By Carla Hall, December 2, 2014
The stretch of the 405 freeway that connects the Westside to the San Fernando Valley.
After four years of lane closures, bulldozers, orange cones, and
K-rails, the $1.1-billion 405 Freeway construction project was declared
completed in May -- more or less.
The big accomplishment:
The new 10-mile stretch of carpool lane on the northbound 405, carved
out of the side of a mountain, was opened and destined to make your life
better. Has it? Of course not.
OK, maybe here and there.
the new untangled on and off ramps at Wilshire Boulevard now allow you
to get off the freeway without having to pray for your life while
crossing the traffic coming onto the freeway. But here are the reasons
that the construction has not made your life better:
1. Traffic is just as bad! I swear it’s worse.
the traffic monitoring firm, reported afternoon rush-hour speeds on the
405 through the Sepulveda Pass have stayed constant -- or slowed some
-- since the carpool lane was completed, according to a post on
then-L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website in late October.
The firm monitored the freeway between the 10 and the 101 for two weeks
during rush hour -- or, more aptly, the sludge hour when cars are
The good news -- in a holistic sense-- is that the
economy got better. That’s why traffic isn’t budging. More people are
on their way to more jobs. Metro officials see the bright side --
imagine how bad the traffic would be if there were not the extra lane this year, they say…
2. Construction just won’t end.
construction workers are a little like Eldin, the painter working on
Murphy Brown’s house on the hit '90s sitcom who never finished the job
and stayed around so long he became her confidant. (“Murphy Brown.” If
you don’t know it, go check it out. It’s a classic. ) Not that I see
many drivers stopping to chat up construction crew for advice.
3. Not all the new ramps are so fabulous, according to some drivers.
on-ramp to the 405 at Skirball Center is configured at a steep angle
with a sharp turn, reports a friend of mine who drives that ramp most
weekdays. “Impossible to stay in your lane unless you are a stuntman,”
4. And just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in…
that roadblock fatigue over the endless 405 project (see #2) has sent
us into post-construction stress disorder (PCSD) over yet another
project that has cropped up on the Westside. A new set of lane
closures, K-rails and construction crews has sprouted like invasive
ground cover along both sides of Wilshire Boulevard between Federal and
Bonsall avenues. It’s all part of a 12.5-mile Wilshire Boulevard Bus
Rapid Transit project that will create a peak-hour bus lane on eastbound
Wilshire. In the process, they’re widening Wilshire in this
area. Which just means we can’t get to the newly widened 405 freeway
unless we want to sit in the stalled traffic on the widening Wilshire
Boulevard. It will be done next year, the signs say.
We can dream.