710 Freeway extension: Solis says East LA residents want more health info

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said residents of her East Los Angeles district want more information on the health  burdens that could come with an extension of the 710 Freeway.

An extensive environmental report now under public review mentions cancer risk from options like a freeway tunnel or elevated light rail line. But, Solis said, it does not  gauge the increased risk of ailments that come with living in traffic-clogged cities, like heart disease, asthma and childhood illnesses.

"I think there really was an absence of what kind of other health effects occur when you live in a surrounding area that has many environmental justice impacts," Solis said.

Solis, as a member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, will be among those voting on how best to close the freeway gap between the 710 terminus in Alhambra and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

The freeway was originally designed to go all the way through from Long Beach to Pasadena, but debate over the 5.5 mile gap has divided the region.

The 710 ends abruptly near Cal State Los Angeles, spilling thousands of cars onto Alhambra streets. East Los Angeles gets some of that traffic. Options for extending the 710 freeway also include improved bus service and improving local traffic signals and traffic management tactics.

Solis, so far, has been publicly undecided about which option she prefers. However, she said she wanted more health impact information on two of the options, a freeway tunnel and an elevated light rail line that would end in East L.A.

East Los Angeles and other residents concerned about the health and economic burdens that might come with a new freeway tunnel or light rail line had a chance to sound off in public comment hearings. The last of five hearings was held Saturday at Griffith Middle School in East Los Angeles.

These hearings matter because any substantive questions and issues that the public raises about the project must be answered by the agencies.

Caltrans has extended the public comment period another month, through August 5 and comments may be submitted in writing and online. Also, Metro is expected to release a cost-benefit analysis report on the various options.

 

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