I was interested to read the Jan. 19 article about the Rand Corp. study on relatively cheap and fast ways to improve traffic problems in Los Angeles ("Non-Profit in Drive to Ease Gridlock"). Unfortunately, the motoring public won't get any speeded-up freeways under the Rand study because the three sponsors of the study told Rand to ignore any possible enlargement in freeway capacity.
It's tragic that the motoring public, which pays nearly all of the taxes for transportation funding, gets next to no significant benefits. The public needs better guides than the Rand study.
To quote from the summary of the Rand study, "The short-term nature of the recommendations, for instance, ruled out major capacity expansions, such as new freeway lanes. "
That's what the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Music Center of Los Angeles County and developer James A. Thomas told Rand when they wrote the checks for the study. What an antagonistic attitude against the 95 percent of the public that depends on free-flowing freeways for commuting, business deliveries and other trips.
One would have hoped that the MTA would want to help the 95 percent who use their vehicles. Unfortunately, the vast part of its budget does nothing for speeded-up freeways. As a matter of fact, MTA's own 2008 Draft Long Range Transportation Plan says it is perfectly satisfied with slowing freeway speeds by another 14 miles per hour on the average by 2030. The MTA certainly has not planned any fix in the short or long term. Maybe we motorists need to get an MTA board that's on the side of the motoring public.
The best solution to freeway jams is the enlargement of freeways. Adding one lane to a three-lane freeway means a 33 percent expansion of capacity. When operating properly, freeways are the most efficient transportation system in existence.
The California Department of Transportation has a system of rating speeds of freeway segments from A-F depending on how congested they are. We all know there are plenty D and F segments in Los Angeles County. But the MTA does not prioritize any freeway construction based on eliminating the D and F segments.
Even more troubling for the whole state is the fact that the agency with the money, the California Transportation Commission, also does not target D and F segments. We motorists are certainly not getting much bang for our billions of tax bucks.
To add insult to injury, the Rand study endorses punishing freeway users even further. It favors imposing tolls on existing freeways and building diamond lanes for the few instead of new lanes for all.
Business, residential and other communities need to organize to oppose the political support that has allowed this backward transportation policy.
Somebody is getting awfully rich with our tax dollars without any benefit for the motorists.
Proper political motivation could quickly make freeways open and flowing. But the current political regime has told us over and over that it is not about to help.
Carl Olson is a college accounting instructor who also heads two public policy groups. He lives in Woodland Hills.
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