Which way LA?*

Today's LA Times's story about the one-way plan for Pico and Olympic Boulevards made it sound like such a great idea that I'm already redrawing my daily driving plans.

Once the traffic engineers make their case to the public, I expect all of Los Angeles will wholeheartedly agree. If LA is unified in its fight against anything, it's together in the battle against traffic congestion. Who would dare oppose something so simple as turning two boulevards into one-way channels in and out of the downtown area?

I drive both W. Pico and W. Olympic boulevards most days of the week. I know how bad the traffic can get on these two-ways. Not only that, but I live in a neighborhood between Pico and Olympic. I dwell among those who have long bemoaned the commuters who bomb down our traffic-humped streets in search of a faster route home. You can trust that none of those who complain about this behavior partake in it while driving through someone else's neighborhood. We Pico-Olympic people follow the rules.

Nonetheless, just like everyone else, we want change. We want the traffic to end so much that we won't crowd the public podium to attack this plan once it completes its speedy journey to the LA City Council for approval. If we show up at that meeting, it will be to witness history in the making — the day we did away with traffic.

Everybody's bound to get behind this one. (UPDATE: The LA Times blog has one, two posts on the subject.)

Forget about all those shiny new bus shelters the city just installed a couple years ago. Yes, one-way traffic will mean ripping half of them up on both boulevards, but government is usually so responsible with transportation dollars that voters are sure to overlook this one bit of waste because it's a guaranteed fix.

Bus riders will see the bigger picture too. Those who ride LA's MTA, Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus and the Culver City Bus will surely shoulder any burden the changes might create. Considering all the courtesy LA drivers show buses on city streets, isn't this a way for the bus-riding public to say "thank you, kind driver, for yielding the right of way at rush hour?"

Likewise, the cities that run the various bus lines will be happy to reroute them. Maps and schedules will need to be redrawn, reprinted and redistributed, but it's a small price to pay for the promise of faster travel.

And while we're on the subject of paying prices, won't it be sweet to see research firms cut their fees when they're employed to study all of these changes? Lawyers will prove their critics wrong when they attend meetings merely to applaud the committees and sub-committees and city councils that will have to grant approvals for this and that along the way.

This is where we cash in on all that respect we've shown for the ADA. If there are any handicapped persons who rely on Pico or Olympic buses to get to and from work, they'll not think to utter a word of complaint. It will be the least they can do to repay our generous efforts as a society to improve access to public facilities. Who among us in LA would not happily walk or wheel ourselves a half mile out of our way each day to make it easier for the courteous drivers encountered at crosswalks and intersections?

For once, the stake-holders won't wield stakes like vampire slayers, but rather hold hands as one. (Can I get a Kumbaya?)

If school bus routes have to be rerouted, so what? Even if it means a few public hearings by the LAUSD Board of Education, parents feel the pinch of traffic too. We're all in this together.

Firefighters and police officers have no end of available staff to rewrite emergency response routes written into policies and plans, so that's bound to be no sweat either. They've got people occupying desks just waiting for tasks like this to come along.

If there's any potential impact on existing infrastructure, we'll find creative alternatives. For example, we could make a public garden out of one of the two ramps at the Ave Of The Stars overpass on W. Olympic Blvd.

Billboards on Pico that end up facing the back end of motorists won't be an issue either. There must be advertisers looking to reach a demographic that looks up and back when driving in city traffic. Wait! What am I saying? What traffic?

This whole process will be as easy as repainting road stripes and reprograming turn signals at every intersection on both boulevards. Some signal lights will need to be taken down, of course. (What need have we for left-turn arrows on a one-way street?) And, hello? Is anyone going to shed a tear for any photo-cop devices that end up being displaced? Those machines probably weren't providing much revenue to the city anyway.

Yep, this deal's as good as done. All I need to know now is which way LA?*

*With apologies to Warren Olney


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