Los Angeles County motorists will face gridlock on the freeways and find streets in disrepair by the year 2000 unless more than $3 billion can be raised, a study warns. "We need to keep our streets from crumbling out from under us," said Ginger Gherardi, manager of highway programs for the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission. "Our study shows that we are falling far short of that goal."
The draft study, titled, "On the Road to the Year 2000," and released Wednesday, says nearly two-thirds of the county's streets will be in disrepair within 13 years.
It suggests ways to raise money for repair work, including an additional half-cent county sales tax, developer fees, a one-cent county gas tax and surcharges on gas, electricity and phone bills.
The study found that the county's 84 cities fall $111 million short of what they need just to maintain their existing street systems each year. Another $39 million in signal coordination also is needed to ease the county's traffic congestion, according to the report.
Freeway congestion causes nearly 485,000 man-hours of delay each day, the study says, annually wasting 72 million gallons of fuel and costing commuters $507 million in lost time.
With the cost of new freeways estimated at $150 million to $200 million a mile, existing routes should be widened at a cost of about $4.5 billion in the next 10 years, the study says. Current funding schedules would cover less than $3 billion of that amount, the report notes.
"That's just short term, without any new freeways," commission community relations coordinator Steve Lantz said. "It's up to all of us to devise new funding sources and get them implemented."
The study also calls for implementation of a $25-million "smart corridor" demonstration project on the Santa Monica Freeway.
Such a corridor would feature monitored coordination of traffic signals on several parallel boulevards, roving service trucks to promptly clear streets and freeways of accidents and stalled cars and detailed traffic information on the best routes through the corridor. Traffic tips would be available by telephone, through specialized radio broadcasts and on electronic message signs.
If the demonstration project on the Santa Monica Freeway were to prove successful, the study proposes implementing similar corridors on the Hollywood and Ventura freeways.