LA’s 14-lane, $6 billion-plus freeway

Anyone who has lived in L.A. or flown in (once you get below the brown air) can attest to the dominance of the veins and arteries of major roads in the layout of the city.

One of them (I-710) is set to maybe almost double in width, from eight lane to 14. So — do we have (A) a forward-thinking project that will be a boon to growth, commerce and people movement; (B) L.A.’s “Big Dig,”  a project just waiting to go haywire, cost X times as much and take X times as long to deliver then not be what it was touted to be; or (C) a project so behind the times that it should be scrapped before its begun?

It may or not become the poster child of the (A) (B) (C) discussions about expanding capacity, but in this day and age (and economy) it raises now, and will continue to raise the hackles of people on all three sides.

The staff blog the Natural Resources Defense Council, written by Adrian Martinez, has started keeping watch on the project. He is likely to appeal to (A) or (B) or (C) but certainly not a combination. He has his opinion but it’s a good blog to watch and it can lead you to other discussions about the three approaches and the more/no more capacity arguments. And since California today, just as it was back in Jerry Brown’s first try, still has the power to influence road thinkers all over the country, the debate is worth following.

I am inclined to think that Chicago is the major city with the best approach to future roads and transportation, with New York not far behind. And, yes, L.A. is not laid out like those cities and certainly doesn’t see itself as comparable. But sooner or later the additional capacity argument has to float to the surface, even if it’s simply because this administration in Washington sees so many innovative, well, different, ways to move increasing numbers of people, and you can’t have it both ways.

Now think of this: you roll onto I-710 30 years from now and stay in the entry lane as you drive. Suddenly, coming down an entry ramp going the other way and also staying in that inside lane is an old friend. You still have young eyes. You wave. Your friend is 14 lanes away from you. That’s a lot of real estate.