A new task force that is seeking input from the public on an effort to widen the 710 Freeway has already run into criticism over transparency and access in its first meeting Monday night.
The task force was set up to seek comment on the controversial I-710 Corridor Project, which involves adding two lanes of truck traffic to either side of the freeway from Long Beach to East Los Angeles near the 60 Freeway.
At the Monday night meeting, members of the task force and public commenters raised concerns that the public was not adequately prepared for the meeting due to its short notice. The announcement of the meeting was made on Friday, just one business day before the meeting.
Little information about the meeting’s agenda or supporting documents were provided to attendees, one speaker noted. Facilitators were urged to give attendees more time to prepare for the meetings.
Facilitators vowed to improve.
As for the task force’s decision-making process, it’s still in development, Michael Cano, a deputy executive officer of LA Metro, said during the meeting. It’ll be up to the task force to decide how to vote and govern themselves, he added.
Los Angeles County Metro officials said the public can still join the visioning process by contacting Metro. However, it is unclear how many members can join as the ground rules for the 710 Task Force are still in development.
Currently, the task force includes more than 40 community-based organizations, environmental groups, council offices and representatives from the ports and rail companies, air quality regulators and colleges.
Transportation officials are refocusing their methods on the planning of the project by having the task force key in on equity issues, such as air quality and displacement.
“The reality is that a real grassroots approach has to take place,” Erika Morales, the facilitator of the virtual meeting, said.
The next 710 Task Force meeting will be held in about three weeks, though the date hasn’t been finalized. At the next meeting, the task force is scheduled to adopt a charter and discuss topics including mobility on the corridor, air quality, freight traffic and the local communities that will be affected by the project.
The project was originally intended to improve traffic safety, modernize the freeway design and accommodate growth in traffic and goods movement, especially from the local ports. But when the Environmental Protection Agency signaled that the plans for the project wouldn’t meet federal air quality standards, transportation officials suspended plans for the project.
There is currently no estimated start date for the project.
The Metro Board of Directors expects to release a report of the task force’s findings by April 2022.
To keep up with updates on the 710 Task Force meeting and to view English and Spanish recordings of the meetings, visit www.metro.net/projects/i-710-corridor-project/.