As I mentioned in my last post, the general media panic about total gridlock in LA during Carmageddon could possibly be a replay of LA during the 1984 Olympic games.
As it turned out, my forecast was right on. Here’s a shot of the I-405 freeway at Sunset Boulevard, near the southern end of the Sepulveda pass, at 2:00 PM the afternoon after the freeway closure.
The only car shown on the freeway is a parked official vehicle. Not only that, all the streets in the immediate area were traveled by only the occasional car. Not only that, the rest of Los Angeles reportedly was also congestion-free. I’d love to say that this wonderful highway emptiness was a result of a sudden interest in telecommuting but this photo was taken on a Saturday, not the usual workday. No, the sudden hiatus mainly was the result of a mass decision to stay home.
The bridge reconstruction that triggered all of this was completed hours ahead of time, on the following Sunday morning. Here’s the freeway, from the same vantage point, on Sunday afternoon, same time.
Still pretty nice, but the freeway had only been open for less than 3 hours when this was taken. The massteria still ruled. But would it last?
The local media in the ensuing week were filled with comments on how peaceful and quiet Los Angeles was during Carmageddon. Comments like: “You could hear children playing and dogs barking” and “Wouldn’t it be nice if it were like this all the time”. Therefore, in order to give the world a chance to recover from its weekend of conservation I decided to wait a week to see if traffic on the 405 reverted to its usual weekend clog. Here are the results.
Traffic is not as dense as usual for a weekend but it is still considerable. It’s not clear yet whether Angelenos’ driving habits have changed for the better. Still, one thing is clear: it is possible to get large number of cars off the roads for days at a time without the insertion of a natural disaster.
So now the question is: how can we make this happen every week without tearing down bridges or otherwise creating devastation? Can more telecommuting help?