Southern California is Close to Tearing Down Its First Freeway


Ever heard of the 130 freeway? Probably not, which sums up the obsolescence of the Terminal Island Freeway in Long Beach. But now city officials are doing something unheard of in southern California: tearing down a freeway, instead of building one.

Long Beach is aggressively moving forward with the plan to take out one mile of the four-mile, 70+ year-old TIF. Officials just hired the urban design team Meléndrez to take on the project (the firm is already working on a high-profile reworking of downtown L.A.’s Figueroa Street, making it more bike- and pedestrian-friendly).

The reasoning for removing this expensive infrastructure is that it doesn’t serve that many cars or trucks—about 13,700 daily—and is expected to see a dip in traffic when a nearby container facility completes a modernization project. There are plenty of other ways for vehicles to travel north to Los Angeles and south to San Diego without crossing through the center of heavily-populated west Long Beach. And there’s the other good reason for tearing down the freeway: all those people have little to no park space for recreation, exercise, and peace of mind, and the removal could help solve that problem. Taking out the freeway would enable the creation of a 30-acre green belt, which would increase park space on the West Side by 50 percent.

While there are no other advancing plans to tear down SoCal freeways, there are long-gestating efforts to build park space over sunken stretches of the 101 in Downtown and Hollywood. Stay tuned.