Calif. governor has shallow mind about carpool-lane use

Assembly Bill 405 rejected even though move is accepted in northern California

October 14, 2013

Solo drivers in the Los Angeles area will not be able to freestyle in the carpool lane. Nope, not since the chief lifeguard told lawmakers the section will remain closed to anyone who just needs one life preserver under the front seat.

Assembly Bill 405 called for a pilot study on the effects of opening up carpool lanes in Los Angeles County (S.R. 134 and I-210) to single drivers during off-peak hours. California Gov. Jerry Brown, however, refused to sign the bill into law, even though the traffic-congestion maneuver is used in northern California. Brown said, “Carpool lanes are especially important in Los Angeles County to reduce pollution and maximize use of freeways.”

OK, few of things to point out here. First, regarding air pollution, studies have shown traffic that is free flowing is far better for the environment than cars that are involved in a stop-and-go situation. By opening up carpool lanes during off-peak hours you increase the likelihood that traffic will move without much resistance. Second, it is allowed in northern California, so I am a little confused as to why this is not a statewide initiative. Yes, I am fully aware of the pollution issues around the Los Angeles area, but we are talking about a pilot study here, something that is temporary, not permanent. If you were to take a closer look for a year would it really blow a hole through the atmosphere? As I said, it might leave the surroundings more green than brown. Finally, if traffic is moving in the general lanes at a speed not even a snail would envy, and carpool lanes are wide open, how on Earth is that maximizing freeway use?

I think the California governor should at least allow the pilot study to play out so transportation officials could see what the true effects of opening up the carpool lanes during off-peak hours would be. Sometimes you just have to swallow the whistle.

Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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