Calif. Assemblyman Mike GattoSACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — California’s legislature took action to ease congestion, and driver frustration, on the Los Angeles freeway system yesterday, by passing AB 405 with a bipartisan vote of 72-0. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, addresses infuriating late-night traffic jams on some of the nation’s most notoriously congested freeways, by permitting single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (also known as carpool lanes), during non-peak hours.

“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. That just doesn’t make sense.”

Unlike Northern California, where most HOV lane restrictions are in place only during peak commute hours, HOV lanes in Southern California are restricted on a 24-hour basis. AB 405 would create a pilot program allowing access to HOV lanes along certain stretches of the 134 freeway, the 210 freeway, and other freeways in Los Angeles County deemed appropriate by the Department of Transportation.

“When a late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty, people lose time, money, and faith in their government.” said Gatto. “AB 405 is a cost-effective and common-sense way to ease unnecessary congestion and ensure that non-peak hour travelers can travel to and from home and work and deliver goods and services efficiently.”

Assemblyman Gatto is also overseeing an effort with state and local agencies to investigate ways to address administratively the underutilization of HOV lanes in the region.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and La Cañada Flintridge, the communities of La Crescenta and Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood.

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