Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Burbank) legislation to help increase the efficiency of Los Angeles County’s freeway system, one of the nation’s most notoriously congested systems, passed its first legislative hurdle today, Assembly Transportation Committee by a vote of 15-1. The bill, AB 405, will create pilot project to help ease traffic congestion during non-traditional commutes, by permitting single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (also known as carpool lanes), during non-peak hours.
“It’s happened to anyone who lives in Southern California. A late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty,” said Gatto. “AB 405 is a cost-effective way to expand capacity on the state’s highway system and ensure that non-peak hour travelers can travel to and from home and work and deliver goods and services efficiently.”
Originally drafted to apply only to the 134 freeway in Glendale and Burbank, AB 405 has been amended and expanded to include portions of the 210 freeway and other ones in the County deemed appropriate by the Department of Transportation. Unlike Northern California, where most HOV lane restrictions are in place only during peak commute hours, HOV lanes in Southern California are restricted on a 24-hour basis.
“Congestion is almost always bad during rush hour; it need not be bad all night long,” said Gatto. “Carpool lanes are intended to increase the capacities of our freeways, reward those who carpool during rush hour, and protect the surrounding environment from harmful exhaust. When motorists are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at midnight while carpool lanes sit empty, none of those goals are being met. That just doesn’t make sense.”
Gatto is also overseeing an effort with state and local agencies to investigate ways to address administratively the under utilization of HOV lanes in the region.