We all more or less have a notion of how each transportation segment can pollute. Now imagine a place where more than one converges together, spewing noxious fumes and particles in the air. Now you have the perfect recipe for an environment storm and human problems. After long talks and a devastating human prognosis, Long Beach, California, looks to widen 19 miles of its 710 Freeway.
Widening Polluting Highways & Consequences
Children going to schools near the 710 Freeway suffer asthma early in kindergarten and have been found to never have a fully developed lung capacity later on. This stretch of the highway is called the ‘diesel death zone‘ which include the communities as Wilmington, San Pedro, Long Beach, Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood, Cudahy, Compton, Paramount, and East Los Angeles. Considering trucks coming in and out of the harbor and going as far as Mexico, trains, cars, and sea vessels also come in, each bringing their own pollution stream to the soup. The 710 Freeway is a pollution generator that brings goods in and out of the international harbor that handles up to 55% of the US’ entire shipments with Los Angeles. Both harbors handle the almost entirety of Asia shipments.
The 710 Freeway is one of the arteries coming into the harbor of Long Beach, adjacent to the Los Angeles harbor. Trucks coming in at all time eventually create congestion and pollution. Local car traffic fights its way to further congested highways to make it to work was enough to finally push to open the busy 710 Freeway. Considering that 15 years ago you could set out for Los Angeles from Long Beach in about 30 minutes, today you can’t do it under 45 minutes, and that is if you’re lucky. Of course, there were hours to avoid, but they were fewer than the traffic slots. Today, we easily count an hour and a half for downtown.
Add to this trains, boats, and the nearby airport, and you have a not only busy part of the world but a perfect pollution storm brewing.
Both harbors handle almost all of the shipments from Asia and hold the top stops in the US with Newark, New Jersey. Part of a $6 billion widening project of the 710 Freeway, a lane dedicated to electric vehicles (EV) is being looked into. What caught our attention was this wasn’t to be any old fashioned green car lane. This is shaping up to be a lane where green cars can recharge their battery packs as they drive. Allowing EV drivers to recharge with inductive charging would be done through wireless power transmission pads under the road surface. As EVs drive over, they recharge the battery packs.
Over on the Los Angeles Harbor side, green transportation looks like the Siemens hybrid truck system that uses pantographs to capture electricity on an eventual catenary system above a lane so far. Trucks would enter and leave the LA harbor using electricity and switch to diesel later nearing their destinations. Despite our continuous back and forth emails with Siemens, we’ve never secured a time to see the trucks operate. We’re still waiting.
Newly elected Janice Hahn, county supervisor and board member for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said she believed the technology exists for the project. We ask not only does it exist but will it be a reality soon enough? Considering the project is estimated at being completed in 2040, that kind of technology will commonly place by then, at least, it would seem so.
Upgrading Our Mobility Infrastructure For On-The-Go Wireless Charging
Driving while charging is a neat concept no gasoline car driver can imagine. The closest thing we’ve achieved technologically was over a hundred years ago when the famed English steam locomotive ‘Flying Scotsman’ used water scoops for water as it sped through the English landscape. So too will we ride on lanes that can recharge our vehicles as we go? The technology not only exists but has been tested and continues to mature. This will be costly but starting intelligently will be a priority. Perhaps installing charging systems at traffic intersections and then building out the network would seem ideal. Since road infrastructure always needs to be upgraded, thinking of the future type of traffic that will use it should be a priority.
How will we call these roads? Probably something like rechargeable roadways? We can just see it now. A new acronym has been spotted developing in the wild, RR. Warning, you are entering an RR road with the Long Beach 710 Freeway expansion!
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