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A Roads Scholar Who Taught Us How to Get Around on the Freeways

March 15, 1992|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY and Send items to The Times, 1717 4th St., Santa Monica.

If you've noticed that traffic suddenly has gotten worse, you might be able to blame it on Santa Monica resident Dave Roper. The 61-year-old engineer retired from the state Department of Transportation last month after a career that included the successful 1984 Olympics traffic plan.

Roper came to Los Angeles about 40 years ago after graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in civil engineering and joined the California Division of Highways, which later became Caltrans. He also picked up a master's degree from USC.

During his 41-year career of public service, Roper worked on some of the city's most challenging traffic projects and helped change the look of modern freeways. He introduced the ramp meter, which regulates traffic flow on busy roadways, and also was influential in installing diamond, or car-pool, lanes.

As head of the design task force for the Century Freeway, he worked on its plans beginning in the late 1960s. The job is scheduled to be completed this fall. "I think the time it takes to see these projects from a planning and design stage into something being implemented into the ground is sometimes frustrating," he said. "You have to build public support . . . to keep a project going."

Roper was the principal architect of the traffic management plan for the 1984 Olympics. During the Games, he also coordinated a transportation war room that monitored traffic problems. "It was a team effort, and it took the best thinking of a number of the city's agencies," he said.

Roper's goal has always been to make the most out of the area's transportation system. He has recently been active in developing a $280-million upgrade for the Traffic Operations Center, and launching the Freeway Patrol Service to aid motorists.

The UCLA Alumni Assn. presented Deborah Raupp with its Distinguished Scholar Award for her academic work at the Graduate School of Education at UCLA. Raupp, who is researching equity in education, also received the James and Sylvia Thayer Distinguished Scholar Award. She will receive $5,000 to continue her academic studies.

Brian Sun has been elected board corporate secretary of the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.

The Foodbank channels surplus food through a network of charitable agencies. Sun, a partner in the law firm O'Neil & Lysaght, is also a member of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers' Assn.

Trevor Lawrence, 18, has been chosen from 53 state finalists for the 1992 McDonald's All-American High School Band. Lawrence, a senior at Hamilton High School Academy of Music, was also nominated for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences' first Grammy High School Music Award.

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