Planned Highway Widening Requires Eminent Domain in Southern California

Advocates are calling out regional and state transportation planning agencies for a failure of racial justice as plans to widen a freeway in Southern California move forward.

October 11, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

5/605 Interchange

The I-5 and I-605 freeways where they meet in Downey, California. | Kit Leong / Shutterstock

Joe Linton reports: "The full details are not yet entirely clear, but Metro and Caltrans are finalizing plans to widen portions of the 605 and 5 Freeways – and the project will destroy hundreds of homes, primarily in the city of Downey."

The "I-605 Corridor Improvement Project," as it's known at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) would work on portions of the I-5, I-10, I-105, and California State Route 60, in addition to I-605, while crossing jurisdictional lines and touching nine cities and additional unincorporated areas, according to Linton.

The possibility of the highway widening encroaching on existing residential properties is found in the project alternatives from an August presentation for Metro’s $10 billion SR-91/I-605/I-405 “Hot Spots” Program. All three of the current project alternatives under consideration by metro would add two additional lanes to each side of the 605 Freeway, according to Linton.

A chart in the presentation lists the number of parcels to be acquired by Metro and Caltrans to make space for the new lanes: 360+ full acquisitions, 320+ partial acquisitions, and 540+ easements. 

Linton gives a hat tip to Downey resident Alexandria Contreras, who raised the alarm about the project's plans to expand into existing private properties via Twitter. Mainstream local news has also picked up the story, like this on-air report by NBC Los Angeles.

A lot more detail, maps, and soundbites are found in the source article.

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