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Legislation Seeks to Protect Public Safety

May 16, 1993

* In response to the editorial "Keeping Red Line Decisions on Track" (May 9), I'd like to clarify the purpose of Senate Bill 609.

The requirements contained in the bill are the existing standards required of all freeways by the Federal Highway Administration and the California Department of Transportation.

Caltrans received exemptions from both federal and state highway safety standards in order to complete a project that added one lane in each direction along a segment of the Ventura Freeway. As a result, motorists now have as little as a three-foot shoulder between the center divider and the fast lanes.

Construction of an elevated train above the freeway would require that support columns approximately six to eight feet in diameter be placed along this already reduced median. These columns would leave motorists a 12- inch clearance between the columns and the fast lanes.

In spite of the increased safety risks, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission approved the Ventura Freeway route for placement of an elevated train. Equally incredible, after introduction of my bill, Caltrans indicated its eagerness to solve the safety problem by taking back the two newly created lanes for which taxpayers have just spent $40 million.

In my view, these actions raise serious questions about whether the public wants to leave safety-related questions to bureaucrats and insulated members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority not accountable to votersand motorists in the San Fernando Valley.

Senate Bill 609 is a sound public safety measure and should be enacted into law.


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