Saturday, September 29, 2012

Carmageddon II

This weekend marks the second annual Carmageddon, a fine tradition the City and County of Los Angeles started last year which involves closing a major part of the freeway grid, in this case the 405 freeway between the 10 and the 101. As can be seen from this Google maps screenshot of traffic patterns Saturday afternoon, the closure of this section of the freeway is having a negligible impact on traffic in the surrounding system.

Therefore we should demand that this highly successful program, which is allowing Angelenos to re-discover their back yards and neighborhoods, gradually be expanded until we finally achieve the dream of a near car-less city. Carmageddon is showing us that only good things happen from closing down these obnoxious urban freeways.

So let's not stop with annual closings of a section of the 405. Let's try more bold measures. We should figure out how to keep the 405 freeway closed permanently. Why not? I have never heard anything but complaints about this freeway. No one likes it. No one would miss it. And let's not stop there. I repeat my proposal for permanent closure of the Hollywood (101) freeway between downtown and the Ventura freeway. Like the 405 freeway, this stretch is a parking lot during rush hours anyway. It is nearly useless as a transportation system. And like the 405, the Hollywood freeway traverses a scenic mountain pass that has been ruined for any other purpose. Beautiful mountain paths and vistas in both the Sepulveda pass and the Cahuenga pass have been destroyed by horrible traffic noise, noxious air pollution and the unsightliness of 10 lanes of traffic. These freeway routes assail all our senses, make life unpleasant for everyone who lives in the vicinity, contribute enormously to our stress levels, and are harmful in every possible way to our health.

Of course environmentalists and public transportation advocates would favor my plan. But anti-government conservatives should applaud it too. Imagine being able to turn huge chunks of public land, that currently sucks up large amounts of our tax dollars, over to private developers. My suggestion would be to allocate half the freeway land to parks, bike trails and bus or trolley lanes. The rest could be used for apartment buildings, stores, hotels, offices or whatever uses the market will support. Meanwhile the property immediately adjacent to these former freeways would also skyrocket in value, conferring a tremendous boost to the economy.

Let's shelve the plan for adding another lane to the 405 freeway. That's not going to solve our traffic problems. Instead we need to make Carmageddon permanent.

(photos from Palisades Patch)

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