Caltrans Chief Wants an 'Absolute Pause' on 710 Freeway Expansion

Communities along the corridor have fought expansion for decades, citing air quality and displacement concerns. Now, the agency says it's time to rethink the project.

2 minute read

May 16, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

After decades of controversy, the head of California's department of transportation (Caltrans) called for "an absolute pause" on plans to widen the 710 Freeway through southeast Los Angeles County, reports Joe Linton for Streetsblog LA. "This year, the federal Environmental Protection Agency rejected Metro’s 710 plans because they didn’t comply with air pollution laws," and community activists have long spoken out against the harmful effects of pollution and displacement on neighboring communities.

According to Caltrans head Toks Omishakin, "this is not just an air quality issue that we’re facing on this project. The [Environmental Justice] issues – potential relocations – to me, are just as potentially problematic." Toks added, "I don’t see how we can move forward with this project in its current format."

Metro, the other partner in the project, "hasn’t yet publicly backed off from the current proposed expansion." Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn acknowledged the impacts of the freeway on public health, saying "[t]he communities along the 710 have been burdened by pollution for decades and the residents have higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other serious health conditions. We shouldn’t burden these families with more pollution." But she didn't reject the expansion altogether, saying adding, "any new lanes added to the 710 would only be for zero emissions cars and trucks." 

East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice Co-Executive Director Laura Cortez praised Omishakin's statement: "Caltrans stopping this iteration of the 710 project is a huge win for communities along the corridor. We continue to look to Metro to agree with stopping the current 710 project and co-lead a plan forward with community that is truly zero-emissions focused."

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 in LA Streetsblog

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Close-up of apartment rental listing on iPad or tablet device.

Colorado Becomes First State in US to Regulate AI for Bias

Under the new law, developers, deployers, and businesses using AI systems at “high-risk” for bias discrimination in critical areas like housing will be required to account for risks and be transparent about how the technology is being used.

15 minutes ago - People of Color in Tech

3D rendering of blue flying car over a cityscape and buildings, a river, and bridges in the background.

Minnesota Legalizes Flying Cars

A new Minnesota law outlines state registration of “roadable aircraft” and legalizes their use on state roads and highways.

1 hour ago - The U.S. Sun

Green highway signs on Highway 23 for Ann Arbor and Flint, Michigan.

Michigan DOT Nixes Ann Arbor Highway Expansion

In response to public feedback, the Michigan Department of Transportation is no longer considering options to widen U.S. 23 on Ann Arbor’s east side.

2 hours ago - MLive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.