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Transportation Policy

Expansion of I-710, One of Worst Highway Projects in the Country

10:11 AM PST on December 17, 2008


As activists continue to make the case that any infrastructure-based stimulus package has to promote green and alternative technologies or it will do more harm than good in the long term; a 2004 report, Road to Ruin, by the Friends of the Earth is getting some new attention.  In addition to detailing the amount of money that governments spend subsidizing our highway system every year, the report also analyzes what it calls 27 "Roads to Ruin" or the worst highway projects in the country.

Not surprisingly, the I-710 expansion project, before tunneling was even mentioned as an alternative, was high on the list. Click here and go to page 10 to see the full listing for the project, but in short:

Though SR 710 supporters claim that the highway would improve air quality, the South Coast Air Quality Management District criticized Caltrans’ use of an obsolete air pollutant emission model, and the EPA has criticized numerous flaws in Caltrans’ analysis of SR 710’s impact on air quality and communities. A federal district court based its 1999 injunction against the project partly upon fl aws in Caltrans’ emissions analysis.

SR 710 is projected to double the number of vehicle trips through the corridor—to 200,000 per day—and many of those vehicles would be diesel trucks. The Air Quality Management District’s 2002 Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study II found that air pollution-related cancer risk was elevated across the Los Angeles Basin; that cars, trucks and other vehicles were primary sources of some carcinogenic air pollutants; and that the highest risk often occurred near major roads.

Now there is some good news and bad news for opponents of the I-710 project, which now would most likely be a tunnel underneath the I-710 to double capacity and give L.A. County our own Big Dig.  The good news is that there is absolutely no way that the project will be "shovels in the ground" ready in the next couple of months or even the next couple of years.

The bad news is that with the passage of Measure R, the project is moving forward again.  Traffic consulting company Iteris bragged earlier this month that:

Iteris is performing traffic analysis and truck forecasting for these projects that will upgrade the freeway and improve truck and traffic flows between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the SR-60 freeway, as well as complete the I-710 freeway with a tunnel below South Pasadena and Pasadena.

Thus, the battle over the I-710, one of America's worst highway projects, moves forward.

Photo: Big Mike Lakers/Flickr

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