|Closed Section of the Freeway|
The hysteria really kicked in to high gear last week to the point where even I was buying into it. I had a meeting up in Woodland Hills Friday afternoon, and to get there I had to take the 405. I started worrying. What if they close the road early? What if everyone in the LA basin attempts an escape to points north? I allowed myself 2 hours to go 10 miles. It only took 15 minutes.
On the way home I avoided the 405 completely. I took the 101 to the 5. It was smooth sailing. I did hit some traffic on the 5 but it was nothing more than normal Friday afternoon traffic in Los Angeles.
When I got home I immediately forgot about all of it. I had no business up north over the weekend. And besides, between weekend family stuff, my training and the Tour de France, I have not been thinking about much else over the last couple weekends. Out of site, out of mind. I enjoyed a weekend of perfect weather and drove my car a grand total of 10 miles.
It was back to the grind this morning. And catching myself up with the rest of the world, I stumbled upon this.
In case you don't have time to read the link: To "battle" the congestion, Jet Blue offered $4 flights from Burbank to Long Beach over the weekend. It's about 40 miles from Burbank to Long Beach, and as a practical matter you would never take the 405 to drive between the two.
So some cyclists issued a challenge. From the same street corner in Hollywood, the cyclists rode straight to the Long Beach Aquarium (essentially a straight shot down the LA River trail) while someone else drove to Burbank Airport, parked, went through security, waited to board, taxied, took off, flew, landed in Long Beach, taxied, deplaned and took ground transportation to the Aquarium.
The cyclists got to the Aquarium in an hour and forty three minutes. The plane had not even pushed back yet.
My take? I know I should defend my brothers of the bike but I just can't. Cool stunt, fellas and way to out-bulls**t the bulls**ters. But please hold the high fives right there and inject some clarity. You can't push the "alternative urban transportation" card here. First, because you stacked the deck. And second, an Airbus A320 isn't generally seen as urban transportation. I don't see the parallel. Race an Amtrak train station to station and then come talk to me.
|An Empty 405|
The contractors had 53 hours to get the job done. If they delivered late, they would be penalized something like $17,000 per hour against the contract value. This seems like a fair and prudent protection enacted by the government for the benefit of the people, right? Do what you say you are going to do or be penalized.
BUT, it turns out this deal went both ways. As in if the contractor delivered early they got a bonus of something like $17,000 per hour. Well, the contractor ended up 17 hours ahead of schedule and is now just under $300,000 richer. Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa has gone on record saying that the taxpayers actually saved $400,000 because of this bonus. How does that math work? Never mind, I'll never understand it. Because even though I am pretty good at adding up a column of figures, when the numbers are sugar coated with political spin I'm hopelessly lost.
I'm not sure I like this quid pro quo thing. We'd already been conditioned to expect a 53 hour closure, so we all found ways to avoid the 405 over the weekend. Yet by getting the road back early we ended up paying more for something that we were told we wouldn't have. It's too bad the satisfaction of kicking ass (and getting Sunday afternoon off) wasn't good enough for the contractor. Who will give me a hundred dollars for every minute I take off my goal time at the Solana Beach Triathlon this Sunday? None of you. Because you live in reality.
I suppose if they use the extra money to pay out the workers who had been expecting a Sunday shift, that would be one thing. But why do I get the feeling it's not going to work out that way?
Oh yeah, I spent an hour and twenty minutes moving two miles today on La Cienega today trying to get on the 10 Freeway because of some other construction. Just when I thought it was over....