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Assemblymember Cristina Garcia Planning Legislation to Stop Freeway Expansion in Underserved Communities

3:22 PM PST on December 13, 2021

The 710 Freeway at the 91 Freeway – photo via Metro presentation

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) is planning to introduce legislation to end freeway expansion in low-income communities already suffering from freeway harms. According to the Times, the bill would "prohibit the state from funding or permitting highway projects in areas with high rates of pollution and poverty and where residents have suffered negative health effects from living near freeways." Per the Times, "Garcia stated state leaders should consider the significant evidence of racial and health disparities caused by highway construction as well as research showing that freeway widenings frequently fail to resolve traffic congestion because they induce more car trips."

Garcia cited recent L.A. Times research on the continued harm of freeway widening as an impetus for the proposed legislation.

L.A. Metro and Caltrans are planning several major freeway expansions in Garcia's predominantly low-income and Latino southeast Los Angeles County district:

Garcia has worked to make her district safer for walking, including securing a $5 million budget set-aside for a new pedestrian walkway at Florence Avenue to help Bell Gardens residents get across the 710 Freeway to access improvements planned along the lower Los Angeles River.

Garcia plans to introduce the new freeway bill in January 2022. Read the Times coverage, which puts the legislation in the context of past and ongoing freeway widening harms, as well as recent changes at the federal and state levels.

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