Re "So Many Cars, So Little Money," July 10
This story misplaces its concern. The real question is: Why are our roads so congested? There is no focus on the root problem -- out-of-control population growth and its toxic effect on the quality of air and the climate. I would suppose this complacent, Panglossian neglect rests on ignorance and the shortsighted belief that such considerations might be bad for business. From this pathetic standpoint, we will mobilize our resources into building new roads that will be no less congested by the time they are completed.
The time is long past that we end the placing of Band-Aids on lethal wounds. We must put the same innovation and energy that we used in placing men on the moon into a sustainable future. In the balance, I have little doubt, is the survival of civilization.
Freeways in this state are an overused resource. Without a direct cost, commuters have little reason to economize their use of them. We live in a market economy in which we must pay for resources such as water, electricity, gasoline and natural gas in order to prevent overuse and shortages. Highways are a finite resource and should be treated no differently from a natural resource. Without a direct cost, we have a shortage of capacity that manifests as congestion. Thus, there is one solution: We must charge for use. Tolls will put a price on using a valuable resource, force drivers to limit their driving (conserving a resource) and reduce the burden on our state highways.
Why is a huge development planned at the junction of Interstate 5 and the 14 Freeway in Santa Clarita? According to The Times' special report, these are among the "busiest, most dilapidated and underfinanced roads in the country" and among the "most crowded and least safe routes and interchanges." Yet developers are permitted to develop Las Lomas Urban Village, a community of 5,800 homes, 2.3 million square feet of commercial space and a 300-room hotel generating tens of thousands more car and truck trips a day that add to an already miserable ride -- which leads directly to the 405 Freeway, also one of the nation's main clogged roads.