Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Life After Relocation: Caltrans Museum Exhibit Explores the Human Face of Property Acquisition

In the chicken and egg logic of urban development, attractive housing prices draw people to an area, which creates more development and more traffic. 

It's Caltrans' job to ensure that freeways and state highways are operating at maximum efficiency. In crowded Los Angeles County, it is sometimes necessary to acquire private property in order to make room for freeway improvement projects. This process requires sensitivity and dedication on the part of Caltrans right-of-way agents to ensure that property owners are satisfied with their new homes. 

Over our many decades of experience, Caltrans has learned a thing or two about making the experience of moving people living in the freeway's path easier and, in some cases, actually improving their lives in the process. We also relocate businesses, which involves finding a location suitable to their specific requirements. And now, after moving a petting zoo in the city of Norwalk, we even have experience relocating animals.

The Right-of-Way process and the experiences of people relocated to enable vital improvements to the Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5) in the cities of Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs and La Mirada are the subject of the latest Caltrans District 7 Museum exhibit.  

Those improvements constitute a $1.6 billion investment that will enhance safety, improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, encourage ride sharing, decrease surface street traffic and help improve air quality.

The exhibit, on display now through early fall, examines the experiences of people who have been relocated, illustrated through a collection of doorknobs. Each doorknob in the exhibit was saved from someone's home. It represents a portal into their new lives and also a passageway into the Caltrans family, because we also became connected to the property owners in the process of working with them.

The museum is located at 100 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays.