Zócalo Panel on 710 Controversy

A panel discussion on the 710 extension, organized by Zócalo Public Square, filled the Museum of Contemporary Art auditorium in downtown LA on Wednesday night. All of the invited speakers at the Metro-sponsored event shared the viewpoint that the 710 should be extended, saying that something should be done to address the “gap.”

Panelist Brian Taylor, director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, had one contrarian solution to traffic congestion in the region: making users pay for how much they use the roadways.

Listen starting at 29 minutes, as he says:

  …we have a valuable resource which is the roadspace, and we allow anyone to use it
  … we have a brownout every afternoon and every morning and we say that’s acceptable and let’s argue instead about whether to close this gap or not because we want to make sure we never price people’s travel, we don’t want them to be sensitive to that
  … traffic congestion is the most politically acceptable solution to the fact that people don’t want to pay for the costs their travel imposes on society!

Taylor also said that fewer freeway offramps create more congestion at existing offramps, and that these are undesirable to residential areas. Finally, he noted that if the 710 was extended to the 210, it would

…allow (traffic) to move up to the Foothill freeway which would certainly include truck traffic, it would be quite significant. But the actual traffic were that link ever completed, the share of traffic by people living and working nearby would be shockingly high. And there have been past analyses that have found that.

StreetsblogLA just published a few reminders about why this project isn’t yet underway (the controversy extends all the way to Long Beach as well, since the I-710 expansion is also being challenged by communities alongside the existing freeway).