Monday, November 26, 2007

Add Olympic lane

The LA Times announced today, "Villaraigosa unveils traffic plan for Pico and Olympic." Here's what it would do:

The first step in the mayor's plan would be to immediately begin to eliminate parking on both streets during rush hour. Then, beginning next year, traffic lights would be re-timed so that those traveling west on Olympic and east on Pico would be rewarded with longer green lights. Those driving in the other direction might see their rides take longer.

This makes a lot of sense, to synchronize the signals in the favored direction, without the expense and disruption of Allyn Rifkin's Olympic-Pico one-way proposal last spring. I'd look at it differently, though, rather than take their next step in the one-way direction:

If those two steps speed up traffic, mayoral aides say the city might take an additional step and restripe both streets, so most lanes on Pico would be for eastbound motorists, while westbound lanes would predominate on Olympic.

Think of I-405 as a north-south wall across the Westside, with limited openings that have become major bottlenecks (map, right). Once east of the 405 in the afternoon you find traffic frees up.

This leads to a simple short-term bottleneck-reliever, while we wait for completion of the Expo Line and Wilshire subway. Olympic Boulevard has four lanes westbound but three lanes eastbound between Century City and two blocks west of the 405, presumably from when Century City was a bigger commuter destination than Santa Monica.

The simple bottleneck-reliever is to add a fourth eastbound lane to Olympic from west of Barrington to Sepulveda, as shown below (original map). This section has the same 110-foot right-of-way and 86-foot pavement, but only three lanes in each direction plus curb parking. (To fit nine lanes under the 405 could require a slight narrowing of the sidewalks, but Santa Monica Boulevard fits nine lanes in a 100-foot right-of-way and 88-foot pavement under its I-405 bridge).

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