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Transitways Will Pave Way to More Woes

January 06, 1991

A standard, general-use freeway lane is 12 feet wide, and in Orange County they cost about $8 million per mile to build. Expensive as the standard lanes are, The Times (Dec. 22) points out that Caltrans has installed 14-foot-wide lanes on the San Diego Freeway.

Just crossing these lanes that separate the 7-month-old car-pool lanes from the still-congested general-use lanes can get you a $246 fine.

The California Department of Transportation suggests that the "revolutionary" 14-foot-wide buffer lanes may be the reason commuters are using the San Diego Freeway car-pool lanes in greater numbers than commuters are using the 6-year-old Costa Mesa Freeway car-pool lanes. Caltrans conveniently ignores the fact that more commuters were car-pooling on the San Diego freeway before the car-pool lanes were opened. The question never answered is: How many new car pools were formed because of the car-pool-lane incentive?

Joe El-Harake, Caltrans commuter lanes coordinator, says the wider--$8 million per mile--buffers are the wave of the future but, "unlike more expensive concrete barriers, they can't prevent accidents." True enough. However, Mr. El-Harake forgets that the wave of the future will end with the widening of the Santa Ana Freeway.

The new Santa Ana Freeway will include 27-foot-wide "transitways" that will be buffered from the general-use lanes with the more expensive concrete barriers. Part of the cost of these transitways will be paid for out of Transit District "reserve" funds, which tells us that at some point the transitways will be restricted to buses.

WAYNE KING, Orange. Wayne King is a member of Drivers for Highway Safety.

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