A Midnight Ride Up to Sac Gives 710 Communities the (Possibility) to Breathe

It should be no shock that Sen. Ricardo Lara–who represents the 33rd Senate District spanning Long Beach to Huntington Park–has a vast interest in protecting neighborhoods that line the 710 as it goes through its proposed expansion. His most recent attempt to empower neighborhoods, SB 811, would help give communities a greater say in whether or not Caltrans goes forward with a massive widening spanning Long Beach to East Los Angeles.

SB 811 ispopular with his constituents. Before a key vote in the Assembly, Lara offered a bus to more than 50 Southern Californians from his district to take a very long, leave-at-midnight-seven-hour trip to Sacramento to participate. The legislation passed the Assembly Transportation Committee 10-2.

Senator Lara, with some of his guests at yesterday's Assembly Transportation Committee Hearing. Photo via Senator Lara's office.

A native of the 6.5 sq. mile city of Commerce–where the 5 and 710 both slice through–and the son of immigrants, Lara has personally experienced the struggle of not just coming from a family that consistently worked, but one which was continually surrounded by growing traffic arterials.

During adolescence, Lara saw the 710 grow from a simple passageway to an Interstate but was removed from the backlash of the Golden State Freeway’s proposed Los Angeles area construction in 1953. The latter project–some twenty years before Lara even came into existence–has an interesting tie with many of Lara’s own struggles. The proposed I-5 construction at the time largely marginalized an already-marginalized Mexican-American population, as noted in Ernesto Chavez’s book Mi Raza Primero! Construction of the freeway went ahead despite opposition.

One can call it experience–given his childhood in Commerce–or one can call it the aligning of stars–many L.A. communities were ultimately disregarded in the construction of the 5–but it goes to show that Lara both recognizes his routes as well as his history.

The 710 has essentially become a core arterial in goods movements as cargo volumes from the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles have exploded–which has also in turn made the trucks using the 710 explode in numbers as well. It acts as the main connector from the ports to each L.A. rail yard–Vernon and East Los Angeles–as well as connecting to the 60 and 10 freeways for access to the San Bernardino and Colton rail yards.

The specific expansion between Long Beach and East L.A. has been met with fierce opposition, including three governmental committees–the Long Beach City Council I-710 Oversight Committee, the Gateway Council of Governments and The Project Committee–all rejecting plans to expand from eight lanes to fourteen.

Lara described SB 811 as “communities along the I-710 freeway have a meaningful mechanism to provide input about mitigation and local benefits appropriate freight impacts, advance sustainability and protect public health.”

In more detailed terms, the bill codifies the motion approved by the aforementioned Project Committee include Community Alternative 7, a plan developed by a slew of organizations including the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Communities for a Better Environment, Legal Aid Foundation of L.A., Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, Natural Resources Defense Council, Long Beach Community Action Partnership, Coalition for Clean Air, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Dubbed the “communities’ build option,” Alternative 7 proffers a committed zero-emissions design that includes a public transit element, biking/pedestrian elements, river improvements, and a public-private partnership for an employer-operated freight system which avoids the 710 expanding.

The bill is moving in both chambers at the same time. It’s next stop will be in front of the  Senate Appropriations Committee.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Three Government Committees Reject Current Plans to Widen 710 Between Long Beach and East LA

|
Long Beach City Council I-710 Oversight Committee,  Gateway Council of Governments and The Project Committee all reject current environmental documents for 710 widening between Long Beach and East Los Angeles. Following thousands of comments from leaders within community health and environmental coalitions, the State-led project to expand the 710 Freeway from eight lanes to 14 lanes for […]

Bikeathon: Communities Over Freeways

|
Bikeathon When: Saturday, March 26; 9:00 AM Where: Long Beach or Los Angeles starting points The Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice (CEHAJ) is hosting a bikeathon event on the Lower Los Angeles River on March 26th. The event’s slogan is “Communities Over Freeways.” The goal is to raise awareness and funding – in opposition to the […]

BNSF Falsely Claims Marginalized Communities “Better Off” with Proposed Railyard; Public Hearing Tonight

|
In a sadly misunderstood and ill-grounded editorial, the Press-Telegram endorsed Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s (BNSF) proposed 153-acre railyard project west of the 710 freeway, the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG). The endorsement comes right before a public hearing featuring demonstrations from some 20 community organizations who will offer evidence denouncing the benefits of the project […]

Missing Links: Let’s Get Rid of the I-710

|
The 710 can provide alternate routes. Photo: Atwater Village Newbie/Flickr While clean port advocates are celebrating a federal court ruling allowing the Port of Los Angeles to go forward with its Clean Trucks program, the push to widen freeways partially to help these trucks move through our region remains strong.  While there’s little doubt that […]

The 710 Game: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $780 million

|
It seems suggestive that Metro and Caltran’s just launched SR-710 Conversations public outreach process features a timeline of transportation milestones printed as a board game. It remains to be seen whether it will be a game that the public plays: a creative rethinking of mobility needs in the San Gabriel Valley and Northeast Los Angeles, […]