Letters to the Editor: How freeway tolls will make traveling better for everyone

A long exposure of cars traveling on 405 freeway at dusk in Costa Mesa in 2019.
A long exposure of cars traveling on the 405 Freeway at dusk in Costa Mesa in 2019.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The benefits of additional road capacity do not include reduced congestion for existing drivers, but these benefits are still very real. The benefits of new capacity accrue instead to new users who are taking new trips. (“L.A. is spending tens of billions of dollars to make climate change and traffic worse,” Opinion, Aug. 16)

It is unrealistic to expect transit to replace cars, regardless of traffic congestion. Transit is a very expensive alternative for middle-class travelers because they value their time, but transit remains a lifeline for low-income households.

Transportation economists have long known that the ideal option for reducing congestion is attaching a cost to our individual decisions to travel. We cannot build our way out of congestion, but electronic congestion tolls will allow us to manage our way out. Further, toll revenues will be needed to maintain our roads as we wean ourselves off gasoline and fuel tax revenues.


In L.A. County, Metro’s lead strategy should be implementing congestion pricing on existing and new lanes.

James E. Moore II, Los Angeles

The writer, an engineering professor emeritus, is acting director of USC’s transportation engineering program.


To the editor: The $1.6-billion 405 Freeway widening project was an absolute waste of taxpayer money. Now, Metro is considering changing the lane to an Express Lane, where users must pay a toll.

Attention, Metro: There is no further width in the Sepulveda Pass. What we need is a subway — heavy rail from the San Fernando Valley to the Westside.

Laurie Kelson, Encino



To the editor: The Hollywood Freeway started as a one-and-a-half-mile stretch through the Cahuenga Pass and opened on June 15, 1940. Highway engineers thought that it would support traffic growth for 10 years, but within one year it was at 100% capacity.

When travel time is reduced on a freeway by its expansion, motorists will take additional trips. Highway engineers still refuse to accept that a freeway is a traffic generator in and of itself.

A separate problem is that transportation planning in the state is dominated by special interests in the auto, gas, construction and real estate businesses — which have profited enormously from freeway expansion for a great many years.

Bruce Stenman, Prunedale, Calif.


To the editor: Op-ed article writer Michael Schneider mistakes coincidence for causation. Increased traffic is caused by increased population and work activity.

Very few if any of those drivers on the 405 mentioned by Schneider were former bus riders who are now driving because another lane was added.

David Garrett, Los Angeles