Metro board ends effort to widen 710 Freeway

The Metro Board of Directors voted today to end its efforts to widen the 710 Freeway and to use the $750 million allocated to that project instead for improvements to southeast Los Angeles communities along the freeway.

“Widening this freeway and wiping out neighborhoods is not the pathway forward, and neither is the status quo,” said board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents communities along the 710 South corridor and co-authored the motion.

“We have an opportunity now to imagine something different and a better use for these funds. We should use the funding we already have set aside for this project on smarter ways to improve air quality, reduce congestion, improve mobility and address safety concerns for everyone living and traveling along this corridor.”

Metro staff will report back in June with a new project plan and objectives for the funding. Staff will also draft an investment plan with short-, mid- and long-term initiatives, at least three of which will request funding this year.

Several people called into the Metro meeting to voice support for ending the 710 widening effort.

Climate Resolve Deputy Director Bryn Lindblad called to support the motion to scrap the effort, saying that studies show “that widening freeways really doesn’t solve congestion, it only brings more harm.” A 2009 study by economists Matthew Turner of the University of Toronto and Gilles Duranton of the University of Pennsylvania found that between 1980 and 2000, cities that increased their road capacity by 10% in turn increased the amount of driving by 10%.

Another caller, who said he was part of the 710 South Corridor Community Leadership Community and lives in Long Beach, said, “I’m tired of breaking in toxic air. I want Metro to continue to invest and uplift community with alternative modes of transportation, improve our air quality and be an example to the rest of the world.”

The project to widen the 710 Freeway was in the works for decades, and local groups have fought to stop it, citing air and noise pollution on the already-busy freeway that trucks use to access the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

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