KNBC Covers Metro’s Plan to Widen 605 Freeway and Demolish Homes, While Metro’s The Source Lies About the Project

Metro claimed four-lane project would only add one lane, and that nearly-complete plans are in "early stages"

Screengrab from KNBC 605 Freeway widening story
Screengrab from KNBC 605 Freeway widening story

Yesterday, KNBC TVs Ted Chen reported on Metro plans to widen the 605 and 5 Freeways, which includes destroying 200+ homes in the city of Downey. The project, being planned by Metro and Caltrans, is called the 605 Freeway Corridor Improvements Project (605CIP.) Watch the KNBC video here. The video features Streetsblog L.A. Editor Joe Linton.

Streetsblog broke the 605CIP story last week, reporting on Metro’s plan, the north Downey homes it would demolish, and Downey City Council candidate Alexandria Contreras sounding the alarm against the harmful widening. Yesterday, Streetsblog followed up with a post on how the city of Downey and its elected officials (one of whom recently expressed support for the widening) have now come out against Metro demolishing so many Downey homes.

In August, Metro had announced that all three project build alternatives would add four more lanes to the 605 Freeway – two new lanes in each direction.

605 Freeway widening alternatives - via Metro presentation
605 Freeway widening alternatives – via Metro presentation

Yesterday, a post at Metro’s The Source blog claimed that the 605CIP project would only add one new lane.

Yesterday Metro claimed that the 605CIP would only add one lane to the 605. This is false; Metro previously announced it will add four lanes.
Yesterday at The Source, Metro claimed that the 605CIP would only add one lane to the 605. This is false; Metro previously announced it will add four lanes. (Screengrab from initial emailed version of Metro’s The Source post)

A couple of hours later, shortly after Streetsblog tweet-questioned Metro’s lie, the Source post was updated to better reflect the actual total: four new lanes.

TheSource605onelanecorrected
The Source was later corrected to reflect the actual four-lane addition for the 605 Freeway – via The Source online

The Source continues Metro’s tone of condescension towards people raising concerns about this harmful freeway project. It states: “Some will argue that any freeway widening will only result in more traffic and worsening air quality” – as if it were not established fact that every past freeway widening has worsened traffic and air quality. Some will argue that gravity exists, and that the earth is round.

Metro’s post acknowledges that the agency is “receiving questions” concerning “whether properties would… be acquired and demolished,” but does not actually address any of these questions. In August Metro announced that the 605CIP would impact 1,200+ properties, but the agency refuses to provide a list of the properties. A Metro spokesperson turned down Streetsblog’s request for the list, stating that it was “under development.” So Metro announced a count of properties impacted, but hasn’t identified which properties they are? Typically, best practice would be to come up with a list of parcels first, then count them.

The Source (similar to some earlier Metro tweets) deceptively asserts that the 605CIP “is still in the early planning stages.” This lie was repeated in The Downey Patriot‘s and even KNBC’s 605CIP coverage.

As of June 2020, Metro had already spent $58.8 million on 605CIP design and environmtal clearance
As of June 2020, Metro had already spent $58.8 million on 605CIP design and environmental clearance – image via Gateway GOG staff report (page 44)

Metro has already spent about $60 million dollars planning and studying the 605CIP. And that’s just the current round of studies that started in 2016.

This project’s early planning stages came and went a couple years ago.

Metro's 605CIP timeline (recently scrubbed from Metro project webpage)
Metro’s 605CIP timeline – via Metro’s 605CIP project webpage (Metro scrubbed this image from the webpage this week – but it can still be found in Metro’s August presentation)

In August, Metro’s planning work for the 605CIP was supposed to be winding down. Metro had finalized its four project “alternatives.” Metro was scheduled to circulate its 605CIP plan (draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement – dEIR/EIS) for public comment starting on September 18. Metro’s board was scheduled to select a preferred alternative in Fall 2020. Had the Gateway Cities Council of Governments concerns over “the taking of hundreds of homes” not derailed Metro’s nearly completed project studies, the Metro board would likely have approved a 605CIP design (a “locally preferred alternative”) at one of its two remaining 2020 meetings.

What may be most glaring is The Source completely ignoring the charge that Metro is planning to demolish more homes in Downey’s predominantly working class Latino neighborhoods north of the 5, while minimizing demolition in the wealthier whiter neighborhood south of the 5. Despite Metro’s recent claim that these sorts of racist freeway-building practices were all in the past, Metro and Caltrans highway builders appear to be pushing to ignore equity and just bulldoze communities of color. You wouldn’t know that from reading The Source.

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