LOS ANGELES (CN) – Environmental groups are fighting a state plan for a “truck expressway” to move goods to and from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Natural Resources Defense Council says the road would exacerbate air pollution and cancer in one of the most polluted areas of the country. The two ports handle more than 40 percent of U.S. imports. They also are among the biggest polluters in the most polluted air basin in the country.
In light of the Ports’ projected “enormous growth” in cargo imports and exports over the next two decades, the California Department of Transportation and the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority have proposed a two-part project that involves replacing the Schuyler-Heim Bridge and adding a diesel truck expressway.
The expressway “will provide an alternative route from Terminal Island, a major generator of port related truck traffic, and provide direct access to local distribution centers and warehousing facilities in the South Bay area,” the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority states on its Web site. It claims the expressway will help relieve traffic on some of Los Angeles’s most congested freeways, including I-405.
The plaintiffs – which include the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and the Coalition for a Safe Environment – say building the expressway would be irresponsible, as the Ports already release more than 2,000 tons of diesel particulate emissions each year.
According to the Environmental Impact Report for the project, the expressway will cause truck traffic to and from the Ports to shift away from other areas and routes. CalTrans has used confusing traffic data and traffic-shifting estimation methods in all of its drafts, skewing the assessments of health risks, the complaint states.
Already high cancer rates will increase in areas near the expressway if it is built, the groups say.
The final Environmental Impact Report fails to address global warming, the environmental and public health consequences of the project, and reasonable alternatives, the complaint states.
The groups seek writ of mandate under the California Environmental Quality Act challenging the approval of the Environmental Impact Report. They are represented in Superior Court by David Pettit of the NRDC’s Santa Monica office.