New carpool lane means smooth(er) sailing on 405

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Finally…After years of construction, Carmegeddons and untold traffic-induced headaches, the carpool lane on the northbound 405 between West L.A. and Sherman Oak is now open for business. The $1.1 billion freeway improvement project was beset by delays and cost overruns and has been a major source of griping for L.A. drivers over the past four years. Transit officials say the carpool lane will shave 10 minutes off your commute between the 10 and 101 freeways during peak hours. Whether it will also help relieve congestion in other lanes through the notoriously packed 405 remains to be seen. About 300,000 vehicles a day travel through the Sepulveda Pass on the 405. The carpool lane now extends for 70 miles, from southern Orange County to the northern San Fernando Valley.

latinostudentsLatino segregation in California schools is high, and getting worse, according to a new study from UCLA. More than half of Latino K-12 students attend schools with a white population of 10 percent or less. The Civil Rights Project at UCLA says that’s the second highest rate of what it calls “extreme segregation” in the country. The report says the rate has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Black segregation is also high in California schools. Thirty-nine percent of black students attend schools with fewer than 10 percent white students.

In a blow for prosecutors, a hung jury has been declared in the case of the first deputy to be tried as part of an ongoing federal investigation into the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. Deputy James Sexton is accused of hiding a jail informant from his FBI handlers in an attempt to thwart the federal probe. After just two days of deliberations, the jury informed the judge that it was hopelessly deadlocked 6 to 6 on the charges against Sexton. Defense attorneys called that a victory, saying no reasonable jury would convict their client. Next week, opening statements are scheduled in the trial of six other sheriff’s officials accused of conspiring with Sexton to sabotage the federal investigation. Prosecutors say they cannot comment on the Sexton case until the next trial is finished.

beachIt turns out the drought is good for clean beaches. Ninety-five percent of California beaches earned either A or B grades for water quality, according to the latest coastal report card from the environmental group Heal the Bay. The results in L.A. County weren’t quite as good, but they did show improvement. Ninety percent of L.A. beaches received an A or B in the report,which looked at results from last summer. That was up from 84 percent the year before. Every beach in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties got an A grade for the summer months – and 99 percent of the beaches in Orange County scored A’s. Heal the Bay says the main reason for the improvement was the lack of rainfall last year. Less rain means less run-off, and less garbage and bacteria flowing into the ocean.

travelMemorial Day Weekend is here and that means travel, lots of travel. The Auto Club expects more than 2.5 million Southern Californians to hit the road for a little Memorial Day Weekend R&R. That’s an increase of nearly two percent over last year and the largest number of Memorial Day travelers since 2005, when over three million Southern Californians took trips by car, train and air. But it won’t all be smooth sailing. Authorities say to expect more crowded conditions because of the increase in travelers, higher fuel costs and more police activity; including sobriety and drivers license checkpoints.