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Opinion

Opinion: Convert 405 lanes into toll lanes? Over their idling auto bodies

Slow traffic on the 405
Rush-hour traffic moves slowly on the 405 Freeway in west Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

Serious arguments exist for converting existing lanes on the hopelessly congested 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass into toll lanes. In theory, adopting tolls allows road space to be rationed more effectively, giving another option to drivers willing to pay a fee, which is adjusted according to traffic.

Our readers are having none of that. Since the L.A. Times first reported on the latest effort by Metro to study express lanes on the 405, not one of our letter writers has written in support of giving motorists the option to pay to drive in lanes priced to keep traffic flowing faster than 45 mph. For many people, it’s about fairness: Whether you’re rich or poor, in Los Angeles, you put up with miserable traffic.

Scott Hughes of Westlake Village sums up the reader reaction as succinctly as possible:

Three words: dumbest idea ever

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Sherman Oaks resident Leda Shapiro suspects this plan has been in the works for a while:

More than a year ago, I attended an information session put on by Metro to discuss options for public transit through the Sepulveda Pass. When we asked why there was nothing on the table for a monorail or a light rail line over the 405, we were told that there would not be room because those two lanes were needed for “express lanes.”

The most practical way to improve access between West L.A. and the San Fernando Valley is to put a light rail line or a monorail along the 405. This is obvious to anyone who lives here and has been suggested for decades, yet Metro would rather add lanes and charge tolls.

I can only assume Metro prefers to generate revenue.

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John Fisher of Woodland Hills discusses single drivers:

My experience driving through the Sepulveda Pass dates back to 1961, before the 405 was completed.

The major problem with the 405 and any other freeway in Los Angeles is that most of the cars are carrying only the driver. I fail to see how converting the carpool lane to a toll lane would speed up traffic. Allowing single-passenger cars in this lane does not alleviate traffic, it just moves automobiles from one lane into another.

As for completing this project in time for the 2028 Olympics, I recall that in 1984, there was so much concern about traffic that many residents left L.A. during the Games. I was driving the 405 at that time and it was an absolute delight.

Encino resident William Josephs makes a prediction:

When the widened 405 opened in 2014, it was soon painfully clear that there was not much improvement. It defies logic to think that by charging to use some lanes, it will make much difference either.

If high numbers of people pay for a faster drive, they will only find that the toll lanes don’t move any faster. Why spend our tax dollars on a foregone conclusion?


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