Southern California Freeway Expansion Plans Scrapped

After more than a decade of planning, Caltrans has officially dropped the I-710 Corridor Project, a plan to widen Interstate 710 for a long stretch of the freeway near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

2 minute read

May 30, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Smog hovers in the air in the background of this image of heavy car traffic on the 405 Freeway near ints intersection with the 710 Freeway in Southern California.

Jiujiuer / Shutterstock

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted this week to end a $6 billion plans to expand the 710 Freeway, a key cargo corridor that connects to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

An article by Rachel Uranga details the political context for the vote, where environmental justice concerns essentially won out over concerns about traffic congestion for cargo trucks traveling to and from the ports. According to Uranga, the decision exemplifies recent momentum for alternatives to the disparate impacts of the car-centric planning status quo in the state of California. As states and regions around the nation ponder freeway expansions in low-income communities and communities of color, here is at least one example of different direction for transportation planning.

“It’s monumental that one of the biggest urban areas of the country is really thinking twice, before prioritizing goods movements over health,” says Laura Cortez, an organizer and co-executive director of the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, in the article.

Interstate 710 has been a hotbed of political controversy for decades. A controversial plan to extend the freeway beyond its northern terminus in Alhambra, just east of Downtown Los Angeles finally died in 2017. The final version of that plan would have spent $5.4 billion to tunnel under South Pasadena, though that plan came as a last unlikely gasp after a groundswell of freeway opposition prevented the freeway from being built through South Pasadena.

The draft Environmental Impact Report for the I-710 Corridor Project, however, released by Caltrans in August 2012, proposed widening the 710 between Ocean Boulevard and State Route 60—south of the freeway’s northern terminus—to ten lanes. Staff at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) released a report supporting the project in 2018, inspiring a scathing editorial from the Los Angeles Times. Eventually, Metro rescinded its support for the project.

According to Uranga, social and environmental justice concerns were too hard to ignore for the I-710 corridor project. “Black and Latino residents make up an estimated 83% of the 1.2 million people who live along the 710 corridor. They endure some of the worst air quality in the country. The area accounts for about 20% of all particulate emissions in Southern California, according to Metro,” writes Uranga.

Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Yellow on black "Expect Delays" traffic sign

A Serious Critique of Congestion Costs and Induced Vehicle Travel Impacts

Some highway advocates continue to claim that roadway expansions are justified to reduce traffic congestion. That's not what the research shows. It's time to stop obsessing over congestion and instead strive for efficient accessibility.

March 14, 2023 - Todd Litman

Empty parking garage at night with yellow lines marking spots and fluorescent lighting

Rethinking the Role of Parking in the American City

In cities big and small, the tide is turning against sprawling parking lots, car-centric development, and minimum parking mandates.

March 16, 2023 - The New York Times

White SEPTA bus driving through snow in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

‘Bus Revolution’ Revised in Philadelphia

The bus system redesign underway in Philadelphia changed direction after riders and local politicians complained about an initial draft plan.

39 minutes ago - WHYY

Aerial view of small town of Beacon, New York in the Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley City Bans Fossil Fuels in New Construction

Beacon will require all-electric appliances in new buildings starting next year.

1 hour ago - Food & Water Watch


Mapping Sidewalks for Improved Connectivity

A new tool uses aerial image recognition to map a city’s sidewalks and crosswalks. Its developers hope it will aid in creating a more comprehensive understanding of pedestrian networks and where improvements are needed.

March 22 - MIT News

Planner II

City of Greenville

Planner I

City of Greenville

Rural Projects Coordinator (RARE AmeriCorps Member)

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

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.