LONG BEACH — Port officials agreed Tuesday to expand a green wall project to shield neighborhoods from the thousands of trucks and vehicles that travel along the Terminal Island (103) Freeway.
The Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission unanimously agreed to pay $180,000 toward the expansion and further study of the Terminal Island Freeway Green Wall Project championed by Long Beach City Councilman James Johnson, whose 7 th District includes the most affected neighborhoods.
Thousands of trucks carrying cargo from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach pass by residential neighborhoods each day in west Long Beach and elsewhere.
"Every other freeway - the 710, the 405, the 22 - has had a barrier protecting surrounding neighborhoods for decades," Johnson said in a letter read by his Chief of Staff Mike Clements. "The time has come for West Long Beach to have a barrier protecting quality of life just as all of these other neighborhoods have long enjoyed."
The 103 Freeway, which spans from Willow Street to the ports, used to be a highway for those heading to the former Long Beach Naval Shipyard and naval housing.
But as cargo movement rose, so did the presence of trucks.
Johnson has been working on a project to build a mulch barrier along the freeway from Willow Street to Pacific Coast Highway, where mainly Long Beach neighborhoods and schools border the 103. Two fences stuffed with tree trimmings collected from throughout the city would make up the green wall, which Johnson said will help dampen sound and reduce visual blight.
Last year, the councilman was able to garner funding to build a 30-foot long section of wall. The funding approved by the commission Tuesday would allow the pilot wall to be extended another 600 feet, which would buffer the freeway from Hudson Park.
After the extension is built - which should be done within the next 60 days - the port will then test and study the safety and effectiveness of the wall, according to the staff report.
"We really want to find out how well it works, because they need something over there," said Commissioner Nick Sramek, who lives on the Westside.
Commissioner Rich Dines also lent his support.
"It's time we do something to protect our community," he said, adding that he is committed to a long-term goal of zero emission trucks.
After hearing about the board's approval, Johnson praised the board's support for this project.
"There are thousands of diesel truck trips every day on the Terminal Island Freeway with no barrier between it and nearby schools, veteran's facilities, park space, and homes," Johnson said in a statement. "This is a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to remedy a situation that should have been corrected long ago."