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Freeway Decongestion

May 31, 2003

Re "A Toll-Lane Fix for 101 Freeway," Voices, May 24: Robert Poole's 27-mile elevated tollway proposal for the 101 Freeway overlooks some serious issues.

First, there is no space on the freeway for massive support columns like the Harbor Freeway's, because the 101's median was converted to an extra lane in each direction in the 1980s. So two of four elevated lanes would merely replace existing lanes.

Second, would enough drivers pay $1 to $2 per mile to cover the more than $200-million annual bond repayment ($2.8 billion at 6% for 30 years) plus operating costs? That's nearly 20,000 drivers paying a $30 toll every day. Would investors risk these bonds? Would taxpayers get stuck with a big loss guaranteeing them?

Finally, Tampa's promotional video calls its elevated toll lanes "a beautiful new landmark." Would Encino and Sherman Oaks neighbors feel the same?

There is one feasible alternative to 101 widening available for significant transportation improvement across the Valley: the MTA's Burbank-Chandler right of way.

Unfortunately, it is to become a limited-capacity busway, not the light-rail line that could make a difference to the 101.

Darrell Clarke

Santa Monica

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I was a member of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission from 1974 until 1982 and was the chairman one year. That commission was the forerunner of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

During my tenure, I traveled across the county obtaining support for the increase in the sales tax to support the construction of the subway. I urged that a monorail be constructed on the 110 Freeway instead of the almost useless busway. That busway and the park-and-ride facility in Gardena are used very little.

A monorail in the middle of the freeways would avoid the condemnation of property and the uprooting of property owners and would substantially reduce the number of cars on the freeways -- not even to mention the saving of fuel and reduction of smog.

Of course, it must be supported by feeder bus lines.

Can you imagine the reduction in automobiles on the 91 Freeway from single-occupant drivers coming from such far-off places as Riverside County -- and the same for the 101 Freeway?

I was opposed by Caltrans -- its main interest is survival and building or expansion of more freeways. I urge you to support rail transportation and especially the monorail.

Look at what is being done in a short time in Las Vegas. That monorail will be done in less than one year. Of course, it is on a smaller scale, but it does demonstrate the example.

Edmond J. Russ

Gardena

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I use the Long Beach Freeway daily. It already appears to be an established truth that traffic on this route is congested, so I will not complain. However, there seems to be an immediately available solution that I have yet to see in print: Ban truck traffic during peak flow periods.

A solution such as this would reduce traffic during rush hours; lead to quicker commutes during rush hour; encourage the ports to operate earlier and later in the day, though not necessarily 24 hours; allow the port to handle increased on-loading and off-loading and create some time for planners to arrive at a more palatable solution.

Such a pilot project would be environmentally friendly by saving on fuel and emissions for every vehicle involved, and this factor alone would make the situation a win-win proposition for everyone involved. Concurrently, we might wish to try this remedy on the other freeways in town.

John Speight

Long Beach

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Re "Freeway Builders Run Into Wall of Politics and Protests," May 23: By not widening the Ventura and Long Beach freeways, we can instead spend those billions to provide a transit line to connect downtown Santa Monica plus Westwood Village/UCLA, Century City, Beverly Hills, the County Museum of Art and the Miracle Mile with the existing subway station at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.

And on summer days we can then hop aboard the "Aqualine" to spend the day at the beach. Or in the evening we can all ride in the opposite direction to pass our free time in what will surely become the most vibrant cultural, retail, residential and employment center in Southern California -- downtown Los Angeles.

John Crandell

Westwood

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