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Riordan Presents Traffic Plan : Radical Change in Commuting Habits Sought : Disaster: Officials say quick fixes will allow roads to accommodate about 60% of normal flow. Ride-sharing, parking restrictions and new detours are part of package.

January 24, 1994|NORA ZAMICHOW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Getting the debris removed and beginning the rebuilding process is going to . . . take many, many months," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena. "So the question is, how do we deal with the immense challenge of improving mobility?"

Take the train, the bus, Pena urged. Share rides with other motorists.

Hoping that Angelenos will heed the message, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials have increased the number of trains running and created more bus routes. They also extended the Metrolink commuter rail line another 50 miles on old freight train tracks so trains can stop in Lancaster and Palmdale.

Crews have been working 18-hour days to construct the two temporary train stations in Lancaster and Palmdale. The cities have spent more than $300,000 on the new platforms--an amount officials hope will be reimbursed by the federal government.

When traffic flowed smoothly during the 16 days of the 1984 Summer Olympics, transportation officials declared that they had accomplished a minor miracle. That feat, however, had consumed three years of intensive planning.

To handle the crunch of traffic, Olympic officials had carefully crafted a scheme that included converting streets into one-way thoroughfares, embedding traffic sensors in 200 miles of roads, installing remote-control traffic signals and ramp meters, getting employers to agree to a staggered workweek, and shifting truck deliveries to off-hours.

But now, transportation officials basically have only days to implement a plan they hope will be nearly as effective.

In the weeks ahead, officials will probably try out some of the features of the Olympics plan. Riordan is considering converting certain streets--such as Pico and Olympic boulevards--into one-way thoroughfares. He is also preparing to launch a campaign asking employers to alter the standard workweek so fewer motorists will brave freeways during rush hours.

Other aspects of the Olympics plan are more easily implemented. To ease the burden on city streets that are now accommodating hundreds more cars than normal, officials said they will reconfigure on-street parking and install multiple turn lanes at key detour intersections.

On other streets, the timing on traffic signals will be fine-tuned to allow a greater flow of cars. On Devonshire Street in Granada Hills, which is being used for traffic diverted from the Simi Valley Freeway, officials will set stricter parking restrictions to prevent cars from clogging the roadway during rush hour. They will also rejigger the timing on signals on the roadway.

Under Riordan's traffic management plan, crews will begin taking an inventory of the major damaged parking structures so that in some areas, on-street parking restrictions will be relaxed. In other areas, such as those near the damaged Warner Center, officials will install angle parking on selected streets. And to make sure every motorist heeds new parking restrictions, officials say they will propose raising fines for violations.

At a Hollywood news conference, Gov. Pete Wilson announced that he had signed an executive order allowing Caltrans to waive most of the standard construction requirements usually imposed by the state, so that the agency can expedite highway repairs.

Caltrans officials, Wilson said, "have shaken hands with contractors who are already at work." The move, he said, should shave six months to a year off the time it will take to repair quake-damaged roads.

Wilson said he does not expect the corner-cutting to cut into the quality of repair work or the fairness of the bids.

"You're dealing with people who know what the costs are, who have a good reputation for (minority-owned and woman-owned firm) participation," Wilson said.

But even with the expedited process, he said, repairs are expected to take a year or more. Last week, Caltrans officials vowed to have the freeways repaired in 12 months or less.

On Sunday, Caltrans crews set off explosives to help clean away the broken connector roads from the Antelope Valley Freeway to the Golden State Freeway.

Times staff writer Susan Moffat contributed to this story.

* RELATED COVERAGE: A4-A7, A26, B1-B7, D1, E1

Highlights of the Mayor's Plan

* Offering bus and taxi service from Metrolink stations.

* Raising fines for parking violators, relaxing parking restrictions on some streets and allowing angle parking in areas where parking structures are damaged.

* Encouraging businesses to adopt more flexible work schedules and telecommuting.

* Allowing bicycles to be carried onto buses and adding bike racks to express buses.

* Establishing trucks-only routes on the freeways to move goods.

* Beginning Tuesday, opening a short detour for car pools and buses only around the Santa Monica Freeway by using Robertson Boulevard.

* Converting the two southbound truck lanes on the Antelope Valley Freeway to general use; one lane would be dedicated to car pools and buses and the other would be mixed-flow.

* Opening a detour around Interstate 5 using Calgrove Boulevard.

* Reopening Washington Boulevard and Venice Boulevard by sometime Thursday.

* Activating the city's existing "smart corridor," a network of automatic traffic signals, to ease the flow of traffic on major east/west surface streets alongside the Santa Monica Freeway, such as Pico, Washington, Venice and Adams boulevards. To ensure that traffic signals are moving vehicles efficiently, the area will be monitored by cameras installed in various locations and by helicopters flying overhead during mornings and evenings.

* Building a special "bypass" roadway for westbound bus and car-pool traffic from Washington Boulevard to La Cienega Boulevard on Los Angeles Department of Water and Power property. That route will be built and opened within a week.

* Reopening the Simi Valley Freeway between the Golden State and San Diego freeways.

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