There’s been a lot of chatter on L.A.’s airwaves and in print lately about our city’s traffic mess. Our roadways are torn up and rush-hour(s) gridlock abounds on most of L.A.’s major freeways and boulevards. It’s totally a nightmare out there. It’s time to let the genie out of the bottle and take new actions to alleviate abounding gridlock.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles more than a generation. I can honestly say I’ve never seen cars moving about more slowly during peak hours than today. Certainly, major construction projects going on – the 405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project and Exposition Transit Corridor, Phase 2 – greatly affect millions of commuters daily. Don’t think we’re over the hurdle because Carmageddon and Jamzilla are over. Another Supernowheres will undoubtedly take place sometime, somewhere soon in SoCal.
Many cities across America have a daily rush hour lasting an hour or two. These strangleholds typically last from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and 5 to 6:30 p.m. workdays. Not so in Los Angeles. Our mornings seem to be logjammed from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., while our afternoon road nightmares seem to commence at 3 and last past 7. Friday afternoons are especially bad on our roadways as masses try to scatter out of town early for weekend fun and excitement.
L.A.’s rush hours with freeway and boulevard bumper-to-bumper traffic, by my estimates, lasts more than twice as long as other major cities. Yes, we have a lot more people in the L.A. basin, but our quality of life is hampered by long commute times and congestion. Today, I’d rather be behind the wheel in just about any other major U.S. city scooting about. Even though our mass public transportation is on the upswing with the lengthening of the Metro Expo Line, which will more readily take commuters to and from Santa Monica and Westwood to downtown Los Angeles and points elsewhere, we have a long way to go to play catch up with other track-covered vibrant cities.
Today, what actions can we Angelenos take to help reduce our daily traffic nightmares? Two of the worst spots I’ve found in Los Angeles to be stuck in a car during peak hours are attempting to travel along Lincoln and La Cienega boulevards. These two major north-south streets could serve as test cases. Let’s make each boulevard, during workdays, one-way heading north in the early mornings till noon. And beginning around 3 until 8 p.m., make them one-way southbound. That would open up two to three lanes of one-way vehicular movement and greatly reduce heartache for tens of thousands on those two roads. If the trial period works out satisfactorily, more roads can be opened up to one-way traffic flows during car jammed times. Major roads like Crenshaw, Olympic, Pico, Sepulveda and Wilshire boulevards come to mind. Other cities have adopted this type of action plan to help solve traffic problems. Why can’t we? Starting tomorrow, let’s get on the phones and flick emails to city planning and transportation commissions in Los Angeles and our neighbors in Beverly Hills, Culver City and Santa Monica for action.
Commissioners and mayors please come together and help rescue us by altering the flow of traffic along these two major thoroughfares for starters. Let’s try something fresh and creative on our city streets and see if it works out. New signals, signs and road markings could be introduced at nominal costs compared with overbudgeted, long-term heavy construction projects now underway. Our citizens shouldn’t wait years for L.A.’s mass-transit undertakings to be completed and come on line or for James Bond-inspired, mass-produced personalized jetpacks to be designed, manufactured and sold.
Ted Lux has been involved in real estate lending in the L.A. area for more than 25 years. He is author of investment book “Exposing the Wheel Spin on Wall Street.”
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