Traffic lights coming to 210 FWY in Far East LA

For anyone driving on the 210 know that at the 57 and 605 interchanges it be tough on a good day making those transitions. In an experiment to smooth out the flow of traffic entering the 210 from either of those freeways traffic lights have been installed and will be fully operational in 2 weeks. Yes, traffic lights on a freeway. That sort of light system has been at the 91/605 and 105/605 junctions for a while to smooth out the traffic getting onto the 605 so they do help smooth out the flow onto the ungoverned freeway. Full story here on KNBC

What this does illustrate is that more time and energy needs to be devoted to looking at rail alternatives for both the 605 and 57 freeways since so much of the traffic on the 210 comes from them. Maybe instead of the Gold Line that will in part duplicate what is in place with the metrorail we look at providing mass transit alternatives for that huge group of communters in lieu of the Gold Line that the local governments formed a PAC to promote?

5 Replies to “Traffic lights coming to 210 FWY in Far East LA”

  1. Ahh traffic lights on a freeway. Is there any denying that these things have been a MASSIVE failure as a mode of transportation. The New York Subway system has been around for over twice as long as the LA freeway system and yet it still moves people in its intended way, it may be more crowded, but it hasn’t turned into a bus. The freeways on the other hand have turned into arterial streets.

  2. Fred,

    Yes, there is denying.

    The freeway system would be efficient for our area had the original designs and plans been followed.

    To compare NYC to LA (Southern California) and the subway system to the freeway system shows a gross misunderstanding of the mathematical relationship between distance and population density.

  3. Uhh no, there’s no denying. Ifs and buts and what-ifs don’t matter. The freeways do not work. Bottom line.

    I compare both freeways and subways because they are both grade-separated modes of transportation. Grade separation is meant to be more efficient than at-grade transportation.

    The NYC subway system is a grade-separated transportation mode that has handled a population growth from 942,292 in 1870 (the first urban rail in NYC open in 1868) to 8 million in 2000. It may be more crowded now, but it is still as efficient at moving people around. And no, it hasn’t lived up to the original plans and designs – the Second Street line was supposed to be built 50 years ago. It still does not exist.

    The Los Angeles County freeways (all 650 miles of them) have failed to handle a population growth from 2,785,643 in 1940 (when the first freeway was opened) to 9,519,338 in 2000. Freeways for the most part (as evidenced by plans to install traffic lights on them) offer very little advantage over surface streets for much travel. They are crowded and slow. What they did manage to do was encourage sprawl and automobile dependency, which of course begat more automobiles, which of course begat more traffic on the freeways, which of course begat their failure.

    Had more freeways been built, they would surely suffer the same fate.

    Mass transit handles and allocates population growth much more efficiently. A train holds X amount of people in Y amount of space. A freeway holds X amount of cars (which hold Z amount of people) in Y amount of space. Since cars (the delivery mechanism) take up a lot more room than people, a freeway (the pipeline) gets crowded very quickly with the addition of relatively few people. A train (the delivery mechanism) on the other hand can hold a lot more people than cars, but the the tracks (the pipeline) remains uncrowded because the people are in the train. The addition of a single train to the pipeline allows many more people without adding too much to the pipeline. This is why things like ride-sharing, car-pooling, and van-pooling are encouraged for the freeways because they carry more people down the pipeline while taking up less space. This is the mathematical relationship you need to understand.

  4. You know Fred you raise many good points. The problem is that the freeways only suck a couple of hours a day absent some horrific goof up during the rest of the day. Last night at 6PM I went to a friends house in Silverlake, 20 miles in 25 minutes. So they do work off peak and that is generally when I have a need for them.

    The problem remains peak times and you accurately point out that the “pipeline” fills and then we have problems. I don’t disagree with the need for rail and expanding Metro. We have needed it desperately for the 20 years I have lived here. I would have killed to have had a functioning rail to get me downtown when I had to go down there several times a month a few years back.

    The hurdles that keep us from getting a rail that works lies with NIMBY’s and local govt’s taking a me-me approach and to hell with the greater good of the whole metro area. IT’s a huge SoCal problem and we need to address the major routes of movement daily.

  5. Fred,

    Simply making the connection based on one factor, grade separation, is severely myopic.

    LA County Freeways cover 650 miles, in a 4081 square mile area (Pop. 9.5 Million). New York City Subways cover 660 miles in 322 square miles (Pop. 8.2 million). LA has 1.2 times the population in 12.6 times the area. That’s the mathematical and geographical relationship that you need to understand.

    Those miles of LA County Highways include two lane highways (some not grade separated) such as the PCH to Malibu (Hwy 1) and to the top of the Angeles Crest (Hwy 2) over an altitude of 7,000 feet. You can’t do that in the subway.

    Consider the fact that the freeways in question continue into Orange and San Bernardino counties, and the NYC – LA transportation comparison becomes far more tenuous.

    I’m not arguing the freeways are crowded, and too crowded. Personally I stay off them at those times, as Frazgo mentioned.

    I’m not here to get into some NYC LA shouting match, both cities, and both cities transportation systems, have their flaws. The freeways, Mass Transit and Rapid Transit systems in Los Angeles, could all be better.

    But at this point in time, you are not going to solve the transporation problems of Los Angeles by using a model from New York City, the equations are not the same.

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