Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
Caltrans

L.A. Times Analysis Shows Racist Harms of Freeway Projects

This vacant land, viewed from Norwalk’s Silverbow Avenue pedestrian overpass, was more than a dozen homes. Metro and Caltrans have demolished hundreds of homes for their South 5 Freeway widening project. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This week the Los Angeles Times published a three-article series on freeway expansion's present and past harms to communities of color. The Times examined three decades of freeway expansion projects in five states - California, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas - and found that large highway building projects demolished homes predominantly (nearly two-thirds) in Black and Latino neighborhoods.

LATfreewaydemolitionchart21November
The L.A. Times analysis of freeway expansion over 30 years in five states found a predominance of home demolitions in communities of color. Graph via LAT article

For Caltrans projects, the L.A. Times found that 100 percent of the 1,254 homes demolished were in non-white areas. Note that the Times focused on projects that displaced 100 or more households. Many of California's highway widening projects fall below that threshold - for example: Metro and Caltrans under-construction widening of the 71 Freeway through Pomona has demolished 21 homes in the Latino/Asian Westmont neighborhood.

The three Times pieces are:

The Times series features fantastic aerial photography graphics showing home demolitions in Tampa and in the L.A. County city of Norwalk.

Norwalk neighborhoods
Norwalk neighborhoods in 2005, prior to Metro and Caltrans 5 Freeway widening - detail of L.A. Times graphic
Norwalk neighborhoods
xxxx
The same Norwalk neighborhoods in 2021, as Metro and Caltrans $2 billion 5 Freeway widening nears completion - detail of L.A. Times graphic
xxxx

Streetsblog L.A. readers will recall earlier SBLA reporting on these neighborhoods erased by Metro and Caltrans 5 Freeway widening demolitions. The $2 billion I-5 South freeway widening, expected to be completed in 2022, took 423 full parcels - mostly homes - in majority Latino neighborhoods in the southeast L.A. County cities of Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, Downey and La Mirada. Metro and Caltrans are already planning hundreds more home demolitions along the 5 Freeway through Santa Fe Springs and Downey.

SBLA's January 2021 coverage included several before/after images, including the pair below.

Maidstone xxx
A stretch of Maidstone Avenue in the city of Norwalk in 2007 – via Google Street View
Maidstone Avenue in the city of Norwalk, 2007 - via Google Street View
The same stretch of Maidstone in 2021. Note the outsized height of the 5 Freeway walls here - taller than the ~40-foot utility poles. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
The same stretch of Maidstone in 2021: home demolition sites along the outsized freeway wall.  Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
The same stretch of Maidstone in 2021. In this location, Metro demolished a half-dozen homes. Note the outsized height of the 5 Freeway walls - they are taller than the ~30+foot utility poles.

Read the Times coverage - linked above.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Metro and Caltrans Expect to Complete Torrance 405 Freeway Widening Project Next Month

Metro and Caltrans are adding nearly two miles of new auxiliary freeway lanes, a new on-ramp, and widening adjacent streets including Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street

July 19, 2024

Strategizing About Reduced Funding in the Active Transportation Program

Funding for Cycle 7 of the Active Transportation Program is less than $200 million, and already there have been requests for fifteen times the amount of available funding

July 18, 2024

Eyes on the Street: Hollywood Boulevard Bike Lanes are Open

The Hollywood bike lanes project, already very much in use, is also already being criticized by commenters at Nextdoor and other social media

July 17, 2024
See all posts