Anyone familiar with Los Angeles understands that there is no transportation better than a personal car. While there is some public transportation, for the overwhelming number of the nearly 10 million residents, public transportation is not an option. Routes do not go where residents need to go, and if they do, it can take 3 or 4 hours and several transfers each way. It is just not a feasible option for most. For those who are lucky to work along the route of Metrorail, it can be a great way to commute.
This is why accidents on the freeways of Los Angeles which stop traffic during peak hours essentially cause Los Angeles to stop working. On Feb. 5, 2014, one of the primary routes from the west valley to downtown Los Angeles was completely halted due to a tanker full of milk which overturned. 5200 gallons of milk dibbled down storm drains, and lanes were closed for 12 hours while Cal Trans, the California’s DOT crew, mopped up the mess.
According to a local NBC affiliate, it is unclear why the tanker lost control and careened into the guardrails and through to the other side of the highway. Luckily, no one, including the driver of the tanker was seriously hurt; physically that it. But Angelinos who rely on this part of the freeway system awoke to a rude surprise that Wednesday morning when traffic had to be detoured around the crash site. Commutes which are already outrageously long where extended beyond what even local nerves can handle; and they can handle a lot. What made this wreck such an “incident” is that it was considered a Haz Mat (hazardous material) spill which requires a lengthy set of protocols to be followed. This is quite common during big-rig crashes, especially those carrying food or medical items. Not only this, but huge equipment such as cranes and bulldozers, had to be brought in the remove the truck, as it was not drivable.
This incident drove home again the desperate need for more public transportation options. While the Metro Rail is working on several extensions, finish dates are far in the future and will affect only a small percentage of Angelinos. As the work for these moves ahead at a seemingly snail pace, the infrastructure of current highways (most free in California) is continually being upgraded and updated. Thus, even on a perfect Los Angeles traffic day, highways such as the notorious 405 and the 101 are still like playing a video game with nothing but delays and obstacles at every turn.
This is why Los Angeles drivers have almost zero tolerance for huge wreck like this tanker of milk. If you look closely, you can see the bubbles over drivers’ heads wondering why there is not a better way to get around Los Angeles. There just has to be a better way. Perhaps Los Angeles will be saved by the automatic car which drives itself, but this option is still a few years away. The good news is no one was hurt, but the bad news is Angelinos had an extra-long day in the car, and were reminded again of the major drawback of living in the land of fruit and nuts!