A slew of transportation improvements such as new bike lanes, better-coordinated traffic lights on major routes, upgraded bus stops with shade and seating, and safer pedestrian crossings could be coming to Long Beach and other cities crossed by the 710 Freeway, under a proposed plan made public this week by Los Angeles Metro.

The draft plan for investments in the Long Beach-East Los Angeles corridor was created over the last two years, after Metro’s board of directors voted in 2022 to abandon the long-planned widening of the freeway.

The multi-billion dollar plan is now out for public review. LA Metro will hold a series of virtual and in-person public meetings starting Thursday, Feb. 1, to gather community input on the plan.

Metro and Caltrans had initially suggested adding lanes and making related improvements to 19 miles of the 710 Freeway to reduce congestion and make it safer.

But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency questioned whether the proposal could meet air quality standards, and people living along the corridor strongly opposed enlarging the freeway, arguing they already live in a “diesel death zone” where the air quality is some of the region’s worst and communities have higher cancer risk and rates of asthma.

Faced with those obstacles, officials scrapped the widening, not wanting to continue to “focus on serving the region’s economic needs at the expense of the corridor communities’ quality of life,” as the new draft investment plan puts it.

The new plan would use $743 million from transportation sales tax measures, plus state and federal grants and some existing funding, to carry out a wide range of transportation and community improvement projects in more than a dozen communities affected by the freeway, including Bellflower, Carson, Lakewood, Long Beach and Wilmington.

Among the potential projects in and around Long Beach are:

  • Priority bus lanes, bike and pedestrian improvements, public greenspaces and more on Long Beach Boulevard
  • Bus stop improvements such as solar-powered arrival time displays, shelters and drinking fountains
  • Improvements to 710 Freeway interchanges and connectors, and traffic signals and pedestrian safety upgrades at freeway ramps
  • A pilot project to reduce particulate air pollution that could test new pavement materials, air filters for nearby schools, increase street sweeping and landscape barriers
  • A community benefit program that would fund health screenings and education and air quality projects

The full draft plan is available here. Virtual public meetings on the plan will be on Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. (click here to register), and on Feb. 3, 5 and 14.

An in-person meeting in Long Beach is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave. The full schedule of public meetings can be found at this link.

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