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Streetsblog L.A. Editor Joe Linton Talks Freeway Expansion on KPCC’s AirTalk

3:46 PM PDT on April 28, 2021

This morning, Streetsblog L.A. Editor Joe Linton was a guest on KPCC radio's AirTalk with Larry Mantle. The segment, called How L.A. County’s Highways Serve As Historical Examples Of Inequitable Infrastructure, included two historians who have written on past racist freeway building in Southern California: UCLA professor Eric Avila and Long Beach City College professor Gilbert Estrada.

Listen to the half-hour segment at KPCC's AirTalk webpage.

Avila noted how freeway building has been part of so-called "slum clearance" efforts. Estrada spoke of the excesses of land dedicated to the tangle of freeways that carve up Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. Mantle touched on how freeways carved up west Pasadena, historically and presently a predominantly Black neighborhood. Several speakers noted that Southern California freeway construction proceeded through lower-income Latino and Black areas, while whiter and more well-off places, including Beverly Hills and South Pasadena, were able to block planned projects.

Major Metro highway projects - via Metro Long Range Transportation Plan
Major Metro highway projects - via Metro 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan (click to enlarge)

I, Joe Linton, have expanded my brief on-air comments below, including links for readers wanting a deeper dive.

I brought home the point that harmful freeway projects are not just history, but are still happening right now. Metro and Caltrans are currently spending billions of dollars on numerous freeway mega-projects under construction:

Metro is also currently planning many more freeway expansion projects throughout L.A. County. These include:

And there is some good news!

Many community groups are already fighting against Metro's freeway plans:

In recent years, community-led efforts have successfully killed two of Metro's planned freeway expansions:

I hope that these recent freeway project cancellations show a new way forward, where destructive highway mega-projects can be reined in, and replaced by greener alternatives.

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