Apodaca: 'Carmageddon' reminds us to be grateful

July 15, 2011|By Patrice Apodaca

It's at times like this that I remember why I left Los Angeles for Newport Beach.

This weekend our neighbors to the north are living through the freeway-widening project commonly referred to as "Carmageddon." It's one of those "only-in-L.A." moments when the city's dysfunctional infrastructure is exposed to even greater scrutiny, scorn and ridicule than usual.

I am, of course, referring to this weekend's shutdown of a section of the San Diego (405) Freeway from the Westside to the San Fernando Valley, during which the Mulholland Bridge will be partially demolished as part of a $1-billion plan to add a new carpool lane.


During the past several weeks, predictions of mass gridlock have swamped the media. Residents have been pummeled with information about alternate routes, pleaded with to stay off the roads if possible, and warned to expect epic delays.

Some of the more hysterical prognostications have been ripe for parody. In the Los Angeles Times, revered columnist Steve Lopez lampooned the mania with information on ways to cope with the expected logjams, including hot-air balloons, blimps, catapults, burro rides and crisis centers staffed with personal traffic planners and life coaches.

My favorite was a comic in The Times that depicted the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse arguing about which surface streets to take.

In Newport Beach, we've gotten in on the act by offering our lovely community as a weekend destination for Angelenos desperate to escape the whole mess.

As reported in the Daily Pilot earlier this week ("Newport Beach markets itself as an escape from 'Carmageddon'"), the local travel bureau Visit Newport Beach has spearheaded a marketing campaign aimed at luring L.A. traffic refugees. Several hotels joined in, plugging special weekend deals.

I expect I'm not the only Newport resident hosting weekend guests. My brother, who lives in West Los Angeles, is here for a few days, as is my older son, who attends UCLA and has an apartment nearby.

My son probably doesn't remember, but traffic is a big reason we left L.A. nearly 15 years ago.

I was working for The Times, and had a horrendous commute that caused me so much stress I suffered regular bouts of heart palpitations. My husband's drive was even worse. But it was when my son started school that the situation became completely untenable.

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