Commerce city officials have agreed to allow Caltrans to move forward with a widening project on the 710 Freeway that will temporarily close off a section of Bandini Park starting sometime in 2017.
Last week, the city council unanimously approved a motion to grant the California Department of Transportation aerial and construction easements in Bandini Park to allow the transportation agency to continue work on the I-710 Long Life Pavement Rehabilitation Project, which is intended to “increase the safety of travel,” according to city staff.
Lea este artículo en Español: Caltrans Paga a Commerce para Accesar al Parque Bandini
Commerce Director of Public Works Maryam Babaki told the council during its May 19 meeting that this I-710 widening project is not the same as the I-710 North widening project that will add more lanes to the freeway. “This is about widening the shoulders” along the freeway to improve road surface and safety, Babaki explained.
The project has been in the works for several years but it wasn’t until within the last year that negotiations between Caltrans and the city started to make progress.
“It started out kind of a muck,” said Mayor Lilia Leon, reminding the council that Caltrans “wasn’t going to work with us.” Leon thanked Babaki and her staff for negotiating the agreement under which Caltrans will pay the city $650,000 for the cost of the work and the value of the easements, funds that the city can use to make improvements.
The project calls for widening the existing I-710 bridge 35 ft. next to Bandini Park and 35 ft. next to the Union Pacific rail yard; a 3.5 foot crash barrier and 14-foot high sound walls to prevent noise and debris from landing in the park will also be constructed.
The Easement Agreement gives Caltrans temporary access during the construction phase and a permanent easement to locate the base of the support column in Bandini Park. Caltrans will also be given “air rights” for the bridge overhang.
Commerce residents were not happy about the project when they were first informed years ago of Caltrans’ plans for the busy park. They were worried construction would lead to more pollution and that sediment from the construction would ruin park facilities like the multipurpose courts and softball field.
Residents living in the adjacent Ayers, Bedesson and Connor area — often referred to as the ABC community — were worried that debris, vehicles, or even parts of the planned sound wall and crash barrier could fall into the park if there was a major accident. They also feared construction would increase traffic, pushing more cars and trucks off the freeway and into their neighborhoods.
As with any construction project there could be negative impacts, Babaki told EGP. The park’s popular basketball courts, for example, will not be open during the two-month construction of the sound walls, she said. But Babaki also said the city has negotiated terms that will reduce the project time line and the amount of traffic on city streets significantly from what was originally proposed.
Caltrans will spend nearly $1 million to build the sound walls before construction begins along the backside of Ayers Avenue and Leonis Street on the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) side. Caltrans also agreed to give ABC residents two weeks notice before any construction activity begins.
“Caltrans has agreed to stage their construction and route their trucks through Union Pacific property,” minimizing the impact to businesses and/or residents, Babaki told EGP in an email.
She also said Caltrans has made arrangements to use the Union Pacific access road behind the ABC neighborhood to access the bridge and the park, she said.
While the council stated approval of the terms of the agreement, there remains some reservation about the impact construction will have on park programs. “What will happen with the sports programs? Has that been considered?” Mayor Pro Tem Tina Baca Del Rio asked the public works director.
Babaki responded that since construction will not begin until 2017 there is still time to think about a strategy for moving programs and informing residents.
The 2014 start date was pushed back to 2017 as part of an agreement Caltrans reached with Union Pacific to alleviate impacts to the rail yard, which according to Caltrans Project Manager Diaa Yassin had been underestimated by the transportation agency.
“At first, we had programmed $5 million for right of way impacts on the business,” but in reality the total cost is about $55 million, Yassin said.
“We were talking about monster numbers, we underestimated how the railroad operates,” he said. “Union Pacific runs 25 percent of goods in the U.S.” through its rail yards and they are going to need two years “to reconfigure some of their facility in order to avoid interruption” while Caltrans is working, he explained.
“We have to wait for them to finish their work so we can start ours,” Yassin said.
Babaki said construction at the park will take two months but the entire project could take up to two years to complete.
The city is preliminarily considering using part of the $650,000 it gets from Caltrans to refurbish the basketball courts and for new lighting and landscaping.
According to Caltrans, the roadway rehabilitation will result in better ride quality and reduce future maintenance, minimizing traffic delays, costs and impacts on surrounding communities and the environment.
A search was conducted in the Commerce area early Tuesday for a car thief.
The suspect, a male, fled in the stolen blue Honda Civic after a short vehicle pursuit that ended near the Citadel shopping outlets, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy said.
The pursuit began in East Los Angeles, where the vehicle was originally reported stolen around 4:55 a.m., the deputy said. The pursuit ended near Telegraph Road after the stolen vehicle crashed into one or more other vehicles, according to reports from the scene.
Más de 200 voluntarios se reunieron el sábado por la mañana para participar en el cuarto evento anual “Limpieza en Commerce” organizado por Citadel Outlets, el Casino de Commerce y 30 empresas participantes.
Los voluntarios, muchos de ellos jóvenes, llevaron a cabo proyectos de embellecimiento de la ciudad incluyendo la eliminación de graffiti, recolección de basura y arreglo de las calles.
Todos los voluntarios recibieron camisetas gratis, teniendo así la oportunidad de participar en un día de servicio, creado y dirigido por Steve Craig, presidente y CEO de Craig Realty Group, empresa de gestión de Citadel Outlets.
“Siempre estamos buscando maneras de invertir en esta maravillosa comunidad que ha sido tan acogedora para nuestro centro”, dijo Craig en un comunicado de prensa. “Es muy inspirador ver a la juventud local saliendo y enorgulleciéndose de su ciudad y de su futuro,” añadió.
Las organizaciones no lucrativas participantes recibieron una donación de $100 por cada miembro participante por parte de Craig, acumulando más de $10.000.
Este evento de limpieza “es separado del que fue aprobado en el presupuesto,” recientemente en julio, de acuerdo con Jason Stinnett, especialista en medios de comunicación de la Ciudad de Commerce, refiriéndose al evento anual de limpieza que se llevará a cabo en uno o dos parques de la Ciudad de Commerce el próximo año.