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Strategies for L.A. Traffic

February 01, 1987

Police Chief Daryl F. Gates was right on target when he urged the city to handle its increasingly congested downtown traffic by re-establishing the Olympics transportation strategies. The Southern California Assn. of Governments (SCAG) has analyzed the results of those strategies, has agreed that they work, and has been promoting their adoption for the past two years through its Regional Advisory Council's "Olympic Legacy" program.

SCAG's post-Olympics evaluation revealed some startling facts. Although traffic volume increased by 11%, congestion on our freeways decreased 35% below normal levels. Not only that, truck accidents decreased 58%, in part of reflection of altered truck-delivery schedules, which decreased daytime truck traffic and increased evening deliveries to the Central Business District by 60%.

Well, the Olympics are now behind us, but for the next several years Los Angeles will be facing a potential traffic problem of even greater magnitude--the beginning of the downtown Metro Rail construction. So, as Chief Gates and SCAG have suggested, the city has re-created an Olympics-style interagency task force to put those strategies in place again.

While the Metro Rail construction will create severe disruptions, SCAG agrees with Chief Gates that such low-cost approaches as flextime, one-way streets, remote parking lots and shuttle buses, revised truck-delivery schedules, and strict enforcement of parking restrictions coupled with an intensive public education and information program proved their effectiveness in 1984 and are ideally suited to again help the city manage its mobility problems.

SCAG's Regional Advisory Council has been taking the message to service clubs, Chambers of Commerce, and the TV, radio and print media. Its speakers present an 18-minute film of this transportation success story that provides persuasive evidence that these strategies do work.

The council has also established a truck-delivery task force to develop workable and permanent policies for non-peak-hour downtown deliveries.

It is now time for both the public sector and the private sector to team up and make the "Olympic Legacy" program a permanent program--not only in Los Angeles but throughout the SCAG six-county region.


Los Angeles

Russell is president of the Los Angeles City Council and a member of the SCAG executive committee.

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