Road: Century Freeway Project © by Holly Crawford, 1991
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
In one day, approximately 10,500 Americans are born and
5800 will die. Today 260,000 billboards line our roads. The 'Object' of this installation is not the billboard,
but the road-The Century Freeway.
In December 1958, Eisenhower was President. Several
Los Angeles County government agencies were informed by Caltrans that studies were being initated to indentify and evaluate
location alternatives for a freeway. The population of Los Angeles County was 5 million plus and we were listening to He's
got the whole world in his hands, Tom Dooley, Mack the Knife, and High Hopes.
Between 1958 and 1968, there were numerous meetings with local agencies
and community groups. There were also several new U.S. Presidents and we listened to: “Never on Sunday,”
“Where the Boys Are,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “King
of the Road,” “Born Free,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and
“Hey Jude.” The construction costs, the right-of-way costs, and the impact upon residential, commercial, and industrial
facilities were evaluated. There were also space flights, a “Missile Crisis,”
“The Wall,” “I have a dream,” assassinations and
The westerly half of the freeway was approved in 1965 after 16 route alternatives have been considered. Then the easterly
half was approved in the 1968 after consideration of 9 different routes. The freeway was added to the National Interstate
and Defense Highway System.
1969-1970: Design teams completed 19 studies, identifying 5049 parcels of land needed for the 17.3 mile freeway. The
freeway was to be completed in 1977 at an estimated cost of $447 million.
In 1970 the National Environmental Policy Act became effective. California
adopted a similar state act. The freeway was reassessed. After community involvement, the design team determined that an environmental
impact study would be required.
In February 16, 1972—Keith,
et al. was filed in Los Angeles District Court, Judge Harry Pregerson, presiding. The suit was led by John Phillips of the
Center for Law in the Public Interest as a class action on behalf of: four couples living in the right-of-way, the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Freeway Fighters (a Hawthorne
area group). The City of Hawthorne joined as a plaintiff in April.
The plaintiffs alleged that: the Project required a formal Environmental impact study, provided inadequate relocation
assistance, provided inadequate relocation payments, denied equal protection under the 14th Amendment, had been adopted after inadequate public hearings, and violated due process requirements of
the 5th and 14th amendments.
In 1979, a consent decree was issued by Federal Judge Harry Pregerson requiring the Federal Highway Administration
and the California Transportation to build affordable housing. Two years later the Federal and State agencies agreed to build
4500 housing units. This diverted almost 300 million dollars of Federal Highway Trust to non-highway construction around the
Century Freeway Projects, and set a legal precedent for highway-building projects
around the county.
A later amendment to the consent decree required that minorities and women—owned businesses participate in the
freeway and housing construction projects. Yet, another amendment of the decree
required affirmative action in hiring the Century Freeway work forces, highway and non-highway construction. A management
infrastructure was developed to handle these matters. Law firms, accounting firms and consulting firms have done millions
of dollars of work. State and local agencies, Federal supervisory offices, and special-interest groups have been formed and
the expanded. These have included the Century Freeway Housing Program (CFHP), the Century Freeway Affirmative Action Committee
(CFAAC), the Century Freeway Advocate’s Office, the Los Angeles community Transportation Commission (LACTC) representing the light rail line, Hall &
Phillips (originally the Center for the Law in the Public Interest and many others, directly and indirectly.
The 2000 housing units built to date are represented by the “nails.” The 3,000 people who have been trained
to date are represented by “staples.”
“Does the road wind up hill all the
way? Yes, to the very end.”
Georgia Rosseti, Uphill
February 16, 1972—Keith,
et. al V Volpe, et. al is filled by the Center for Law in Public Interest in United States District Court, Judge Harry Pregerson,
April—The City of Hawthorne is added to the list of plaintiffs.
July—Freeway plans are frozen by preliminary injunction, pending agreement
of the parties or more complete environmental impact report. Seven years of delays
ensure as parties argue and negotiate.
October—Judge Pregerson authorizes an inspector to make monthly checks
of the empty buildings to see which structures pose a hazard.
Plaintiffs tosue to stop Caltrans from removing remaining houses. Plaintiffs
seek to have them renovated and rented to needy families but cities fear influx of transients and the idea is not accepted.
“Project stalled. Property vandalized as Century Freeway work halted
by legal tangles.” Independent Press Telegram, November 19, 1972.
“Up and down the city road, in and
out the eagle, that’s the way the money goes, pop goes the weasel.”
1973—Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree
June—Federal Highway Act is amended by Congress to allow transfer of
highway trust fund money from planned highways to mass transit. Federal government funds cover 90% of the cost of building
an interstate highway.
November 4—Los Angeles Mayor Bradley proposes altering the project form
a full freeway to an exclusive busway, but this is opposed by the other corridor
cities and the idea is dropped.
“This truth keep in sight—every
man on the planet has just as much right as yourself to the road.”
John Boyle O’Reilly, A White Rose
1974—The Way We Were
Draft of the environmental impact statement is circulated for public review
and comment in the corridor cities.
Caltrans report states—“broad
public support for an 8-lane freeway/transitway.”
“A broad and ample road, whose dust
is gold, and pavement stars.”
John Milton, Paradise
Will Keep Us Together
March-August—Ten public hearings on the Environmental Impact Report are
conducted; approximately 2500 people attend. Support for the 8-lane project continues.
December—Governor Jerry Brown drops his opposition to the construction
of the freeway, but proposes a 4-lane freeway restricted to “buses and cars carrying at least three people during peak
periods.” The proposal is rejected by the corridor cities.
“Afoot and light-hearted I take to
the open road, healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.”
Whitman, Song of the Open
February—Governor Jerry Brown and the State Administration suggests a
4-lane freeway/transitway. It is presented as being consistent with the social and environmental –“small is beautiful”—goals
of the administration. Also, this size is consistent with the then upper limit of the Federal funds and is suggested as a
possible compromise with the plaintiffs, to avoid lengthy litigation. However, local officials forcefully restate their case
for an 8-lane facility.
“Improvements make straight roads;
but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.”
William Blake, Proverbs of Hell
1977—You Light Up My Life
July 21—Environmental impact Statement for the I-105 freeway corridor
is completed, approving an 8-lane plan and re-routing through Hawthorne to resolve
September—Final environmental impact report is submitted to the Federal
September 21—Following the re-routing of the project to avoid Hawthorne’s
commercial center, the city council removes its name form the list of plaintiffs.
September 23—Governor Jerry Brown signs a bill requiring removal of the
vacancy structures remaining in the path of the freeway.
“My mistress still, the open road.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, Youth and Love
1978—Kiss You All Over & Staying Alive
May 2—LA Times, “Century Freeway Project could cover its entire 17.3 mile length and 500 ft. width with
a blanket of one-billion dollar bills to a depth of 214 feet.” (Not 214 feet deep, because the freeway is 45 million
sq. ft. and 10 one-dollar bills would cover 1 sq. ft., so…$1 billion would only be two layers.—This was worked
out with the help of Jack Hallin after I questioned the depth of 214 feet that was reported in the Los Angeles Times article.)
July 12—Southern California Transportation Action Committee chairman
claims that “the court-ordered injuction has created a ‘ghost town’ in the corridor which has become a haven
for vandalism, arsonists, and all types of criminals and perverts, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year for maintenance
October 18—Federal Highway Administration approves the Final Environmental
Impact Report. U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, announces his decision to proceed on the condition that the
plaintiffs were willing to negotiate a settlement. Discussions ensue for a year.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by.”
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
October 11—Consent decree entered by Judge Pregerson, now sitting as
a Circuit Justice on the Federal Court of Appeals. It provides for 4200 housing units, new and rehabilitated, along the corridor.
And the California Housing Department is made responsible for this program.
The decree also establishes an ‘Office
of the Advocate for the Corridor Residents’ funded by Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration.
December 19—Initial meeting of the Housing Advisory Committee, chaired
by City Councilman Robert Farrell, and composed of 42 members which represent
public agencies, citizens, and displaces. The committee decides to require the
adoption of an employment action plan which includes an Affirmative Action Committee (CFAAC) to increase minority business
and women’s employment of the project.
“Along a rough and weary road.”
Robert Burns, Despondency
January –First meeting of the Century Freeway Affirmative
Action Committee (CFAAC). Executive Director, Carl Kennedy.
April 3—Consulting team of Gruen and Associates
and the Planning Group begin work on the housing plan required under the consent decree.
December—Century Freeway Housing Program/HCD estimates
that 1935 units of housing are needed to replace the same number of occupied units that will be removed.
“The road was a ribbon of moonlight
over the purple moor.”
Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman
1981—Endless Love and Bette Davis Eyes
January-February—Questions are raised as to the adequacy of funds to
complete the freeway. This results in meetings between Federal, State, and local officials. After several months a proposal
to reduce the scale of the project is agreed upon. The consent decree is amended by and approved by all parties, and by Judge
May 12—Housing plan consultants meet with representatives form corridor
May 28—Study design is completed for housing plan.
July 9—Federal Hwy. Administrator, Ray Barnhart, announces possible changes
to the Freeway Plan.
July 29—State of California submits a counter proposal for freeway and housing construction.
August 5—Federal Highway Agency rejects the state proposal.
August 11—Federal Highway Agency agrees to fund the revised freeway and
September 22—Amended final consent degree is entered, reducing housing
units form 4200 to 3700.
October 22—Composite Housing Plan is completed.
November 1—“Sources sought” announcement is issued for housing.
November 21—First seven HCD corridor houses completed.
November 30—First family moves into housing.
“The Cry of the Child by the Roadway,
The Creak of the Lumbering Cart,”
Lover Tells of a Rose in His Heart
1982—The Eyes of the Tiger & Up Where We Belong
March 8—Pre-apprenticeship Training begun with students.
March 11—Century Freeway Housing Advisory Committee again raises the
question: “Is there really going to be a Century Freeway?”
May 1—Groundbreaking ceremonies in the City of Lynwood.
First of approximately 110 contracts are placed on freeway jobs.
September 17—Pre-apprenticeship training class graduates. 63 of the 86
graduates are placed on freeway jobs.
December 13—First group of pre-apprenticeship trainees enter new program
of 7-week duration: fourteen graduates. This program is designed to provide unskilled corridor residents, especially women
and minorities, with hands-on training in the various building trades. This group of people were previously unskilled and
unemployed. The LA Carpenter’s Union is coordinator
for the program.
“Had you seen this road before it
was made, you would lift up your hands and bless General Wade.”
Anonymous, The Highland Road
(General Wade employed 500 soldiers in making
a road in the Highlands, 1726-1729.)
1983—Beat It &
Every Breath You Take
Governor Deukmejian brings in a new agency secretaries and changes organization
and supervision of Century Freeway Project.
January 20—Construction started on 50 housing units in the City of Lynwood.
February—“It is obvious the vacant land acquisition process has
reached a virtual standstill.” Caltrans Quarterly Report. Problems are attributed to state staffing freeze and new administration.
April 6—Work is suspended on Willco Pump Project when hazardous material
is discovered on site necessitating clean up. One hundred cubic yards of hazardous material will be removed at an additional
cost of $30,000,000.
May 2—Employment center opens in Lynwood.
May 5—Construction begins on 90 housing units in the City of LA
and 71 units in Norwalk.
June—Creation of I-105 task force by Caltrans to coordinate information.
August 21—Caltrans reports that design is completed for freeway.
December—Of the 5049 parcels of land needed. 82% has now been acquired.
“Dwelling in a house by the side
of the road, he used to entertain all comers.”
1984—Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) & Jump
February 21—Wilco Dump, Phase II, is cancelled and new RFP issued.
February 27—Governor changes two appointees on 7-person CFAAC board.
June 13—LA County Transportation Commission approves find to provide
initial light rail in freeway along with diamond lanes as provided by amended consent decree.
December 31—Center for Law Reports: “Another example of the delays
caused by unnecessary oversight by Federal Highway Agency is in the review of CFHP
“On the beaten road there is tolerable
heroes and hero-worship: the hero is a man of letters.
1985—We Are the World & Say You Say Me
January—U.S. Department of Transportation Report states that only 424
units of housing were completed with a 60% vacancy factor.
January 14—Hawthorne City Council “restricts” housing development
contracts to no more than 35% of the households having incomes of less then 80% of the median income and first priority to
residents displaced form the city.
February—Public meetings for corridor residents conducted by Caltrans.
February 7—CFAAC files motion in Federal Court to stop the Hawthorne
City Council from carrying through its housing program.
March 26—Attempts by HCD, Hawthorne
Center for the Law, and developer to negotiate a settlement are unsuccessful.
August 11—General public is invited to apply for home ownership opportunities
with Century Freeway Housing Program after the list of those displaced is exhausted.
Five thousand people respond.
September 2—Judge Pergerson enjoins Hawthorne
form restricting development of CFHP projects.
November/December—Series of housing lotteries for displaced residents
and general public.
December 31—Thirty-seven housing units have now been completed by Pre-apprenticeship
Training Program trainees since 1982 under the supervision of the Carpenter’s Union.
“Via invention aut faciam (I’ll
find a way or make one.)”
1986—That’s What Friends Are For
March 31—Caltrans revises estimate of freeway costs to date:construction--$1,018
million; right-of-way - $544 million; housing - $270 million. Total- $1.8 billion.
August 12—Initial meeting of Caltrans Century Freeway Employment Study
Advisory Committee. This committee was started to meet the requirement that “Caltrans
determine specific goals for minority and female employment, expressed in percentage terms for the contractor’s aggregate work force in each trade, pursuant
to a study to be conducted by Caltrans.” This committee is composed of 15 members representing minority construction
groups, trade and labor organizations and public agencies.
November 7—Keys to the first ‘rental’
housing are presented to a family. Lotteries for single family residencies and condos continue through the year.
November 17—The Century Freeway Employment Advisory Committee recommends
that 45 to 55 % minorities and 6.9 to 10% women be employed in three years. This is adopted by Caltrans within a two year
time frame. The court approves the plan. The committee continues for another 4 years on other issues.
“A long, forlorn, uncomfortable way.”
1987—Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now & Let It Be
May 4—Removal of the contaminated material from Wilco Dump begins. Completion expected in December.
September 28—“On time target” celebration for achieving the
hallway mark on Century Freeway Projects. Federal, State and local officials attend.
September 30—Since the inception of the Pre-apprenticeship Training Project
1175 men and 239 women have been enrolled. 834 and 148 woman placed on Century Freeway Projects.
November—Century Freeway housing program has reduced the housing goal
form 3700 to 3414 units due to inflation.
December—Approximately 1000 apartments and condos are complete, but 30
to 40% remain empty.
December 27—LA Times publishes 4-part series on the freeway. The series
is critical of the delays in the housing program, excessive costs of construction in housing, and it charges that minorities
and women have not been helped by participation in the project and that affirmative action goals are far from being achieved.
This is followed by a call for investigation by LA County Supervisor, Kenneth Hahn.
December—Approximately $17.3 million or 36% of the dollars paid to contractors
on the Freeway Program have gone to minority and women-owned businesses.
Series of meetings begun with consent degree parties, the Center for Law, CFAAC,
Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans and a special counsel appointed by the court. The purpose is to develop new procedures
and organizations for the selection and award of housing contracts.
“Let me live in my house by the side
of the road and be a friend of man.”
Sam Walter Fass, The House by the Side of the Road
1988—Don’t Worry, Be Happy
February—Phase I of the Employment Study is updated and completed, ascertaining
corridor and area demographics. Phase II is expected by next February.
March—Caltrans Century Freeway Advisory Committee recommends establishment
of a women’s outreach coordinator to monitor to improve the program.
Century Freeway Task Force is appointed by the court to review and prioritize
problem areas. It is chaired by Joseph Montoya.
Price Waterhouse and Hamilton,
Rabinovitz, Alshuler are hired to survey overall project and assist and staff the task force.
September—Consultants’report are submitted to the court.
October—The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission which ‘will build and operate
the rapid transit system to run down the center of the I-105, announces that this will be the ‘nations first fully-automated
transit line. Personnel at a central facility will control each vehicle, via a central computer while roving attendants will
assist passengers in boarding, paying fees, giving directions and providing security.”
“My lines and life are free; as the
George Herbert, The Collar
1989—Wind Beneath My Wings
March—Federal and State budget crunch. Caltrans expresses concerns about
I-105 expenditures. Warms they are facing a serious financial crisis and expresses
concern that some projects will have to be postponed.
August 15—LA County Public Works Department reports to the Board of Supervisors
that minority and women-owned businesses have received 34.8% of the total expenditures
for the freeway and housing contracts.
September—Housing restructuring discussions continue. Planning is undertaken
for the withdraw of the Federal Highway Administration from the housing approval
process and the creation of a broader variety of development opportunities for public and private partnerships. John Phillips
of the Center for Law is quoted in an LA magazine—“It makes no sense to build a 50s style freeway for the 80s.
The original 10 lanes have been whittled down to 6. Lanes have been added specifically for buses and carpools. Most dramatically,
running up the center of the Century Freeway will be a light rail line. It will bring us into the 21st century.” Charles O’Connel, Caltrans Project
Manager says, “The freeway is less the end of one era that the beginning of another. The I-105 probably reflects what
the solutions to our transportation problems will be. It’s a combination of elements; giving people options. They can
carpool, ride a bus or train, or if they are willing to sit in traffic, drive alone.”
October 6—The largest, single public works project in California
history is awarded for the I-405 and the I-105 interchange. The amount is $134 million.
“With progress in roads came more
cars, more roads for the cars, and more cars for the roads that had been built to accommodate more cars.”
October 6, 1961—“One for the Roads”
March 30—LA Times article notes the changing demographics in the central
portion of the corridor. “As housing prices and gang violence persists, blacks are moving out, Latino immigrants are
taking their place. USC study shows black population declined an estimated 30% in the last decade while the Latino population
in the area has increased as estimated 200% in the same period—becoming the area’s
majority ethnic group.
May—Passage of statewide transportation bond issues (Propositions 108
and 116) and a gasoline tax (Proposition 111) ease the highway funding storage and renew Caltrans projects and light rail
June 6—Women’s Iron-Workers Training Program is introduced in a
Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program. The program has trained over 3000 people and placed almost 2000 in the construction industry
since its inception in 1982.
June 27—CFHP, Caltrans, celebrate completion of 2000 housing units and
2000 job placements.
August 8—Caltrans Advisory Committee concludes it assignment. Proposed
new Affirmative Action goals, a women and minority-owned business substitution process, a standard form contract and a “good
faith effort” procedures.
“Our national flower is the concrete
Lewis Mumford, 1961
1991—Everything I Do, I Do It For You
May 7—The final 32 freeway
projects with an estimated value of $100 million are currently in the design phase and will proceed to construction contracts
in the next 24 months.
June 20—The Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, now called CFPAT (rather
than PATP) has now enrolled 3766 trainees in its operation. Two thousand five hundred and twenty one people have completed
the 8-week course and 2099 have been placed in construction jobs. Of these, 955 women have been enrolled, 545 completed
training, and 420 placed. The remedial math class to assist students has 219 students enrolled, 64 have completed the class and 32 are now enrolled in the CFPAT
Program, 11 were placed in construction jobs in the last year.
Projected by Caltrans—“By the year 2000, The Century Freeway is
expected to carry 150,000 vehicles a day west of the Long Beach Freeway and 177,000 east of it.
September 19—President George Bush pays an official visit to the Century
Freeway. Banners carry the President’s theme, “Moving America.” Los Angeles City Mayor Tom Bradley and Los
Angeles County Supervisor, Kenneth Hahn, also attend and express their support.
“The President called for Congressional action in the 1991 Surface Transportation Assistance Act to allow
California to move forward to complete I-105 freeway while continuing to develop
innovative solutions to congestion and providing safe highways for California’s
20 million motorists.”—Jack E. Hallin , P.E. Deputy District Director
I-105 Project Manager, Quarterly Status Report.
L. Frank Baum
Affordable Housing Units Completed: 2,029
Housing Units Under Construction: 779
Specific Proposed Housing Units: 846
Park and Rides: 10
Vehicles Served: 230,000/ day (estimate)
Light Rail Transit Riders: 104,000/day
Light Rail Stations: 10
Highway Lanes: 6
Bus/Carpool Lanes: 6
Light Rail Transit Lanes: 2
Local Streets: 10
Local at End of Project: 2
Length: 17.3 miles
Support Pilings: 500 Miles
Reflector Bumps: 100,000 “Botts Dots”
2,500,000 Cubic Yards
16,000,000 Cubic Yards
Cities Served: Bellflower,
Compton, El Sugundo, Gardena, Los Angeles, Lynwood,
Sources of Information:
Jack Hallin, Project Manager, I-105,
G. Allen Kingston, Executive Director—Century
Freeway Housing Program
Richard Johnson, Court Administrator
(The printed booklet contains a flow chart of all the government agencies.)
The was first exhibited at the South Bay Contemporary Museum of Art, December 7, 1991-January 11, 1992