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Freeway Jam-ups Nothing New

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, August 07, 2007, at 08:15AM

Harbor Freeway Jammed On this date in 1953 traffic engineers scrambled to figure out what could be done about the massive traffic jam created as cars exited the Harbor Freeway onto 6th street in Downtown. The next day the Times reported that the backup extended four blocks, and got worse as impatient motorists scrambled to change lanes and exit at 4th or Wilshire. The Times titled their report "Freeway Jam-up Spurs Studies by Engineers."

Not quite the title you expect the first day a freeway opens.

As usual, the problem was lights. The signals at the intersection of 6th and Figueroa were set to favor the Figueroa traffic, leaving little time for drivers to exit the new freeway. Even today Downtown's signal lights remain a bit of a black art, with any change in timing having a rippling effect on streets for blocks around. The City may have a little nicer technology today, allowing the infrastructure to be stretched and to accommodate many more cars than it otherwise would, but the fundamental issues of too many cars hasn't changed a bit.

The photo accompanying the Times article showed traffic exiting onto 6th street.

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