Blocked Highways — A Modest Proposal for a Partial Solution

Have you ever been caught in a situation in which the highway, freeway, interstate you are traveling on is congested because all of the lanes in your direction are completely blocked — maybe for hours?

I have.

It happened several years ago returning to L.A. There was a hazardous materials spill several miles ahead of us and . . . Yeah, the “freeway” was completely blocked in our direction and it took more than two hours to edge our way to an off ramp, exit the freeway, find a parking space at a gas station, use the bathroom and get back on the freeway — in the opposite direction and get home several hours later than intended.

Oh, and when we did get home the freeway was still blocked.

Today, there is a brush fire north of L.A. and the I-210 is closed for several miles in both directions. (Oh, it’s also get-away day for the Labor Day weekend.) Rush hour traffic is backed up for a long way in both directions and it is slow work to get vehicles off the freeway and the limited off ramps.

My proposed partial solution? Let’s replace our solid K-rail barriers with movable/temporary, or pivoting, K-rails. If the solid K-rail barrier is replaced every mile or two (or three or five) with K-rails that can be moved by Cal-Trans and/or the CHP, then the open side of the highway can be used to evacuate vehicles that might otherwise be stuck for more hours than one’s bladder can stand (or sit or hold liquid).

It only takes being stuck in this kind of a situation once . . .

Diagram A — Traffic is moving freely in both directions. No problems (at least, no more than the usual problems).

Diagram A - D Blocked Highways
Diagram A – D Blocked Highways

Diagram B — There is an accident, or other incident, which causes the CHP, or other agency, to halt traffic in both directions. The only exits are the Off-Ramps, which are usually only single lanes and which get backed up quickly, too quickly.

Assuming a hazardous materials spill, brush fire leaping the highway, crashed airplane (yeah, we had one on the I-405 here recently), earthquake — You’re kidding, right? Here in SoCal? — both sides of the highway could remain closed for hours or longer.

All of our major highways carry several hundred thousand cars each and every day — including weekends and holidays. They are never empty. Any incident, much less a closure, causes problems, major problems.

In Diagram C the lanes are blocked in both directions and the Off-Ramps are used to take some of the cars off of the highway. But . . . some the K-rail barriers are either moved out of the way or pivoted to create openings in the center of the highway. This allows some of the vehicles that would have had to use the Off-Ramps to exit the highway to simply make a left turn through the no-longer-there-barrier and leave in the direction from which they had come.

They can then go back to where they were from or exit at another highway or off-ramp and find another route to their destination. This would reduce the wait-time for vehicles using the highway in both directions. (No waiting for four, or more, hours to find a toilet.)

Diagram D supposes a situation in which only one direction is completely stopped. CHP could block a lane or two on the opposite side of the highway and open the K-rail to vehicles from the blocked side.

This would slow traffic in the unblocked direction but would hasten the de-congestion of traffic on the blocked side. Again, no waiting for three or four hours to get going.

Diagram A – D Blocked Highways (PDF)

Picture of the Day — Question

English Summer 2
English Summer 2

How about we reserve a day on Facebook for positive thoughts and no negative or political posts?

I vote for Sunday.

I will, therefore, neither post nor share any further items having to deal with what I perceive as politics — on Sunday. I believe that I will also include liking, disliking or commenting on your posts/shares or those of others (regardless of whether I agree or disagree with them).

I have friends who are conservative; I have friends who are liberal. Some of them I consider reactionary and some I consider revolutionary. Some I consider just plain nuts — as, I assume, they also consider me (I am nuts, but that’s beside the point.). Let’s all just agree to disagree — and, if someone really offends us, take a walk around the block or have a drink . . . and, if you really need a drink, come on over — I’ve got plenty to go around.

The Trip — 2016: Part 29 — Arriving Home

Once again our plane is a Boeing 777-300, very comfortable and smooth. We took off about three-thirty — a delay of about an hour and a half with arrival in LA scheduled to be about 6:10 pm.

I got a copy of the Wall Street Journal and The London Times and read through the taxiing and takeoff until it was time to eat. Well, at least, until it was time for a Jack Daniels or three.

The meal consisted of:

Starter — Prosciutto and Mozzarella with melon

Salad — Spinach and frisée with strawberries and blue cheese and yogurt dressing

Entrée — Seared white halibut with beurre blanc sauce, champagne risotto and grilled asparagus

Dessert — Gourmet cheese plate of red cheddar, blue cheese stick and Montero farmer white

It all tasted quite good. Filling but not stuffing.

Di watched movies on her video screen, and I worked on my Trip photos for most of our very smooth flight. Toward its end we were served another light meal, salad and sandwich and dessert. I also drank several glasses of ice water — no more Jack.

Touchdown at LAX was 6:20 pm. We waited until everyone else had deplaned before leaving. The scooter, despite the best efforts of the crew was not delivered to the plane’s door but a wheelchair was there and the scooter was waiting when we exited the boarding tunnel. A minute to put it together and we were off to Immigration and Baggage — it was, again, a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g walk and a couple of lift rides, as Di’s scooter cannot negotiate stairs or escalators.

Note: The elevators/lifts in this section of LAX only have access to two floors: the floor you are on and the floor Immigration wants you on.

Immigration was extremely busy as several planes had recently landed, including the three hundred people from our flight. We were allowed to use either the automated processing or Special Assistance and after a glance at the long lines opted for Assistance. A few minutes later we were through passport control/immigration and headed to the Baggage area.

We were passed on the way to baggage by several young (18-22) men who had been on our flight and had exited at the opening of the plane’s doors. They had waited in lines long enough for us old slowpokes to catch up and pass them — chortle.

Our luggage carousel (3) was just beginning to unload baggage from an AA flight just in from Mexico and a few minutes later began to disgorge the baggage from our flight as well. Wonder of wonders, less than ten minutes later I had all four of our suitcases and onto our last check by Immigration.

I handed him our customs declaration, a quick glance and we were out. Up the tunnel and into a sea of faces and name cards from drivers — ah ha, the driver who had taken us to LAX in June was right there. I called to Charlie, who was ahead of me and the driver took my cart. The time was 7:40 pm — an hour and twenty minutes after touchdown and we were out.

Because of the crowds and construction, our driver had to park in a lot several minutes walk away from the Tom Bradley International Terminal — that walk and a smoke for Di had us in the car at 8:00 pm on the dot. There was still a good deal of traffic on surface streets and the 405 Freeway, but we pulled up at our driveway a minute before nine. Home.

I walked Charlie to the bench outside our front door and then helped the driver with the rest of our luggage. The house key was actually in the carry-on where I remembered leaving it and I soon had the door open, the alarm switched off and Charlie deposited in her garden room.

The cats said “Hello” and “Where the heck have you been?” I brought in the luggage, put the scooter in the garage, made Charlie a cup of tea (decaffeinated Earl Grey) and sat down exhausted. Time enough tomorrow (or Saturday) for emptying the suitcases. “Zzzzzzz . . . ”

(to be continued / concluded?)