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Residents Assail Plans to Expand 101 Freeway

Times Staff Writer

During a raucous community meeting in Griffith Park attended by about 400 people, audience members booed, jeered and berated transportation officials as they tried to discuss proposals for expanding or double-decking the Ventura and Hollywood freeways.

Representatives of the California Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stressed at the meeting Thursday night a need to accommodate future population growth along the freeway corridor.

Caltrans project manager Linda Taira said widening or adding an elevated rail line to the 101 Freeway would only maintain traffic at its current level.

Doing nothing, Taira warned, would be disastrous. “We can’t just bury our heads in the sand,” she said.

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The crowd, which included residents from the Cahuenga Pass and Hollywood Hills areas, reacted angrily.

“Don’t put the whole burden on the Ventura/Hollywood freeways,” said Gerald A. Silver, president of the Coalition of Freeway Residents. He said any freeway-widening project would be devastating to surrounding neighborhoods.

He called for a revival of a 1950s regional master plan for building more freeways elsewhere in the San Fernando Valley, bringing the cheering audience to its feet.

Bigger freeways would only invite more motorists, other audience members complained. They urged officials to work harder at improving public transportation.

“Rapid transit! Subway! Monorail!” they shouted.

Transportation officials acknowledged their yearlong search for traffic-reducing solutions -- which had focused primarily on improvements to the freeway, nearby streets and bus service -- may have been too narrow.

Representatives from the two transportation agencies, which are collaborating on a study covering 40 miles of the freeway corridor from Thousand Oaks to downtown Los Angeles, are talking about the possibility of future rail projects.

An MTA official at the meeting said one idea being floated involves a subway that would run under Ventura Boulevard.

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His remark, however, was mostly ignored, dismissed by some audience members as “just talk.”

In March, transportation officials presented a list of 12 proposals for improving traffic flow along the 101 corridor. That was narrowed to five proposals in July, though none included a subway.


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