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L.A. Prepares for Olympic-Size Traffic Nightmare

July 1, 2009 | 10:00 am

July 1, 1984, Subway

July 1, 1984: Will subways work in Los Angeles?

"But others say Metro Rail will not be heavily used by poor people because it will not take them where they want to go--to jobs scattered throughout the Los Angeles area," The Times' William Trombley wrote.

"The traffic patterns of low-income blacks and Hispanics are diffused," said George W. Hilton, professor of economics at UCLA. "They are highly auto-dependent and are likely to remain so in the foreseeable future." Hilton also said: "We aren't going to run out of fossil fuels. There's no economic point in finding more than a 20-year supply at one one time. As prices rise, other sources will be found."

July 1, 1984, Subway

Mr. Modular was working on these pages. They look like bento boxes.
July 1, 1984, Subway

Well, of course, the subways work in Los Angeles, but nobody knew it in 1984. Tunneling beneath the city was not without problems, as anyone who recalls the partial collapse of Hollywood Boulevard during construction of the Red Line will remember.

And people with long memories will recall that traffic congestion during the 1984 Olympics was much less than expected.

The 1984 Olympics united Southern California residents over a familiar topic--traffic.

Bob Pool's story focused on concerns in the San Fernando Valley with the Games starting in less than a month. "We're going to have problems if 70% of the people going to the Olympics don't take the bus. If 50% of them go by car, we're going to have total gridlock," David C. Royer, senior Los Angeles city transportation engineer for the Valley, West Los Angeles and LAX, told a group of Encino homeowners.

The worries weren't limited to the Valley, of course. Events were scheduled across the Southland so if you lived somewhere in Southern California, you were planning for the worst-case scenario. 

Royer said residents should ask their employers for flexible working hours during the Olympics and people with tickets should start reserving seats on RTD buses.

--Keith Thursby