A Slow-Road Movement?
As an Historic Roads Preservationist, I can certainly appreciate some of what the article has to say, especially about how the highways divided communities, and the affects of roads on communities and the environment.
The article got me thinking about a few related things as well, such as the proposed demolition of parts of a state park to build a privately-owned freeway in Orange County. It seems to me that building a road for private gain through lands that had been designated to be park land "in perpetuity" goes against the wishes of the people who had been here before us.
It also got me thinking about my beloved Route 66 in general, and the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway in particular. The Parkway (I do my best not to call it the Pasadena Freeway) was constructed in the late 1930's, and opened on December 30, 1940. It was the first portion of Route 66 to become freeway, making Highland Park, Garvanza, and Mount Washington the first portions of 66 to be bypassed by a freeway.
But here is the thing about the Arroyo Seco Parkway: it was built as a PARKWAY! The intent when it was designed and constructed was to have two lanes of limited acccess traffic in each direction meander through a park-like environment, with lots of green space and natural beauty on other side of it. Of course, by the time that it actually opened, the need for a third lane was obvious. But let's think for a minute about how that Parkway would look today if it were in fact two lanes, and if in fact the California Highway Patrol or Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department or Los Angeles Police Department actually enforced a speed limit on it.
For starters, this PARKWAY would move along at a constant speed. Yes, that's right, not necessarily much slower overall, but at least constant. There would be less merging and swerving in and out of traffic, and there would be room for an on- and off-ramp at each exit. This would minimize accidents (which plague the road), thus providing a more constant speed for travelers.
But here is my real thought. What if ...? What if the green spaces along the Parkway were spruced up and cleaned up even more? What if more people were made aware of Debs Park, the Southwest Museum, El Alisal (the Lummis Home), and the Confluence as they drove along the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway? What if this corridor could be managed in such a way so that those people traveling it on a regular basis got to understand its history and natural beauty? What if they found out that Theodore Roosevelt passed through this area and proclaimed it to be one of the most beautiful areas he had seen, and felt that it should be made into a parkland? Then would Angelenos come to respect the Parkway, and maybe respect the beauty of the nature that surrounds it, as well as the historical culture that permeates the area?
I can only hope. And in the meantime, I'll dream of the day that I can either drive the Parkway safely at its recommended 40mph, or get back out on it on my feet again.