Paving Project to Improve Air Quality for Residents of Eastern Coachella Valley Mobile Home Parks
EASTERN COACHELLA VALLEY – Low-income residents in the eastern Coachella Valley, many of them agricultural workers with an annual household income less than $15,000, will be able to breathe in cleaner air as a result of a dirt paving project.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has signed a contract with Riverside County to pave approximately 8.3 miles of unpaved roads within 31 mobile home parks containing 483 mobile home units. The clean air project is funded by AB 1318 emission mitigation fees from the Sentinel Energy Project, funds that Supervisor Benoit successfully directed exclusively to the Coachella Valley.
“Vehicles entering and exiting mobile home parks kick up dust clouds and particles that residents breathe in,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “Paving these roads improves the air quality for the residents. I’m particularly proud it will be safer for children from these parks who wait at bus stops or walk to school every day.”
As a state senator in 2009, Benoit coauthored AB 1318, legislation that authorized CPV Sentinel to purchase $53 million in emission offsets from SCAQMD required for construction of its power plant near Desert Hot Springs. AB 1318 directed the $53 million to be deposited into a restricted account and used for emission mitigation projects within the SCAQMD’s four-county jurisdiction. However, Supervisor Benoit convinced his SCAQMD Board colleagues that 100 percent of the funding should be directed to projects exclusively in the Coachella Valley.
The SCAQMD’s Governing Board approved the second-largest grant from this fund, nearly $4.1 million, to the paving project on Jan. 4.
The air quality project will remove hundreds of tons of fine particulate pollution annually. Fine particulate pollution can pose a health risk to residents. In the Coachella Valley, dust from unpaved roads and other sources is a significant source of fine particulate pollution.
Children under 18 are particularly susceptible to exposure to fine particulates during their growth and development years. Research has linked fine particulate exposure to hospital admissions for acute respiratory ailments in children, school and kindergarten absences, reduced peak air-flow rates in normal children’s lungs and increased medication use by children and adults with asthma.
An added benefit of the paving project is to provide improved accessibility for mobile home park residents and visitors. The unpaved roads become difficult to traverse during storms, isolating the communities at times.
The Transportation Department will complete the design and CEQA environmental document before they prepare, advertise, bid and award a construction contract. While some construction may begin as early as next summer, the entire project should be completed within two years.