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Parked Transformer Asks: Do We Really Need that Lane for Traffic?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2008, at 11:51PM
Temporary Power Eric Richardson [Flickr]

LADWP generator parked on 6th street, between Broadway and Spring.

For several weeks a generator transformer has been sitting in the northbound curb lane on 6th street with cables feeding down a small drain hole into the utility vault below. That lane is supposed to be for traffic during peak hours, but has been blocked during the duration of the transformer's well-protected stay on the street.

If the city's content to let the lane sit blocked for weeks at a time, one has to question whether it's really so necessary for traffic after all.

This particular lane closure comes thanks to a DWP generator wired into the utility vault underneath. A construction worker on a utility down the block speculated that the unit was wired in to replace a failed transformer below, and that it would be in place until DWP got around to installing a permanent replacement.

Regardless of the reason for the closure, if a "necessary" peak hour traffic lane can be out of service for nearly a month without calamity ensuing, can it really be all that important?

Downtown is littered with streets that provide parking most of the day but turn into throughways during peak hours. DOT engineers would tell you that traffic counts require the greater number of lanes. They would tell you that if the parking were left in during peak hours, disastrous congestion would occur.

And yet the lane's been closed, and people still seem to get where they're going without much trouble.

Perhaps it's time more lanes got "accidentally" taken out of service, and Downtown's planning got a little less focused on raw traffic capacity.

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