Lessons from L.A.’s I-405
Ajoke in Los Angeles has it that Interstate 405, or “the 405” as it is known, is named that because it takes “4 or 5” hours to get anywhere. The 75-mile stretch of the 405 in Los Angeles carries 300,000 cars a day.
The congestion is Angelinos’ problem, but also a broader cautionary tale. One of the few things that Democrats and Republicans in Washington agree on, including President-elect Donald Trump, is the need for a major infrastructure program. Mr. Trump has thrown out the $1 trillion figure for work on airports, ports, navigable waterways, rail, highways and other transportation infrastructure.
California has completed a $1.6 billion upgrade of the 405, but it appears to have had a scant impact on congestion. One commuter told The New York Times that by staying at work until after 7 p.m., he is now able to reduce his 15-mile commute by 15 minutes — to 75 minutes.
As often happens, the highway widening actually has increased traffic, a phenomenon known as induced demand.
That’s something to think about, for example, regarding the planned widening of Interstate 81 between Clarks Summit and Nanticoke.
Planners should seek alternatives rather than creating new levels of congestion.