It’s Time to Close 710 Gap, But Not With Light Rail
The goal of the State Route 710 North study is to address a nearly sixty-year delay in completing this Freeway. The unfinished SR 710 creates traffic jams, pollution, and an overall unhealthy environment, resulting in a lesser quality of life for the surrounding communities.
The proposed light rail route is an unacceptable alternative. It is one more example of the environmental racism with which East L.A. and Southeast citizens are only too familiar. While the light rail is being proposed under the guise of a regional solution, the fact is it is nothing more than an irresponsible and unconscionable response to the more influential areas opposing the logical completion of the 710 Freeway. The light rail does not solve the real problem of the 710 gap, nor will it reduce transportation congestion on the surrounding residential streets. It will, however, further divide and negatively impact East L.A. neighborhoods in the same way Boyle Heights, where I was born and raised, was divided and damaged by the building of the freeways. Furthermore, the light rail project will require destroying East L.A.’s newest economic development project, a business plaza that is home to 15 businesses and 155 jobs. Destroying these thriving businesses and eliminating jobs in a community that continues to suffer from unemployment that is higher than both the state and national levels is totally unacceptable.
I have fought environmental racism my entire political career. Unfortunately, this light rail alternative is one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease more affluent neighborhoods. This is highlighted by the fact that the proposed light rail does nothing to address the real issue of an incomplete 710, and the commuter traffic it dumps onto our city streets. Further evidence is that the proposed light rail is elevated in the East L.A. area, but goes underground once it leaves East L.A.!
Of the five alternatives presented to us in the Draft EIR, the freeway tunnel is the only alternative that meets the stated goal of improving the efficiency of the existing regional freeway and transit networks. It is also the only alternative that provides a seamless transportation route for commuters on the 710 corridor.
It is long past the time to do the responsible thing and close the 710 gap!
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard represents California’s 40th District, which includes the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, Downey, Bellflower, Vernon, and Paramount, as well as South Los Angeles and the unincorporated areas of East Los Angeles.