The Silence of the Lanes
Dear friends and neighbors,
It turned out that sooner than expected, Carmageddon was in our rearview mirror.
In my case, it was literally so. That’s because this past weekend, when I visited the 405 closure site to examine the work being done on the Mulholland Bridge, I rode there on my bicycle and on my return trip home, I caught a final mirrored glimpse.
The City, myself included, had urgently urged people to avoid driving cars anywhere near the 405, and you the public quite graciously and wisely followed that advice. I want to thank each and every one of you for your cooperation and civic patriotism – for your willingness to sacrifice some temporary mobility for the greater good!
Instead, many of us went automobile-free for a day, or a weekend, by walking or riding a bicycle or taking public transportation. I hope this is something more of us will do more often, without being prompted to do so by the threat of calamity. Reducing our reliance on cars can be fun, healthy, neighborhood-friendly and economical.
When I was at the site, I was quite impressed. The many workers were busy and focused despite the grime and heat, knowledgeably accomplishing a great deal of complex and delicate work in a minimum amount of time. The partial demolishing of the bridge, and subsequent cleanup of the freeway, was accomplished with determined effort and brilliant coordination, allowing the freeway to be reopened Sunday and not the scheduled time on Monday, saving 17 hours and the City a reported $400,000 in the process.
As much praise as I want to lavish on the public for its patience and support, I want to heap the very same amount on those workers I witnessed in action. As you may know, the construction industry is one of the hardest hit in our nation’s economic downturn, with more than a million out of work with the slide of the housing market. What I saw – what we saw this past weekend – is a reminder of this nation’s need to meet its infrastructural challenges head-on, while giving these professionals and their families the chance that Carmageddon provided, to shine and benefit from that work.
And what can I say about the dedicated work of our City staff and our State, County and MTA partners (from law enforcement to fire to emergency operations to transportation)? Thanks. Job well done.
If there was a nuisance to many, it was the excessive noise produced by too many intrusive helicopters. News media played an important role in alerting the public to steer clear of the 405, and in being ready to report any crucial developments as they occurred, but the helicopters often went beyond the acceptable. Before Carmageddon weekend, I had spoken loud and clear in front of the entire city council and the media, imploring news stations to stay within reasonable bounds regarding helicopter usages, and to make a good faith effort at respecting the people and neighborhoods adjacent to the 405. I wish the media had been more diligent and courteous in heeding my request. Maybe next time will be different – in the days, weeks and months to come, I am going to explore what we can do to make certain that’s so.
And there will be a next time, because the northbound side of the bridge will be demolished about a year from now. We shouldn’t fall into the trap, next time, of getting complacent due to this past weekend’s remarkable lack of gridlock havoc. Instead, we need to stay focused on doing the right thing. In the meantime, we can take pride in proving how we can get things done with shared resolve and maximum efficiency, effectiveness and expeditiousness. So again, A HEARTFELT THANK YOU!!!