The letters (Oct. 29) responding to the Automobile Club of Southern California's call for new freeway development are gratifying. Whether pro or con, the response shows transportation is a significant issue to citizens in our region. That's terrific! Because it will take all our efforts to guarantee a transportation system that continues to get us where we want to go far into the next century.
Our goal in presenting the report, "Freeway Development to the Year 2000," is to stimulate public dialogue on the critical issues of assuring our future mobility and maintaining our economic prosperity. That dialogue has begun, and, as we move toward understanding each others' ideas and concerns, we will come closer to the solutions that will keep our region moving forward.
Many responding to our proposal have expressed a variety of ideas for improving (as well as frustration with) the existing freeway system. The club differs with those who consider the freeway network a failure. Freeways are not failing--they are just overworked! A commodity does not become obsolete just because the demand for it grows greater!
Considering the number of people using the freeways these days, they actually work remarkably well. They open to Southern Californians a wealth of employment, residential, cultural and recreational opportunities throughout our region.
On the other hand, we heartily agree with those who see part of the answer in managing our freeways better. Sections of our report address the need to better manage demand on freeways by encouraging ride-sharing, more effective ramp-metering with priority to car pools and buses, and quicker accident cleanup.
Improving public transit service is another part of the puzzle. Yet, projections indicate that even when all currently planned transit projects are built, transit will carry 6% of all regional travel. Our proposal is to accommodate the other 94%. Consider also that the Southern California population is projected to increase from 16 million to at least 19 million in the next 15 years.
We believe a key part of the answer is the freeway network. We identified 400 freeway miles needed to close network gaps, connect growing economic centers to the system, and better serve areas whose population and travel levels have skyrocketed. The club's freeway project selection is not revolutionary: most of the projects are already included in state master freeway or regional plans.
It will take a consensus of concerned people to determine if the new freeway projects are needed just as it takes agreement--and action--from people to make ride-sharing work. The Auto Club commends all efforts to turn our transportation problem into a transportation achievement. And we strongly believe our region's freeway network will be key to that achievement.
DAVID D. GRAYSON
Grayson is director of engineering and technical services of the Automobile Club of Southern California.