There is a common understanding that growth in any aspect of the economy is a grand concept. However, when growth begins to start spreading out in such a manner that it becomes uncontrollable, there is an inherent issue. Such is the case in David Carle’s essay “Sprawling Gridlock”. Carle mentions several pervading issues and problems with the rapid growth and spread of Southern California, and outlines measures taken against the expansion. Carle’s resolve and purpose of this essay is to describe and illustrate the issue of the uncontrolled spread of urbanization, and the relation of this rapid growth to the quality of life of its inhabitants. Carle outlines rapid, spread out growth for problems such as traffic congestion, land developers putting pressure on land owners, and the accountability of citizens, businesses, and developers in financing the repairs to this damaged infrastructure.
According to Carle, the traffic congestion that was consuming Southern California through the 1990’s was becoming a nightmare that threatened the livelihood of all of its participants. “Road Rage” was born and was the result of creeping, gridlocked freeways that frustrated commuters spent hours in getting from point A to point B. The spread, development, construction, and growth of urbanized communities along these freeways compounded and multiplied the severity of these congested motorways. This was costing two billion dollars in wasted time and petrol. The correlation between these motorways and the urbanized spread began in the early 1900’s. Back then, the Pacific Electric trolley cars carried more than one hundred million passengers over around one thousand miles of track. The independence an automobile represented appealed to citizens and soon changed the way they commute from “mass-transit” to “rapid-transit”. This change begun with the construction of the Arroyo Seco Parkway in 1940 (the first motorway opened in California and connected Downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena). Through 1996, California became paved with over one hundred seventy thousand miles worth of roads. However, the rapid growth and urbanized spread of Southern California did not construct fast enough to keep up with the growing mass of commuters. Solutions such as freeway widening created construction that worsened gridlock initially, created improved congestion once completed, and created a new gridlock after a couple years of growth catching up to transit. This inefficiency and spread gridlock of the Southern California motorways had an unprecedented effect on the quality of life of its citizens. Not only were the half-million hours they spent every day in their commutes having a fiscal effect, but a psychological effect as well. Not only was this evident in the increased number (and methods) of road rage incidents, but also in the manner that the time spent in traffic denied them their personal independence. The countless hours citizens spent sitting or crawling in traffic made them feel trapped as though they were entirely limited of all ability to control their journey; the very concept that attracted Southern Californians away from timetabled mass-transit, to the complete freedom of the automobile. This growth and spread of urbanized Southern California did not only effect the commutes of their citizens, but it also effected the development pressures of their land. One of the largest population growths of Los Angeles occurred between 1970 to 1990. The forty-five percent increase in population correlated into a three hundred percent increase in developed land area. This increase of population, innovations of the motor ways, the State Water Project, and air conditioning gave birth to fastest growing cities in California (the cities on the outskirts of the Greater Los Angeles area). The spike in the population of these cities created increased pressures on land owners by land developers. The uncontrolled growth and spread...
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