In a shocking win for local communities, a highway expansion project has actually been canceled. The Los Angeles Times reports that a $6 billion expansion project for the 710 freeway in Los Angeles has been canceled due to backlash from residents, activities, and the local community.
The 710 freeway expansion was years in the making. It’s one of the country’s busiest corridors as it’s a direct route for trucks going and coming from the Port of Long Beach. The expansion would’ve simply added more lanes to accommodate more trucks. However, an expansion would only worsen the pollution that affects the people that live in the communities the 710 runs through.
Pollution from thousands of trucks navigating the 710 every day is already negatively affecting the health of the surrounding communities made up of 1.2 million people, with 80 percent of that population Black and Brown residents. Those local residents and groups aiming to stop the expansion pressured the Metro board enough to cave and cancel the expansion. Adrian Martinez, an attorney for the environmental nonprofit Earthjustice said to the Times, “This is a wake-up call to policymakers around the nation that we cannot solve our transportation problems with road-widening projects.”
As for the $6 billion allocated for the project, $750 million is going to support local communities. Those funds will go to communities that needed it, put forth by Metro board member Janice Hahn. “Our 710 communities are really looking for some quality-of-life improvements, as soon as possible,” she told the Times. Those plans account for everything from clean air initiatives like better air filtration systems in schools to parks and bikeways.
The canceled expansion project is just the first step. A bill is already being drawn up in the state legislature that will stop freeway expansion projects in or near communities that have low incomes and high pollution.