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Traffic Troubles Fill the Air

June 26, 2002

Re "No Idle Boast: L.A. Traffic Worst--Again," June 21: It comes as no surprise that, once again, L.A. tops the list of America's most traffic-congested cities. California's response to the study is to threaten to withdraw our funding because our state's bureaucrats don't think the conclusions were fair. Jeff Morales, director of the California Department of Transportation, groused that many traffic improvements, like traffic cameras and tow truck services, were not taken into account when calculating traffic delays.

However, the only statistics that really count are the experiences of everyday commuters. The Times has reported on neighborhoods that want to close their streets to rush-hour traffic and about opponents to housing development who fear future traffic problems.

The only recent fixes we have seen to L.A.'s traffic problem are a few patches on the 405 and 101 freeways. We need real traffic relief that includes new freeways and high-speed surface streets. We need a Legislature that will spend our gas-tax dollars where they are supposed to go--for new roads, not pipe dreams.

Sean McCarthy

West Hills

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I have found that by scheduling my time better, I can beat the traffic problem. I work in the mid-Wilshire district and live in Sherman Oaks. I walk a half-mile to the bus stop and take the bus to the Red Line station in North Hollywood. I ride the train to Wilshire Boulevard-Vermont Avenue and walk another half-mile to my office. As the buses are only every half-hour, I have to schedule myself or suffer a long wait for the bus. The walk is also good for me. Incidentally, a senior pass is only $12 a month--what a deal.

Your article in Southern California Living on men's purses ties into this. As I don't want my billfold to be accessible while I am riding public transportation, I bought a messenger bag. It holds my billfold, MTA pass and house keys. One of the inside pockets holds a book and reading glasses, one my lunch and the third my cell phone and, if needed, a travel umbrella. How self-contained can one be? I see more and more men carrying similar bags, although I must admit I also see a lot of plastic shopping bags wrapped around lunches.

Alan Webbe

Studio City

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Since my recent move to downtown Los Angeles (where I work), I have spent virtually no time stuck in traffic and my fuel expenses have been less than $50 a month.

Most days I utilize public transportation and still add an hour to my life every morning and evening.

Traffic is only one of the ills of L.A.'s two-plus decades of sprawl. Expanding our freeways would constitute a tiny bandage on a massive, festering wound. As transportation expert James Corless proposed in the article, the real long-term solution is to establish affordable family-living solutions closer to the work centers of the city. More people living closer to work means more people walking or taking the subway or bus and fewer people sitting on freeways.

While budget cuts are looming in key social services in our region, it would be irresponsible for the state to dump billions into a massive freeway expansion plan. It is time that Southern Californians take responsibility for where they have chosen to live and realize that the best way to spend less time in traffic is to live closer to work.

Nathan Johnston

Los Angeles

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Re "A Last-Ditch Approach to Smog," June 21, and your article on traffic: There's a simple, inexpensive, one-word solution to both: bicycles.

David Windhorst

Hollywood

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