North County-ites can rest easy in their three-position econo-loungers, now that San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy is tackling this traffic situation. To show he's not messing around, Murphy set aside $5 million to "encourage ride-sharing, telecommuting and alternative work schedules in Sorrento Valley," so you should be sailing through the merge any day now.
Of course, being a fairly rational person and drug-free for 27 days now, you are surely asking, "How the hell is "encouraging' ride-sharing and telecommuting going to help?" And wouldn't $5 million feed the starving children of western Nigeria for a decade or so?
Decent and fair questions, boys and girls. After all, plans to "encourage" ride-sharing reek of things like "Just Say No" campaigns, based on the idea that a sassy full-page ad in Us magazine will turn crack 'hos into good Rotary Club house gals.
Now we'll be barraged with shots of happy executives in their blue shirts and red ties happily driving to work together, enjoying the fruits of ridesharing. At home, thousands of San Diegans will sit back and say, "Ya know, they're right, I'm calling up that asshole, fart-bag neighbor tomorrow and demand that he drive me to work."
In fact, Murphy, assuming there is no correlation between boring and stupid, certainly knows that even if the "encouragement" campaign is wildly successful, sparking a sort of mass hysteria toward car-pooling, it won't shave a single minute off the average tech geek's commute from his splashy Carmel Valley two-story, two-bedroom haphazardly-stuccoed apartment.
The campaign is just Murphy's fairly expensive way of making it look like he is trying to do something about a problem, even though he can't do squat about it. The city can commission studies and hire consultants and slip 10 spots to voodoo priests and it won't make a damn bit of difference, unless thousands of people suddenly decide to leave their Carlsbad beachfront homes and move to Minneapolis.
Beyond engineers finally getting the bugs out of those jet backpacks, there's no shortcut, mass-transit miracle or sly Caltrans engineering trick that is going to make North County freeways smooth sailing.
Murphy certainly knows this, but it won't stop him and his Wayne Newton-lovin' compatriots from furrowing their brows and promising to address these traffic problems.
Right now, Caltrans is developing plans to widen I-5 from Oceanside to Del Mar. If all goes well-and, what the heck, let's assume it won't go exactly as scheduled; the environmental impact report alone won't be done until 2007. So if you live in Del Mar, you're not going to want to join that gym in UTC quite yet. Tack on a few years of political indecision, weasely backroom deals and construction overruns, and those lanes should be up and going sometime around the time your grandson gets busted for money laundering.
There's no way around it. If you chose to spend $700,000 for the pseudo Mediterranean palace within 22.4 miles of the beach, you're going to be spending a lot of quality time sucking car exhaust. It's too late to do anything about it. The much-touted completion of Route 56 will only serve to make the intersection of the 56 and the 5 a swampy mess, creating all the sunny charm of the jungle of freeway ramps in Orange County. Even if the Coaster runs every 15 minutes and offers Japanese geisha foot massages with optional "happy ending," I-5 is still going to look like a swanky parking lot.
All that's left is the blame game, and that's always fun. You can be bitter and mean, and, what the heck, on this one even Dr. Phil would say it's good for you. Fortunately, there's no doubt who to blame here. There's no mystery, no confusion, no unavoidable set of circumstances.
Your beloved leaders screwed the pooch, boys and girls. They know it.
Your pleasant one-hour jaunt through Leucadia is the direct result of decades of dumb-ass, Reagan-lovin', boot-lickin' politicians, who eagerly approved every Rancho Enchilada de Verde housing development without considering how those new homeowners would get to work.
Wow, now there are too many cars on the road? Damn! Who'd have guessed?
Want to know why it happened? Ask Pete Wilson and his buddies why I-15 is a parking lot on Friday afternoons. Ask them why you're stuck on southbound I-5 at 3 p.m., even though there are no accidents and the Del Mar Fair doesn't open for six months.
The traffic planners knew this was going to happen. Build 50,000 homes and, yeah, it will increase traffic congestion. Number of houses, multiplied by number of people per house, multiplied by number of cars-it's not very complicated math.
There is certainly no excuse for I-15. That's not some ancient roadway carved out by the Vikings. Every housing project required a vote and intensive planning and yet, somehow, they managed to overlook that all those happy Sabre Springs residents might decide to use the freeway to visit Home Depot on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The evil little twist is, it turns out all those wacko, glue-sniffing environmentalists were right. They hollered and screamed about the impact of all these developments, but the Best and the Brightest said, "Heck, go ahead and build homes out there, we'll figure out some roads later."
So now we're into the butt-humping cycle of the "let them come and then we'll build it, maybe" strategy.
If nothing else, as you stare at the ass of the car in front of you, you're entitled to be pissed. Be bitter. Go with it.