The 90-day test of car-pool lanes on the Costa Mesa Freeway (California 55) ends later this month. Instead of allowing the test to end, the Orange County Transportation Commission should, as some people are urging, extend the trial period another nine months.
Even one year might not be enough to accurately determine how much the lane will ultimately be used, and how well it will work. But it would be a much more valid test that could help transportation officials more accurately determine how best to use the freeway lanes. The extension is also warranted according to performance reports on the express lanes gathered thus far.
Opponents of the car-pool lanes have been clamoring for the new lanes to be opened to all traffic. They contend that doing so would reduce congestion for all drivers, not just a few. They also maintain that the reserved lanes are unsafe because they put fast-moving cars alongside a lane of slower-moving or nearly stopped vehicles and invite unsafe lane changes by the motorists stuck in traffic.
The California Department of Transportation is adding reflectorized dots and raised pylons to better mark the lane separations and discourage drivers from making illegal and dangerous lane changes. And the California Highway Patrol says that it will intensify its patrolling of the car-pool lanes to cut down on violations. That could help.