This dissertation contributes to interdisciplinary dialogues connecting history, urban studies/planning, and environmental health. Using evidence gleaned from government transportation agencies such as public works manuscripts, annual reports, master plans, and environmental impact reports, I argue there is a long history of diverse groups and agencies intervening in the urban planning process in order to improve environmental health standards. In fact, the sources reveal that urban planners and individuals within the planning process knew a great deal about the link between transportation and environmental health and implemented an array of measures aimed to protect human health. Sound walls, increased mass transit developments, scaled down transportation projects, off-shore airports, high occupancy lanes, park-and-ride stations, and significantly increased environmental review through compulsory environmental impact reports were only a few of the measures that helped protect environmental health during the construction of Southern California’s airports, seaports, and freeways. Although urban planning still created one of the most polluted and congested regions in the U.S., without the significant increase in environmental review from the myriad of individuals, groups, and agencies that make up the urban planning process, environmental health outcomes could have been considerably worse. ❧ This project examines the environmental planning process in order to illuminate how Los Angeles became one of the most saturated and polluted transportation hubs in the United States. Through the lens of history, this dissertation interrogates how, despite the implementation of numerous environmental health standards into the planning process, transportation exhaust accounted for 90% of the region’s smog during the 1960s and is still responsible for 94% of the basin’s carcinogenic risk. What did urban planners know about the relationship between transportation and environmental health, when did they know it, and what did they do about it? This historical analysis is accomplished through an examination of Southern California’s Century 105 and Long Beach 710 Interstate Freeways, Los Angeles International Airport, and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, essentially employing one chapter for each major mode of 20th Century transportation.
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