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L.A. 5th District City Council candidates tackle traffic congestion

February 17, 2009|William Nottingham

Five o'clock on a workday and you're about to pull into traffic: Let's hope you're not in a hurry, especially if you're on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Times editors asked the six candidates in the Los Angeles City Council's 5th District race about their ideas for easing traffic problems in that part of town. Here are excerpts from their answers to this question:

What concrete proposals will you pursue to reduce traffic congestion in the 5th Council District?

Adeena N. Bleich: "We need an updated transportation system that is comprehensive and created by experts. . . .

"We will have trains to the sea and throughout the city, and I will fight to get those projects completed sooner than current projections. . . . We must make it easier and less stressful to go those shorter distances between major shopping and business centers by growing the DASH [shuttle bus] program in the 5th District and other areas of the city. . . .

"I will implement public education programs such as "Council on the Bus," where I will set an example by riding the bus as well as hold constituent ride-alongs to show how easy, safe and convenient the bus can be."

Ron Galperin: "The Westside and Valley have among the worst traffic congestion in the city. This problem seems almost hopeless because we keep electing a revolving door of candidates from City Hall staff or Sacramento legislators to fix this when only new ideas and fresh thinking get the job done. . . .

"Mass transit: Let's start digging today! We can't afford to wait another four years -- or more -- to start the Westside extension of the subway. Let's create a link from the Orange Line [busway] in the Valley to the subway in Westwood, to the extended Exposition Line and finally to LAX."

Paul Koretz: "Some of my priorities will be: expanding public transit. I have been a strong supporter of light rail and heavy rail where appropriate, like along the Wilshire Corridor. I will work to extend the subway line along and to complete the Expo Line and to connect the Green Line to LAX.

"A world-class bus system. . . . The Orange Line dedicated busway in the Valley has been a huge success.

"Encouraging ride sharing. . . . Streamlining traffic. Measure R contains funding for traffic signal synchronization and upgrading and repairing roads and bridges and the creation of left turn lanes, all of which can help increase road capacity.

"A bicycle infrastructure. Los Angeles, with over 330 sunny days a year, should be the world leader in bicycle commuting. . . . Very few hardy souls are willing to commute in L.A. traffic by bike."

Robert Schwartz: "What we need to remember about traffic is that solutions often come with dollar signs in front of them. That means we need a healthy city balance sheet to help reduce traffic. With 30 years of fixing troubled budgets, I have the financial experience we need to turn L.A. around. . . .

"We need a mass transit leg between the Valley and the Westside. To get that project funded, I will consider public-private partnerships, lobbying for federal appropriations and using part of Metro's half-cent sales tax. Another fresh idea is using incentives to persuade major employers to offer their employees shuttle service to work, the way Microsoft and Google do."

Robyn Ritter Simon: "We must commit to swiftly building the Exposition Light Rail, building the Subway to the Sea," and extending the Orange Line [busway]. . . . Immediate remedies include installing more left-hand turn lanes and synchronizing our traffic signals on major streets. We need to encourage commuters to reduce use of their cars by creating shuttle services in communities such as Century City and along Ventura Boulevard.

"We can provide incentives for businesses that promote and encourage carpools and reduce parking rates for those who carpool. We must also expand and implement more and safer bike lane routes to encourage cyclists to commute to destinations."

David T. Vahedi: "Several years ago, I proposed building a park & ride near Santa Clarita at the [freeway] interchange, near Pasadena on the 110, and below LAX at the 405 Freeway / 105 [interchange] to capture drivers heading into Century City and along the Wilshire Corridor in Westwood. . . .

"The park & ride will have reserved parking to increase efficiency and speed, and the shuttles will run every 10 minutes. With over 65,000 people working within several blocks of the two destinations, all evidence suggests we can materially reduce traffic in the 5th while giving relief to commuters. . . .

"We must start to build public parking along the major streets to allow commuters a place to park and then use main line mass transportation.

"Finally, I will rally a collective voice to force a reduction in the time estimated to build the Expo Line and the Wilshire Subway to the Sea."

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william.nottingham@latimes.com

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