The Long Beach City Council made a crazy move last night and voted to seek a grant that would, wait for it, study a proposal to remove the Terminal Island Freeway, which runs through the west side of town. Streetsblog calls it "one of the largest freeway removal projects in Southern California history." Although the plans are still very preliminary, the fact that it's even being discussed is a gamechanger. Or it's the result of the game having changed. Or both. Local advocates, led by Caleb Walker, have been working on the project since 2009, with dreams of turning the under-utilized freeway "into a local street with the excess space turned into one of Long Beach's largest parks." The council vote means the city will officially pursue a $300,000 Caltrans grant under the Transportation Planning Grant Program, which "promote[s] strong and healthy communities, economic growth, and enhanced mobility within cities." The section of freeway targeted for removal is on city-owned land, so if the freeway is removed, according to the Long Beach Post, "the surplus land size falls in the arena of some 25-acres that could be used to create a mile-long greenbelt, similar to the Wilmington Park Yards proposal."
Updated 4/2/12: Long Beach Post reporter Brian Ulaszewski writes in with additional information about the before and after photo above: "The before and after pictures were of the existing conditions and an EIR project alternative for a raised viaduct to connect the Terminal Island Freeway to the Alameda Corridor (www.acta.org). It was not pursued, but the concept was fought by the community." Ulaszewski also suggests readers read a Long Beach Post story from 2010 for more background on the project.
· In Long Beach, City Looks at Removing Terminal Island Freeway [Streetsblog]
· Progress Makes Way for Removal of Terminal Island Freeway; Could Alter Entire West Long Beach Landscape [Long Beach Post]