CARSON — Traffic flow on Alameda Street, a north-south artery that now carries 16,000 vehicles a day, is expected to reach the flood stage of 40,000 a day by the year 2000 as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach expand and Alameda is widened from four to six lanes.
A few feet to the west of Alameda Street, train traffic--also boosted by the ports' expansion--is projected to increase 30% by the early 1990s. Trains now block key east-west streets three to four hours a day, officials say.
Although ports officials hail the expansion as a major boost to the economy of greater Los Angeles, the torrent of traffic and trains will create a major physical barrier that will isolate the adjacent Lincoln Village and Dominguez neighborhoods, home to 6,000, in the northwest corner of Carson, city officials and residents fear.
"If you increase the train traffic and the truck traffic, we are going to end up with gridlock," said Mayor Sylvia Muise.
Connie Scott, president of the Dominguez Area Property Owners Assn., was more emphatic:
"More trains! More trucks! More traffic! More noise! We have been isolated but we are going to be even more isolated. . . . Sometimes we do feel like we are orphans over here."
Fueling the increased traffic are a series of port expansion projects.
The first to come along is the mammoth Intermodal Cargo Transfer Facility, which will open by early next year. Located 4 1/2 miles from the ports on a 150-acre site in a strip of Los Angeles adjacent to Alameda Street, the $62-million rail facility will eliminate a freeway haul of more than 20 miles to downtown Los Angeles for cargo containers destined for trains headed out of the area.
Next is Alameda Street--substituting for the defunct plan to extend the Terminal Island Freeway--which will attract more port traffic once it is widened from four to six lanes. It is expected to provide trucks carrying cargo from the ports an alternate route to the increasingly crowded Long Beach Freeway.
The background to these transportation projects is an ambitious proposal to fill in 2,600 acres of San Pedro Bay during the next several decades to more than double the area available for port facilities on Terminal Island.
The Carson City Council faces uncomfortable choices outlined in a consultant's report.
Costly overpasses, estimated at between $10 million and $15 million apiece, would permit traffic from the Lincoln and Dominguez neighborhoods to avoid trains and signal lights when crossing Alameda Street.
But getting the state to fund the overpasses in the near future is not expected to be easy and could include a trade-off the city may be unwilling to accept, according to city officials and the consulting firm of De Leuw, Cather & Co. of San Francisco.
The city-hired consultant recommended that Carson close the intersection of Dominguez and Alameda treets. Under the state's ranking system, sacrificing the Dominguez intersection would enhance the chances that Alameda Street overpasses for Del Amo Boulevard and Carson Street would be moved up on the waiting list of overpass projects, according to the consultant's report and William Huber, Carson's division engineer.
Huber, however, said the Carson Street overpass, currently ranked eighth on the state list, may get funds next June anyway, and added that the Del Amo overpass, ranked ninth, probably would receive funds in two to three years.
Muise said that closing Dominguez, which she says is a major east-west artery, would have a severe effect on traffic flow. In addition, she said, it could mean that the city would have to move its vehicle yard, which is on Dominguez.
Noise in the two neighborhoods is already so bad that outdoor conversations are difficult at times, officials and residents say. Most of the neighborhood is subjected to noise levels higher than 65 decibels, the maximum recommended in the city plan for residential areas, according to the consultant's report.
"Take a walk over there and try to talk to someone at their front door," Muise suggested.
Scott, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, is particularly incensed about the noise.
"The noise bothers my ears. I will be moving to Idaho when my husband retires. I don't want to retire here and listen to noise all day," she said.
More Air Pollution
She said she expects that noise, traffic and air pollution will increase once the Intermodal Cargo Transfer Facility opens.
While truck traffic from the facility will mainly go south to the ports, the facility will bring more trains--all blasting their horns every time they cross a street--along the tracks just west of Alameda, according to the consultant's report.
The cargo facility is the latest in a series of acoustic insults to the neighborhoods listed in the report, cited by officials or mentioned by residents.