Assemblyman Mike Gatto

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Glendale) legislation to help increase the efficiency of Los Angeles County’s freeway system, one of the nation’s most notoriously congested systems, passed the California State Assembly by a vote of 75-1 today. The bill, AB 210, will create a pilot project to help ease traffic congestion during non-traditional commutes, by permitting single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (also known as carpool lanes) during non-peak hours.

“It’s happened to anyone who lives in Southern California. A late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty,” said Gatto. “AB 210 is a cost-effective way to expand capacity on the state’s highway system and ensure that non-peak hour travelers can travel to and from home and work and deliver goods and services efficiently.”

The legislation would allow access to HOV lanes during off-peak travel hours on the 134 freeway from North Hollywood to Pasadena, including Burbank and Glendale; the 210 freeway from Pasadena to Glendora, including the San Gabriel Valley communities of Monrovia, Duarte, and San Dimas; and other freeways in Los Angeles County deemed appropriate by the Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

Unlike Northern California, where HOV lane restrictions are in place only during peak commute hours, HOV lanes in Southern California are restricted on a 24-hour basis.

“Carpool lanes are intended to increase the capacities of our freeways, reward those who carpool during rush hour, and protect the surrounding environment from harmful exhaust,” explained Gatto. “When motorists are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at midnight while carpool lanes sit empty, none of those goals are being met.” Many commuters along the 134 and 210 corridor do not work traditional hours.

“Traffic congestion is always bad during rush hour; it need not be bad all night long,” said Gatto.

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Privacy Committee, and the longest-serving member of the State Assembly. He represents California’s 43rd Assembly District, which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.