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Auto Club's Plea for Freeways

October 29, 1986

It is very discouraging to read of the Southern California Automobile Club's proposal for a major expansion of our freeway system. Granted completion of the Long Beach Freeway and the Glendale Freeway would be advantageous, but realistically both connections have been delayed so long, will it ever happen?

It is enormously expensive construction-wise and it is unrealistic strategically and politically. The costs of right of ways are exorbitant. The delays, because of political jurisdictions, environmental impact reports, removal of homes and buildings, all cause untold delays, as evidenced in the controversies over construction of the Century Freeway. Meanwhile the costs double and triple.

There are alternatives and these methods were used successfully during the Olympic Games of 1984. The key to success is volunteerism. If everyone left his car in the garage one day every two weeks our freeway and street traffic would be greatly reduced. Studies by transportation planners at the Southern California Assn. of Governments and Caltrans indicate that 100% cooperation by all Southern Californians would reduce traffic by as much as 10%. These statistics are rough numbers and have not been published or verified as this is a difficult forecast, but whether it is 2% or 10%, the reduction of automobile usage through everyone's cooperation is a far easier solution than billions for mass transit and more freeways.

The other successful strategies employed during the Olympics were: most truck deliveries were made during the early morning and at night, not during peak traffic hours; close cooperation of all transit agencies and traffic departments including police and sheriff departments; park-and-ride buses; staggered work hours; controlled, synchronized signals on special streets; more one-way streets; and daily media traffic coverage.

The Regional Advisory Committee of SCAG started a program last year entitled "Olympic Legacy--Let's Keep it Moving." This program is now headed by David Grayson, executive director of the Southern California Automobile Club. Because of money, lack of leadership, and probably protection of their own turf by the transit agencies, the program has not gotten off the ground. The duplicity of Grayson's roles is questionable too.

With a full media campaign and enormous public relations effort, such as the seat-belt campaign experienced, the volunteer program could work. People's quality of life here in Southern California depends on ease of public and private transportation. We needn't wait until the freeways become a parking lot to start such a volunteer program.


Los Angeles

Stuart is a former chairman of the Regional Advisory Committee's Transportation Committee of the Southern California Assn. of Governments.

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