East L.A. Sounds Off At 710 Freeway Hearing
There are six expansion alternatives under review, but some are pushing to add a seventh.
By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer
During last week’s public hearing on a proposed widening of the 710 Freeway, Hector Gascon of Commerce warned that while residents might think the project’s worst offense is that “they are going to take down Sergio’s Tacos,” a local eatery, “it’s more serious than that.”
Another Commerce resident and former truck driver, Abelardo David Rodriguez, thinks the project could benefit trade at the local ports and said he would hate to see jobs being lost due to competition from a port being built in the Panama Canal along the gulf coast.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Comunidad Se Queja Sobre el Proyecto de Expansión de la Autopista 710
In addition to those who could lose their homes or businesses, the hearing drew people who do not live in the project’s immediate area. Jairi Sanchez, 25, a Boyle Heights residents, told EGPNews that her own community “was destroyed by freeways” and she did not want to see the same happen in Commerce and other communities along the 710 Freeway. During his public comment, Jim Flournoy of Rosemead said the project could lead to congestion along the 60 Freeway because much of the cargo from the ports is expected to flow east toward inland warehouses and into the rest of the country.
The proposed project also brought out activists concerned about the project’s effect on air quality in the region. The Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, which includes Commerce-based East Yard for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), as well as Communities for a Better Environment in Huntington Park, proposed adding a seventh “community alternative” to the project that is a hybrid of different elements from the existing six alternatives, according to Isella Ramirez, Co-Director of EYCEJ.
The “community alternative” keeps the freeway at its current eight lanes and requires that only non-polluting, zero-emission technologies and vehicles be used on the freeway corridor, including a two-lane, elevated structure between Ocean Boulevard and the intermodal rail yards in Vernon and Commerce.
Instead of widening the freeway to relieve congestion, as suggested in the existing alternatives, the groups areadvocating for the agressive development of a public transit system, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and improvements to the Los Angeles River. The 710 Freeway project should be designed not only to “facilitate cargo, but to really suit the residents of the corridor,” said Angelo Logan, co-director of EYCEJ.
In her public comment, Ramirez said Measure R in other communities fund light rail and other public transit projects, “but all we’re getting are freeway projects.”
Project Manager Ron Kosinski told EGPNews they “could very well” end up with a seventh option by “picking and choosing” parts of the existing alternatives. “We have to take a look at it.”Print This Post
August 16, 2012 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.