last night to recommend that CalTrans study Community Alternative 7, along with CalTrans’ own proposed alternatives, in its recirculated environmental documents. This is a huge step forward in ensuring that the community vision gets the full analysis it deserves, but the decade-long effort isn’t over yet.
Under consideration for years, the I-710 project is a potentially $7 billion expansion of the 18-mile stretch of freeway that runs through 15 cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. To accommodate even more trucks and cars between the Port of Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles, the project could add extra lanes to the existing eight.
While many environmental fights are over what a community doesn’t want, the community here worked to create an affirmative vision for what it does want. Community Alternative 7 (or CA7) is a comprehensive, sustainable, and (most importantly) community-centered alternative for addressing the agencies’ I-710 project goals. Yet CalTrans to-date has balked at even studying the alternative further.
CA7 includes a mandatory, separated zero-emission freight corridor from day one, as well as other elements such as public transit, to reduce air pollution, improve public health, and address traffic safety while accommodating projected traffic demand. So it should be no surprise that regional and federal environmental officials support a thorough analysis of this ZE corridor.
CA7 incorporates a comprehensive public transit strategy that incentivizes non-automobile transit and complements the state’s AB 32 and SB 375 smart growth goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also provides comprehensive bike and pedestrian elements, along with river improvements, to better connect communities along the corridor with each other, and with transit, residential, employment, retail, and recreation destinations. So it’s also no surprise that local cities, state legislators, and other stakeholders stand with residents all along the corridor in support of CA7.
We have a tremendous opportunity here to help set a standard for effective, sustainable, and comprehensive transportation system planning in the 21st century. But achieving that depends on having complete information through a full analysis of all the alternatives. Thanks to the Project Committee, we are now much closer to that goal.
But the Project Committee’s recommendation is just that: a recommendation. CalTrans could continue to ignore this loud-and-clear message.
Community Alternative 7 deserves full analysis for an informed environmental review and decision-making process. For our part, we, as members of the Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, will be working with the community and other stakeholders to hold CalTrans accountable.