“There has got to be a better way” — it’s a statement I’ve mumbled often during my workday commute from east of downtown Los Angeles to the L.A. Times’ main office in El Segundo. And by “better way,” I mean maglev trains, helicopter transports, a Disneyland-style monorail — anything that can pluck me from the soul-crushing crawl of Los Angeles traffic. What I don’t ever think of is more driving, more cars, more roads, more of what we already have.
But to several of our letter writers, bigger highways, faster cars and more driving are the transportation solutions they’re willing to try, especially after California’s experience trying to build a high-speed rail system for less than the GDP of Ukraine. They welcomed, some reluctantly, the proposal by a Republican state legislator to build a high-speed super highway between Northern and Southern California.
Zach Sandello of Anaheim Hills says building a wider north-south highway is better than trying nothing at all:
Sitting on the freeway for hours is not fun. Since nothing major is being done to alleviate this problem, I believe the state should open autobahn-style lanes.
Some argue that having high-speed lanes on the freeway is very dangerous and will cause more car accidents, which then could lead to more traffic. Yes, but having cars sit in dead-stop traffic isn’t environmentally friendly. High-speed lanes would allow people to get to their destinations more quickly, thereby reducing the number of cars on the freeway at any given moment.
Germany’s high-speed autobahn is noted for allowing drivers quicker travel times. Adopting such a system would be a big step in the right direction, whereas doing nothing will only make the problem worse.
Thousand Oaks resident Martha Farwell is resigned to building bigger highways:
I have lived in California for 60 of my almost 75 years and have spent a lot of time going back and forth between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe.
I have seen the 101, 5, 99 and 395 freeways become more and more congested. With our population increasing from its present 39 million to 50 million in the next 30 years, more and bigger highways will be needed.
Between more highways (including some with no speed limits) and high-speed rail, I prefer the latter. However, it appears now that building rail will require not just better financial controls, but also winning some legal battles.
Los Angeles resident Sally Richman feels safer in slower traffic:
I can only assume that the legislator who proposed building an autobahn in California rarely ventures on the freeway himself. If he did drive regularly, he would see that we already have many drivers weaving in and out of traffic at dangerously high speeds, acting out their own personal racing fantasies.
I almost prefer rush hour these days. In Germany, people know the rules of the road and leave the left lane open for the fastest drivers.