On the I-710 freeway in L.A., more and more diesel trucks carry goods from the city’s huge port to rail yards and warehouses.

For decades, the city’s been considering a freeway expansion project to make room for even more traffic. But critics say that will lead to additional global warming pollution and increased health risks.

Sarmiento: “Who do you think lives along those freeways? Low income communities of color.”

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Darryl Molina Sarmiento is executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. For years, the group has organized nearby communities to fight the expansion plans.

Sarmiento: “We know that communities along freeways have an extremely higher risk of cancer, and so we want to see clean alternatives.”

Their persistence has made a difference. Last March, transit agencies indefinitely postponed the decision to add lanes to the highway. The project is not dead. But current plans focus instead on interchange upgrades, pedestrian crossings, and funding for low-emissions trucks.

Sarmiento: “It’s a people’s victory because even though in the end we didn’t necessarily win everything that we wanted, we still built that power and we still pushed for a better project than what was originally proposed.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Alfa117 / GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (cropped)