Hahn Proposes Clean Improvements to I-710 South Expansion Project: $200 Million to Purchase Zero Emissions Trucks and Create “Charging Lane” for EVs

Los Angeles, CA—At today’s meeting of the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors Ad Hoc Committee on Congestion, Highways, and Roads, Committee Chair Supervisor Janice Hahn offered a motion to improve the I-710 South Expansion Project.

While it is widely expected the Metro Board will approve the more conservative Alternative 5c, Supervisor Hahn is focused on improving that alternative. She aims to make the alternative more forward-thinking and incorporate more features to lower emissions.

“The residents in the Harbor Area and along the I-710 have shouldered the burden of this nation’s goods movement for decades,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.  “I have an obligation to improve the Metro I-710 project so that it both reduces congestion and takes bold steps to improve the air my constituents breathe.”

The motion Supervisor Hahn offered today recommends three changes to Alternative 5c:

  1. Changing the Zero Emissions/Near Zero Emissions truck technology development program to only focus on Zero Emissions truck technology development.
  2. Doubling the funding for the Zero Emissions Truck Technology Development Program from $100 million to $200 million. This program will include both incentives and grants to invest in zero emissions truck technology and freeway infrastructure including “under the pavement” vehicle charging capability.
  3. Convene a working group with key stakeholders to develop policy recommendations for a full, zero-emission only, dedicated lane on the expanded freeway. This lane would run the entire 19 mile stretch of the 710 freeway and would include “rechargeable roadway” infrastructure.

The communities surrounding the Southern end of the I-710 have long been labeled the “Diesel Death Zone” due to the high percentage of cancers and other breathing disorders associated with the large volume of diesel trucks in the area.

You can read the full motion below:

Motion 5.1: Directors Hahn, Solis, Garcia, and Dupont-Walker

The 710 Freeway is a major transportation corridor not only for daily commuters, but also for freight movement from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the nation.  While “goods movement” is a major economic driver for our region, it comes at a high cost for the many communities and residents along the 19 mile freeway.  For many years, children and adults alike have suffered from serious health issues as a result of the pollution emitted by the trucks delivering freight inland, and neighborhoods have been severely impacted by congestion and traffic.

For 15 years, Metro has partnered with Caltrans, the Gateway Cities Council of Governments, the Ports, the individual cities along the 710, community activists and others, to develop different ‘alternatives’ to re-imagine the 710 in a way that balances commerce and environmental responsibility.

There are now two alternatives for the Metro Board to choose from: “5c” and “7.”  Both alternatives include the recommendation that $100 million be set aside for the purchase of “Near Zero” (NZE) or “Zero” emission (ZE) trucks that would travel on the 710 along dedicated lanes.  The lanes would be exclusively for NZE/ZE trucks on some parts of the freeway and allow NZE/ZE cars along ‘general purpose’ lanes in other parts.  Yet, according to AQMD, even taking into consideration either alternative, “the region will need substantial additional emission reductions to attain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.” Additionally, Metro has reported that greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions would be reduced by nearly the same levels for either alternative.

Dedicating the funding exclusively to “zero emission” technology and requiring only ZE vehicles be allowed in the dedicated lanes – once they are constructed – could improve air quality standards significantly.   The technology for long haul trucks that would emit NO poisonous fumes is emerging quickly, as exhibited by leading auto manufacturers such as Tesla and Daimler AG.  Freeways in China, Israel and Norway are being constructed to have electric chargers embedded under the pavement, thus enabling electric vehicles – both cars and long haul trucks – to charge their batteries as they are moving.  This significant investment by Metro can be a game-changing accelerator of “zero emission” technology, eliminating the need to subsidize “near zero” emission vehicles.

The future 710 freeway must not be a “diesel death zone” but a corridor where freight can be moved quickly without impairing the health of communities alongside the 710 Freeway.   Both can be achieved.

WE THEREFORE direct Metro CEO and Staff to, under staff recommended Locally Preferred Alternative 5c:

1) Change the Zero Emission/Near Zero Emission truck technology development program to the “Zero Emission Truck Technology Development Program.”

2) Increase program funding amount from $100 million to $200 million, and include in the Program incentives and grants to invest in the acceleration of zero emission technology both for long hauling trucks and for freeway infrastructure, including “under the pavement” vehicle charging capacity.

3) Convene a working group comprised of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), California Transportation Commission (CTC), the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and other key stakeholders to develop a policy recommendation for a full, zero-emission only, dedicated lane including “rechargeable roadways” on the entire 19 mile long stretch of 710 freeway, and include this as part of the final EIR/EIS document, presented in the September 2019 Metro board cycle.