We were disturbed by the editorial position taken Feb. 9 on car-pool lanes on the Costa Mesa Freeway. That the car-pool lane "test" will be extended is very likely. The reasons for extension are not so obvious.
Caltrans based its decision to go ahead with a "test" on rather unsound ground. True, its much-touted "opinion polls" did show that many drivers are in favor of a car-pool lane. We are too--for safe, properly engineered car-pool lanes.
Here are a few facts Caltrans neglected to tell the public:
- Those polled were asked if they favored a car-pool lane during peak hours--not 24 hour-a-day lanes. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they could not or would not add a passenger to their car.
- Of the nine options to relieve traffic, a car-pool lane placed seventh.
- Daily usage is highly exaggerated.
- Accident rate comparisons for the present were compared against one week that just happened to be one of the heaviest.
Caltrans refuses to open all lanes for a true test of usage, travel time or accident comparisons. Nor will it open the off-peak lane to all traffic, as suggested at a recent meeting chaired by Orange Mayor James Beam.
Having spent exhaustive hours in examination of this project, our committee is firmly convinced the car-pool lane project should be abandoned. We are convinced the present lane is a ticking time bomb. There is going to be a very bad accident because of the speed of cars in the car-pool lane compared to lanes to the right.
Caltrans is trying to put a Band-Aid over the bomb, with soon-to-be introduced blue lines, compensation pylons, and the extension of the entrance and egress lanes.
These measures will not work. The CHP has served notice they cannot adequately patrol the lanes to eliminate "illegal," one-passenger cars without additional manpower, overtime or funding. The question we ask is simple and direct: Why is this unsafe car-pool lane being shoved down out throats?
Members Committee Director
Drivers for Highway Safety