Our traffic is legendary here in Los Angeles and the surrounding metro area. I've seen worse around the world but it is pretty stifling here. Depending on who's calculating, there are 17 to 18 million people here.
That's 44% of the entire state of California's population.
It sometimes seems like every one of those 17 million souls are on your freeway sometimes. As residents, we create strategies to minimize our time on those roads.
For example, we won't travel west of Interstate 110 more than a couple of times a year. I haven't seen the beach in Santa Monica in over a decade. Malibu? Might as well be in another state. It takes less time for me to drive to Bakersfield than Marina del Rey most of the time.
The biggest curse is to have to navigate that traffic every day. The biggest blessing is to be 'going against' traffic on your commute. Even driving to our church on a Saturday evening is a car-filled slog across the San Gabriel Valley.
One big disadvantage we have in the valley is it is bisected from north to south by a river. That the 'river' is nothing but dry dirt 90% of the time is of no consequence. There are still only nine bridges in the 12 miles from the bottom of the valley to the mountains. Three of those are freeway. Block one, and the rest are hopelessly gridlocked.
I've heard of people begging off of family wedding invitations because the 15 miles they'd have to drive would take a maddening 90 minutes or more.
Our beach drive is usually to Seal Beach because it's not only among the closest beaches to our house but there's also a carpool lane on the 605, giving us a slight advantage in travel time.
I commute to my job in downtown Los Angeles by driving not into L.A., but over to El Monte to catch an express bus that goes in it's own reserved lane on the middle of the freeway. Soon, when the next light rail expansion is finished, I can dispense with that and take a trolley from a station five blocks from my house.
When we're not cooking dinner and my wife wants me to go and get takeout, our dinner choice is limited to what is in the local area that I don't have to sit in traffic to get to.
Even our narrow, two lane street get's clogged at rush hour because it has a dubious distinction of running east to west from one end of our city to the other.
Of course, the real culprits are drivers who value a few seconds shaved over the safety of others on the road, get into accidents, and clog everything up. Even the president can get traffic snarled here, woe to those who get stuck in Obamajams.
True, we do get to live in a good climate but I admit, I get tired of the headaches we have to deal with to live here at times and this is one of the biggest.
Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
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