Sunday, November 13, 2005

Park and Ride or Quake and Smush?

Dost mine eyes deceive me?

Now we know that Californians have this reputation for being ever so slightly kooky, as well as married to their cars, but the most recent plan to come out of the offices of the Los Angeles and surrounding suburb planners is a little bit odd, even for them.

Apparently the counties around Los Angeles are having major traffic problems, with crippling congestion between Orange and Riverside Counties, which are separated by the 25-mile long Santa Ana mountains. Nearly 400,000 people commute into Orange County daily from four surrounding counties and nearly all of them drive.

Highway 91 is the only major road connecting Riverside County- the one with affordable homes - to Orange County - which has most of the jobs. It carries 268,000 cars a day, which is 50,000 more than it was designed to carry, and officials believe that by 2030 it will be carrying half a million cars daily.

Clearly there's a major problem here, and planners in Orange and Riverside counties have spent 18 months and $15 million in federal funds puzzling over a solution. Now I think you could have put a bunch of eight-year olds in charge for a couple of hours and paid them in Happy Meals and arrived at the same solution.

There's a mountain range in the way? a tunnel...duh!

Um...small issue here. The area they're talking about creating this tunnel happens to sit right next to a major quake fault. This is southern California, ferchrissakes, people. So yeah, let's construct a four or six lane underground tunnel which stretches 15 miles through the mountains and then....uh.....well, keep our fingers crossed I guess.

Let's examine this. They can't build double decker highways because they're considered too dangerous since the pancaking of two of them during recent earthquakes, but they can tunnel into solid rock and send half a million people through it daily?

How about a really truly radical idea? How about getting people OUT of their freaking cars and into shuttle buses? Cheaper than driving a car, less wear and tear on roadways since they carry as many people as would fit into 30 different vehicles. And then make it extremely painful on the wallet for people who choose to drive their car instead of parking and riding a shuttle bus. Geez...people whine about the length of a commute, but would rather sit in a car than ride on a shuttle??

One guy in particular grabbed my attention. Howard Gottesman, 44, a property manager in Orange County who lives just over the border in Riverside County, is quite willing to spend 1 1/2 hours in a car to drive a total of six miles. SIX FREAKING MILES, PEOPLE!! He whines: "I call it the longest six miles in the world. It's wear and tear on the car and it's wear and tear on me," said Gottesman. "They need to do something, whether it's double-decking the freeway or tunneling under the mountains. We need relief."

Anyone remember the Scarecrow song from 'The Wizard of Oz'? ".....if I only had a brain...."


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1:54 AM  
Blogger 'Lema said...

Remember a time when we thought spam comments meant you were going somewhere in the world? *sigh*

That's insane that they would build CLOSER to the central activity... tsk


9:45 AM  

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