Freeway Futility

This is likely to be of little interest to those outside of the LA area, but one never knows, so....

I'm listening to 790AM this morning on the way in to work. As usual, the 405 is jammed through the Sepulveda Pass. I know, it's not big news to anyone living around here. But they mentioned that Caltrans was out working on the freeway overnight and hadn't finished up yet. So people were more irritated than usual. Fortunately, my commute doesn't involve the 405 in any way.

The discussion soon shifted to a proposed expansion project on the 405 in that area. They want to add more lanes and fix up the ones already there. The only problem is, there's no room. They'd need to blast away more of the mountain and use eminent domain to remove some of the homes on either side of the freeway. Ok. So this is exactly what eminent domain was intended for, right?

Wrong. The proposed expansion of the freeway would only be to add carpool lanes to the road. While some commuters might be thrilled to death to hear this, I and most others are not. Everytime a new carpool lane is built, nothing good comes of it. The mainline is still packed full of people and the carpool lanes go largely unused except during the 6-8am rush. That's a lot of people to oust from their homes for 2 hours of benefit a day.

Further, as with the 60/57 project, it'll take another 3 years before this is done. And that's assuming they cut through all the red tape and start now. I had to deal with the mess they made on the 60/57 interchange in Diamond Bar for 3 years, and believe me, it wasn't fun trying to get through there in the mornings. The end result of all that time spent closing lanes, blocking up traffic, and pissing people off? Extra carpool ramps nobody is using. Oh, and have I mentioned the constant accidents at this interchange since they also restriped the lanes leading up to it? The restriping has made it nearly impossible to get through the area at the times I need to do so, so my commute now takes me through Carbon Canyon every morning.

The same sort of thing happened when the Fastrak lanes were installed on the 91 freeway in Santa Ana Canyon. Two lanes on each side. Sectioned off by hard poles so that people can't cheat. Charge excessive tolls to use it, and this money goes to a private organization the state gave control to. The end result? Nobody uses the lanes. The state had to buy them back and is supposedly going to return them to normal use once they "make back their losses". We all know this won't happen.

So I don't think anyone needs to lose their homes over a couple of new carpool lanes. Unless you're going to expand the freeway and let everyone use it then there's no reason to bother. It won't help, and Caltrans has never been able to prove it will in any of these projects.
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Posted on Jun 20, 2007 11:37 am by Samson in: , | 6 comment(s) [Closed]
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Sounds like someone at Caltrans needs a pretty serious wake-up call. :(

       
Yes, they need more than just a wakeup call.

In my zeal, I forgot to mention the complete disaster they've made of the 5/57/22/55 interchange complex commonly known as the "Orange Crush". They spent the better part of 2 years "improving" what they considered a huge mess. The only thing they did by adding barriers and creating two new transition lanes is to move the backup on the ramps from the actual 22/57/5 collector road back to the Fairview Ave. onramp. I see this daily as this is usually where I try to get on the 22 coming home. It often doesn't work out because the backup goes clear back to the Haster Ave. exits and the traffic backs up down the Fairview onramp because of the traffic meters. All in all, a really badly executed plan.

       
That actually sounds worse than most of the traffic disasters in the DC area. *shaking his head*

       
I'm convinced that governments purposely put thier most incompetent people on the road crews. Honestly do these guys understand anything? Do they hire monkeys as engineers? I wish they would I think your average monkey could figure out a better solution than most traffic engineers.

Here we really never have bad traffic only one or two small bad places but they never cease to waste the tax payers money on useless shit over and over again and complain that the problem is just too complicated ( one extra bridge across the river would solve 90% of the problem) but they'd rather put in bike lanes, round abouts, and of all things a bike bridge.

I cannot begin to imagine how bad the traffic there must be, I'm pissed if traffic makes me 5 minutes late to work.

       
Well just imagine it this way. You see the picture at the top of this post, yes? That's the 405 freeway in the Sepulveda Pass on a typical afternoon drive. Six lanes of traffic jammed solid for as far as the eye can see. But they want to blast out the hills on either side, condemn a bunch of houses, and create traffic snarls for the next few years only to add HOV/Carpool lanes. By the time they're done, it won't be worth a shit.

If you think you have it bad when traffic makes you 5 minutes late to work, that's nothing. Try having to leave your house 90 minutes before work. Then try having to call in to say you'll be late because that 90 minutes wasn't long enough because some asshat on the 57 in Anaheim caused an accident and backed up traffic 20 miles into Diamond Bar. The commute in this case goes from a normal 45 minutes to over 2 hours. And we have days where it takes that long with no accidents.

In general I'm just tired of seeing my tax dollars going to waste on projects I and most of my friends and family can never legally use.

       
I admit to a certain sort of fascinated horror at this whole story, considering that I'm not even sure that Oregon has a road with that many lanes to it, much less with that kind of backup, which is I suppose one more reason why we're superior to you CA types. It does remind me of a certain incident once upon a time when everyone in Eugene decided to get on Beltline to go home about the time some jackass in a semi decided to wreck, but.

Thankfully, ODOT's/local authorities' list of mistakes is pretty small as far as I can tell (what's up with that asstastic redone intersection down by Oakway/whatever, anyway? And seriously, did all that stuff they did going into Corvallis help anyone at all?), and besides the examples listed, mostly seems to be limited to not paving the goddamn road in a manner consistent with reality (with a nod to the section by my house that got redone with at least two redesigns over the course of ten years or so at least as many times).

If only CT was like that. Many many streets, all of them small, and all of them holdovers from 300 years ago when backups on the interstate were definitely the problem. Add in that whole "everyone and their dog lives on the NE seaboard" thing and it makes for some fun times indeed. I still have no idea how people make it through Hartford on a day to day basis, the system there is so bad. Imagine, if you will, taking a few million people and shoving them into a two-lane interstate with a sometime third lane all at the same time. For added fun, the right lane turns into exit only off-ramps every thousand feet or so, so you can't actually USE that lane. Then make adequate signage optional.

New Haven is marginally better, hampered only by the fact that determining what street goes what way on what block seems to have been decided by a group of crack-addled chimpanzees with darts and a spinner. They seem to be doing some form of freeway construction there, too, which seems to be related to getting people from downtown to 95, but in reality, well, I don't even know. Secret alien command bunker? Aircraft hangers for our secret fleets of WWII prop planes that we will use to take over the world? Your guess is as good as mine.

I'm told New York State got fucked in a moderately similar fashion as you all with the New York Thruway/I90, in one of those "We'll only toll it until we collect our money back" things that, well, didn't leave. It's actually a perfectly acceptable sort of road, but then, I had to spend $20 to go down it, so it damn well better have been.

There are times when I long for our Tom Swiftian future of flying our little personal gyrocopters everywhere. Or having something that looks like the British model of railway transportation. There's a lot to be said for getting anywhere I want with minimal hassle, all by train. Tube stop 5 blocks from my house, 40 minutes into King's Cross in London, from there by train anywhere in Britain or via Eurostar to the Continent. Sure do miss that.

       
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