Wider I-710 Bridge Through Commerce Could Affect Bandini Park

Public can give feedback at upcoming community meeting.

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer

The view from a City of Commerce park could change if city officials clear the way for the state’s plans to widen an I-710 freeway bridge.

Caltrans is seeking access to property in Commerce so that it can widen the freeway bridge next to Bandini Park as part of a larger project called the I-710 Long Life Pavement Project.

The proposal is part of a project to fix up the I-710 Freeway through several Southeast and East Los Angeles area communities. In Commerce, the plans are to widen the freeway bridge next to Bandini Park by 35 feet on each side, and to put in a 3.5 feet crash barrier and a 12-feet high sound wall. The project would also impact the Union Pacific Railyard on the other side.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Proyecto del Puente I-710 por Commerce Podría Afectar el Parque Bandini

Caltrans says the widened freeway bridge will improve safety and road conditions. There will be space for new shoulder lanes, and driving lanes will be increased from 11 to 12 feet wide.

According to Caltrans spokesperson Kelly Markham, construction on the bridge widening is currently unfunded but is scheduled to begin in 2014.

At this time the city is being asked to grant both a temporary easement to allow Caltrans access for the construction phase, and a permanent easement to locate the base of the support column in Bandini Park and to give Caltrans “air rights” for the bridge overhang.

The bridge project is separate from the ongoing I-710 Expansion Project, and is instead part of an effort to rehabilitate the I-710 through the cities of South Gate, Cudahy, Bell Gardens, Bell, Vernon, Monterey Park, East Los Angeles and Commerce.

A community meeting on Tuesday, June 28, at 6 p.m. in the Bandini Park community center will provide information on the project’s local impact. The public’s feedback and concerns will be presented at a city council meeting planned for July 5, when officials will be asked to sign off on a letter of “concurrence,” which would state the project “will not have a significant impact on the environment and further that design elements of the project will serve to ameliorate any environmental issues/concerns to the community especially as it relates to potential effects on Bandini Park,” according to a city report.

Caltrans has plans to widen freeway bridge near city park by 35 feet on either direction. (Image courtesy of the City of Commerce/Caltrans)

 

While the wider freeway could provide some benefits to freeway users, it also has the potential to create a new set of problems for nearby residents and park maintenance, not the least of which is added pollution.

Those concerns prompted city staff to ask Caltrans to address several potentially harmful impacts to the city before Commerce officials will agree to sign off on the letter of “concurrence.”

Among the city’s concerns is the damage pollution and sediment from the freeway — during construction and following the project’s completion — could have on Bandini Park’s multipurpose courts, softball field and facility.

The freeway’s closer proximity to the park also raises concerns that debris, vehicles, or parts of the planned sound wall and crash barrier could fall into the park.  Other issues relayed to Caltrans include concerns about traffic disruption due to construction; use of the bridge overhang as shelter by the homeless; and the possibility that balls from the softball field could fall onto the freeway.

Caltrans has responded to some public feedback from the local advisory committee for the I-710 Expansion Project, which raised concerns that the construction activity could also affect the Ayers neighborhood, especially on Connor Ave. Caltrans said they would include the use of clean construction equipment in their construction specifications, and responded that the tunnel at Conner would remain open during construction.

The committee also raised concerns about graffiti on the sound walls and questioned if the walls would be effective in reducing noise from the freeway. Caltrans assured the sound walls would do their job and said graffiti would be minimal because the walls would be too difficult to access.

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June 23, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

2 Responses to “Wider I-710 Bridge Through Commerce Could Affect Bandini Park”

  1. Bob on June 27th, 2011 8:59 am

    Remember Elizabeth that the aerial easement is mainly for the Federally mandated 15 clear feet from the edge of the freeway deck. That 15 feet out from the edge of the deck is primarily to protect the freeway structure from problems such as fires and secondary to minimize the likelihood of collateral damage from auto accidents. Aerial easements prevent permanent structures within the “air rights” so with persons and personal property (skateboards or the odd car) there on a temporary basis, the chances per the Federal standards of conflict is lowered. Having been to the park the aerial easement is not a major concern as the adjacent area in the park is open space and the bottom of the deck is 20 plus feet above grade. I am more interested in the temporary construction easement as with heavy equipment in the park; public safety needs to be top priority. As for pollution from the freeway that is nothing compared to the rail yard. Modernizing the freeway bridge will help with the pollution from the freeway but with that rail yard there, the overall effect should be negligible. Slow moving car or trains produce, on average, more pollution than at full speed. Also there is an existing wall already there which is more of a property line wall, so I would welcome an actual sound wall.

  2. John Smith on June 27th, 2011 9:08 am

    Remember Elizabeth that the aerial easement is mainly for the Federally mandated 15 clear feet from the edge of the freeway deck. Those 15 feet out from the edge of the deck is primarily to protect the freeway structure from problems such as fires and secondary to minimize the likelihood of collateral damage from auto accidents. Aerial easements prevent permanent structures within the “air rights” so with persons and personal property (skateboards or the odd car) there on a temporary basis, the chances per the Federal standards of conflict is lowered. Having been to the park the aerial easement is not a major concern as the adjacent area in the park is open space and the bottom of the deck is 20 plus feet above grade. I am more interested in the temporary construction easement as with heavy equipment in the park; public safety needs to be top priority. As for pollution from the freeway that is nothing compared to the rail yard. Modernizing the freeway bridge will help with the pollution from the freeway but with that rail yard there, the overall effect should be negligible. Also there is an existing wall already there which is more of a property line wall, so I would welcome an actual sound wall.

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