HOV ain’t easy as 1-2-3

Cheryl Giraud

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If anyone out there knows what HOV stands for, please raise your hand.

Curious about the nebulous acronym with its questionable goals, I thought now is a good time to unearth what all the fuss is about along the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, where the California Department of Transportation workers in little neon yellow and green vests hang out along the fringes.

I first checked the time-honored Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the definition of HOV. Nope, not there.

I then found a dinosaur in my office called the Encyclopedia Britannica covered with just a hint of dust. Nope, not there either.

So I went to the mother-of-all resources – Google. Jackpot! And there was HOV staring right at me.

HOV stands for High Occupancy Vehicle. So simply stated, it’s the carpool lane.

But the bottom line is, the HOV lane will not, and I repeat, will not solve the burgeoning traffic congestion on the 405 Freeway, because it only works for those drivers who carpool.

Developed in partnership with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the project is officially called the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.

The additional northbound HOV lane will run 10 miles from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101).

Hailed as “traffic relief,” (yeah, right), with a price tag of $1.34 billion, commuters are being sold a bill of goods because supposedly the extra 10-mile stretch will redefine what driving on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass means.

Once completed in 2013, Caltrans anticipates the added lane will ease congestion and encourage people to carpool rather than drive solo.

According to the HOV Performance Program website, there are many arguments supporting the concept of the storied HOV lane, which often appears empty to those drivers in the adjacent lanes.

Their studies indicate that 10 of the 16 HOV lanes in Los Angeles County carry approximately 1,200 to 1,600 vehicles per hour during peak commute hours.

Metro’s senior Public Information Officer Dave Sotero said the new stretch of HOV lane will improve traffic flow in the adjacent lanes and will reduce the duration of congestion.

“This is the last section of HOV lane on the northbound I-405 to be built,” Sotero said. “HOV lanes already exist north of the U.S. 101 Freeway and south of the I-10 Freeway. This section fills in that gap.”

Well, to those Angelenos who don’t carpool, you are out of luck.

And yes, there could be some truth to the recent survey from “Travel + Leisure” magazine that Angelenos didn’t fare so well on the rudeness scale.

Commuters in the adjacent lanes are cranky from sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

It’s no love-fest between the abject commuter and the HOV lane.

A viable solution is light years away, but in the meantime, commuters can pack their patience in the passenger seat.