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Metro Holds Off On Controversial Plan To Widen 710 Freeway

BELL GARDENS (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board Thursday decided not to immediately move forward with a hotly-debated multi-billion plan to widen the aging 710 Freeway, which runs north from Long Beach to the Alhambra area.

While the Metro board approved smaller-scale improvements to the 710 Freeway, it opted not to immediately proceed with plans to widen the roadway itself.

The proposals that Metro held off on range in cost anywhere from an estimated $6 to $10 billion. They would increase the number of lanes in each direction from the current four, to five or six. They would take years to complete. Metro has debated whether to add features such as a truck bypass lane or a freight corridor, and a dedicated lane to zero-emission vehicles.

The plan has drawn vocal and ongoing opposition from residents in the surrounding communities. Metro officials argue the plan is necessary to ease congestion due to an increasing population and the crumbling infrastructure.

The 710 Freeway sees thousands of trucks a day carrying cargo from the San Pedro Bay ports. Metro estimates that by 2035, the number of daily truck trips will increase to 55,000 per day.

Environmental studies of the project began 10 years ago. Four proposals were developed in 2012 and then reworked to address concerns raised by the Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, among other considerations. The proposals includes provisions for encouraging the use of clean technology trucks, but some board members believe more needs to be done.

Metro has also been at the center of a separate long-running debate over whether to extend the 710 Freeway from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra -- where it currently dead-ends- north to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. Decades of delays and legal challenges have derailed the freeway extension. In 2016, Caltrans began selling off homes it had bought decades ago in anticipation of the extension. Metro has proposed constructing an underground tunnel that would link the 710 to the 210.

Thursday's board meeting took place at the MTA building in downtown L.A.

(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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