Dan is stuck on the 405

Dear drivers of Southern California:

The exit to Ventura Blvd. off the 405 North is closed. It has been closed since June, and will not be reopened until September.

Look closer. There’s a sign a full three miles before the (closed, by the way) exit that reads, in no uncertain terms, “VENTURA BLVD. EXIT CLOSED.” And then there is yet another sign, just after the Sunset exit, advertising the next three exits (Sepulveda / Mulholland / Ventura) and containing the mileage from that spot to each of those exits. On the “Ventura” section of the sign, over where the mileage should be, appears instead a gigantic orange card reading, “VENTURA BLVD. EXIT CLOSED.” Which it has been. Since June. So let’s take for granted for just one quick second that I’m not the only driver who has taken notice of Ventura Boulevard and its current adventures in closedishness.

Mere yards after the (closed) off ramp for Ventura Blvd. is the fabled 405/101 connector. Three lanes continue north on the 405, taking daring riders deep into the Valley, up to Sacramento, and out to Neptune (or so I would imagine). The other two lanes merge onto the 101, which takes its southbound travelers, such as myself, back out of the Valley and straight on ’til Hollywood. This is one of the busiest merges on the planet, and I wouldn’t dare think to take this route home (or anywhere) if I left work before 9PM, as my strange and strenuous schedule often dictates. Still, even after 10 or 11 some nights I’ve spent delays of countless hours staring off at the facade of the Sherman Oaks Galleria, thinking idly about how I once wanted to live in it.

It’s always been bad, but the 405/101 connector has, since June, become a source of such unrelenting despair that I’m thinking of renouncing the freeways altogether. Why is it getting worse? Is it because there are too many people in LA? No. Is it an influx in the number of people working on the Westside and trying vainly at the end of the day to get anywhere but the Westside? No. It’s one thing, plain and simple: entitled assholes who think they’re really awesome.

Here’s what people do: they wait until the exit lane for Ventura Blvd. appears, go a million miles an hour in the exit lane for a quarter of a mile, and then, at the last second, try and zip back into the 101 exit lanes, just like that. Except that there is no zipping, because now there’s a double merge going on, and they are responsible for the backup that they’re attempting to avoid. They saved five seconds and cost us all twenty minutes, rather than waiting in line like everyone else. They’re the LA equivalent of people who hold the subway doors while their friend is at the top of the stairs, charging a single ride and waiting for his receipt. People who are important enough to hold up rush hour for millions of other people, as long as they get home when it’s convenient for them.

In my estimation, there are three possibilities for why you, fellow drivers, would use that lane:

1) You’re lost and confused. Uh-huh. Unless you’ve got Saskatchewan plates on your car, I call bullshit.

2) You honestly didn’t know the Ventura Blvd. exit was closed, in which case you should have your license taken away from you immediately as you are obviously senile and blind.

3) You are entitled assholes.

I know I haven’t lived here as long as some of you, but my understanding is that the place I’m from and the place you’re from are filled with people who speak the same language. And in that language, the words “VENTURA BLVD. EXIT CLOSED” mean one thing. They mean “get outta that fucking lane because it’s not FOR you.” There’s no reason to be in it in the first place.

That’s right. A post about the traffic in LA. Next week: smog…it’s so smoggy!

Best as always,