LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Residents attended a public hearing Wednesday night to discuss Caltrans' proposal to expand the Long Beach (710) Freeway.
"How many thousands of people is that going to affect that can't afford to move?" Long Beach resident Ben Rockwell asked.
Officials say the goal of the project is to improve public safety, traffic congestion, commerce and public health.
As it stands now, experts say the millions of trucks sitting idle on the freeway give off hazardous pollutants that affect residents.
The area in question is the 18-mile stretch of the freeway between Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach and the 60 Freeway. The proposed plan has five alternatives, including expanding the freeway to 14 lanes and adding trucks-only express lane, as well as a zero-emissions trucks-only corridor.
"That's where we get into the air quality improvements, where the trucks would be all electric and they would run on what we call a catenary system, which are the cables above the freeway," Lauren Wonder of Caltrans said.
About 400 homes and businesses would need to be purchased and torn down between the 710 and its junction with the Santa Ana (5) Freeway.
"How could I ever replace my home? Being the fact that I've been there for 44 years--the property that I own--I could not qualify to buy it at this particular time," Long Beach resident John Watts said.
Caltrans says it will not make any decisions until all opinions are considered.
Residents are encouraged to state their opinions through the end of September.
Construction for the project would start in 2020.
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