This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Driving across the river in Los Angeles

The freeway system in the city of Los Angeles, is so enormous, and so complex, it's hard to even realize that Los Angeles was once a little pueblo on a river. Nowadays you can drive around LA and not really have any idea that there is a river there. In fact, most of us just know it from action movies where there is some kind of chase scene down in the concrete-lined dry wash that is The Los Angeles River.

But it does impact the people there every day, anyway. And that is because, in spite of the fact that there isn't any water in there (except for a few stray puddles), it has to be crossed on bridges. And the bridges that were built across the river are getting to be from fifty to eighty years old. And so, as the freeways expanded over the decades to multiple lanes, the bridges couldn't. So it creates some of the most dangerous "pinch points" on freeways in the United States.

These "pinch points" are just a function of the narrowness of the bridges versus the width of the freeway elsewhere. It's hard to see, as it really just looks like the freeway suddenly narrows down from eight lanes to two for no apparent reason. The reason is the bridge.

One of the worse pinch points is where the freeway crosses the Los Angeles River near the Los Angeles Zoo. And, unfortunately there are two very large and very busy freeways intersecting at the same time there. These bridges go back to the 1960s and were already extremely overloaded and dangerous when I lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Expanding the bridges, of course, would mean figuring out a way to keep traffic going across the river, which isn't possible right now, as the freeway is the only bridge. The city really put just one bridge over the river here, there is no other way to cross.

The success of "Carmageddon" last year, where the city closed a freeway for a full twenty-four hours on a weekend to rebuild a bridge on the 405, is encouraging. That is in spite of the fact that it was forecast to be a disaster, It wasn't. Still, that was only one freeway, and at the pinch point at the river, which I am referring to, is two.

Still, updating the bridges over the river has to happen. And then old timers will talk about the old days (today) when the best you could do was to grit your teeth and squeeze through whatever space you could find.
Post a Comment