How We Roll, Dec. 22: big rigs vs 210, Musk vs traffic, partially automated cars vs people

Art of Transit 1: 

Looking south into the second of the twin tunnels being dug for the underground segment of the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Photo: Metro.

Related: More recent Crenshaw/LAX Line construction pics.

Art of Transit 2: 

I’m loving the weather. As seen from the Gold Line this a.m. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Art of Transit 3:

Big rig crashes on 210; Gold Line stopped in Pasadena (KTLA)

The accident occurred on the 210 freeway between the Allen and Sierra Madre Villa stations at 4:52 a.m. today and the truck landed on the Gold Line tracks. The damage is being assessed by Metro; here’s the service alert with more info. Trains are running between East L.A. and the Lake Station in Pasadena and between Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena and APU/Citrus Station in Azusa. A bus shuttle replaces train service between Lake and Sierra Madre Villa. Expect delays if traveling in that area.

As we mentioned in that post, earlier this year the Metro Board approved $11 million in funding to do the environmental and design work on raising some or all of the barriers between the 210 freeway and the Gold Line tracks. Here’s the staff report.

On our comment board, a typically smart question from a reader: why do these type of accidents seem to happen more along the Gold Line than on the Green Line, which runs down the middle of the busy 105 freeway?

I don’t know the answer but truck traffic, according to Caltrans data, is not significantly different on the two freeways. This is my personal opinion, but I suspect maybe it has something to do with road design; the 210 through Pasadena has a lot of on- and off-ramps and that means there’s a lot of weaving with motorists trying to both enter and exit the freeway amid heavy truck traffic.

Things to look at whilst transiting:The Year in Pictures” on the New York Times website. To put it lightly, it’s been quite a year.

Things to read whilst transiting: The word “fascism” is getting tossed around a lot these days. This good story in The Atlantic explains the elusive meaning of that word.

Elon Musk’s answer to traffic is Boring: tunnels (Mercury News)

Elon Musk’s idea for fixing traffic suffers from one fundamental problem (Vox)

Elon Musk hates sitting in traffic, says he’s going to build tunnels (ars technica)

These three articles together make a pretty good argument that some journalists/reporters have far too much time on their hands or would serve our planet better by playing each other in “League of Legends” all day.

The gist of it: Elon Musk — carmaker and inventor — got frustrated with L.A. traffic and tweeted idly that he would get into the tunnel machine business, presumably to dig tunnels for cars and roads. Fine. Yawn. It’s a tweet worthy of maybe one sentence in any news publication: “carmaker/inventor tweets he’s going to build tunnels for roads, no firm plans yet.”

Instead, we get these think pieces on induced demand, the difficulty in solving traffic and challenges involving tunneling. I’m personally skeptical of some of Musk’s endeavors — I’ll believe the hyperloop when I’m sitting on it and getting whisked to a Basque buffet in Bakersfield in eight minutes. But these tweets, like most everything else on Twitter, strike me as part of that awful category of journalism I like to call “someone said something on the internet and we’re too lazy to write about anything else.”

All that said, I’m sitting by my desk and awaiting calls from reporters to discuss this Very Important Tweet (VIT):

Wow. Two ‘likes!’ People like me after all!

Three tower development proposed near L.A. Live (Urbanize LA)

From the post: “The project, officially submitted earlier today for a 3.25-acre site at Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street, would consist of three high-rise buildings  featuring 1,367 residential units, approximately 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and parking accommodations for up to 2,131 vehicles in an above- and below-grade garage.”

Renderings and more info on the plans at Urbanize. The nearest rail station is the Pico Station shared by the Expo Line and Blue Line. Of course, when the Regional Connector in opens in 2021 all light rail trains will serve the station — east-west trains running from Santa Monica to East L.A. and north-south trains running from Azusa to Long Beach.

The 7th/Metro Station serving both the Red Line and Purple Line subway is also a relatively short walk from the proposed development, which will also enjoy views of oft-constipated traffic on the 110.

The Measure M mandate (Urbanize LA)

Good think piece on the importance of taking a holistic approach to shifting people from cars to transit. And, yes, housing near transit matters a lot.

The dangers of partially automated cars (The Hill) 

An op-ed from Linda Bailey, executive director of National Association of City Transportation Officials, includes this:

Full automation, done correctly, could be a boon to safety in our cities. However, partial automation is specifically cited as one of the most dangerous paths the country can take because of the increase in the possibility of distraction and the potential for magnifying driver error.

Concur. And as I’ve written before, I suspect many consumers don’t realize yet that safety gains from fully automated cars probably means fully automated cars going a lot slower than folks are accustomed to.

From the Dept. of It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Flying and Even That’s Not Terrible Yet

Source: Federal Aviation Administration.

The map shows flight delays at major airports around the U.S. Green is good — very little delay. Less green = no bueno. I’m thankfully staying put this weekend and plan on plowing through season one of “Breaking Bad” and season three of “The Wire” and making a giant pot of my amazing Cincy chili knock-off.


  1. Chop up a giant yellow onion and cook for about a minute in a dash of olive oil in a skillet. Add a pound of ground beef and cook until done, then drain the grease.
  2. In a big chili pot, dump a 28 ounce can of crushed tomato, one regular car of kidney beans and the following spices: three tablespoons of chili powder, two tablespoons of cumin, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of garlic powder, one teaspoon of unsweetened chocolate. Also a few dashes of worcesterishire sauce, many dashes of Tobasco sauce. Dump the ground beef and onion into the pot and cook on low heat covered for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove cover from pot, continue to cook and add two tablespoons of chili powder and another tablespoon of cumin. Cook another 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let it stand for 15 minutes. Serve over spaghetti or rice. Add chopped red onion and tons of grated cheddar cheese and sour cream to top. Pairs especially well with many beers, including Corona, Pacifico, Deschutes’ River Ale, Full Sail Cascade Pilsner, Golden Road 329 Lager, North Coast Scrimshaw and Mammoth Golden Trout Pilsner.

From the Dept. of My Year End Lists That No One Should Probably Care About: 

Best new song & album that I listened to the most: “Cranes in the Sky” from Solange’s album “A Seat at the Table.” It’s unusual for me to discover new music in the year that it is actually released.

Best movie: “Captain Fantastic” about a father’s futility of isolating a family from the modern world even when some of the father’s instincts are probably correct.

Best TV show: tie between “Silicon Valley” season three, “Last Week Tonight” on HBO and “The Walking Dead” season six and seven. Silicon Valley hilariously skewers the greed of the tech and finance worlds, John Oliver does a better job explaining complicated issues than most actual journalists on broadcast media and Negan shows how villains use fear to corrupt the living and bend them to his will.

Best Book: “The North Water,” a novel by Ian McGuire. The story of a surgeon on a doomed whaling ship that also has a serial murder on its crew. A great page turner and fantastically gross.




11 replies

  1. Another example of text book answers instead of actual experience. Those at the MTA should consult the experts below the 25th floor that have actually worked in the field.

  2. Metro operates both trains and buses. Therefore, Steve Hymon might have an answer to the following question.

    Browsing through several bookstores, looking for holiday gifts, I noticed something that I found interesting. There are whole sections of shelves filled with books on railroads. But, I did not find a single book on metropolitan buses. Why?

    Wouldn’t “bus books” be interesting? I would guess that just about all bus drivers who have been “on the road” for over two years would have anecdotes to tell that would be both humorous and educational. Anyone interested in collaborating on writing such a book? Steve? Anyone?

    • I have always been interested in the intramural basketball league for employees of bus companies in Los Angeles. Can that be part of the book?

      • I was not aware of the employees’ intramural basketball league. That sounds like an interesting series of events that could also have a lot of anecdotal material. The more that I think about it, the more that I can see that others in addition to drivers would also likely have interesting stories to contribute. People in the offices and the maintenance divisions. Security personnel. Others in other capacities. Even passengers. This could be a very comprehensive compilation.

    • The 210 already connects with the 710 at the junction with the 134.
      Know you pedantic freeway details. 🙂

  3. I’m shocked!, Shocked!–that semi trucks keep flying over the the Gold Line’s puny barricades! Didn’t some Metro civil engineer see this coming? I mean, I’ve only “engineered” trains but I foresaw this from the start. Better round up the usual committees!

  4. I have a question for the chili recipe. How many kidney beans are in one regular car? Plus you left off Natural Light on your list of beers!

    • Details, schmetails. I do think I could probably fit about 103,000 kidney beans in my 2007 Subaru Outback!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • I suggest buying individual bags of Fritos and scooping chili into it. Garnish with cheddar cheese and red onions! Simply the best…..Had it a couple of months ago at a gathering….It was a huge hit.