November 27, 2013

Freeways without a Future: Terminal Island

TerminalFrom dc.streetsblog:

The LA Times reported this week that Long Beach officials are studying the possibility of replacing a one-mile stretch of the Terminal Island Freeway (map here) with a park.

The paper glorified the situation only slightly — the proposed plan would build a local street too, so the Times reporters’ assertion that the conversion “would mark the first time a stretch of Southern California freeway was removed and converted to a non-transportation use” isn’t entirely accurate. But no one would argue that it’s a great deal to trade in a mile of underutilized highway — and 20 or 30 surrounding acres of weeds and dirt — for an 88-acre park and a local street that integrates into the local street grid.

But …

Long Beach Port is, indeed, planning for growth in advance of the Panama Canal
expansion. There are proposals for $10 billion worth of investment into the
ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles over the next decade, which could bring
three new rail yards into the Westside neighborhood, as well as two widened
interstate freeways.

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  1. A Globe and Mail article (March 26, 2011 – “The Panama Canal Expansion”) speculated that up to 25% of West Coast port traffic could be ‘dislocated’ as global trade patterns change due to expanded Panama Canal capacity. LA / LB (and Vancouver?) could be hard hit as China expanded direct shipping to the U.S. east coast. Obviously, this is speculation but is planning to spend $10 Billion on expansion in the port’s and public’s best interest when future growth may be at risk?

  2. Both industrial investment and public space enhancements have to be done in urban areas, but are often in conflict. Ports can only be in certain areas, and as such related infrastructure such as railways or highways, too. As such certain areas of LA or other cities will become more industrial and others should be enhanced for human relaxation and enjoyment, likely elsewhere !