Living in the congested Westside area of Los Angeles over time has changed my perspective on commuting and the use of my car. It has also shaped my ideals of my own solutions to improve traffic flow in and around my neighborhood. I live in what I dub thee “Traffic Triangle” because you can only go in three directions, since the glorious Pacific Ocean, our natural free air conditioning, is just due West.
I dare you, go North to the Valley on the epic and mind-numbing 405 freeway which is the most heavily travelled highway in the nation and conveniently under major construction. The addition of lanes to the freeway and reconfiguring exits/entrances to improve traffic flow on and off major streets are all good steps. An additional solution would be to lay down some light rail train tracks, that would sure do this freeway and city good. They can even come up with some fun marketing terms for the messes created by these projects, like Carmaggedon or The Rampture to re-construct the 8 ramps pictured below at Wilshire and the 405
Venture East and you are met with streets blanketed by out-of-sync traffic lights, jammed with motorist trying to get to or past the 405. This is why I take the bus as to not siphon my sanity and gas money. It takes creative planning and longer to get to my destination, but it is worth it to me. This problem is partly addressed by the Westside Subway Extension, which is set to reach Westwood as the next major destination. Unfortunately, this will not help the traffic congestion between the Ocean and Westwood. This project used to be referred to as the “Subway to The Sea” which is my favorite solution, see map below. Until then, I will continue to take the Metro Rapid 720 to the closest subway stop and look at every additional mile the subway travels West as a win for me. This brings up one other important solution, a dedicated bus lane. This would improve the reliability of bus travel, making it a more attractive commuting option for those stranded in or out of the “Traffic Triangle.”
Another solution in mid-construction is the Expo Line light rail currently travelling from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and ultimately to Downtown Santa Monica in a few more years. There will be a stop about a mile from home and will make for an easy light rail trip to Downtown Culver City or the Natural History Museum or transfer to a line to Long Beach or Universal City Walk for the largest IMAX movie screen in the region.
Travelling South is also met with out-of-sync traffic lights and heavy traffic to pass under or bravely enter the bump-to-bumper party on the 10 freeway. The solution for this direction is not as clear cut as the other two directions. Of course that fictional light rail running in the middle the 405 freeway as a solution would greatly help the traffic flow. Another issue is the lack of far reaching North/South bus routes. My favorite route is the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus #3 which starts at UCLA and makes it way West through Santa Monica and South to LAX and the Green Line Train Station that travels from Redondo Beach to Norwalk. You can sure save some money on parking at LAX if you are willing to plan ahead and take this bus. There are also few far reaching safe and protected bike paths. The addition of safe bike paths will encourage more commuting by bicycle.
I realize that my solutions require a good amount of dough to make happen, but they would also generate a healthy dose of jobs. I truly enjoy commuting around Los Angeles without a car when possible, it makes me feel empowered. I hope that I can try and convince others to do the same to off-set the stress of traffic and wasting your gas money trying to get in and out of the “Traffic Triangle.” How else can we improve traffic flow in our regions? – GreenUp! Guy