This Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (Final EIR/EA) has been prepared by the City of Torrance (City) in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 (CEQA) and Sections 15088, 15089, and 15132 of CEQA, for the Del Amo Boulevard Extension Project. This Final EIR/EA includes: Clarifications and Revisions, which describes the changes made to the Draft EIR/EA; Response to Comments, which includes the City's responses to all written comments received by agencies, private organizations, and the public; and the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, which lists all the mitigation measures required for implementation of the project, the phase in which the measures will be implemented, and the enforcement agency responsible for compliance.
1.1 - PROJECT LOCATION
Del Amo Boulevard is located in the central portion of the City of Torrance. The proposed project is located between Crenshaw Boulevard on the east and Madrona Avenue/Prairie Avenue on the west. The project site is currently a vacant right-of-way, surrounded by industrial uses. Surrounding land uses primarily consist of industrial and manufacturing uses, including the Exxon-Mobil (formerly Mobil Oil) refinery to the north and the Dow Chemical manufacturing plant to the south.
1.2 - SUMMARY OF PROPOSED PROJECT
The proposed action would extend Del Amo Boulevard between Crenshaw Boulevard on the east and Maple Avenue on the west, and it would also widen an existing segment of Del Amo Boulevard between Maple Avenue and Prairie Avenue. The extension/widening of Del Amo Boulevard would include the construction of a new four lane roadway with optional bicycle lanes in each direction, construction of a new bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, realignment of a portion of a branch railroad, construction of retaining walls, drainage improvements, relocation of affected utilities, and relocation/reconstruction of affected off-site facilities.
Del Amo Boulevard is a principal arterial in the City of Torrance and is discontinuous between Crenshaw Boulevard, on the east, and Maple Avenue, on the west. The purpose of the proposed project is to construct the missing segment of Del Amo Boulevard and make it a continuous east-west arterial, as set forth in the City's Circulation Element of the General Plan. Del Amo Boulevard is also designated as a major highway in the Los Angeles County Master Plan of Highways. Additionally, the proposed project is programmed into the Southern California Association of Government's (SCAG) approved Regional Comprehensive Plan and Guide (RCPG) and Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and the approved Federal Statewide Transportation Improvement Program and the Federal Transportation Improvement Plan (FSTIP/FTIP).
The project is needed as it would relieve existing and future congestion along adjacent east-west streets in the City, and would improve air quality and decrease noise pollution by improving traffic circulation. It also would improve the level of service (LOS) at several intersections in the project vicinity. Many intersections would remain at or reach an unacceptable LOS, as forecasted in the year 2020, unless the existing circulation system is improved.
1.3 - SUMMARY OF ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED
The Draft EIR/EA considered a range of alternatives to the proposed project to provide informed decision-making in accordance with Section 15126.6(a) of the State CEQA Guidelines. As described below, the alternatives analyzed in this EIR/EA include: the No Project Alternative; the 10 Percent Reduction of the Red Building (Alternative 2); the 15 Percent Reduction of the Red Building (Alternative 3); and the Trip Reduction Alternative (Alternative 4).
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative
The No Action Alternative would maintain the current local and regional circulation system. The extension of Del Amo Boulevard between Maple Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard would not be constructed; thus, the proposed alternate east-west route between 190th Street and Torrance Boulevard would not be established. The project alignment would remain as an industrial ROW, and the railroad ROW would be undisturbed. East-west traffic in the area would continue to use either 190th Street to the north or Torrance Boulevard to the south as alternatives to Del Amo Boulevard.
Alternative 2: 55 MPH Design Speed with MSE Retaining Wall (Proposed Action)
Alternative 2 entails a 0.7-mile extension of Del Amo Boulevard between Crenshaw Boulevard and Maple Avenue, and 0.5 mile of road widening between Maple Avenue and Madrona Avenue/Prairie Avenue. The eastern segment of Del Amo Boulevard currently terminates just west of Crenshaw Boulevard near the entrance to the Dow Chemical manufacturing plant; the western segment terminates at Maple Avenue. The proposed action would connect these two segments of Del Amo Boulevard to provide a continuous road through an industrial ROW. The extension and widening of Del Amo Boulevard would include the following components:
- construction of a new four-lane roadway;
- construction of a new bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks;
- realignment of a portion of a railroad spur along the southern boundary of the Exxon-Mobil property;
- construction of mechanically stabilized embankment (MSE) retaining walls;
- drainage improvements;
- relocation of affected utilities;
- relocation/reconstruction of affected off-site facilities;
- modification of the traffic signal at the intersections of Madrona Avenue/Prairie Avenue at Del Amo Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard at Del Amo Boulevard;
- installation of a new traffic signal at Maple Avenue; and
- optional bicycle lane and pedestrian facility on the south side of Del Amo Boulevard only.
Alternative 3: 55 MPH Design Speed with Type 1 Retaining Wall
The project components under this alternative would be the same as those identified above for Alternative 2. However, a Type 1 retaining wall would be used for structural support of the elevated roadway instead of an MSE retaining wall as indicated above. (Type 1 retaining walls generally consist of cantilever or stem walls, which are comprised of reinforced concrete and are the most common type of gravity wall.) The alignment for this alternative would be the same as Alternative 2; however, this alternative would have a slightly larger footprint and would require approximately 43,800 cubic yards of additional fill material.
Alternative 4: 50 MPH Design Speed with MSE Retaining Wall
The project components under this alternative would be the same as those identified above for Alternative 2; however, a design speed of 50 mph would be applied. The vertical profile alignment would be the main design feature affected by a reduction in design speed. This alternative would allow the use of shorter vertical curves, which would slightly reduce roadway fill requirements and lower retaining wall heights. Motorists would experience slightly "tighter" curves with a smaller turn radius.
Environmentally Superior Alternative
Either Alternative 2 or 3 would be the environmentally preferred/environmentally superior alternative as each one would result in similar benefits; however, Alternative 3 would require an additional 43,800 cubic yards of fill material and would utilize a Type 1 wall to support the roadway, which would increase the construction cost by approximately $1.7 million.
1.4 - NOTICING AND AVAILABILITY OF THE DRAFT EIR/EA
The Draft EIR/EA was circulated for public review and comment on August 12, 2003, initiating a 45-day public review period pursuant to CEQA and its implementing guidelines. The document and Notice of Completion (NOC) was distributed to the California Office of Planning and Research, State Clearinghouse. Relevant agencies also received copies of the document. A Notice of Availability (NOA) was distributed to interested parties and adjacent property owners and residents, which informed them of where they could view the document and how to comment. The purpose of the 45-day review period is to provide interested public agencies, groups and individuals the opportunity to comment on the contents and accuracy of the document. The document was available to the public at the City of Torrance Engineering Department, Katy Geissert Civic Center Library, El Retiro Branch Library, Henderson Branch Library, North Torrance Branch Library, Southeast Branch Library, and Walteria Branch Library.
This document, together with the Draft EIR/EA, makes up the Final EIR/EA as defined in the CEQA Guidelines, Section 15132. The Final EIR/EA will subsequently be reviewed by the City Council for certification. Certification is not the same as approval, but marks the end of the environmental review phase. Certification is a judgment that the EIR/EA is a legally adequate information document in compliance with CEQA. Only when the EIR/EA document adequately identifies all significant environmental impacts associated with the project can it be used in the project approval phase, along with consideration of other relevant factors. To approve a project, CEQA requires that either the significant impacts of the project (as identified in the EIR/EA) be reduced to a less than significant level through the implementation of mitigation measures, or the approving body must adopt a finding of overriding considerations, stating that mitigation measures do not exist or are infeasible thereby resulting in unavoidable significant impact(s). The finding of overriding considerations states, in effect, that the benefits of the project outweigh the environmental impacts that would result upon implementation of the project.