No, Westside drivers, it's not your imagination. Traffic is worse than ever, and it's worst right here.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation, in one of its periodic surveys, has calculated that all but one of the 10 busiest intersections in the city are on the Westside.
The distinction of the most-traveled intersection in the city is shared this time by Wilshire Boulevard-Veteran Avenue in Westwood and Highland Avenue-Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
According to a recent count by the transportation agency, an average of 128,000 cars pass through each intersection in 24 hours. That's the equivalent of having every man, woman and child in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills travel through every day, one person per vehicle.
Fifteen of the city's top 20 intersections had at least 100,000 vehicles go by daily, rivaling freeway totals in other parts of the country. Small wonder that everyone on the road seems to have a phone, electric razor or makeup kit in the car.
For Highland and Sunset, the numbers represent a 42% increase in traffic in the past decade. For Wilshire and Veteran, one of three Westwood intersections to make the top 10, traffic is up 19%, or 20,000 vehicles. (Wilshire at Gayley Avenue and at Westwood Boulevard are the others).
Why is the Westside running away with the "honors" it would gladly share with, say, Van Nuys or Eagle Rock? For starters, officials blame the city's overall population growth of about 18% during the '80s. Overall, there are an estimated 22% more cars at the 20 busiest intersections in the past 10 years, the city survey concluded.
After that, "It's the attractions on the Westside," said city transportation chief Ed Rowe, citing the Marina, UCLA, Westwood and the airport.
Indeed, the survey shows that the Los Angeles International Airport area came into its own in the 1980s as a gridlock superstar. The city's third-, fourth- and fifth-busiest intersections are close to LAX, led by the Century Boulevard-La Cienega Boulevard crossroads, with 127,000 vehicles per day.
Century and Aviation Boulevards was next with 113,000 cars. In fifth place was Sepulveda Boulevard and 96th Street in Westchester, at what used to be a little-known side entrance to the airport.
The other big winners are no surprise: Jefferson and La Cienega boulevards, just off the Santa Monica Freeway, and Highland Avenue and Franklin Avenue at the northbound entrance to the Hollywood Freeway.
A Venice intersection, Lincoln and Washington boulevards, gateway to the Marina and beach, was in a four-way tie for 10th place.
Lincoln and Washington is just a short block from where Marina Place, a regional shopping mall at Culver City's western tip, is supposed to go. Nearby to the south along Lincoln are the sites of two other huge proposed developments, Channel Gateway and Playa Vista.
Sharing 10th place were two other Westside intersections and one in the San Fernando Valley. One was Santa Monica and Sepulveda boulevards, where trying-to-get-on-the-San-Diego-Freeway traffic meets traffic that is trying to get off and head toward Century City and other West L.A. destinations.
Another was La Cienega Boulevard and Rodeo Road, best known for its Fedco store. La Cienega, of course, is heavily used as a bypass around the San Diego-Santa Monica Freeway interchange by Westchester and South Bay commuters headed downtown.
For the near future, Rowe said he expects driver behavior to go on as it has, with rush hour continuing to spread out as people seek to avoid the worst crush. He also gave the oft-repeated, but seldom heeded, advice to car pool.
Ready to move to Seattle yet?
Maybe the blow can be softened by knowing that Sherman Way and Sepulveda Boulevard in the Valley is the other intersection tied for 10th. Or that the prize for the greatest increase in traffic, a crushing 44%, goes to far-off Artesia Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.
And finally, the only intersection in the study whose traffic went down in the last 10 years is one of ours, too: At ninth-place Wilshire Boulevard and Gayley Avenue, traffic was down 2%, or 2,000 vehicles since 1980.
10 BUSIEST INTERSECTIONS
AVERAGE WEEKDAY CHANGE LOCATION VOLUME FROM 1980 1. Highland Ave. and Sunset Blvd. (Hollywood) 128,000 +42% (tie) Wilshire Blvd. and Veteran Ave. (Westwood) 128,000 +19% 3. Century and La Cienega blvds. (LAX) 127,000 +20% 4. Century and Aviation blvds. (LAX) 113,000 +17% 5. Sepulveda Blvd. and 96th St. (LAX) 107,000 +35% 6. La Cienega and Jefferson blvds. (Crenshaw) 106,000 +33% (tie) Highland and Franklin aves. (Hollywood) 106,000 +26% 8. Wilshire and Westwood blvds. (Westwood) 105,000 +7% 9. Wilshire Blvd. and Gayley Ave. (Westwood) 104,000 -2% 10. Lincoln and Washington blvds. (Venice) 103,000 +23% (tie) Santa Monica and Sepulveda blvds. (Westwood) 103,000 +20% (tie) La Cienega Blvd. and Rodeo Road (Crenshaw) 103,000 +26% (tie) Sherman Way and Sepulveda Blvd. (Van Nuys) 103,000 +26%