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Week in Review : COUNTYWIDE : Car-Pool Experiment Extended for 9 Months

March 16, 1986

Four months is enough, said the opponents. Four months of the experimental car-pool lanes on the Costa Mesa Freeway have shown they are dangerous, not to mention unfair and ineffective, and a staff analysis to the contrary deliberately distorts traffic data, they argued.

But to no avail. As expected, the Orange County Transportation Commission voted to continue the car-pool lanes another nine months to test the accuracy of a preliminary staff analysis. According to that report, peak-hour traffic flow had been improved 43% and there had been a decline in the number of accidents.

The lanes, added beside the center divider in both directions of the freeway, are reserved for cars carrying two or more people. Cars are supposed to enter and leave the lanes only at designated locations, an attempt to minimize dangerous lane merging.

So far, no dividers other than pavement stripes have been installed between the car-pool and normal lanes, although state highway engineers are considering some.

Drivers for Highway Safety, a group of motorists, has argued almost since the experiment began that the proximity of fast car-pool traffic beside slow or stopped rush-hour traffic is highly dangerous. The group claims freeway traffic would be just as improved, perhaps more so, by opening the additional lane to normal traffic.

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