Freeway toll lanes don’t add up to much time saved

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Are those new toll lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways helping to speed up your commute? Probably not too much, it appears. The lanes are L.A.’s first experiment with so-called “congestion pricing.” Drivers pay different amounts depending on traffic conditions – the heavier the traffic the higher the cost of trying to escape it. The question is do the lanes help the flow of traffic better than the car pool lanes they replaced? An independent report that’s being called the first comprehensive look at L.A.’s toll lanes says the answer is “sometimes.” The pay-to-drive lanes made some rush-hour commutes a little faster – both in the toll lanes and the free lanes – but others were unchanged. The MTA is considering whether to keep the toll lanes open beyond next January, and whether to introduce new toll lanes on other freeways.

pollutionmapA new interactive map from California’s Environmental Protection Agency uses a variety of factors to determine the locations of neighborhoods at greatest risk from pollution. Many of the worst pollution areas identified by the “Cal-Enviro Screen” are in L.A. County and the San Joaquin Valley, mostly in low-income neighborhoods. One 3,000-acre tract in Fresno ranked No.1 on the pollution watch list. The rankings combine exposure to pollutants with socioeconomic factors such as poverty, education and health data to determine an area’s vulnerability to pollution. CalEPA says it hopes the map will spur regulators to act in areas with dangerous levels of pollution.

The head of the DWP’s main employee union says he’ll fight a court order requiring him to turn over financial information about two non-profits that have received more than $40 million in ratepayer money. The order signed on Tuesday gave Brian D’Arcy 10 days to comply or face contempt of court charges. D’Arcy’s lawyer tells the L.A. Times that he’ll appeal the order and seek an immediate stay. If D’Arcy prevails, it could be months before L.A. city officials are able to get to the bottom of the non-profit’s spending. The trusts were set up to improve relations between DWP workers and management, but it’s unclear what they’ve accomplished.

squeakyfrommeAlmost 40 years after Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky Fromme” pointed a gun at President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, the audiotape from her pretrial psychiatric exam has been made public. A federal judge has granted the release of the 132-minute recording in response to a motion filed by the Sacramento Bee newspaper. The 1975 recording was made two weeks after she aimed her pistol at Ford. The gun did not go off, and Fromme was wrestled to the ground by a Secret Service agent. Fromme was sentenced to life in prison, but she was released in 2009 after serving 34 years.

lamorningWhat time do you to get work in the morning? According to U.S. Census ata crunched by noted statistician Nate Silver, L.A. residents are in the office earlier than people in some other big American cities. The median time Angelenos arrive at work is 8:05 a.m. That’s ahead of Bostonians who get to the office at 8:11, San Franciscans at 8:15 and even hard-charging New Yorkers who arrive at 8:24. What American community has the earliest median arrival time at work? Hinesville, Georgia… at a bright and early 7:01 a.m.