Villaraigosa Announces Traffic Congestion Solutions

by Rene Villaroman/

LOS ANGELES — On January 29, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched the 2008 Traffic Congestion Relief Plan, an 11-measure initiative aimed at increasing mobility, enhancing pedestrian safety and improving the quality of life for commuters in this city.

“Traffic congestion is unfortunately a way of life in the City” Villaraigosa said. “Since day one of this administration, we’ve been working hard with the Los Angeles City Council, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and others to bring a modern, convenient public transportation into the city,” the Mayor told journalists at a press conference held at the Wilshire Boulevard overpass of the 110 Freeway in Downtown LA.

“Over the next 12 to 16 weeks, the Department of Transportation and I will mount an aggressive campaign to implement a series of traffic relief measures that use existing resources in a smart, targeted manner,” the Mayor said.

The initiatives include new technologies and additional penalties for blocking intersections; the fourth installment of the Gridlock Tiger Team who will use new License Plate recognition (LPR) technology to identify violators; new traffic signal synchronization projects in Westchester and Mid-Wilshire; additional “priority express corridors” modeled after the Olympic West Pico East initiative; phase II of Operation Bottleneck Relief; faster, easier parking meter technology; infrastructure improvements and pothole repair; diagonal (“scrambled”) crosswalks; additional left turn signals; and incentives for public transportation, off-peak commuting and telecommuting.

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During rush hour, many drivers who try to cross busy intersections end up blocking traffic – a violation of the California Vehicle Code. “We are going to put up video cameras (in these intersections) so that we can ticket these individuals,” Villaraigosa said.

Illegally-parked vehicles also create congestion because they reduce the number of lanes for commuter traffic. The Mayor will launch the Tiger Team IV, which will focus its efforts along a four-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard between Vermont Avenue and Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The LA DOT will also employ new License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology to identify violators and issue citations.

Since initiating its signal synchronization program, the LA DOT has synchronized more than 3,200 (75 per cent) of the 4,385 traffic signals in LA and hopefully, will complete the project by 2010.

Under its Priority Arterial Program, the city will optimize travel times and reduce congestion along major corridors by signal timing improvements, consistent parking restrictions and possible lane re-striping. The LA DOT has also identified and improved travels times by as much as 33 per cent on 14 thoroughfares.

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The city plans to re-stripe the seven-mile stretch of Pico and Olympic Boulevards between La Brea Boulevard and Centinela Boulevard in the Westside, adding more westbound lanes on Olympic and more eastbound lanes on Pico. Consistent parking restrictions will be enforced here by traffic officers.

The city is poised to modernize 40,000 parking meters by replacing 5,000 on-street meters with advanced technology single-space meters and multi-space “Park $ Pay” stations.

The Mayor said the City Council and the MTA have expanded Rapid Bus services, opened up the Orange Line to the San Fernando Valley, and broken ground on the Exposition Line and the Eastside Gold Line extension. “We are working on securing funding for the downtown light rail connector up to Ontario, and – very importantly – for the Subway to the Sea,” Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa said that due to the tough economy and tight budgets, “the city needs to deliver services to the residents in the most efficient and cost-effective manner as possible.” Villaraigosa added that he could not talk about some of the budget cuts, but assured Angelenos that the initiatives would be done within the current budget, and they would be affected by the cuts.

“The most important thing that we could do is real simple,” Villaraigosa said. “We’ve got to build more public transportation. We need more money to do that. We have to put up housing closer to public transportation,” he said. He said the reason the city is gridlocked is that everybody is living on the outer core of the city and they come to work either downtown or on the Westside. (AJ)

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