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Uses of New Lanes on the Crowded Costa Mesa Freeway

September 29, 1985

As a commuter who uses the "traffic-choked" Costa Mesa Freeway, I have been eyeing with "eager anticipation" the two new travel lanes that are being created by the resurfacing and re-striping project under way on that freeway.

If, as you say in your editorial "Express Lanes Best for Freeway" (Sept. 22), the purpose of this project was to increase the capacity of the freeway by moving more people, I cannot agree with your conclusion that a commuter lane is the best way to achieve this goal.

The congestion on the Costa Mesa Freeway is caused, in a large part, by the heavy volume of commuters coming in from the Riverside County area and beyond. Anyone driving the freeway can verify that on most mornings by 7 a.m., traffic is backed up from the Santa Ana Freeway to the Riverside Freeway. These commuter trips are inevitable as long as the labor pool for Orange County, particularly southern Orange County, is forced to turn to outlying areas for affordable housing.

These commuters begin their trips in the communities of Norco, Corona, Riverside, Sunnymead and beyond. Destinations for these commuters fall along the entire length of the Costa Mesa Freeway, but primarily the airport environs.

As long as employment centers continue to develop in Orange County and affordable housing is being developed in the outlying areas, the volume of traffic on the Costa Mesa Freeway will continue to increase.

Another general-purpose travel lane on the freeway would go further in reducing congestion and increasing capacity than the proposed commuter lane.

Your editorial indicates that effective utilization of the commuter lane rests with Orange County Transportation District. I question the impact of the district on the growing number of commuters coming in from outside Orange County. Is the district going to become an inter-county transit line similar to the Rapid Transit District? What impact has the Rapid Transit District had on commuter traffic between Orange County and the Los Angeles employment centers?

I agree that the main responsibility in maximizing the use of commuter lanes rests with the motoring public. Although government may be providing an opportunity for the motoring public to prove that it wants car pools and will use them, it is my opinion that common sense and some basic knowledge of Southern California land-development patterns and existing driving habits indicate that the solution to congestion on the Costa Mesa Freeway is not a commuter lane.


Costa Mesa

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