The Metro Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to reserve $50 million in Measure R funding for a program to accelerate the transition of diesel trucks on the Long Beach (710) Freeway, a key route to the San Pedro Port Complex, to zero-emission vehicles.

Metro approved $50 million for the 710 South Clean Truck Program in 2020, but the funding was tied to a project to widen the freeway, but that effort was put on hold due to environmental concerns. The funding approved Thursday is not contingent on the widening project.

Metro’s funding will be “seed funding” for the program, which will be developed in collaboration with communities along the freeway, Metro’s goods movement partners, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Air Quality Management District.

The 20 neighborhoods along the 710 freeway average 36% more particulate matter concentrations than the L.A. County average, according to a USC Neighborhood Data for Social Change report titled “Community Health in the I-710 Corridor,” which cited 2017 data from the CalEnviroScren 3.0.

Residents of the neighborhoods, who are mostly Black and Latino, also visited an emergency room an average of 62 times per 10,000 people, more than double the frequency in neighborhoods where more than 70% of the residents are white.

“The 710 is the main goods movement corridor to and from our ports. Our regional and national economy rely on it– but it’s the neighborhoods that I represent along the 710 who are paying the price with dirty, polluted air,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion to fund the program. “I see a future where every single truck on the 710 is a zero-emissions truck, and today we are making down payment on that future.”

Hahn said she hopes that with $50 million in seed funding, the program will be eligible for state and federal funding.

The motion was co-authored by Whittier Councilman and Metro Board member Fernando Dutra.

“The cities and residents along the I-710 corridor have waited for action for decades,” Dutra said in a statement. “Today’s historic investment is an important first step and down payment for the health and workforce needs of our Gateway Cities residents. This is particularly significant given the move to 24/7 operations at the nation’s largest port complex, and the growth in goods movement in our region. We look forward to working with our federal, state, and community partners to secure our fair share of the new funding to make zero emissions trucks a reality and bring high-quality good paying jobs to our community.”

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