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Time to Think When Traffic Slows to a Crawl

October 12, 2002

The conclusions of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority study reported in "Study Helps Carpool Lanes Get Go-Ahead" (Oct. 7) do not justify wasting more money on carpool lanes.

The study concluded that the special lanes cut travel time for most carpoolers. This is an extremely weak conclusion; carpool lanes cause more congestion and increase the average commute time for all freeway users. Increased accidents and more smog should be expected from greater congestion.

The study concluded that ride-sharing was encouraged by the carpool lanes. This is obvious, but Robert W. Poole of the Reason Public Policy Institute points out in "Time to Rethink Carpool Lanes" that, based on the latest census figures, carpooling is a flop. Quoting from Poole's paper: "Despite the expenditure of billions of dollars adding carpool lanes to congested freeways, carpooling declined from 13.4% of work trips in 1990 to 11.2% in 2000."

The MTA study concludes that the carpool lanes help reduce smog. This is a vague and ambiguous statement. The study said that carpool lanes are supported by a vast majority of the public. To find out if carpool lanes are supported by a majority, we should have an election to vote on an initiative to convert all carpool lanes to general purpose lanes.

Robert H. Biggadike

West Covina

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Re "Traffic Jams Prompt Amber Alert Shut-off in L.A.," Oct. 5: I too suffer through the slowdowns on the 405 caused by Amber alerts. There is a simple solution: Move the electronic signs from areas that would otherwise have relatively free-flowing traffic, like the northbound climb up the Sepulveda Pass, and place them in areas where the traffic routinely backs up, like right before the Sunset Boulevard overpass.

David Crain

Reseda

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I have often wondered why nobody has suggested broadening the interchanges ("More Freeway Lanes, Transit Spending Urged," Oct. 2). Please note the old saying that you can't squeeze a square peg into a round hole. It seems pretty obvious that the congestion problems on most freeways are not that there are not enough lanes but that the transitional points into the subsequent freeways do not contain enough lanes to handle and sustain the volume of traffic.

I loathe driving the 134 by the 405 or 101/170--east or west--and the 405 by the 10--north or south at any time, even during off-peak hours--wondering how long it will take to get through the interchanges with the congestion that starts one to three miles before one gets to them. Instead of adding more lanes and ripping out homes, creating havoc in the communities, broaden the interchanges to allow smoother transitions. Currently we have a funnel effect from broad to narrow. Nobody seems to listen: "It's the interchanges, stupid!"

Ira Chroman

Sherman Oaks

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