Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn on Wednesday called for a two-pronged federal investigation of alleged fraud and mismanagement in the $2.5-billion Century Freeway project.
Citing a series of reports in The Times, which revealed a variety of costly problems plaguing the federally funded freeway project’s housing replacement and minority contracting programs, Hahn called for congressional and federal grand jury investigations.
In a letter to Robert C. Bonner, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Hahn said he is particularly concerned about reports of shoddy construction and abnormally high costs to provide low-cost housing for those displaced by the 17.5-mile Norwalk-to-El Segundo freeway project.
The Times reported that because of delays in the project, most of the displaced residents have long since moved elsewhere, and that vacancy rates in the costly new subsidized housing are high. State and federal officials are investigating reports of fraud in various freeway contracts, The Times reported.
“Regardless of how well-intentioned the plan was in the beginning, it has become a foolish plan fraught with problems and possible corruption,” Hahn said. “If the entire plan is flawed, then it should be put on hold while a complete review is undertaken before even more government funds are misspent.”
Through a spokeswoman, Bonner said he had not yet received Hahn’s letter calling for a grand jury investigation and will reserve comment.
Hahn, whose heavily minority and low-income district includes much of the freeway project, also wrote Rep. Glenn Anderson (D-Long Beach), requesting a congressional probe.
The freeway project is being named for Anderson, chairman of the House public works transportation subcommittee and a leader in the long fight for federal funding for the project.
Hahn urged Anderson to bring a special committee to Los Angeles to investigate the problems and recommend changes and possible modifications of the federal court order that governs all aspects of the massive project.
“It would be a great shame if the problems with the housing element would obscure the main purpose of the project, which is to provide an important link in Los Angeles County’s freeway system,” Hahn wrote.
Anderson and his spokesmen could not be reached for comment.